"A Mind of Her Own: Helen Connor Laird and Family, 1888 - 1982" captures the public achievement and private pain of a remarkable Wisconsin woman and her family, whose interests and influence extended well beyond the borders of the state. The eldest child of William Duncan Connor, a major figure in Wisconsin's emerging hardwood lumber industry and its turbulent turn-of-the-century political scene, Helen Connor Laird spent almost her entire ninety-three years in central and northern Wisconsin. Nevertheless, her voracious reading and probing mind connected her to the world. Her early life in frontier communities, home influences, Presbyterian background, and education, as well as the talents she recognized in herself, impelled her to lead. Marriage, duty, and four sons did not stem that desire. By the time her third child, Melvin R Laird Jr, became secretary of defense in 1969, she had served in leadership positions in her community, district, and state. While business absorbed her competitive family, her own interests lay elsewhere: in politics and education. Throughout her life, she kept records of the evolving world she and her family inhabited, and of her own emotional states.
"Remember, we are all lonely," the "closet poet" said. Spanning almost a century, the family's history speaks to the way we were and are: a stridently materialistic nation with a deep and persistent spiritual component.