Melba Cope was born on February 16, 1944 in Des Moines, Iowa. Her daughter Ingrid was born on 10/27/64. She has two grandchildren, Brooke Knuth (10/17/91) and Kelsey Knuth (4/30/96). She has lived in Iowa, Nebraska, New York, and moved to Tucson, Arizona with her husband Thom in April of 2002. Her career has spanned over forty years, beginning in 1962 as an administrative assistant and moving on to real estate sales, sales management and self-employed award-winning photographer. In 1999, she was chosen as the World's Greatest Granny (aka 1999 Granny Smith) by the Growers of Washington State Apples.
No person could be more deserving of being in the Women's Plaza of Honor than my wife, Melba. Growing up on a farm in Iowa, Melba received her early feminist inspiration from her mother. Her formal journey into supporting and advocating with and for women began as a non-traditional student in the Women's Studies Department at the University of Nebraska. Melba graduated with Highest Distinction, was selected to Phi Beta Kappa, and was chosen to the All-USA Today College Academic Team.
Melba has received numerous awards for her volunteer work on behalf of women, including the prestigious Alice Paul Award from the Women's Commission in Lincoln, Nebraska. She was an advocate for women survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, a mentor in the YWCA Women in Trades Program, and a big sister in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. Melba devoted substantial time in leadership positions for Lincoln, Nebraska organizations such as the YWCA, Women's Commission, and Rape Spouse Abuse Crisis Center; she continues such activities in Tucson for the Women's Studies Advisory Council at the University of Arizona.
The death of Melba's 35 year old daughter Ingrid on 2000 from cancer was a life-altering event. Melba recognized the fragility of life and the importance of contributing even more to her family and community. She works tirelessly for the American Cancer Society. As active as Melba is, she is the quintessential grandmother to Brooke and Kelsey. Nothing is more important than mentoring and spending time with her grandchildren and other family members. As the 1999 Granny Smith, she traveled extensively for a year to 30 states, speaking about the significant role played by grandmothers. She used her title to convince others that the best way to change the world is to set a good example for future generations.
Melba is a published writer and poet, musician, actor and photographer. She loves animals and is happiest when her home is inhabited by at least one pet! She has run a marathon and has hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim. Family, community activism, volunteering and commitment to women's issues all lead to the Women's Plaza of Honor.