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Women2Know What follows are recounts from women who knew Judge Elizabeth Ehrlich and Mary Ann Chelius Smith more intimately than the rest of us. Their remembrances allow a personal glimpse of moments in their careers that made a difference in all of our lives.


The first time I heard of Elizabeth Ehrlich was in 1983 when I saw an Ehrlich for Judge bumper sticker on (Janet) Orwigs’ car. I was in my first year of college and remember being excited there was a woman running for judge. I had no idea back then that she would be the first judge before whom I would make my first solo appearance in court. I will never forget the kindness she showed me that day nor all the days since. I will also never forget standing outside the poll at the Wyomissing Library when I was running for Borough Council and saw Betty coming up the sidewalk to vote. She was in treatment for cancer and was so frail. What blew me away was when she told me that she specifically came to vote for me and brought her pencil to do a write in since I was on the “other” side of her ballot. It is hard to express the gratitude and fondness I have for her. She used to tell the story about how there were no ladies rest rooms in the Yale Law School building when she was a student there. By the time I attended law school in the 1980’s law schools were 45% women, thanks to women like her who blazed the trail for us. I have always marveled at her courage in taking on the male-dominated field of law. Susan Denaro, Esquire Wyomissing Law Firm of Rabenold Koestel Goodman & Denaro

W She was such an amazing role model for me, especially when I first started practicing law and was trying to start a family. I remember going to a meeting at the Berks County Bar Association, which was held for “Women in Law“ (or something like that), and she was one of the speakers there. I had recently had a child and was trying to juggle my career and family, so her words of guidance on that issue were greatly needed and appreciated! She made me realize I could do it…She probably never even realized how she inspired me that day. She will be missed! Mary Zervanos Dialectos, Esquire Zervanos Law Offices

W My dear friend Betty…we have been going to the Symphony together for about 3 years and I will find those concerts a constant reminder of the friend I lost. I know she knew everyone in the lobby—it took us 10 minutes after we came through the doors to get to our seats and the same amount of time to get out when it was over. When I decided to run for office I contacted her to ask what I needed to do to campaign. She sat down with me and gave me advice on groups to visit and gifts to give for Bingo prizes. One night we were talking about her family when the kids were little. She said she and Leon had taken the 3 sons and her daughter Nancy on a camping trip across the United States. One night she ate something that made her deathly sick. There was no way she could cook or wash sheets, etc. and had to press Leon into service. He took 11-year-old Nancy to a Laundromat and didn’t have a clue how

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to do wash. Betty said he never did any laundry before or after that. When she was diagnosed with cancer and needed 6 weeks of daily trips to Philadelphia a group of her women friends (as well as family) took care of driving her back and forth. I think had that been me I would have felt very sorry for myself. She took the positive spin on it and told me how great it was to be “taxied” by her friends and how much she got to know them on a personal level by chatting as they drove back and forth. When she first got out of law school she was really blazing the way for women lawyers. She finished at the top of her class but as she applied to different firms there was never an opening. Finally one partner asked her if she knew how to type and she said yes. How demoralizing it must have been when she was offered the job of secretary. PS­—she took that job to get into a law firm. “We’ve come a long way baby.” Sandy Graffius Berks County Controller Owner, Graffius Burial Vaults

W From a professional standpoint, Betty was one of those wonderful role models that balanced her powerful position with an outward presence of humility, intelligence and grace. Although I doubt a deadbeat dad standing before her bench would use the same adjectives to describe the encounter once she was through with him! Neglectful moms fared no better. As a friend, Betty was supportive and above all, loyal. She did more listening than talking usually. Her devotion to her best friend, her husband Leon was also an inspiration, as Betty became his primary caregiver in his final years. We had dinner out regularly. She was usually the last to arrive and the last one to finish eating her meal. Funny, no one ever complained about that; we just enjoyed her company. Ellen T. Horan CEO/Pres., Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce

In Memory Of Elizabeth Ehrlich The female lawyers of Rabenold Koestel Goodman & Denaro, P.C. express their deep gratitude to the Honorable Elizabeth Ehrlich for paving the way for us and women in our profession everywhere. She will be greatly missed. Jill Gehman Koestel • Susan N. Denaro Jaime L. Wertz • Christen L. Kochel 501 Park Road North, Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.374.2103

Women2Women Spring 2014  
Women2Women Spring 2014