Beyonce. Cher. Madonna. WeeZee.
Only the truly fabulous dare to go by just one name. And though she may not seem to have achieved quite the same celebrity, make no mistake about it: The diminutive woman with the considerable coif, outsize eyeglasses and a fashionista’s flare for dress is a star of the arena at many a Minneapolis-area horse show. Riders love her. Judges, show officials and co-workers respect her. And for her long and enthusiastic service distributing ribbons and trophies in the ring at the Minnesota State Fair Coliseum, in St. Paul, she earned a feature spot on KARE11 News last fall. So, as she requests, WeeZee—just WeeZee—it is.
An avid artist, prolific author, imaginative seamstress and unabashed horse and rider aficionado who demurs when asked her age, WeeZee “is amazing,” says U.S. Equestrian Federation judge Joey Darby, who met her three years ago. “She’s so passionate about her job and the horses and people she encounters. Nothing ever surprises me about her,” he says. That is, with one possible exception: WeeZee is legally blind. She sees some slivers of light, she says, but her vision is severely impaired. “The ease with which she does her job, despite her disability, is remarkable,” Joey comments.
“WeeZee is a unique individual,” says USEF steward Pam Keeler, who has known the self-proclaimed diva for more than 40 years. “She is legally blind but sees the world in vivid color.” And she always seems to do her best to convey that vision to the rest of the world.
As Pam explains, WeeZee produces intricate acrylic paintings on canvas and on plates that make the horses come alive. She also creates pen-and-ink drawings of horses and riders. “Many from all over the United States covet these art pieces,” Pam says.
In addition, WeeZee manages to turn out some very special items for younger riders. “Her love of giving to others is apparent in the dolls she makes,” Pam continues. “They have hand-sewn, tailored outfits—no detail is ever missing.”
WeeZee makes what she calls “comfort bears” and “courage bears” to give to riders who fall off their horses. “In lead-line classes, I give them little ponies,” she says. “I make it really special for them because those are our future riders.”
From her own experience, WeeZee knows how special a horse can be to a child. She offers a glimpse into her younger days: “I’d run away all the time. Mom put a big red bow in my hair so the police could find me. It was always at a horse farm,” she recounts. “They’d find me in the middle of the pasture and bring me home every time.”
WeeZee’s reminiscences underscore her appreciation of family: “My mother was always good to people,” she says. “My sister is an inspiration. She is always there for me. Accomplishments don’t count if you don’t have somebody to share them with,” she says, adding that she hopes to “leave a legacy behind with my stories.”
WeeZee is now working on her third book, and many tell her that she has touched them with her writing as well as her art. “I try to do my stories with a message: to believe in yourself and to follow your dreams because only you can take a dream away,” she says.
“You don’t have to be a leader,” WeeZee continues. “It’s OK to follow as long as you don’t lose your perspective. No matter who you are, it’s OK to be different. You’ve got to work with what you’ve got.”
She seems to do a fine job of following her own words of wisdom.
Show officials have been known to search out WeeZee when a rider is having confidence issues or simply needs to talk. “My thing is they need me to be there for them,” she says. “I prefer to be thought of as an icon or a legend or the diva of the ring—and you have to be when you do these shows. [But] from the children on up, you’re their best friend. You have to be there for them. You’ve got to look at others and say, ‘It’s not about me,’ because most of the time it’s not.” And that’s straight from the heart of a very down-to-earth diva who’ll forever be a welcome presence in the arena at horse shows.
Editor’s Note: WeeZee passed away July 15, 2014.