March 8 is International Women’s Day and as you might recall, our Rotary International President Jennifer Jones is serving as the first female president. In honor of Jennifer and International Women’s Day, we recognize the many women who have contributed to the success of Rotary International and our club…
First, you may have heard of a nickname once affectionately used for the spouses of Rotarians, Rotary Anns. While the popular nickname began in 1914, it was Club 29 Rotarian Virgil Browne’s wife, Maimee Lee, who proposed the establishment of the Rotary Ann auxiliary organization in 1928 to bring fellowship to the families of the Rotary club members and to complete various club and community projects. Following our club’s first Rotary Ann Auxiliary unit, the concept spread to thousands of clubs throughout the Rotary world. As a side note, Maimee’s grandson, Henry Browne just celebrated his 60th anniversary as a member of Club 29.
Just a few years after our Rotary Ann Auxiliary club took off, the club hired our first full-time staff member, Vera Tidwell Green who served as the club’s executive secretary from 1930 to 1973.
In June 1977, Mary Lou Elliott, Donna Bogart, and Rosemary Freitag were admitted to the Rotary Club of Duarte, California as part of their 25th Anniversary celebration. In March of 1978, their club charter was officially revoked by Rotary International. That led to an almost 10-year battle in the court system until May 4, 1987 when the US Supreme Court ruled that Rotary clubs may not exclude women from membership on the basis of gender. Rotary’s council on legislation would officially vote two years later in 1989 to allow women in Rotary world-wide.
On July 1, 1987, Sylvia Whitlock of the reinstated Duarte Rotary Club, became the first female president of a Rotary club.
Just a few months later, Club 29 admitted our first female member, our beloved and longtime administrator, Shirley Kirschner who served as Executive Administrator from 1974 until June of 2019.
Over the years, we continued to see our female membership grow and on July 1, 2003, Meg Salyer began her term as Club 29’s first female president.
Today, our club membership is comprised of 40% women leaders from around our community and since Meg Salyer’s term, we have installed four additional female presidents, Marion Paden, Terri Cooper, Ellen Fleming, and Ann Ackerman with our next two Presidents continuing that growth – Lesli Massad and Suzanne Mitchell.