Public service runs in Donna Foley's familyAny doubts...


June 27, 1993|By Patrick A. McGuire

Public service runs in Donna Foley's family

Any doubts Donna Foley may have had when she gave up her acting career in New York four years ago apparently vanished for good last week. Now manager of public relations at the Maryland Science Center, Ms. Foley was elected president of the Baltimore Junior Association of Commerce, which has never before elected a woman as its head.

While she has no long history of Broadway actors in her family, her great-grandfather, Robert Ramsay, was elected president of the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce in 1896. As her mother told her, Great-Grandpa would have been proud.

"It was a difficult decision to leave acting," says Ms. Foley, a veteran of plays while at Towson High School and the University of Virginia, as well as many years of local summer theater performances. "But I was happy to come back to the city I loved."

Ms. Foley spent a year in Indonesia as an American Field Service student and has been a member of the Baltimore Junior League for more than a decade. The Junior Association of Commerce, open to members under 40, began admitting women in 1983. It specializes in programs aimed at helping the underprivileged and in boosting public service.

"When I was elected, everybody said, 'Donna, you're the first woman president,' " says Ms. Foley. "But I like to think about people for their deeds, the way they conduct themselves with other people, not their gender or race or anything like that." He is the son of a son of a son of a son of a son of a son of a waterman.

And for one year, Glenn Lawson followed in his family's footsteps and worked the waters of Jenkins Creek in Crisfield before attending college.

He became a computer programmer, hired eventually by IBM. "It was a very stressful job," says Mr. Lawson, 59. "To relax I decided to write a history of watermen on the Chesapeake Bay."

"The Last Waterman," self-published by Mr. Lawson in 1988, was the result. First reviewed in "Aquaculture Digest," it has been used as a textbook on the elementary, high school and college levels.

After the release of "The Last Waterman," Mr. Lawson took year's leave from IBM and volunteered on a clean water project. That's where he "got this idea of writing something called eco-fiction."

"Baykeeper" is the first entry in his self-described genre. It's the tale of a bay-front community called Westhead and its battle against the construction of an industrial park. The book, published by ZAK Books, is available locally at B. Dalton Booksellers, Waldenbooks and the Irvine Natural Science Center's bookstore.

Mr. Lawson, who lives with his wife on the North Carolina coast, today is a full-time environmental activist with two more eco-fiction books in the works.

Stephanie Shapiro

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