When the late Margaret “Molly” Neely ’71 was growing up in the coastal town of Hampton, Virginia, she fell in love with sailing.
A natural on the water, she was often spotted catching the wind solo on her Sailfish, a 12-foot wooden flat-top reminiscent of a surfboard with a sail.
“I remember a good story that people always saw Molly going by ‘with the tiller in her toes and the sheet [main line] in her teeth,’” said her sister Martha Rideout ’63, who now lives in Williamsburg.
The youngest of three sisters, Molly Neely first learned how to sail from her father and then started competing in the Hampton Yacht Club’s summer program during junior high. There she was named the first girl racing skipper in their history.
Proud of his daughter for holding her own among the boys, their father created a little trophy for her that said “here come the ladies,” Rideout recalled.
Continuing to blaze a trail, Molly Neely earned her mathematics degree from Mary Baldwin in 1971 and joined Citizens and Southern National Bank in Atlanta where she achieved the title of vice president for commercial lending.
“She was on the cutting edge of women becoming more involved in activities previously reserved for men,” said her sister Pat Gooding of Atlanta.