The first meeting of the season of the Chester Women's Club was held Friday afternoon, September 23 in the fellowship hall of the First United Methodist Church. The meeting marked the beginning of the Club's 75th anniversary. As is the custom of the club, the first meeting of the year is the annual Officers' Tea, hosted by club officers, who served a lovely sweet and savory hors d'oeuvre buffet to members and guests. Tables were adorned with mums and sparkling faux diamonds, in observance of the 75th anniversary. Hostesses were Louise Liefer, Wilma Whittenberg, Tammy Grah, Cathy Sauer, Sharon McMath, Caroline Wylie, Barbara Welge and Joan Montroy.
Prior to the serving of refreshments, President Louise Liefer introduced club member Ruby Allison who is the only charter member of the Chester Women's Club, who is still a member today. She was given the opportunity to light the sparkler candles on the 75th anniversary cake. She was presented with a long-stemmed red rose in honor of her many years of service to the club.
The meeting opened with the recitation of the Club Collect and the Pledge of Allegiance. Caroline Wylie, on piano, and Becky Browning, as vocalist, lead the membership in singing "You've Got A Friend In Me" from Toy Story.
Second Vice President and Membership Chairman Wilma Whittenberg presented a history of the club, stating that the organizational meeting was held June 25, 1937 at Cole Memorial Library in Chester. A total of 30 members constituted the group which was to be a civic organization that would endeavor to promote worthwhile projects within the community. The first constitution was written July 10, 1937. Dues were $2.00 per member. Mrs. R.C. Mann served as the club's first president.
Mrs. Whittenberg talked about the various departments within the early club and stated that in June 1938 members held a luncheon at the Royal Hotel. A treasurer's report at that time touted a balance of $16.56. It was reported that during the war years, membership in the club dropped but picked up again in the late 1940s. Programs at meetings often included playlets, written by members. Mrs. Whittenberg reported that in April 1957 the club president, Mrs. Ross Randolph appointed a committee of women who were interested in forming a Hospital Auxiliary, which then came to fruition. Also in the earlier years of the club, members began raising funds to build the main shelter house at Ft. Kaskaskia State Park. The project took the club five years to raise enough funds for the building of the site. She also stated that for many, many years members tended to wear hats and gloves to all meetings. As times have changed, attire at meetings currently tends to be much more relaxed.
Following the program, several past presidents of the club were introduced, including Alice Kabo, of Cape Girardeau, MO.; Betty Wagner, Cynthia Lawder, Mildred Dial, Donna Ritter, Mary Alice Welge and Gwendy Garner, all of Chester. Each past president who attended the meeting was presented with a long stemmed red rose.
Additional guests of the club were Deanna Vincent, Mardell Granger, Sandy Colvis, Jane Kruse, Jean Hille, Andrea Costilow, Nola Koch, Jo Koeneman, Donna Sauerhage, Mary Jane Gross, Rebecca Hillerman and Joyce Buch. All guests were invited to join the club.
Mary Ann Stumpe reported on the club's summer story hour, stating that it was a huge success. Correspondence was read by Cathy Sauer.
It was announced that at the next meeting, Friday, October 28, members are encouraged to bring staple food items for the Chester Area Christian Food Pantry. The afternoon program will be presented by Emily Lyons and Sandra Starr on the "History and Vision of the Stone Cottage in Chester". Hostesses will be Cynthia Lawder and Mary Ann Koeneman, Co-chairmen; Rebecca Browning, Mary Alice Welge, Betty Wheatley, Mary Beck and Retha Jones.
President Liefer adjourned the meeting, stating, "We're going to celebrate all year!"