2000 – Mary F. & Willard (Bill) Jenkins (NY)

Square Dance Caller & Teacher

Not every couple can say they have “danced” their way through life, but Mary & Bill can. Mary was born in 1914 and became her father’s square dance partner at age 4. Bill started traditional dancing at age 16. And following their marriage in 1938, square dancing became a large part of their lives. Both enjoy traditional contras, and graduated in 1966 from modern western square dance classes. Over the years they have been active members of 12 square dance clubs. In 1969 they were instrumental in organizing clubs in their area – the most successful being the Northway Squares (named after Interstate 87). In order to become a member of the Northway Squares, dancers had to be active members in at least one other square dance club and be willing to help promote square dancing for fun and recreation. This club attained a membership of 385 couples with a total of215 square dance clubs represented. In 1976 Mary became a “caller” of traditional and modern western square dancing. She was a member of the American Callers Association. In 1975 they organized the Adirondack Colonial dancers and in 1976 – the E’town Contra Dancers. Both these clubs were sponsored by and are a part of the Northway Squares. They put on demonstrations and entertainment at many Nursing Homes and Homes for the Aged in Essex, Warren, Saratoga, Clinton & Hamilton Counties. Caller Stan Burdick said,” Mary is a one-woman dynamo when it comes to square dance promotion and perpetuation.” She & Bill held classes, did one-night stands and special dances. They helped organize and preside over the New York Square Dance Federation. They have been panel participants at National Square Dance Conventions, and from 1973-1983 served as trustees and members of the executive board of LEGACY. In 1976, Mary Flynn Jenkins authored a book titled: “Wheeling & Dealing with Nursing Home Residents” A Handbook for Activity Directors and Volunteers Interested in Bringing Happiness to Others. In 1980 a 2nd edition was printed. The proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to St. John’s Children’s Home, a home for mentally and physically handicapped children in Carrollton, OH. Over the years, the Jenkins have presented Wheelchair Square Dancing programs to more than 150 Nursing Homes & Homes for the Aged. In Florida they traveled over 25,000 miles in just 2 months, to bring happiness to those confined to wheelchairs. In the winter they visited about 2 dozen nursing homes a month, from Jacksonville to St. Petersburg FL calling dances at all of them – for free. They said: “Our payment is the pleasure we bring people.” Today it is our pleasure to recognize Mary & Bill Jenkins’ support of the Promotion, Preservation & Perpetuation of our Folk Dance Heritage. The Square Dance Foundation of New England proudly inducts Mary & Bill into the Hall of Fame this 20th day of May, Yr. 2000.


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