Publisher’s Note: The following is being republished with updated and corrected information.
By Peg Doman, Joan Curtis, and Co-President Lynn Riegal; photos by Dayton Knipher.
Chapter AY was founded on June 15, 1922. On June 16, 2022, at the Tacoma Yacht Club, P.E.O. Washington Chapter AY celebrated the 100th Anniversary of our founding at the Tacoma Yacht Club.
Members and guests were greeted at the door with a “diamond” sprinkled fountain constructed of sterling silver dishes containing “diamonds” with water flowing from one dish to another, all sitting on a dark blue cloth, studded with more “diamonds”. The fountain is the creation of members Kathryn Whitacre and Dayton Knipher. Inside, each person was greeted and asked to sign the guest book and note a reminiscence.
Each guest table, with a shower of “diamonds” and other items, featured a beautiful formal tea service all polished to a high gloss. All were brought by individual members. Naomi Shiga, Music Director at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, entertained by playing the piano during the tea.
The Tacoma Yacht Club prepared a beautiful tea that everyone enjoyed. Special guests included Gene Hayes, Virginia Priest and Jan Lang from Chapter C, our “mother” chapter. All but one of our initial members were members of Chapter C; the other was from Chapter T, Hoquiam.
Special thanks were given to Event Chair Jone Borhek, Mistress of Ceremonies Co-President Lynn Riegal, and Photographer Dayton Knipher. “Education is a form of power”, as Co-President Lynn Riegal says.
Carol Kalahan was honored for her 80 years as a P.E.O. member in three Washington chapters. Margie Hoffman was given a crystal bowl with the signatures of all members etched on it in recognition of her support and love for Chapter AY. Kathryn Whitacre etched the bowl.
Let’s start with a little P.E.O and Chapter AY history:
In 1869 seven friends at Iowa Wesleyan College in Ames organized a sorority in Iowa. By 1902, it had opened membership to women in the community. Historically, chapters have been helping women achieve their education goals through the P.E.O. Projects with scholarships, grants and loans.
AY was organized on June 15, 1922 by Emma Lou Cunningham, State Organizer with twenty-one charter members, all coming by demit (transfer) from Chapter C and one from Hoquiam, Chapter T. The first meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Charles Mason in the North End. The new chapter raised funds for furniture and carpet for the new Franke Toby Jones Retirement Home for teachers or other women who retired but needed support. The members were asked to write letters to members of Congress to change the name of Mt. Rainier back to Mt. Tahoma. (Hasn’t happened yet!)
In 1929, when the stock market crashed and plunged America into the Great Depression, AY gave grocery showers for needy families, contributed to the Red Cross and the Anti TB organization. Every member was assessed $1 for a Scholarship Fund, supported by BYL parties (Bring Your Lunch.)
In the 1940s, the decade began with the Depression and ended with rumblings of war. Some women took over wartime jobs. AY gave personal help to an Episcopal rector and wife in a suburb of Liverpool, England, sending parcels of food, clothing and encouraging letters. The chapter participated in Defense Work – making curtains for the Fort Lewis recreation rooms, visiting sons of P.E.O. sisters from other areas, and donating to the Milk Fund, Flower Fund, the Red Cross and food and clothing drives for needy families. The AY programs for 1948 and 1949 were titled “Contributions for Women in the Modern Age” as it looked to the next decade. The topics included Music, Science, United Nations, Politics, and Literature, to list a few.
By the time the 1950s came along, people were purchasing the new invention, television, and buying new cars when gas was 19 cents a gallon. During this decade AY bought new robes and the Philanthropic Committee bought blouses for 12 girls at Remann Hall. At the December 1955 Christmas party, the term “Make It and Take It” for our annual fund raiser originated; we raised a total of $93.70. The money paid for summer camps for children through the Child Guidance Clinic. Care packages were sent to Korea and there was a BIL dinner party held. (Brothers-In-Love are the husbands of members.)
To adjust to this decade, programs were based on the Eisenhower Commission’s topic “Goals of America”, including “Goals in the Arts& Sciences, Defense of the Free World and the United Nations.
According to the minutes of 1967, “Hazel Whitacre was the auctioneer for our auction of treasures and she squeezed the last penny from reluctant bidders.” In 1968, the Make It and Take It proceeds sent $39 to help furnish and redecorate the Washington Suite at Cottey College.
The 1970s sere known as the “Me Generation” and these were troubled times: Watergate, the end of the Vietnam War, and the fight for equal rights were in the news. Women’s rights were being considered with the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe vs. Wade. The average attendance was 20-25 members with a membership of 45. The Secret Sister program was established to reinforce relations within AY and a scrapbook was bought to collect autobiographies and photos of the members and events. Donations were given to the Tacoma Youth Symphony, the new YMCA building, Christmas House, the Edith Markham Wallace Scholarship, Girl Scouts – #16, Associated Ministries, local Food Banks and the Pierce County Home for Youths.
The 1980s were known for materialism and commercialism. Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court and the Berlin Wall was torn down. Apple, Microsoft and Intel were new words, as was AIDS.
In Tacoma, the restoration of the Pantages Theatre, the building of the Tacoma Dome and additions to Point Defiance made the news. The first of many picnics was held at the cabin of Edith McCall on Fox Island. Kathryn Whitacre created a banner for a theater presentation, strung high above Tacoma streets and B.J. Smith was honored as the Chief Volunteer at the US Figure Skating Championship at the new Tacoma Dome. A check of $1,000 was accepted from Roseanna McQueston McKinny in appreciation for the educational assistance given her in 1927; no one knows how much the initial grant was. In our local Reciprocity (a group of chapters in a local area) we banded together to send $688 to Cottey’s Performing Arts Center Education. The phrase, “A P.E.O. never says ‘no’” was coined but who knows who introduced it.
The 1990s saw the unification of Germany and the Gulf War. Popular television programs, The Bill Cosby Show, Johnny Carson Show and Cheers ended their long time on the air. The first Harry Potter book was printed. In 1990, AY was in charge of the annual Founders Day program. Ann Palmer chaired the annual the Centennial Fashion Show, honoring Washington State’s 100the Anniversary. Ann’s daughter Ellen sang, accompanied by Janice Garland on the piano. A baby shower was given for Sandy Lawrence for her daughter Diane, including the traditional silver spoon.
For the first time guests were invited to Make It and Take It with a much-increased result of $603.80. Kathryn Whitacre supervised the sisters as they dyed silk scarves for themselves and to sell. A book club was established. Projects we donated to were the Habitat for Humanity, YMCA Women’s Project to help women get their degrees, YMCA’s Battered Women’s Shelter and a $350 gift certificate to a woman and mother for textbooks and a nursing uniform.
In the Millennium and the 21st Century, looked forward to with such anticipation and love, was turned into a decade of fear and concern, beginning with 9-11, and then the global recession and collapse of Wall Street. However, we did have Lady Gaga and the internet.
Sandy Roszman introduced Weekend Clothing Parties as a fun get-together and fund raiser. Birthday lunches were established by Cindy Karst and a BIL party was held at the Hoffman’s Workshop with a chili feed. A joint meeting was held with Chapter C at Frank Tobey Jones, celebrating our connection to the home. Sandy Lawrence opened her home for a P.E.O. B & B and we began going to baseball games, first in Seattle with the Mariners, then at Cheney Stadium with the Tigers, then the Rainiers. Founders’ Day was celebrated at the Canterwood Golf Club with AY’s program, “Hats Through the Ages.”
In 2010 as we began the decade, President Phyllis Hayes, ever the mariner, wrote in her President’s Letter, “I wish you, Chapter AY, continued fair winds, blue skies and following seas and Full Speed Ahead.” Indeed, we did, as the former Make and Take It went to new heights, beginning in 2011 with a new location and a new $2000 goal. We reaped $4,000 and the old Make It and Take It had a new name, the Star Bazaar. A total of $14,000 was raised with monies going to International and State Projects and to three college women for books. By 2017, more than $17,000 was grossed. New technology streamlined the process, eliminating many hours of work. A tradition was established, to send $50 to the Edith Markham Wallace Fund in memory of a departed Sister.
The first Washington State AY Scholarship for Washington State Women was established, chaired by Sandy Lawrence. Sandy Lawrence’s newly opened P.E.O. B&B was becoming a very profitable enterprise, bringing in over $2,500. The Sister Connections Events was a popular activity. Its purpose was two-fold: strengthening bonds between sisters and acting as a fund raiser. The annual picnic on Peg and Don Doman’s deck also brought us together. Coffees were introduced for members to meet potential new members in an informal way.
As the decade geared down, the world was hit with the ongoing COVID pandemic and in 2019 everything was shut down. In true form, AY survived and prospered. President Carol Ayers and her able board members continued to inspire us through these past three years. Ann Marie Genco, with her high-tech background, taught us to ZOOM. And we can’t forget Katie Patjens and her committee who have kept our noses to the grindstone as we look forward to another successful Star Bazaar this year.
2022 is a very special year, marking our 100th Anniversary and the beginning of our 200th year. AY looks forward to flying higher in the next 100 years as it continues to serve the community and to encourage and help women to further their education, and for each member to enjoy the fellowship of sisterhood.
Let’s have a cheer for all those sisters who have made AY what it is today! Over the life of our Chapter, we have been dedicated to helping women get the education they need through our support of the P.E.O. Projects. “Education is a form of power”, as Co-President Lynn Riegal says.
The International P.E.O. Projects include:
Educational Loan Fund (ELF) lends money to qualified women students to assist them in securing higher education. The current interest rate is 2% and is eligible for any accredited post-secondary education institution offering a diploma or craft certification. It has loaned $235.9 million.
P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship Fund (IPS), established in 1949 to provide scholarships for women from other countries than US and Canada for graduate study in the US or Canada. Has provided $45.5 million in scholarships.
P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education (PCE) Established in 1973 to provide need-based grants to women in the U.S. and Canada whose education has been interrupted and who find it necessary to return to school to complete a degree or certification that will improve their marketable skills for employment to support themselves and/or their families. Has given $67.6 million in grants.
P.E.O. Scholar Awards (PSA) Established in 1991 to provide substantial merit-based awards for women of the US and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral-level degree at an accredited college or university. Has awarded $32.1 million in scholarships.
P.E.O. Star Scholarship Established in 1991 to provide scholarships for exceptional women in their final year of high school to attend an accredited postsecondary educational institution in the U.S. or Canada in the next academic year. Has given $17.2 million in scholarships.
Cottey College A nationally ranked, fully accredited, independent liberal arts and sciences college for women, located in Nevada, Missouri, has been owned/supported by P.E.O. since 1927 and offers baccalaureate and associate degrees in a variety of majors. Cottey College, a debt-free institution, welcomes women from around the world.
For information about the P.E.O. scholarships, loans and grants, contact any local P.E.O. member or chapter, or go to peointernational.org. The International will refer to a chapter in your community.
If you, or a woman you know, is in need of money to attain a degree or certification, ask a local P.E.O. member for help. If you don’t know a member, go to peointernational.org. They can match you up with a local chapter.