Still Kickin’ It – Unexpected Turns
Story by Danielle Tobar | Jun 26, 2017
Photography by Anthony Jinson
Linda McAnany is a pro at going with the flow.
Genuine connections feel few and far between sometimes, but there are special people who seem to create real bonds wherever they go — after just one conversation with Linda McAnany, I’d venture to say she’s one of the remarkable ones who does just that. What was supposed to be a phone interview with Linda turned into what felt like a chat with a mentor or an old friend. Maybe it’s McAnany’s small town roots or her years of leadership experience. Whatever it is, McAnany is still creating connections and impacting her community 10 years into retirement.
Hailing from Pittsburg, Kansas, McAnany is the youngest of three. With a strong family unit, McAnany says, “we were taught a very strong work ethic and values, and that sets a tone for your life.”
McAnany attended Pittsburg State University for a degree in marketing and merchandising. She worked to put herself through school, and industriousness and leadership skills were quickly recognized when she took an opportunity with the Macy’s training squad in 1965. At the time, she was the first woman for that particular division. The job took her to Kansas City, where she enjoyed the life of a single, working woman before meeting her husband, now of 46 years, Bill.
A blind date brought McAnany and who she calls ‘the love of her life’ and, jokingly, ‘a feisty 96-year-old’ together. The couple met on October 10 and quickly made things official with a wedding six months (to the day) later. Not that things were never rocky, McAnany says, but both her and Bill always realized it was truly meant to be. After moving up the ranks and traveling often, McAnany took a break from retail in 1972 to spend more time with her husband, and it was then that he introduced her to the second love of her life — golf.
McAnany joked that she had heard about “golf widows” and wanted to learn the game to avoid becoming one herself. Rather than learn from Bill (and, therefore, inherit what he called his “bad habits”), McAnany took lessons and soon became an avid golfer. The love for the game has taken the couple to beautiful destinations all over the globe, including the birthplace of golf — the one and only St. Andrews, in Scotland.
McAnany couldn’t stay away from the retail business for long though. She took a position with Stix, Baer and Fuller before they were bought out by Dillard’s. This acquisition had her running the Kansas City Country Club Plaza location until she was transferred to the Jefferson City store in 1990. Although the move to Jefferson City was thought to be temporary, the McAnanys decided this was where they wanted to spend the rest of their lives. McAnany retired from Dillard’s in 2010, but it was short lived — only two months into retirement, she was approached by the board chair of The United Way and asked to be the interim president. As things seem to go for McAnany, that interim position lasted 10 years.
As the president of the United Way, McAnany partnered with over 20 agencies and continued to foster a commitment to the community. She’s very proud of both the for-profit and nonprofit opportunities she’s had throughout her life that led to leadership opportunities and the chance to work with other leaders. “Although the mentality was different,” she says, “the leadership was the same. Many people who are working for not-for-profit agencies have full-time jobs and they are wonderful examples of leadership and commitment to community.”
In the early 2000s, Linda started a show for the United Way called Live United. After retirement, she wanted to continue (with more flexibility) to interview people and talk about issues in our community. Now called The Linda McAnany show, you can watch these discussions on YouTube or via Medicom’s JCTV.
Don’t think humility is lost on McAnany either. She admits that, although she spends time gardening and tending to her yard, she has less of a talent for flowers than for weeds. Now, on her second try at retirement, McAnany is using her time playing the sport she loves, walking her miniature pinscher, Gretchen, and continuing to give back to the community. McAnany is a part of the Community Health Center of Central Missouri, the St. Mary’s Board of Directors, and the board of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program. She’s also, as the pastors lovingly call her, the “den mother” of the Christian Ministerial Fellowship. Recently, McAnany became an ambassador for the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce.
If it weren’t already evident in her packed schedule, McAnany is an advocate for community involvement. She advises younger people to “look for opportunities that you can contribute to. Sometimes we forget that, in our own communities, there are opportunities to contribute and help people, even on a small scale.”