What is on your plate today?

We should all step up to the plate as Mary Don Beachy shows us in her new book, Step Up to the Plate, Kansas City! A Feast of Local Legends and Legacies.

I am not referring to what was on your plate this morning, but what is on your “plate.” Picking up the kids from school, getting your hair cut or going to the gym, those are on your proverbial plate daily.

Mary Don Beachy was inspired to write her book because she respects and loves the people in the Kansas City community who have literally stepped up to the plate and changed their worlds for the better. Her love of cooking and food inspired this unique concept! She features such icons as Sylvester “Sly” James, former mayor of KC, and Tom Watson, 39-time PGA Tour winner and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, and their personal recipes.

Step Up to the Plate, Kansas City!: a Feast of Local Legends and Legacies is a collaborative effort of many people like Mary Don, who love Kansas City and love to share the city’s finer points, as well as their favorite recipes. Each also shares their secret ingredient for success in life. Book proceeds will be donated to Children’s Mercy Hospital.    

“I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in elementary school. It must have been because I liked to write poems to read aloud at large family gatherings like Thanksgiving,” Mary Don smiled. “I loved to entertain my mother and father, grandparents, my brother and my aunts and uncles. My mother had a best friend, Jetta Carleton, who would visit us from time to time. She was a most exciting and creative woman who wrote The Moonflower Vine. During one of her visits when I was mesmerized by her presence, I boldly told her I wanted to be a writer like her. Jetta’s delightful book became popular after she died. I picked up the newspaper one morning to see her photo and the wonderful article about her rediscovered book on March 4, 2012.” 

A proud Kansas Citian and University of Missouri graduate, she has a B.S., and master’s degree in education. She taught elementary students for 34 years in the Shawnee Mission School District, where she was selected as the first elementary “Super Star” Teacher. Mary Don has been published in Kansas City Parent Magazine, Ducks Unlimited Magazine, Instructor Magazine, The Kansas City Star, Kansas Journal of Reading and in a teachers’ anthology of poetry. Her humorous children’s book, Mom Makes the Team, was published in December 2019. She taught popular children’s cooking classes for many years with Kristie Wolferman, and they published When Peanut Butter is Not Enough! In 1989, a cookbook for young cooks. A revised and updated version of this book was released in 2021. Mary Don’s 2021 interactive book of children’s poetry, Cockleshell Cackles, delights children of all ages, including her husband Bob, their three adult children, and three grandchildren, all born and raised in Kansas City. In addition to making delicious messes in the kitchen and constantly writing, Mary Don enjoys gardening, reading and traveling.

She credits her grandmother in Nevada, Missouri, for her love of cooking, and explained, “Her cakes were ten feet tall, and I loved to watch her open her super cool flour bin to make those fabulous loaves of bread which she taught me to knead. Her turkeys looked like they should be in magazines.”

She believes the thought that inspired her to write her new book came as she was going to sleep pondering all the negative news in the world.

“Since I had retired, I suppose I must have been thinking about what I could do to make a ‘difference’ for people and to bring joy to the city. I used to tell my second-grade students that one person could change the world, so dream and work hard. I guess I figured I should follow my own instructions. I did wake from a dream in March of 2021 and found a scrap of paper on which I wrote, Step Up to the Plate, Kansas City! and thus the concept for my book,” she smiled.

She decided to donate all proceeds to Children’s Mercy as she adores little ones, and the hospital saved five children in Brookwood Elementary where she taught, two of which were in her classroom. Children’s Mercy told her of several programs to which she could donate, and she chose their Baby Shower program, as it provides for little people with supplies, advice, medical and social support for new moms in underserved areas of the community.

She met her hubby, Bob, when her friend from Southwest High School introduced them. He is a lawyer.

Her books are available at Rainy Day Books and Made in Kansas City. She has had very successful book signings at these locales, and said her greatest blessing so far is that she has been in the top four on the list of best-selling local authors ever since the book came to town.

She credits her husband’s law practice with connecting her with many contributors for the book, and her teaching. In the book you’ll find Eric Stonestreet (Dressing recipe), Jason SUDEIKIS (Ted Lasso Biscuit Treats), Joe Posnanski (“Godfather” Spaghetti Sauce), Andy Reid (Mississippi Mud), Thomas Hart Benton (Rita’s Spaghetti Recipe), Ed Asner(Latkes), George Brett (Caesar Salad).

“Tom Watson, Peggy Dunn and Fred White were among those who came yearly to read to and answer questions from my students,” she continued. “Sometimes I had to contact an assistant to the ‘real’ person or someone close to a particular contributor. I am the lucky lady who now has so many new friends and connections. What a remarkable journey I have had!”

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