The Practice of Creativity

Women Writers from the Past Who Inspire: Ann McRae Kennady

Posted on: March 19, 2012

My dear friend and writing buddy Al Capeheart is guest posting today about a woman writer who continues to inspire.

Maya Angelou wrote, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.”  Hearing her presidential inauguration poem she calls us all forward by the belief in a just and peaceful future. She lives her commitment, her words are everyday, and in her wisdom she calls to all human kind to be inspired by faith.

My main inspiration came from Ann McRae Kennady, my Mom. She had the most profound influence on me. She insisted that we speak proper English. We might not be rich, but we could talk like we were educated. She finished high school in 1937, but unlike her siblings she did not go to college. She ran away to marry my father. She would say, “I can learn to do anything as long as there is a book written to tell me how to do it.”

She was PR director and editor of in-house publications of a regional life insurance company. She was the second woman in Virginia to earn the title of  “Charter Life Underwriter”; she called it her Ph.D. She edited and published the national award-winning “Southern Exposure” magazine of the Richmond Camera Club. She was the first person I knew to use word processing. She studied photography in the city she loved. Her curiosity was about all facets of history from free-standing renovated town houses, to ancestral monuments from the Civil War.

To earn money after retirement, she became a City of Richmond tour guide for the historic society. The green tour type bus/trolleys had regular schedules leaving from the Virginia Museum of Science, the old Broad Street Railroad Station where in the 1940s and 1950s she’d board the train for New York where she was the ‘ready to wear’ purchasing agent for Thalheimers and its mid-south department stores.  But it seemed she was always late.

I remember Pop racing the north bound train to Ashland, VA its first stop 18 miles out.  She never missed a train that I know of but it always seemed like a panic to catch it.  My sister said, “She’d never get anything done, if it weren’t for the last-minute.”

Her reputation as a Historic Richmond tour guide brought her many specific requests. Her description of historic characters was so engaging it was as if she’d had lunch with them the week before.  Busloads of tourist and history buffs were her guests.  Of particularly note were her ghost tours and knowledge of southern Jewish communities. She always used, encouraged and appreciated proper grammar. She continues to inspire.

AL Capehart aka Santa AL

AL Capehart  is a retired social worker and a professional Santa. AL is working on a memoir about his 20 years of Santa Claus work as ‘Santa AL’.  Visit him at



1 Response to "Women Writers from the Past Who Inspire: Ann McRae Kennady"

I briefly met you at the Joyful Jewel’s “Marriage of Pen and Palette” show yesterday. Your poem was, in my opinion, beautifully powerful, evocative, and sensitive.

As I mentioned, I write a small blog, and today’s post is about the show, my wife’s work, and a mention of you and your blog. I hope I haven’t overstepped propriety by using your links, but I was very impressed by your your poem, you, and your blog. Thanks.

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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