Life challenges all, ‘Dr. Quinn’ tells Tapestry

April 28, 2018

Jane Seymour is an award-winning actress, an artist, a jewelry designer, a dancer, an author and a humanitarian : and she had a message for the crowd Friday at the Tapestry: A Day for You event.

“A lot of people would look at me and think, ‘Gosh, her life must be perfect,’” the star of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” told about 1,600 people at Memorial Coliseum.

“Actually, if there is one thing that is consistent in my life it’s (that) challenge has always been an opportunity for me. That makes me just like you.”

Seymour, 67, was the keynote speaker for Tapestry, an annual event aimed primarily at women that includes booths from vendors offering food, clothes and jewelry, among other items. Breakout sessions offered advice on topics such as stress reduction and plastic surgery.

Also, 11 women were awarded Parkview Health Sciences Scholarships worth a total of $65,000.

Born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg in England, Seymour told stories about turning adversity and challenges into opportunities.

Her mother, Mieke Frankenberg, battled mental illness and married a man who abused her, she said. The marriage broke up, and Frankenberg spent years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Indonesia : then a Dutch colony : in World War II.

Seymour said her mother tended to the sick and dying in the camp, focusing on helping others rather than her own suffering.

“She learned to survive by realizing there were always people worse off than her,” she said. “She was very much my inspiration.”

There have been personal challenges to overcome, too. Seymour recalled being singled out in school because of a speech impediment and flat feet. She took the comments about flat feet as a personal slight and went to ballet school, later becoming a professional dancer.

“I was bullied quite a lot. I never understood why,” she said. “So, I would try harder. I would try harder in ballet class. I would try harder in school.”

Aside from her role as Dr. Mike on “Dr. Quinn,” the Western TV series that ran from 1993 to 1998, Seymour has successful lines of jewelry and furniture. She has shown her paintings in galleries and is the author of several books.

“I don’t have that thing that says, ‘You can’t do that. That’s impossible,’” Seymour said. “You can only lose by not starting.”

Rhonda Thomas has attended Tapestry gatherings for years. She said she enjoyed Seymour’s stories about being challenged and coming out on top.

“Awesome lady,” Thomas said.

Tapestry began in 2002 “as a way to enrich the lives of women in northeast Indiana” and to raise funds for students in IPFW’s College of Health and Human Services, according to the event’s website.

“The day is a day to get together to learn, to be inspired and to have fun,” said Angie Fincannon, IPFW vice chancellor for advancement.