Women born in the south in the late 1930s that grew up in the 1940s did not think a lot about their personal rights or goals.

However, through the years, Jane Comer has stood as an example and mentor to women of all ages.

Her father and mother, Elton B. and Alys Stephens, started a book-binding company in Birmingham in 1944 they named EBSCO, which served to instill a sense of entrepreneurship in Comer.

In 1949, her father came to Seagrove and bought a lot from the town's founder, Cube McGee. He later bought two more. Comer has been coming here ever since and owns a home in old Seagrove.

Comer dropped out of college to marry Donald Comer III.

After raising her three children, Comer returned to Birmingham-Southern College in her 40s and completed her degree in 1981, earning a bachelor of arts in art history.

"I use it all the time in daily life," she said, "Informally, not career wise."

In 1988, Comer founded The Elegant Earth retail store on Cahaba Road in Birmingham's Mountain Brook Village.

"It required a lot of work," she said, adding she sold it in 2000.

Through the years, Comer has served and been influential on several boards. She has chaired the board of the Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham, which was named for her mother; she has served on the boards of the Alabama Ballet, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and Birmingham Museum of Art. She has also been involved in the Women's Fund of Greater Birmingham, and the national Women Moving Millions charity effort.

In 2009, Comer donated $5 million to the Alys Stephens Center to create cultural programming for children. Named ArtPlay, the programming offers music, crafts, dance, media, theater, drama, and more for Birmingham children.

"I am proud of ArtPlay," she said.

Comer is also proud of the children's books that she has written for her grandchildren.

"I have not published them, but they have gotten a great response," she said.

Therefore, she plans to publish the next one she pens.

When EBSCO bought land on County Highway 30A just west of Rosemary Beach, a town was drawn out that became Alys Beach, named for Comer's mother. Her son Jason founded Alys Beach and managed it for 10 years. While in the design stage, Jane attended design meetings and researched ideas to contribute.

With her many accomplishments and civic contributions, Comer wanted her next endeavor to be about one of her greatest passions: empowering women and girls.

The impetus for her next endeavor came in 2009.

"I was attending Gloria Steinem's 75th birthday party in 2009 when she issued a challenge for everyone in the room to commit one outrageous act in the cause of simple justice -- something that would make the world a better place," said Comer.

Three months later, seven women gathered in Comer's living room to discuss what could be done to raise awareness of gender equality and the power of women to empower each other. The result was the founding of GirlSpring Inc., a nonprofit organization that focuses on the issues, activities and concerns of girls and young women. Comer is the organization's founder and president.

"I realized that women my age are in the dark and not informed about their rights," she said. "We focus on girls aged 9-18, and do mentoring. It's about empowerment."

"Jane's contributions to the empowerment of girls and women are countless. What is seen publicly of her efforts is the tip of the iceberg," added Comer's friend, Anne Hunter. "Beneath the water is a powerful, fearless, feminine force filled with support, wisdom, and encouragement -- a savvy sense of ease, a knowing. She taught me how to overcome and empowered me to focus on supporting the generation of girls to become strong women. I cannot imagine the direction of my life without her in it."

In 2010, Steinem awarded Comer the Gloria Award for Women of Action & Vision.

In spite of all she has done and accomplished, though, Comer said she is proudest of her grandchildren.

Comer still owns and often visits her home in old Seagrove.