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  1. Opinion

Hooper: Women's Hall of Fame ceremony shines with beauty and love

They're beautiful.

We live in an age where compliments must be chosen with greater discretion, sensitivity must be heightened and respect need be risen.

But when you're talking about three women who radiate so much love — love of their chosen professions, love for others, love for community — their beauty cannot be denied.

As Maryann Ferenc, Carolyn House Stewart and Joanna Tokely stood as the newest inductees of the Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame on Friday, their list of accomplishments crystallized their induction. The Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Hillsborough County Commission on the Status of Women.

Ferenc is the co-proprietor of Mise En Place, one of Tampa's finest restaurants, and she's also made her mark as a small business leader and tourism advocate. Stewart is a pioneering African-American attorney with a list of firsts behind her name. She's also served as the international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Tokely, longtime president of the Hillsborough Urban League, is credited with a number of community efforts, including helping with the effort to rename Buffalo Avenue in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yet in their acceptance speeches, they illuminated their achievements with words of love, and it filled the room with a warmth.

Ferenc spoke of the love she shares for the people who work at her restaurant. Stewart started with the love she shares for her mother, her first role model, and hopes she's a role model for a new generation. Tokely said she's been guided by a love of people and desire to serve.

And it was beautiful. And they were beautiful.

That's all I'm saying.

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