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100th Anniversary Celebration (2009)

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Photo copied from Beckley USA
The First Women's Club of Beckley - Organized September 1909

October 18, 2009


Woman's Club of Beckley to Commemorate
100th Anniversary
from Beckley Newspapers 10/18/2009
written by Michell James, Register-Herald Reporter
        In October 1909, a group of 25 Beckley women gathered at the home of Sen. John McCreery on North Kanawha Street to organize a club with the purpose of self-improvement in literature and music.  Tuesday night, the current members of the Woman's Club of Beckley will gather for a re-creation of that initial meeting at the home of Susan Hambric, former Southern District Director of the Junior Woman's Club.  It is fitting that the reception will take place in Hambric's home, which is known to many as the "Hodel House," the former home of Beckley Newspaper's publisher Charles Hodel, whose daughter-in-law Muriel was a club president.
        Mary Abbott, current club president, said the "social event" will include current and past members, community leaders, and friends of the club.  Abbott said between eight and 10 new members will be inducted during the reception, and Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh is expected to declare 2009-2010 as "The Year of the Woman's Club of Beckley."  Additionally, the club will unveil its new Ladies of Vision Memorial Plaque, which will hang inside the organization's clubhouse on Park Avenue and feature names of current and past members.  Anyone who wishes to add a name to the plaque can do so for a $50 contribution to the club.  "We just feel like it is important to remember those who have done so much for the Woman's Club," Abbott said, adding that the money will go toward the plaque.  This is a good way to memorialize them."
        Abbott and Kathryne Williams, second vice president in charge of membership, said Tuesday's event is just the first in what they hope will be a year-long monthly series of celebratory events.  "We're going to have different activities planned each month through next September," Abbott said, adding that a parade and a May luncheon are in the planning stages.
        Although the club's initial goals were greared toward literature and music, Williams, a member since 1947, says its goals quickly expanded and its accomplishments and contributions to the Beckley community are too many to count.  "The club has been a catalyst and has worked toward various projects and improvements in the city," she said.  Among those projects are a well-baby clinic, and efforts in establishing the Beckley-Raleigh County YMCA, the Raleigh County Historical Society, and Theatre West Virginia, as well as providing asistance for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  Williams said the club can also be credited with the first citywide cleanup and with the formation of the Raleigh County Public Library.  "The library started with the women bringing books into their homes, then it moved into the Memorial Building and then into the new library," she said.
        Both Williams and Abbott say they believe the club's dedication to all its projects is the reason it is now in its 100th year.  "The club has been involved in doing so many nice things for the community," Williams said.  "It has always had good volunteers and women who have put in the hours and worked at it until they made it a success."  Abbott agreed, "It's because of the efforts of all the women who have belonged and the dedication to the causes that they are working on.  I see it being here for the next 100 years!"
        Anyone interested in nominating a name for the Ladies of Vision Memorial Plaque can do so by contacting Patricia Meadows at 304-253-7980.  You may also print out a form from this website to mail in with your contribution.  Mailing address is on the form.  
October 20, 2009:  Pictures below are from the October 18th event.  Click to enlarge.


Beckley Newspapers editor, Butch Antonelli, socializes with club members.

Ten new members were inducted into the Woman's Club at this special meeting.


Mayor Emmett Pugh reads a Proclamation declaring this the "Year of the Beckley Woman's Club."

Everyone enjoyed the refreshments.


Betty McClung introduces Butch Antonelli, Beckley Newspapers Editor, who spoke to the club.

President Mary Abbot (left) gives Sara Otto (right) a birthday cake.

President Mary Abbot (left), Sara Otto (right)

SURPRISE!  The date of our first 100th Anniversary Celebration was also Sara Otto's 95th birthday.  Beckley Newspapers interviewed her at the meeting and wrote the following in their Oct. 20th article. . .
     Sara Otto, a past president, is the club's longest serving living member (and past president).  She celebrated her 95th birthday today.  Otto recalled the work the organization has done, including knitting various articles of clothing for soldiers during World War II.
     "It may have been for someone you don't know, but that didn't make a difference.  We did it anyway," she said.
     Otto, a member of the local club for an incredible 71 years, said she noticed membership had declined over the years, often because people seemed to be busier.  But she encouraged others to undertake community service work, saying even the smallest and simplest tasks could significantly help others.  Service opportunities exist in numerous places, like churches, schools, and government.
     "Come in with your heart open," she said.  "I think for anybody who goes in with an open heart, there is plenty of work to do."

Interesting Tid-bit
It was announced that at this time the Becklely Woman's Club has 8 living past presidentsSara Otto, Nancy Pat Lewis-Smith, Connie Cooper, Jerry Sibray, Anne Miller, Kathryne Williams, Danny McMillion, and Linda Ramsey.
Also announced were the names of 10 living fifty-year+ membersSara Otto - 71 yrs.; Betty Wilkes - 66 yrs.; Nancy Pat Lewis-Smith - 66 yrs.; Ruth Tully - 66 yrs.; Kathryne Williams - 61 yrs.; Margaret George - 56 yrs.; Pat Ashworth - 56 yrs.; Irene Fink - 51 yrs.; Mary Jane Songer - 51 yrs.; Rosemarie Corey - 50 yrs.

January 19, 2010

Click to enlarge

Beckley Woman's Club Honored by Legislators for Century of Service
from Beckley Newspapers - 1/19/2010
Written by Manix Porterfield, Register-Herald Reporter
     CHARLESTON - Before the first global conflict flared in Europe, 25 "Ladies of Vision" gathered to form the Woman's Club of Beckley.  That was back in 1909 at the home of then Sen. & Mrs. John McCreery.  After a full century of service, the club came in from Beckley for special recognition Tuesday in the House of Delegates.  A citation was drawn up by Linda Sumner (R-Raleigh), also a member of the club, and the entire chamber stood for a round of applause.  Speaker Rick Thompson (D-Wayne) came down from the podium to present the citation to some 30 club members.  "All the delegates from the 27th District were on the citation," sumner pointed out.
     "These ladies envisioned an organization for self-improvement of its members in music, literature, and home life," the citation read.  "In 1914 the group became affiliated with the General Federation of Woman's Clubs, the world's largest and oldest non-denominational woman's volunteer service organization.  Eventually, the arts, education, conservation, international affairs, and public affairs were added to its purposes. 
     Across the century, the Woman's Club in Beckley functioned as an active, viable volunteer group, encompassing two world wars and several depressions.  It provided opportunities for its members to develop personal and leadership skills, educate the public, stimulate civic consciousness, and act as a catalyst in spearheading community improvement."
     Once the ceremony ended, the club assembled for lunch and then a reception at the Governor's Mansion with a fellow Beckleyan, first lady Gayle Manchin.  Following that, the entourage toured both the mansion and the new state museum at the Cultural Center.

April 1, 2010 . . . A Parade                                   


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