Grande Dame Award

The International Swimming Hall of Fame Dames organization was established in 1965 for the purpose of promoting the interests and projects of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. These women have been of inestimable value to the Hall and its functions.

Presenting the 2008  ISHOF Grande Dame Award Winner...

Mary Oppenheim Eileen Malone

For over 17 years, Eileen Malone of Fort Lauderdale has been ISHOF’s Grand Dame Greeter at the front door to the Museum of Swimming. As a part-time volunteer and staff member, Eileen can be seen with a smile on her face, happily talking with a visitor from Germany, Japan, California, New York, or her home state of Michigan. Michigan has had some great ties to swimming over the years and Eileen knows them all.

As a young school-aged child, she began coming to Florida with her family for the winters. The family would rent a bungalow, the kids would be enrolled in school and all would have a great Florida experience. Eileen learned to swim in Miami at the McFadden –Deauville Pool with Johnny Weissmuller who would carry little Eileen around on his shoulders in the water. Back home in Detroit, MI, she swam with another future Hall of Famer and Olympian, Betty Becker Pinkston who was the girls coach at the Detroit Golf Club. Betty’s husband Clarence Pinkston, was the coach of the Detroit Athletic Club but women were not allowed in the club. Beginning in 1936, the girls competed in the Interclub Summer Meets throughout the area. There was no high school swimming for girls when Eileen became of age, but a photo of Eileen wearing a swimming suit began to circulate through her Catholic School. The nuns running the school were going to expel her for the “indecent” photo, so her mother marched right in, removed her from the school and enrolled her in another school.

After her husband Tom, died in 1987, Eileen moved permanently to Fort Lauderdale to look after her mother. Now, she spends two to three days per week at the Hall of Fame, helping to answer the phone, greet visitors and file photos. She has become the chief photo archivist in cataloguing all the black and white and color photos. In addition, she has personally hand made every Honoree red sash that is worn at the Honoree Ceremonies –Marathon and Masters Swimming Hall of Fame sashes, too.

When you’re ready for a big smile, come in to ISHOF and say hello to the 2008 Grand Dame -
Eileen Malone.

Past Recipients Include:
Marion Washburn - 2007
Mary Oppenheim - 2006
June Krauser - 2005
Marjorie "Marge" Counsilman - 2004
Geraldine "Jeri" Athey - 2003
Linda Gill - 2002
Betty Philcox Voss - 2001
Jean Brattain and Connie Sessions - 2000
Sherrill Nelson - 1999
Alice Kempthorne - 1998
Dorothy Carlisle
Margery Martin
Virginia Young
Alice Lord Landon
Carol Zaleski
Virginia Crabbe
Aileen Riggin Soule
Eleanor Holm
Norma Dean Maxwell


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