Inductee into the Honoring 90 SSP Women Leaders is Therese Cosgrove
Today’s inductee into the Honoring 90 SSP Women Leaders is
Therese Cosgrove – Actress, producer, director and camera operator.
Anyone who has ever attended a South St. Paul City Council meeting or been in the audience at dozens of other civic and local events, will recognize Therese Cosgrove as the camera operator filming the proceedings for Town Square Television and Northern Dakota County Cable TV. Therese has been working with the local cable outlet for the past thirty-plus years but she has also been active in many other local organizations and activities.
Therese grew up in South St. Paul but graduated from Lindstrom-Center City, Minnesota, high school in June 1954, after her mother died and Therese went to Lindstrom. She returned to South St. Paul after high school and started working at Stockyards National Bank in the auditing department. She remembers that she was paid $25.00 for a forty-hour work week. Each morning, Therese and one of the officers would take their keys to the outside of the building where there was a vault for night deposits and together they would bring the receipts in to be tallied. Therese was also responsible for helping people with their safety deposit boxes. The client would show up with their key and Therese would match it with her key and would take the people into the huge vault where the boxes were kept. At close of business each day, Therese and a bank officer would close the vault and lock it, each with their own keys.
In addition to working at the bank, Therese auditioned for the St. Paul Civic Opera and was accepted. She sang with the opera for five years while also participating in the Father Messiah’s Gregorian Choir, which performed on the old St. Paul Theater stage. The songs were all in Latin and Therese recalls that they were very long. She shared that she wore a long gown and high heels for the formal presentation. Not being accustomed to wearing heels she slipped her feet out of her shoes but when intermission came, she couldn’t find her shoes and had to make her formal exit in bare feet.
In 1956, Therese began working at the Golden Rule department store decorating the store windows and giving fashion shows. She had the run of every department and loved to walk the store, gathering merchandise to display in the windows. The clothes had to be taken to the sewing and pressing department and then Therese would take them to the display area. She recalled one day when she and others were working inside the big glass windows, several fire trucks came down the street and traffic came to a halt behind the vehicles that were stopped at the stop sign but the fire truck kept going through the traffic while door handles and mirrors started flying through the air.
Two years after her stint at the Golden Rule, Therese became a flight attendant with North Central Airlines until marrying John Cosgrove and having five children, all raised in South St. Paul. When the children were older, the man who actually had trained Therese at North Central recommended her for a position at Shamrock Airlines, private charter service.
Many stories of the trips she took are recalled fondly by Therese. A lot of the flights included taking college teams all over the states and Therese was allowed to bring her children along if there were empty seats. On one flight, the right wing caught fire and Therese had her two youngest children, Jane and Dave, on that flight with her. The story was written up in the Associated Press for Theresa’s success in getting everyone off the flight in a calm, safe way.
Therese also took a suitcase full of clothing and other items to give to the Native Americans who would come to meet the plane when they knew Therese was on board. One little girl came out wearing an outfit that had been worn by Therese’s daughter Elizabeth and Liz was very proud to see that the girl liked the clothing so much. Throughout all these working adventures, Therese continued to sing and appeared in ads for the Golden Rule. One of her greatest honors was being asked to carry the Olympic torch through part of South St. Paul for the 1989 Summer Olympics.
Therese’s work in television began in the mid-eighties and over the years she produced 298 “TC Showcase” programs for NDC4 Cable Commission. One of the shows was chosen for an award by Access America’s television show. Therese’s program was judged on Fred Willard’s show as the best local TV show and Therese won a huge television set as an award from Hometown America.
She also received a phone call from Canal Plus, a TV station in France asking her to send them some tapes of her shows. At first she thought it was some kind of hoax but sure enough, it was real and they asked her to submit twenty of her shows for rebroadcast on French TV.
Therese has also produced and directed local cable shows including Do you Know? Nature’s Way, and has covered events such as the River Ramble, Ethnic Heirlooms, On the Road Again and filmed live Halloween specials.
In addition to her local work, Therese has appeared in over 15 movies, including Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men as well as Drop Dead Fred. One of Therese’s favorite times was working with actress Olympia Dukakis in the movie Lucky Day and she recalled recently that she met Sophia Loren who brought her own spices, pots and pans and cooked a spaghetti dinner for the entire crew on the set. Therese has played a dinner guest, wedding guest, hospital patient, professor, picketer, shopper, a pedestrian, a tourist, and a bar patron. She has also appeared in print ads for several major retailers including Best Buy and has done voiceovers for several programs as well as working as a makeup artist, model, and set designer.
Therese is an avid gardener and the entire front slope of her home is covered with huge hydrangea bushes that bloom in spectacular fashion in season.
When asked what her advice was for young women today, she said, “Be positive. Trust in God. Go for it and don’t think about failure.”