The Nineteenth Century Club & The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association - Learning and Giving: Our Focus


The Presidents

The Gentle Force: The Nineteenth Century Woman's Club of Oak ParkThis history of Nineteenth Century presidents is excerpted with permission from The Gentle Force: The Nineteenth Century Woman’s Club of Oak Park (1988, 1992) by Carolyn O. Poplett (past president) with Mary Ann Porucznik (member).

This book is available for purchase at the building office.

No portion of "The Gentle Force: The Nineteenth Century Woman’s Club of Oak Park" can be used or reproduced without the written permission of Carolyn O. Poplett, author and past president.

Autobiography of Pat Leavy provided by Pat Leavy
Autobiography of Sherlynn Reid provided by Sherlynn Reid
Biographies of Elizabeth Kirby and Marvel Kirk by Don and Betty Peaslee (members)
Biography of Helen Stastny provided by Carolyn Poplett and Debb Hammond, November 2009

No portion of the autobiographies of Pat Leavy and Sherlynn Reid can be used or reproduced without their written permission.

No portion of the biographies of Elizabeth Kirby, Marvel Kirk, or Helen Stastny can be used or reproduced without the written permission of the Nineteenth Century Charitable Association/The Nineteenth Century Club.

No photographs on this or any other page on this website can be used or reproduced without the written permission of the Nineteenth Century Charitable Association/The Ninetenth Century Club.

Be sure to visit our Founder's page

Marie C. Remick
Elected to membership: 1891

Marie C. Remick came to Oak Park sometime after her studies at Elmira College in New York. First president of the Nineteenth Century Club, she was described as "handsome, fearless and eloquent. She was so advanced in her ideas of social and economic justice that many of us, even today, have scarcely overtaken her." [May Estelle Cook, 1941]

She was both a lecturer and activist. She was the first to start the Club's work with travelling libraries. In Chicago, she was a member of the Political Equity League, a member of the Education Committee of the Chicago Woman's Club, and later its president. She helped plan that Club's successful campaign to put one of its members on the Chicago School Board, and adapted the ideas of that program in the campaign to elect a member of the Nineteenth Century Club to the Oak Park/River Forest High School Board. After only one year as president of the Chicago Woman's Club, she gave up that office due to failing health, and died in 1901. She had two daughters and a son.

(Obituary: Oak Park Times, Apr. 11, 1901; see also Oak Park Reporter, Apr. 11, 1901)

Marie E. Remick

Emily Conant
Elected to membership: 1891

Emily Conant (Mrs. Luther), the second president of the Nineteenth Century Club, had "the genuine Promethean fire which serves mankind." [May Estelle Cook, 1941] She was a long-time volunteer and president of the Woman's Club of Chicago Commons, with its vast network of social agencies. At her death, the Club paid for a memorial fountain honoring her.

She was a co-founder of the West Suburban Suffrage League, which became the Suburban Civics and Equal Suffrage Association, and eventually developed into the local chapter of the League of Women Voters. She was also president of the Chicago Woman's Club. Her husband was president of Subscription News Service, with offices in New York and London. The Conants had three children: a son who predeceased her and two daughters. She died in 1927.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Jan. 2, 1937 for her husband Luther)

Emily C. Conant

Phoebe Butler
Elected to membership: 1891

Phoebe Butler (Mrs. Andrew) was the third president of the Club. It was she who suggested the Club motto, the Browning quote, "Why stay we on earth unless to grow?" She was well known locally as an ardent student and lecturer. She was chosen to make the first bid by a woman for the high school board. The effort (albeit unsuccessful) was Club sponsored and backed by the local press. She later became president of the Chicago Woman's Club.

Phoebe Butler was an inspiration to young people, who, fascinated by her scholarly-bookish ways, called her "Aunt Phoebe." The first Club banquet was held in her home in 1895, with this inducement: "Come for a breakfast with our autocrat." She lectured to co-educational adult groups and at the high school as well. She was also a member of Belles Lettres.

Mrs. Butler's husband was a banker, lawyer, author and assessor of Cicero Township (which then included Oak Park). He was a founder of Unity Church here and was interested in "liberal and national religion." When Mrs. Butler asked permis­sion to announce the availability of one her husband's books, her request was denied-with a reminder of Club policy not to sell items from the platform. The Butlers had a single son who predeceased them.

(Obituary: Oak Park Vindicator, Mar. 26, 1927 for her husband.)

Phoebe M. Butler

Mary E. Marsh
Elected to membership: 1893

Mary Marsh (Mrs. Cedrick G.) was the aunt of Julia Lathrop1; and according to May Estelle Cook, she "had many of the qualities that made her niece famous." Devoted to libraries, she reported enthusiastically in her annual report: "The Library Committee has done fine work preparing seven travelling libraries and four home libraries". [There is some disparity in the reporting on the travelling libraries. There were by all accounts seven, plus one in the Dakotas, along with work for the local library. The four local libraries she alludes to may be one in River Forest, one in Oak Park, and some school libraries.] She also worked hard for kindergartens, and noted that the Club was the first to agitate for "clean streets and alleys."

One characteristic she did not share with her niece was support for female suffrage. She did not sign the petition to put Phoebe Butler on the high school board, or that for the three club women who ran for University of Illinois trustee. At one point she actually resigned from the Club, only to return. No doubt her coolness on the issue of suffrage motivated her.

(Obituary: None found in local press.)

1First Chief of the Children's Bureau,U.S. Department of Labor. A friend of Jane Addams
, Lathrop worked at Hull House and served on the Illinois State Charities Board. She was credited with improving birth registration and insisting that child care workers be trained.

Mary E. Marsh

Julia Morris
Elected to membership: 1891

Julia Morris (Mrs. Gardner), another founder, was the Club's fifth president. She was noted for being a very serene and capable woman. No one was encouraged to keep member­ship in the Club who did not share the zeal for keeping commitments - not just to an office, but to community work and club programming as well. "Growing" was taken seriously. During Mrs. Morris' presidency, Mrs. Seabury wrote in her report that "within the club year, there has not been a single failure to respond on the part of any individual, committee or officer who has accepted work or responsibility."

(Obituary: None found in local press.)

Julia Morris

Grace Davidson
Elected to membership: 1897
1900-1901; 1913-1914

Grace Davidson (Mrs. George) served two one-year terms as president: in 1900 and again in 1913, when Mrs. Belknap moved to Wisconsin. Mrs. Davidson was welcomed back to the presidency "by her many friends in the Club who know her ability and are pleased she will again take up this work for which her experience has prepared her." (Oak Leaves, October, 1913).

It was she who appointed Sybil Parsons to the post of "custodian" of the Club records and memorabilia. Later Mrs. S. N. Browne took over this work, organizing records and binding the years of records for safe-keeping. During her second term as president, Mrs. Davidson brought the first plan for a Club building to the membership. The plan and site were later ruled unsuitable, but she had started the work.

She was very hard-working and made appeals for faithful­ness to assignments and attendance. She felt that "the require­ments for such a Club were many, as were its resources." (October 9, 1903). Mrs. Davidson was also one of the founders of the Economy Shop.

Click here to see an image of Page 67 of a free digitized Google ebook of Directory and register of women's clubs: city of Chicago and vicinity, 1914 which shows Grace Davideson as President as well as the officers and committees.

Link to entire book

(Obituary: None found in local press, but an article about her appeared in the Oak Leaves, Oct. 6, 1913.)

Grace L. Davidson

Martha H. Nash
Elected to membership: 1897

Martha H. Nash (Mrs. O.W.), the Club's seventh president, was born in Chicago in 1845. She attended Skinner School and the first city high school in Chicago. The Nash's home was a center "which radiated good cheer and hospitality." She was president of the George Rogers Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, served several terms as president of the Ladies Social Union, and was president of the Universalist Woman's Association of Illinois for 13 years. Her work for good causes spanned more than 30 years. While she was president of the Nineteenth Century Club, the Village of Oak Park was incorporated. Thereupon, it is reported, club members visited Village Hall and asked to be "put on your committees."

Mrs. Nash served both locally and in Cook County. She worked with Vacation Schools, the Juvenile Protective Agency, Juvenile Courts, the Municipal Art League and the League of Cook County Clubs. Her husband was the superintendent at Dunning Mental Hospital. She died in 1914 in Galesburg, IL, where she and her husband had moved because of her poor health. They had two sons, Dr. Edwin Nash of Galesburg and Wilmar, who lived in Massachusetts.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Oct. 31, 1914.)

Martha H. Nash

Anna M. Mathews
Elected to membership: 1898

Anna M. Mathews was the Club's eighth president. Her journals describing a trip to Europe and Palestine aboard the SS. Celtic were exquisite travelogues that were serialized in the Oak Leaves, and given preferential coverage over those by the local Congregational minister, Dr. Barton, about his trip to Palestine. Later Miss Mathews continued to write for the Oak Leaves on various topics of interest to her.

Miss Mathews was born and reared in Morrison, Illinois, where she began her teaching career. She taught school in Oak Park from 1888 to 1897. A member of the local Library Board, she served for nine years, from 1917-1926. She was also president of the Women's Society of the First Presbyterian Church of Oak Park, and a member of the Needlework Guild.

Not only was Miss Mathews erudite, she was also an excellent moderator. She moderated many open meetings on various local and statewide issues, including the hotly debated question on whether or not to have sororities and fraternities at the local high school.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Jan. 2, 1959.)

Anna M. Mathews

Ellen S. Bryant
Elected to membership: 1896

On the shoulders of the Club's ninth president, Ellen S. Bryant (Mrs. Arthur), fell the job of presiding over what May Estelle Cook called the Club's stormiest debate ever - whether or not to support municipal suffrage (1905-1906). "Mrs. Bryant, the President, rode the whirlwind and directed the storm to good purpose and we went on record as favoring municipal suffrage."

She was regarded as "one of the most prominent and influential women in Oak Park. She was well-known not just in Oak Park, but as an influential leader in Chicago for the common good." (Oak Leaves, January 2, 1907) She was President of the Hepzibah Home Board.

Mr. Bryant had been successful in the lumber business, but died rather young. Mrs. Bryant herself died late in 1936. Their two daughters survived her.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Jan. 2, 1937.)

Ellen S. Bryant

Clara A. Packard
Elected to membership: 1896

Clara A. Packard (Mrs. S.W.), tenth president, was the wife of a lawyer, Samuel Packard. Reportedly he was highly selective about his clients, colorful in style, and effective in representa­tion and in remuneration for himself. Mrs. Packard was also a colorful, dramatic character, frequently starring in plays sponsored by the Club.

Mrs. Packard was the first of only two presidents to serve two years as president of the Nineteenth Century Club. She also served two years as president of the Women's Society of the First Congregational Church. She was picked to run for Congress in 1891, as part of a local effort to break the all-male government monopoly.

The lives of the Packards' three children reflected their parents' interest in government and reform causes. Their son Walter worked for the Resettlement Administration in Wash­ington, D.C. and later worked on agricultural research for the Mexican Government, under a project sponsored by the U.S. Agricultural Department. One daughter graduated from the New York School of Philanthropy, received her Master's Degree from Columbia, and served as an investigator for the New York Factory Commission. Another daughter worked as an investigator for the Mothers' Pension, in New York.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, 1926.)

Clara A. Packard

Jennis H. Smeeth
Elected to membership: 1896

Jennis H. Smeeth, (Mrs. Edwin E.) was the Club's eleventh president. She believed in the reign of law. This belief was a factor in all her "thinking and acting. It made for precision and brevity." She taught parliamentary law both for the Club and for other groups. She is credited with drawing up the effective by­laws, based on a foundation of law and reasonableness, under which the Club operates today.

Of Mrs. Smeeth it was said, "She made motions and seconded them, but was always ready to amend and amend again. She believed in minority reports, but there was no rancor when they failed. She smilingly joined the majority and hopefully awaited the advance of the minority."

She served on the high school board, was an active member of the League of Women Voters, and served as an officer in other groups "interested in peace, inter-racialism and interna­tionalism. She knew her ideas conflicted with conservatism, but since she was honest and sincere, she accepted opposition with a certain gaiety, which commanded respect."

The Smeeth's had three sons.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, April 10, 1944.)

Jennis H. Smeeth

Lulu S. Belknap
Elected to membership: 1896

It was while Lulu S. Belknap (Mrs. Giles) was serving as president that the Club chorus gave its first concert. Dues under her presidency were raised from $3.00 to $5.00. Mrs. Belknap was an energetic, hearty woman both intellectually curious and well-informed. An altruistic person, she worked hard for good causes. She served two terms on the Oak Park elementary school board, and was one of the early members of the Second Congregational Church (now Pilgrim Congregational). She was president of the Oak Park/River Forest Day Nursery.

She was able to serve only a one year term as president, because her husband's business interests necessitated a move to Wisconsin. He "supported her in her public spirit and was himself noted for his sense of responsibility." Mr. Belknap was active in the Creamery Packing Manufacturing Company.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Aug. 17, 1944.)

Lulu S. Belknap

Elinor S. Hamilton
Elected to membership: 1899

By the time Elinor Hamilton (Mrs. Edwin) was president, the Club had nearly outgrown the space at the Scoville Institute. Members were willing to pay a share of the cost of adding another wing, and Mrs. Hamilton laid their case before the Institute's Board of Directors. In return, the Club asked for exclusive use of the Institute on Mondays, representation on the Institute's Board of Directors, "and the abandonment of some of their silly rules. When the Board refused the women's request, an earnest quest began for a proper building site.

Mrs. Hamilton gave an address on July 15, 1927 when the new building's cornerstone was laid. A copy rests in the copper box directly beneath the stone.

The Hamiltons had a son and two daughters.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, May 24, 1925.)

Elinor S. Hamilton

Amelia A. Macnish
Elected to membership: 1900

Amelia Macnish (Mrs. Frederick) was president when the Club voted in a stormy session to cancel the funds already appropriated for the State Suffrage Commission. (The Club had at least four members on the commission at that time: Grace Wilbur Trout, Dr. Anna Blount, Grace Hall Hemingway, and Anna Lloyd Wright.) She also had to face the pressures brought on by World War I, and the need to transfer funds raised for a Club building into bonds for the war effort.

The Oak Leaves quoted her on October 7, 1916: "The Club is one big family and as in all families, members may not entirely agree when financial matters come up for discussion. But there is no doubt that all are devoted to the best interest of the organization." Despite all the stresses of her post, she had the courage to invite Grace Wilbur Trout, famed suffragist and member, to give the opening speech during the Club's 25th anniversary year. She also served as president of the Municipal Art League.

(Obituary: None found in local press.)

Amelia A. Macnish

Erma C. Whipple
Elected to membership: 1909

Erma Whipple (Mrs. Edwin) served as president of the Club during the crisis of World War I. The members held benefits to raise money for Red Cross shipments overseas for war relief, sold thrift stamps and government bonds to support the war effort, and made lists of members' talents that could be used for war relief or the war effort. Because Monday assemblies were banned by the Federal Fuel Administration, club meetings were held only on Thursday. Hours were limited; the work was exten­sive and accomplished most efficiently.

During her presidency, the name of the Club was changed from the Nineteenth Century Club to the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club. Mrs. Whipple was first to realize need for an associate membership. She believed that working women needed a place to meet, and she also recognized that the regular club membership alone simply couldn't afford the expense of a clubhouse. When the clubhouse was built in 1928, she helped recruit over 300 teachers and working women before the building even opened.

She possessed a great sense of humor. Once, when intro­ducing judge and poet John Kendrick Bangs, she said, "Our speaker is so well-known that he does not need to be boosted by a good introduction, nor challenged by a poor one." She was the author of several articles and histories of the Club for the local press.

(Obituary: none found in local press.)

Erma C. Whipple

Edna Austin
Elected to membership: 1905

Edna Austin (Mrs. Henry W.) was born in Minnesota and came to Oak Park to teach school in 1902. She was keenly interested in both domestic science and international relations, and established the Council on International Affairs in Oak Park/River Forest. Today, this group helps sponsor the building of schools in underdeveloped countries.

Mrs. Austin was active in a number of organizations, both in Oak Park and in Chicago. She was a member of the boards of the Oak Park/River Forest Symphony, the Oak Park/River Forest High School and the Oak Park Art League, where she was also president. A talented amateur artist, she exhibited her paintings at the Art League and at the Club. She was also a founder of the Oak Park/River Forest Day Nursery (then known as the Charlton Day Nursery) and the Community Lecture Series.

In Chicago, she did settlement house work, an interest she maintained through membership in the Immigrant Protection League. She was also a member of other women's clubs, including the Fortnightly, the Chicago Woman's Club and the Woman's Athletic Club.

Her famous husband Henry Austin was a judge and later a state senator. The Austins had three adopted children; daughter-in-law Virginia is a current member of the Club.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, July 23, 1964.)

Edna Austin

Emma E. Hilton
Elected to membership: 1916

Emma Hilton (Mrs. Harold) was the only president to serve four years as president in the Club's early days, as the Club pushed forward with plans for its own building, instead of shared space with the Oak Park Club. She was ably assisted in this endeavor by Mrs. Simpson Dunlop and Mrs. Paul Oliver, the heads of the Building Committee.

Mrs. Hilton noted that such an undertaking in the name of women and children's needs could not be just for a privileged few. "Let us be inclusive; anyone can be exclusive," she said. Even though the building fund absorbed most of the Club's funds and energies, members tried to keep benevolence giving at approximately 37% of their budget.

She was a dedicated Red Cross worker, a devoted member of the Thimble Club, a member of the Oak Park Library Board, the Scoville Institute Board, West Suburban Service president and president of Nakama. She also served on Oak Park's Junior College Advisory Committee.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Aug. 30, 1945.)

Emma E. Hilton

Annie P. Hook
Elected to membership: 1906

May this building give to the Nineteenth Century Women's Club unlimited power for service to the community and may it bind its members together in friendship and understanding." So said Annie Hook (Mrs. Arthur) as she dedicated the new Club building, July 5, 1927. There was no need for a long address: the project spoke for itself.

On the opening day of the previous Club year (1926), Mrs. Hook had reminded the members of the long line of former presidents and committee chairs who had kept the ideals of the Club. It was these women, she said, who made the need for the building real and the actual construction possible.

During her presidency the Club sponsored a debate, chaired by: Mrs. A.C. (Claire) Joslyn: "Resolved that women should assume obligations of public office." The decision was in favor of the resolution, and the Club was quick to support member Dorothy Kerr's campaign for village trustee.

An avid volunteer on behalf of shut-ins, Mrs. Hook also served as a board member for the Vocational Society for Shut-ins. She was pictured on the cover of the Oak Leaves in 1924 for her work with shut-ins. She was also on the board of Hepzibah Home, and president of that institution. The local press reported that she worked hard "in relieving distress in many obscure corners of poverty and ill health."

(Obituary: None found in local press.)

Annie P. Hook

Dorothy Kerr
Elected to membership: 1916

Dorothy Kerr (Mrs. E. K.) was a native Oak Parker and the daughter of club member Elizabeth Charlton, who founded the Associated Charities (later to develop into the Family Service & Mental Health Center of Oak Park/River Forest). After graduating from Vassar, Mrs. Kerr served as children's librarian in the Oak Park Library.

She found time to serve on practically every Oak Park/River Forest board (missing only the Family Service Board). She served as President of the Board for the Day Nursery which had been founded by the Club in her mother's honor and memory. Her greatest community and Club service, though, was her election to the Village Board as first female Trustee. The Club actively supported her campaign, as they had supported Phoebe Butler's campaign so many years earlier for the Oak Park High School Board. When Dorothy was installed as Trustee, the celebration extended throughout the village, with marching bands and an abundance of flowers. Her male colleagues at first didn't know how to react; one acknowledged her as the new "Trustee She." But her innate dignity soon put an end to such outbursts. Mrs. Kerr served as Trustee for 18 years. When she finally left elected office, she was appointed Village Auditor and served from 1943-45.

The Kerrs had no children, but shared interests such as opera, golf, and tennis. She did all this without household help.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, November 15, 1962.)

Dorothy Kerr

Margaret J. Schukraft
Elected to membership: 1917

Housekeeping issues and staffing problems faced Margaret Schukraft (Mrs. William) when she took over the helm of the Club. She loved the challenges and met them with good spirit, hard work, and a supportive board. In November of her first year in office she said, "The board, like many individuals whose worldly goods increase, has found that possessions bring responsibilities. Many hours of earnest thought and study have been given to the problems concerning the management of our beautiful Club home. Each member of the board represents a piece of the work and they have all been diligent, faithful and enthusiastic workers."

Activities filled the clubhouse both day and evening in addition to the regular and department meetings. A number of study classes were offered. These included psychology, litera­ture, parliamentary law, public speaking, social studies, two levels of Spanish and three levels of French. All classes were listed in the year book, and included full bibliographies for the courses.

All was not serious study. Club members mixed fun and fitness, too, with bridge lessons, exercise classes, swimming, competitive games, aesthetic dancing and clogging, thanks to the new Athletic Department.

(Obituary: None found in local press. See Oak Leaves, Oct. 30, 1930.)

Margaret J. Schukraft

Susan Caldwell
Elected to membership: 1899

During the presidency of Susan Caldwell (Mrs. John), the Club belonged to both the National and State Federations of Women's Clubs. Many clubs had been hit hard by the depression and the district's brave message was "build for the future." The Club's Associate Membership was greatly affected. Parties were given at the club to encourage use of the swimming pool by teacher-members and their friends. But for many, club membership was becoming a luxury.

Mrs. Caldwell was also president of the Oak Park & River Forest Day Nursery board. An extremely enlightened and active person, she used other resources in the village and county to help families (including the social workers at the local Family Service Agency). Diet and clothing were problems addressed by the agency and sharing nutritional information with parents was paramount. She reported that one family was perplexed that their child in day care kept asking for milk for breakfast instead of coffee.

Her husband was an executive for the Northwestern Railroad. The Caldwells had three children, two sons and a daughter.

(Obituary: None found in local press.)

Susan Caldwell

Jewell Tomlinson Belknap
Elected to membership: 1913

Jewell Tomlinson (Mrs. E.) was a direct descendant of two pioneer settlers in Oak Park, Joseph Kettlestrings and O.W. Herrick. A tiny woman with great ambition, enormous energy, and good humor, she was active in the Oak Park Council on International Affairs and the First Congregational Church. Her interest in women and children's issues led to her service on the Metropolitan YWCA board.

During her presidency the Club was faced with a series of problems related to the Depression. Dues were slashed from $25 to $10, and economies were made on all levels. Annual printing of yearbooks was suspended, and replaced with a simple calendar every other year. Mrs. Tomlinson led a door-to-door canvass for new members to replace the associate and general members who no longer had funds to spare for mem­bership dues.

The Tomlinsons had two children, a son and daughter. After her husband's death, Mrs. Tomlinson remarried in 1971 to Arthur Belknap. She died in 1976.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Aug. 4, 1976.)

Jewell Tomlinson Belknap

Rachel E. Crandell
Elected to membership: 1909

Rachel Crandell (Mrs. C. Burton), like many other presi­dents of the Club, was a former school teacher. She excelled in boardmanship, and served on several. As president of the local family service agency, she transformed it to a fully accredited agency with trained social workers. She worked with agencies in Berwyn and Cicero to establish appropriate social services for those communities. She was a founder and president of the Economy Shop, active in Infant Welfare, the First Congrega­tional Church and the Tea Cup Circle.

Her husband was president of Glaser-Crandell, a Chicago food products firm. They had two sons (one of whom prede­ceased his mother) and a daughter. She died at age 86.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Mar. 19, 1960.)

Rachel E. Crandell

Gladys Houser
Elected to membership: 1926

The youngest president of the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club, Gladys Houser (Mrs. Arthur M., Jr.) was a popular, talented leader. Because the tradition was to find new leadership every two years, club members grieved that she was president when she was so young, fearing that other assignments would miss her skills. But later she would serve as Personnel Chair and as an active program/talent scout.

She carried forth the Club's traditional connections to educational institutions. She served on both the Oak Park/River Forest High School board and the Community Lectures series board. She was elected president of the Chicago Drama League, serving the entire metropolitan area for three terms. Prior to her marriage to Arthur Houser, she was an assistant dean at the University of Illinois where a scholarship exists in her name.

Mrs. Houser used her travels as the basis of marvelous lectures about the customs of other cultures. Her love of theater-in New York or London-provided local audiences with reviews of all the latest dramas. She eagerly helped other program chairs. She has an uncanny knack for spotting talent. Socially, she and her husband were marvelous and creative

Currently she resides in the East near her daughter. She was widowed in 1991 and has two grandsons

Gladys Houser

Hazel Seabury Cotsworth
Elected to membership: 1907

"The older I grow, the more impressed I am with the fine people in this world." Hazel Seabury Cotsworth (Mrs. Albert, Jr.) declared at her 90th birthday celebration. Her twinkly interest in everything around her and her great affection for people made her a true community spirit and leader.

Her family, the Seaburys, were national and international philanthropists. She was the daughter of founder Clara Ward Seabury. Her daughter-in-law Virginia was a current, active club member continuing the Club tradition of inter-generational membership. Mrs. Cotsworth was president of Hepzibah Home, and active in Infant Welfare as well as her church. The Club's most celebrated publicity happened during her presidency when the Christian Science Monitor interviewed her.

During her presidency, the Club celebrated its Golden Jubilee. As part of the festivities, May Estelle Cook prepared a short history of the Club, The First Fifty Years. At the time, Miss Cook* was the only founder still living.

After graduating from Oak Park-River Forest High School in 1902, Hazel Seabury married Albert Cotsworth in 1907. Mr. Cotsworth, the son of a Chicago music critic and organist, was an ardent supporter of the Oak Park Symphony Orchestra. He supported his wife's interests and the two helped pass an ordinance permitting local nursing homes. He helped develop the Burlington Zephyr train, which was christened by their daughter Marguerite in 1934. After the christening, they celebrated at the White House.

The Cotsworths had three children, two sons and a daugh­ter. The daughter, Marguerite, is a well-known editor and writer who often lectures on literature. She shared this interest with her mother who not only liked to perform but who wrote plays for local production. Her son Albert III is an engineer and inventor, whose wife is an active club member.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Aug. 2, 1979.)

*A copy of Little Old Oak Park, written by May Estelle Cook, is in the Club's Marie Remick Collection.

Hazel Seabury Cotsworth

Sarah Fox
Elected to membership: 1919

Each president must weigh the overall purpose of the Club and determine how that mission can match the community needs. Sarah Fox (Mrs. Paul) realized that the needs for garments in institutions in this area were not being met. Using the framework of the Needlework Guild, she opened up sewing groups which included not only Guild members and Club members, but interested workers from the community at large. Soon women were arranging for free x-rays to the public and sewing garments for various institutions. She developed the Social Issues Committee into a fully developed Social Welfare Department.

During her presidency, Mrs. Fox helped organize the Club's war effort as well as its Social Welfare Department. Supplies were in short supply and the Club building itself had to be kept ready for use as an auxiliary hospital. The Club sold war bonds, taught classes in nutrition and nurses' training.

Mrs. Fox was active in Infant Welfare, the West Suburban Hospital Auxiliary and her church. Her service to the commu­nity spanned 40 years. Married to a well-known gynecologist, she had two children.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Jan. 13, 1971.)

Sarah Fox

Besse W. Boynton
Elected to membership: 1921

Besse Boynton (Mrs. Charles) was a well-known lecturer and radio personality. She hosted a 16-week lecture series on NBC, entitled "There Was A Woman." She travelled all over the country, giving her lectures to women's clubs, town hall meetings, and chautauquas. She was interested in the impact of "reformers, feminists and other stalwarts who accomplished much in the face of hardship" and believed that women still benefit from this heritage. "We are all an omnibus upon which our ancestors ride."

The puckish Mrs. Boynton frequently used humor to make serious statements. The programs took women out of obscurity and placed them, dramatically and firmly, in the lives of their famous husbands. A Michigan club reviewed one such program saying, "She related anecdotes with such dramatic force that the scenes and actors seem to rise up beside the podium." She loved to perform and saw the prospects for programs all around her. After her father-in-law was buried in Graceland Cemetery, she developed a tour and program around the cemetery and its famous inhabitants. She was so well-travelled that she was frequently consulted on how to travel, what to wear, and what to take along. She helped re-organize the Historical Society and the Hemingway Foundation.

Her husband was the son of a Chicago meat packer. She was an orphan adopted by a teacher, an early single parent. She lived past 90, and lost little of her appeal even in very old age.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, October 25, 1983.)

Besse W. Boynton

Janet I. Duncan
Elected to membership: 1931
1946-1947; 1952-1954

Janet Duncan (Mrs. Ives) was the 29th president of the Club in 1946 at the close of World War II. Due to her son's illness and her impending divorce (a rare event in those days in upper middle class Oak Park), she resigned after her first year. She accepted the presidency again for a full term in 1952.

She headed up the Chicago Drama League and the Allied Arts Group, an organizational group for women professionals in the arts. She became the executive director of the Senior Citizens' Center where she served with charm and grace until her retirement. She described her work as "a rich, rewarding experience with wonderful people. Age has never been very important to me. I believe that is because the relationship I had with my mother was that of good friend."

Born in Detroit, she graduated from the Meylegget Abel Violin School and subsequently taught violin and gave recitals. In 1953, under her leadership, the Founders' Memorial Scholarship Trust was established. Today, Mrs. Duncan (a pretty and perky octogenarian) resides in California with another former President, Marion Herzog, where she keeps busy, travelling and writing.

Janet I. Duncan

Ruth Sherwood
Elected to membership: 1913

Ruth Sherwood (Mrs. Everitt) was born in Vermont, the daughter of a Congregational minister. After moving to Ottawa, Illinois, she attended Rockford College.

Reporting on her visit to Federation meetings, Mrs. Sherwood said, "Fashions come and fashions go, but fashions in gentlewomen never change." On opening day, October, 1947, she reported that "Men were mentioned, but feminism was rampant." When asked why women were not interested in peace issues and why they had made so little progress in getting more prominent positions, she responded "Men don't want women to and women won't support each other, which should be rectified. Both women and men are at fault."

She called for continued support for International Relations activities. She realized that women's clubs were often the only community resource for such learning and programs. Children of the world, she reminded her audience, were important issues in any world peace plan. Mrs. Sherwood was active in Infant Welfare as well as in the Club, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, and her church.

Her husband was a banker at the Harris Trust in Chicago. They retired to Florida where she died at age 79 in 1968. They had one daughter.

Obituary: Oak Leaves, Jan. 2, 1969

Ruth Sherwood

Priscilla Alden Pratt
Elected to membership: 1939

Priscilla Pratt (Mrs. Jabez) was a well-known leader in the Girl Scout Movement. She served as Commissioner for the Lone Tree Area Girl Scout Council, as regional Chairman of the Great Lakes Council, as a National Board Member and as a Permanent Member of the World Federation of Girl Scouts.

During World War II, the Club had held classes, helped purchase ambulances, sold war bonds and maintained the clubhouse ready as an emergency hospital. Mrs. Pratt used these actions as leverage to obtain permission from Washington to install an elevator in the clubhouse, despite a ban on new construction. She was quick, well-organized and elegant. During her years at the helm of the Club, work continued in civil defense and at veterans' hospitals.

Mrs. Pratt, who was the daughter of a clipper ship's captain, walked with regal carriage and authority. One story she told involved a trip to Liberia. Her mother was aboard teaching and doing hand work when the king visited the ship. Impressed by the woman's activities, the king asked that his queen be allowed to observe. Shortly thereafter, the royal couple established the University of Liberia.

Mr. Pratt was vice president of Liquid Carbonic Corpora­tion. He and their only son were graduates of MIT.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Feb. 11, 1981.)

Priscilla Alden Pratt

Ruth Holt
Elected to membership: 1937

The prospect of a war in Korea was both frightening and disillusioning to the Club members. All efforts at peace seemed futile as the conflict in Korea escalated. Into this milieu stepped Ruth Holt (Mrs. Lester). Always aware of the societal issues around her, anxious to inform and to teach, she had an unfailing enjoyment of life, especially club life. She, like Gladys Houser, could speak extemporaneously at the podium; her speech flowed, filled with perfect descriptions and well-turned phrases. When she finished her two years' intensive work for the Club as president, her husband sent her a wire welcoming her home again.

Mrs. Holt presided over the Club's Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration, and instituted the first Founders' Memorial Scholarship. Her keen mind and social concern made her aware of the need for a clearing house agency to coordinate social work. She founded the Community Welfare Council in 1953. Her concern about the elderly led to the establishment of the Senior Citizens' Center of Oak Park-River Forest, the oldest such organization in this state. She also encouraged the Club's participation in the "Save the Children" relief program after World War II.

The Holts had two children and were avid readers and travellers. She was truly a woman for all seasons; ". . . how anyone could be so concise and interesting is a mystery." Both her children and husband predeceased her.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, July 29, 1976.)

Ruth Holt

Jean Spring
Elected to membership: 1934

Jean Spring (Mrs. Frederick, Jr.) hoped for an easy time as President, coasting along pleasantly on good manners and a fine organization. But instead she faced a frightening decline in membership. Dramatic social changes were taking place, and though the Club maintained the quality of its programs and organization, it did not address the impact of television, "white flight," or the growth of exurbia.

Mrs. Spring served on the Club's board as Secretary during the Sixtieth Anniversary celebration. She excelled at writing press releases, and did so for a number of groups. The Oak Leaves staff reported that they would miss her visits and her frequent news stories. She was active in the English Speaking Union, her church, and Travelers' Aid. After her retirement to Florida, she became a member of the Bellair Republican Women's Club.

Her husband was president of Oak Park National Bank (now First Bank of Oak Park), and they had one daughter. Jean died at age 75 in 1974.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, Oct. 2, 1974.)

Jean Spring

Angeline P. Gebhard
Elected to membership: 1942

Angeline Gebhard (Mrs. Paul) was a powerhouse of energy, political acumen, brightness, and accomplishment. Like many former presidents and club members, she served on the high school board, where she was secretary for six years. She also served on the Community Chest Board of Governors, the Welfare Counci1 of Metropolitan Chicago, and the Community Lecture Series board. She became the second woman in Oak Park to serve as village trustee, although the Club itself did not campaign for her election, as it had for the first women trustee, Dorothy Kerr.

As a member of the League of Women Voters, she hosted a weekly radio program which led to a radio career in the 1930's. Under the pseudonym Ann Hart, she wrote and hosted a daily show, appeared in commercials, and toured as a lecturer, sharing her experiences in radio work. After the birth of her daughter, she designed her own day care program, taking the baby to the studio with her.

Mrs. Gebhard was known around the world for her work for the Presbyterian Church. A talented dramatist, she wrote and produced plays and became a leader in social actions and education. She served as a member of the Presbyterian Church's Boards of Christian Education, National Missions and General Assembly Mission Council. In these capacities, her family happily reports that she was "an ardent advocate for the poor, minorities and the disadvantaged, travelling extensively for the denomination to investigate social welfare institutions here and abroad."

As Club president, she tried to increase the membership roster by planning events for couples, thus encouraging men to use the club's facilities. She negotiated the purchase or the parking lot abutting the south side of the clubhouse, as well as a contract with the village of Oak Park to lease the lot. She began serious negotiations with the General Federation of Women's Clubs, documenting the members' unhappiness with that authority.

She married her college sweetheart and they had two children. She died in 1989 in California.

(Obituary: None found in local press.)

Angeline P. Gebhard

Luella W. Hein
Elected to membership: 1936

Luella Hein (Mrs. Lee) was so tiny that, even on a raised platform stage, she had to sit on pillows stacked on her chair for the audience to see her. In those days the Recording Secretary, the President, the Press Chair and the person introducing the program speaker all sat on the stage with the speaker throughout the meeting (unless the full stage was needed for the program). All wore the appropriate gloves (right color, right length), which could only be removed if necessary to turn a page, and only if done decorously. Hats were always a proper topping. The President would request that everyone "consider the persons behind," a signal to remove hats so that everyone could see the program.

Despite her tiny stature, Mrs. Hein had a tiger inside. A graduate from Northwestern University, she was excellent with figures and business management. During her presidency, Luella wrote a masterly letter to the Federation documenting forcefully and factually the Club's final decision to withdraw once again from membership. She also saw the Club through a major crisis regarding the service of liquor at rental functions. (The Club had a long history of support for prohibition; even after prohibition was repealed, liquor was never served, only champagne.)

To attract new rental business and provide needed funds for the upkeep of the clubhouse, the club manager recommended serving liquor (in addition to champagne) at rental functions. The board agreed, but the membership was split. Mrs. Schwanke headed the opposition, and put her years of training in parliamentary law to work. She sent a letter to the President including the necessary signatures (plus two extra) to "ensure that you rescind the board action allowing the service of serving liquor, as allowed in our by-laws. Otherwise these signatures stand as notice, if you do not rescind, for a meeting of the entire membership for a floor vote." The board elected to follow the wishes of the membership and rescinded its support of liquor service, despite the negative impact such action would have on rentals. Liquor service at the Club would not begin until 1975.

Her husband, Dr. Lee Hein, was an Oak Park dentist for over forty years. They had no children and when she died in 1972, there were no close survivors.

Luella W. Hein

Marian Howie
Elected to membership: 1940

There is a river of passing events and its current is swift, noted Marian Howie (Mrs. Everett) as she introduced her afternoon series of programs on rivers. She, like so many others, both gave programs and served as first vice president (programs). Such an insight might well have applied to her life as well, for it moved her along rapidly, from place to place, event to event.

Mrs. Howie was born in North Adams, Massachusetts. But her father (W. I. Baucus) was one of the engineers for the Panama Canal and took his family to the Dominican Republic when she was still an infant. There, she learned to speak Spanish fluently. Her facility with the language was an impor­tant part of her later life. After her graduation from Smith College, Mrs. Howie taught at Shorewood High School (Wisconsin), and moved to Oak Park after her marriage to a prominent dentist here. She had one daughter, and returned to teaching when her child was grown, distinguishing herself as professor of Spanish at Elm­hurst College.

She shared her talents with club members and other organizations. She served on several boards, including the League of Women Voters, the Community Welfare Council and the Senior Citizens' Center of Oak Park River Forest. She was also president of the local Council of International Relations. She taught Spanish as part of the Club's study classes, and later named this event as the impetus for her acquisition of a Social Security card.

Mrs. Howie helped publish May Estelle Cook's book, Little Old Oak Park, with the assistance of the Dwight Folletts. This book, along with Cook's history of the Club's first fifty years, years a personal remembrance of Oak Park early years and citizens. Recently, Mrs. Howie retired to South Dakota to be near her daughter. There, she plans to continue volunteer library work.

Marian Howie

Kathryn Ross McDaniel
Elected to membership: 1952

Kathryn Ross McDaniel is the daughter of the late Dr. Marion Ross McDaniel, former high school superintendent. During his term, the local press reported (November 2, 1939) "graduates were admitted to most colleges of note without taking entrance examinations."

As the only daughter, Kathryn took her role in the community seriously. Both she and her mother were active in the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club and the Presbyterian Church. Her mother's membership in the Club was a gift of the Club, awarded to the wives of outstanding ministers and the school superintendents.

She was a very thorough leader. During her term the Club established the Benevolence Trust Fund, a tax-exempt fund to raise money to support the Club's many charitable giving projects. She insisted that the work of the Club be done well, and she did not countenance any slippage. Yet she was also very forgiving. While she was president, the elected chair of the tea committee asked to be relieved of the duties of her office due to family concerns. Miss McDaniel was reluctant to set a precedent, or to make resignation an "easy out." Instead, she offered help several times. But the committee head was adamant in her desire to be excused. Finally, the board, reflecting Miss McDaniel's gracious style, accepted the resigna­tion "without prejudice toward her future in the Club."

Miss McDaniel retired to North Carolina, where she continues in her generous work and support for education and her church.

Kathryn Ross McDaniel

Margaret Houck
Elected to membership: 1930

Margaret (Marge) Houck (Mrs. Irvin) began a transforma­tion from housewife to a concerned, generous and dynamic leader when she joined the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club as a junior member in 1930. For her the Club played an impor­tant role in developing community skills. She quickly found herself exposed to positive influences that would stay with her for the rest of her life.

Beautiful, stylish, erect and the soul of ladylike behavior, Mrs. Houck embodies the spirit of the "gentle force." She makes things happen while bestowing dignity on each person with whom she works. One would scarcely suspect that she was the first woman (in the western suburbs) to serve as trustee of a major bank. She has been head of Infant Welfare of Oak Park River Forest and a director of Infant Welfare of Chicago, president of the Community Welfare Council, board member of the Symphony Orchestra of Oak Park/River Forest, and of the Community Nursing Service. She still works as a volunteer at West Suburban Hospital where she serves as a Life Trustee.

Mrs. Houck has long been the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club's greatest benefactor. She donates to the trust funds and to all manner of projects to maintain the building. She was instrumental in aiding the Club to acquire the parking lot. As president, she gave top priority to every detail of housekeeping, programming, giving, serving and friendship. Nothing escaped her notice. The heads of the departmental and club program committees were required to take each speaker up to the podium prior to their appearance to test the sound system. No one was to speak who could not be heard. If the building needed attention, she arrived in slacks to inspect.

After more than 60 years of membership, she continues to serve and contribute. She was named co-chair of the Centennial Advisory Committee, and as the Centennial's guiding force, she ensured a wonderful 100th Anniversary Celebration.

Her husband Irvin was a director and senior vice president of Marsh & McLennan. They had three children. A noted philanthropist, Mrs. Houck (now widowed) carefully plans her contributions of time and largesse, focusing on organizations and institutions devoted to health, education, religion and culture.

Margaret Houck

Fern Strain
Elected to membership: 1939

Fortunately for the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club, Fern Strain (Mrs. Clair) has always been willing to serve in a number of jobs and to expend her talents on various committees. She freely shares her vast knowledge of finance and history and is regarded as both wise and fair.

Mrs. Strain was president during the Club's 75th Anniversary year. Her first post after joining the Club was as head of the membership committee. This was a difficult and highly technical job because at the time, there was a "waiting list" of women who wished to join. In addition, the community perceived the Club as elitist, open only to the most "social" women. Indeed, that was a period when the Club was more social than socially conscious. Mrs. Strain kept meticulous records, and as a vacancy arose, the next name (in chronological order) was proposed for membership. She never advanced a name or gave preference to anyone.

Wherever she goes in the community, her reputation for being an expert on finance precedes her. Club members recognized her proficiency and appointed her to a special oversight committee in 1955-56 to monitor its budget problems. In addition, she is active as a volunteer at West Suburban Hospital, where she is both financial secretary and worker. She was a member of the Senior Citizens' Board.

Her husband was also active in community work. The Strains had one daughter.

Fern Strain

Doris P. Donaker
Elected to membership: 1957

Doris Donaker (Mrs. John) has always believed that community work should have a high priority in one's life. She and her husband were popular and committed workers who frequently assumed heavy responsibilities.

While Mrs. Donaker was serving as Club president, her husband was also a president of the Oak Park village board. During that year, Oak Park enacted its first open housing ordinance. Opponents threatened them, but they persevered in the cause of justice. There were also differences of opinion among club members. But these were kept private; publicly, the Club affirmed fairness and support of the Donakers in this difficult, historic action.

A very stylish, handsome woman, Mrs. Donaker had been an executive for Marshall Field's. In her volunteer roles, she founded a book club, served as president of the Senior Citizens' board, and took an active role in her church. At the Club, she served as second vice president (finance) as well as president.

The Donakers had four children, who are also active in community work. Now, Mrs. Donaker has retired to Florida where she continues to be active in church work.

Doris P. Donaker

Mary Glenn Kirkland
Elected to membership: 1958

Mary Glenn Kirkland (Mrs.), the 42nd president, is well remembered for her energetic interest. She encouraged everyone to become more knowledgeable about the Club and its programs. She is also known as an innovator; perhaps her most dramatic act was to appear on the platform sans hat and gloves. This mild revolution moved the Club to a more contem­porary and relaxed style; once the president adopted a more informal approach, members felt freer to become less formal.

Mrs. Kirkland's interest in volunteerism extended beyond the Club. In 1968, she was honored for her volunteer service in the emergency room at Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital. She has been on the boards of Infant Welfare, the Senior Citizens Center and the Oak Park High School Citizens' Council. In the Club, she served as corresponding secretary, third vice president (membership) and president. She has also headed the Scholar­ship Committee.

Mrs. Kirkland is an inveterate bird watcher and lover. She spent many cold rainy days in swamps, waiting patiently with field glasses and note pad in hand, helping the Audubon Society conduct bird counts. For many years, she was active on the State Audubon Society Board, and served as president and secretary. She continues to lecture for the Society, and has twice given talks at the Club on her travels and her birding.

Born in Indiana, she received a nursing degree and came to Oak Park as a young wife. She was married to Dr. Wallace Kirkland, Jr., son of the famed Life photographer, Wallace Kirkland, Sr. She has two daughters. She resumed her nursing career after her marriage ended, and has just recently retired.

Mary Glenn Kirkland

Mary Bacon
Elected to membership: 1938

As president, Mary Bacon (Mrs. Fred) was a delight. She always did what was expected of her, and usually a bit of the unexpected as well. At the podium, she frequently departed from the traditional format to make interesting, lively com­ments. She had a gift for making everyone have fun as well as purpose.

Mrs. Bacon could easily relate to all age groups, and she was highly successful in inducing younger women to join the Club. Her love for the Club was easy to see and experience. She held many jobs, including a term as recording secretary, before becoming president.

A lively hostess, Mrs. Bacon could inject drama into any social setting or speech. A luncheon at her house might feature talk on her porch; during a breakfast, guests might be requested to tell something of their past not known to local residents. Her husband was as inventive and fund-loving as she.

The Bacons had one daughter. Mrs. Bacon has now retired to Indianapolis, but she still remembers the Club with gifts and occasional calls to greet everybody.

Mary Bacon

Carolyn Poplett
Elected to membership: 1960

Carolyn Poplett (Mrs. Ray) joined the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club as a junior member and quickly got involved. She served as head of the literature department, as correspond­ing secretary, and as first vice president (programs). After her presidency, she returned to the board as second vice president (finance ).

During her presidency, she and her able board were able to implement raises for the staff, to establish an annual benevo­lence dinner/fundraiser so that giving to local agencies could be increased, and to address the issue on serving liquor at rental functions. She used many of the past presidents as consultants to the board, taking advantage of their experience and help at a time when, once again, the Club had budget deficits. But eventually rentals started to increase, and she remembers her time on the board as happy despite the struggles.

Mrs. Poplett is an active volunteer in the community and has served on the boards of the Friends of the Library, the Infant Welfare Society, the Senior Citizens' Center (where she was also secretary) and the Family Service/Mental Health Center of Oak Park/River Forest (where she was also presi­dent). Her service with the Family Service Agency led to further involvement, and she became vice president of the Midwest Regional Council of Family Service Agencies and served on the national board of Family Service Agencies. She has been vice president of the alumni association of Warren Wilson College and president of the American Opera Society of Chicago. She also regularly volunteers at the Economy Shop, a local effort that raises funds for 15 agencies.

She and her husband served as co-chairs of the village Community Design Commission. They have two sons and a granddaughter.

Carolyn Poplett

Kathryn Fogelin
Elected to membership: 1976-1978

Kathryn (Kay) Fogelin (Mrs. Emil) is a woman whose great strength is often camouflaged by her beauty and charm. She is loyal, reflective, a thinker who defends fairness in her own quiet way. Excellent at programming, as first vice president enjoyed developing programs that both entertained and educated Club members. She is so proficient in speech-making and pleading causes that she is often asked to present issues of special need to the membership.

She served the Club as third vice president (membership), as first vice president (programs) and as president. When she headed the yearbook committee, she was called away to tend to an ailing family member. Her husband took over the unfinished book and completed the task. In the fall, the Board "moved that a letter of thanks be sent to Mr. Fogelin for his great work on the yearbook.?

As president, Mrs. Fogelin was faced with the challenges of maintaining an aging structure. The need for repairs was immense - from a damaged fire escape ladder to pool mainte­nance, broken equipment, tuck pointing, crumbling chimneys and leaking roof. She methodically confronted each need and arranged for necessary repairs.

Mrs. Fogelin, a native Oak Parker, graduated from Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin. She was employed in the Commer­cial Department of Illinois Bell Telephone Company before her marriage. She is an active volunteer who has served with the Methodist Church, Infant Welfare Society, Church Women United, Girl Scouts, P.E.O, Panhellenic Board, American Association of University Women, Delta Delta Delta, Beloit Alumnae, American Field Service, Oak Park/River Forest Lecture Series Board, and the Parent-Teacher Association. The Fogelins have two children and three grandchildren.

Kathryn Fogelin

Marion Herzog
Elected to membership: 1963

Each president brings new experiences, knowledge and insights to the Club, based on her own interests and concerns. Marion Herzog (Mrs. Rawls) added an interesting dimension as "the keeper of local history" when she was president. She helped the Club realize its place and its contributions to the heritage of architecture and literature in Oak Park and River Forest.

Her interest in local history was well-known. Grant Carpen­ter Manson donated his book on Frank Lloyd Wright to the Oak Park Library with the note: "I give it in the name and honor of Marion Herzog, whose aid, intelligent enthusiasm, and guidance ... were of inestimable value to me in the early days (the 1930's) of my inquiry ... of Frank Lloyd Wright.?

Her interest was revealed as early as high school, when she worked as a page at the library. After graduating from Western Reserve University, she worked at the Detroit Library and the Art Institute of Chicago, where she headed up the Burnham Library of Architecture. Later she established, then for 19 years, managed the United Air Lines library. In Oak Park, she headed the collection of local history for five years. This collection includes an indexed microfilm compendium of newspapers dating back to 1883. The bound volumes, pamphlets, maps, photographs and slides provide not only village history, but also a look at life itself years ago. It is an important part of the library, essential to any student or writer doing research on early Oak Park.

At the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club, Mrs. Herzog served as first vice president (programs) and as president. She was also active in the restoration of Unity Temple and served on the Temple's Board of Directors. Both knowledgeable and capable, Marion enjoys travelling. She is now an honorary member of the Club, and lives in California with another former president, Janet Duncan.

Marion Herzog

Sarah D. Ellis
Elected to membership: 1952

Sarah D. (Sally) Ellis (Mrs. Robert) was an energetic, devoted friend, a mother of two, and an amazingly busy community worker. A graduate of Denison University, she had worked as secretary to the vice president of the International Mineral & Chemical Company in Chicago. She and her husband worked together on several projects, including the Community Lectures and the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club. When Mrs. Ellis became president, her husband was so enthusiastic, he said, "Now, there must be something I can do to help out."

Mrs. Ellis served the Club twice as recording secretary and as first vice president (programs). She was diagnosed with cancer in the second year of her presidency, but typically and with great courage, finished her term of office. Just two weeks before her death she helped serve lunch at the Club. A lovely painting of the clubhouse hangs in the main lounge as a memorial to her and all that she did for the Club and the community.

During her presidency, the Club was once again faced with a deficit budget. Mrs. Ellis and her board worked hard to solve the problem. To attract more rentals, a fund was established to redecorate the lounge. Edith Mattmiller and her committee, working with the board and the past presidents, achieved a beautiful success.

Mrs. Ellis is survived by her husband and their two children.

(Obituary: Oak Leaves, May 20, 1982.)

Sarah D. Ellis

Edith P. Crabbe
Elected to membership: 1945

Edith P. Crabbe (Mrs. Kenneth) is an Oak Park native and graduate of Oak Park-River Forest High School, Knox College and the School of Social Work at the University of Chicago.

She began her 40-year career in social work as a caseworker for Cook County. During World War II, she was loaned to the Governor's office of Rehabilitation Services. She then became the first public relations director for Cook County, headed a speaker's bureau and published a monthly 10-page report called "County Lines," now on file with the Chicago Historical Society. She spoke before several civic groups in Oak Park, including the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club.

She transferred to the State of Illinois Commission for Handicapped Children, where she edited publications and set up conferences for exceptional children. As Assistant Director of Welfare Rehabilitation Services, she helped place people in jobs after a period of therapy and rehabilitation. During this time, she did an award-winning radio program for WIND.

Mrs. Crabbe is also active as a volunteer and has been president of the Zonta Club of Oak Park, served as area director of the eleven Northeastern Illinois Clubs, and was district director for the Zonta clubs for young girls. She was president of the Oak Park-River Forest Symphony Board and the McDowell Artists; served on the boards for the Community Nursing Service, the West Suburban Homemaker's Association and the Senior Citizens' Center. She has also been president of the Senior Citizens' Center board. She was a founder of the Suburban Cook County Area Council on Aging, and served for seven years on its board. In 1989, she received the Chicago Mayor's Award for outstanding volunteer service to the community. She has delivered Meals on Wheels for the Oak Park Township every Tuesday.

In the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club, Mrs. Crabbe headed the Social Science department, was elected first vice president (programs), served as president, and for many years, chaired the Scholarship Committee. Her pride in the recipients was evident and she regularly corresponded with them, inviting them to share their successes with club members by attending meetings during school breaks.

Mrs. Crabbe loves travel and programming, and is a direct, well-organized speaker who laces her conversation and reports with great wit.
Long-time member and past president Edith Crabbe has died. She was 101 years old and was a member of 19th Century since 1945!

Ms. Crabbe was a leader in her career and in her community and was accomplished in many ways. Irene Hansen remembers her as a lovely and gracious woman who enjoyed playing Christmas music from memory at Holiday Teas.

Obituary in Wednesday Journal
Edith P. Crabbe, nee Prescott, 101, formerly of Oak Park, died on Jan. 15, 2012 at Westminster Place, Presbyterian Homes in Evanston. She worked as a social worker from 1933 to 1973 with the Cook County Department of Welfare and related agencies, served as president of Zonta Club of Oak Park and on the Oak Park Symphony board, and was a member of the Nineteenth Century Club and the Senior Citizen's Center of Oak Park-River Forest. She was also a longtime member of First United Church of Oak Park.

Edith Crabbe

Maxine Solberg
Elected to membership: 1976

Maxine Solberg (Mrs. Ward) is a pretty, youthful-looking woman, quick of step and high in energy. She attended DePaul University and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. During her career, she was a decorator for Pebbles Decorating Company of Oak Park. She loves music and the arts and is an avid collector of antiques. Since her husband death, she lives alone, maintaining her home and garden.

The daughter of a Methodist minister, she followed the family tradition of being close to her church and has been very active in the First Methodist Church of Oak Park. She has served as president of the Women's Society there. She is also active in PEO, and serves on the Board of Goodwill Industries. Before becoming Club president, she headed the Social Science department. She currently heads the Club's Scholarship Committee.

Although she was faced with a deficit budget when she came into office as president, she delighted in ending her term with a surplus. Mrs. Solberg also had to deal with a change in the management of the Club, including hiring a new manager. This led to personnel problems, which her gentle approach helped turn into opportunities. As she strove to expand the membership, she frequently stressed and repeated the Club's policy of open membership, regardless of an individual's ethnic, racial, or religious background.

Her husband, an executive for IBM, died in 1978. She has four children and five grandchildren.
Maxine died May 13, 2011 after a short illness; she was a member for 35 years.

Maxine Solberg

Betty Klontz
Elected to membership: 1974

Betty Klontz (Mrs. Kenneth) received a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and served for 20 years as editor of the "Masonic Chronicler." In 1959 she became Worthy Matron of the Eastern Star. For many years she did professional book reviewing.

She held a number of positions in The Nineteenth Century Woman's Club, including terms as fourth vice president (publicity) and as first vice president (programs). But her nomination to the presidency caused a crisis in the organizational structure of the Club. A strong lobbying effort by some club members pressured the nominating committee to forgo its own choice for president, and to nominate Mrs. Klontz instead. In any event, by the end of her first year in office, she had become too ill to continue, and she resigned. She is currently at home and is seldom able to be out.

Betty Klontz

Frances Wolf
Elected to membership: 1978

There could have been no better person than Frances Wolf (Mrs. Milton) to guide the Club after the difficulties of the Klontz presidency. An exceptionally able woman, Mrs. Wolf was widowed at a very early age, and left with two children to rear. She was an able writer and executive who met her responsibili­ties both as a mother and an accomplished business woman. She recently completed a book on the history of the Avenue Bank of Oak Park, where she was public relations officer.

In the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club, Mrs. Wolf was quickly recognized as someone who achieved her goals and "got the work done." She was first vice president (programs) during the first year that Mrs. Klontz was president. Although the irregularity of the election process concerned her, she focused her attention on attending to the best interests of the Club. When Mrs. Klontz' illness became clear, she reluctantly agreed to complete the term, and adamantly refused to run for a term in her own right. Instead, she concentrated on returning the Club to its proper purpose and methods. Club members recognized and were grateful to her for the superb job she did.

Mrs. Wolf has long been active in volunteer work. She served on the local Family Service board, and also on the boards of both the Senior Citizen's Center and the George Roger Clark DAR. In addition, she was active with the Chamber of Commerce, where she worked following her retirement from the bank.

She recently retired to Atlanta to be near her daughter and family. Her only son died as a young adult.

Frances Wolf

Faye Devine
Elected to membership: 1979
1988-1990; 2000-2002

Faye Devine (Mrs. James) came to River Forest as the wife of the village administrator. Her husband, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army, had completed graduate school in business and city administration.

Mrs. Devine quickly involved herself in a number of community activities, including the Garden Club, the Historical Society of Oak Park/River Forest, and the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club (she was a member for 29 years). She knew no one in Oak Park and the Sewing Group at the Club seemed a good way to get acquainted. She often said her specialty was decorating the tables. During her 29 years of membership, she served in many capacities, including recording secretary.

During her presidency (she was president twice), Mrs. Devine recognized the Club's changed economics and the need to develop a new structure for the staff. Because the rentals now paid for most of the Club's needs, she felt that this aspect of the Club should be operated more like a business. She was also concerned about increasing the trust funds for scholarship and benevolence. Rose Sugden, a valuable member and board member, offered to chair a committee to publish a cook book to raise money for the trust funds. Mrs. Devine, an excellent cook, agreed. Proceeds from the sales have helped raise over $2,500 for each fund. After her term as president of the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club, Mrs. Devine focused her energy on finding a home for the Historical Society, which she now heads.

Mrs. Devine was born and reared in North Carolina, graduated from Sacred Heart and spent 33 years as an army wife, following her husband to places as diverse as Frankfurt, Germany and Honolulu, Hawaii. While in Frankfurt she headed the American Women's Club of Frankfurt, and in Honolulu she was president of the Presidents' Club.

The Devines have one son and three daughters. Both devote considerable time to local community projects.
Faye passed away December 3, 2008. On Monday, December 15, 2008 a memorial and a special Holiday Tea in her honor was held at the Club at 10:30 a.m. She loved beautiful tea tables and elegant teas. Faye never capitulated to modern ways and always, always wore a hat to our weekly luncheons and programs and teas; members honored her by wearing a hat to the memorial.

Faye Devine

Edna Pawlisch
Elected to membership: 1948

Presiding over the excitement and the accomplishments of the Nineteenth Century Woman's Club during its Centennial Year is Edna Pawlisch (Mrs. Edwin). She, like Frances Wolf, attests to the value of the associate membership, for both were active in the evening group during their business careers, until they were free to participate in daytime functions. During her association with the Club, Mrs. Pawlisch served in many capacities, and headed the Building and Grounds committee just prior to her election as president.

Her work encompasses day-to-day supervision of the staff and operations, as well as oversight of the many plans for the Centennial Celebration. The challenge of bringing the office into the computer age is gradually being met, as is the chal­lenge of continuing to meet the Club's purposes despite an aging membership and little growth.

Mrs. Pawlisch is very personable and eager to serve the members. She readily recognizes the contributions of her board and non-board committees, to encourage participation.

Mrs. Pawlisch is also an accomplished photographer, a past president of the Chicago Chapter of the Photographic Society of America, and a recipient of many awards from the Chicago Area Camera Club Association. A widow with no children, she is an inveterate traveller and devoted aunt to her brother's two children.

Edna Pawlisch

Helen Stastny
Elected to membership: 1958

Helen Stastny joined the Club in 1958 and became president in 1992. Prior to her presidency she was Program Chair for the Club. She was active in West Suburban Hospital Auxiliary and the River Forest United Methodist Church, along with her sister-in-law, Jane Stastny. Helen loved the Club and longed to belong to the prestigious Former President's group. Soon she would do just that for she died very suddenly after her term ended in 1994. Helen was a nurse and married local doctor John Stastny. They had three children.

Helen Stastny

Marvel Kirk
Elected to membership: 1983

Marvel was born in Paris, Illinois in 1930. She and her family soon moved to Terre Haute, Indiana where she grew up and went to nursing school. There she met her husband Dick. They had 6 children and 12 grandchildren. Marvel and her family were members of Grace Lutheran Church for over 30 years and she volunteered in many different ways. She was the President of their Women's Society, helped put out their newsletter, taught Sunday school and volunteered with their PADS program. She also volunteered at Hines VA Hospital in their hospice program and eventually became their Volunteer Coordinator. She joined the Nineteenth Century Club in 1983, accepting a variety of responsibilities including Recording Secretary. She was elected President for two years (1994-96) during which time she took responsibility for a major overhaul of the Club's by-laws. Following the death of her husband she moved to Rockford, Illinois to be near her daughter. There she not only enjoyed family activities with her grandchildren but also helped run a program to mentor children through her church and worked at the food pantry.

Marvel Kirk

Elizabeth Kirby
Elected to membership: 1983

Following nine years of service as a naval intelligence officer, Ed Kirby and his family returned to Oak Park in 1948 where he opened a private investigative agency which sixty years later still employs the second and third generation of Kirbys. Elizabeth Kirby, though busy raising their three boys and three girls, found time to take an active part in the business. She joined the Nineteenth Century Club in 1983. In order to become better acquainted with other members she volunteered to serve luncheons. Later she became active as a board member, finally becoming First Vice President and chairman of the afternoon programs for three years. She assumed the presidency in 1996 and spearheaded the program to make the clubhouse wheelchair accessible. This involved major architectural work and remodeling to install an elevator. This work required moving the front stairways and repositioning some walls. At the same time, a handicap accessible washroom was installed fully qualifying the building to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The extensive remodeling work and the money-raising effort that accompanied it took more than two years so she agreed to serve a second term as President. I'm proud to be a member of the 19th Century Club, have enjoyed making good friends and it has been a truly big learning experience, she concluded.

Elizabeth Kirby

Patricia Leavy
Elected to membership: 1988

The Nineteenth Century started its current renaissance with Pat's presidency. She led a dedicated group of members in putting into place numerous transformations in the historic building. These improvements encompassed the entire structure from the 1st to the 3rd floor and included the exterior too. Changes included new equipment in the kitchen; painting throughout the building; new carpeting in living room as well as other rooms; plumbing repairs; tile work, furniture repair, fire escape repair; replanting of front landscaping, and air conditioning of the auditorium

Pat was born in Chicago and in 1960 married Michael O. Leavy. They have 5 children and are the proud grandparents of 13.

In 2000, she was named St. Edmund Parish Woman of the Year in recognition of her involvement in many church ministries over the years. She has been Vice President and then President of the St. Edmund Women's Club; established S.E.Y.A. (St. Edmund Youth Association), and was a member of Renovation/Restoration Committee. Pat has also worked as a key member of the R&R Capital Campaign Major Donar Fund Solicitation Committee, chaired the winter cookie sale and the summer garage sale and found time to play bridge in the St. Edmund Women's Bridge Group.

In the late 1960's, she was a Girl Scout Leader, Troop Organizer and Association Chairman for the Lone Tree Area Girl Scout Council; served on the P.T.O. board (Oak Park public schools); and was instrumental in starting the Thatcher Woods Savannah Restoration Project.

Pat, as President of the Garden Club of Oak Park and River Forest, developed a Garden Therapy program for the residents of Woodbine Nursing Home and the Garden Walk to fund college scholarships for local college-bound students. As a volunteer at West Suburban Hospital for twenty years, she has worked in pastoral care, the coffee shop and gift shop. For ten years she was a volunteer at the Economy Shop. Pat and Mike worked as PADS volunteers until 2000.

In honor of her dedication to the organization's renaissance, a Star Magnolia tree was planted on the front lawn in October 2006 to honor her many years of devoted service to the Nineteenth Century.

Pat Leavy

Sherlynn Reid
Elected to membership: 1973

Sherlynn has served as president of many organizations since she, and her late husband, Henry, arrived in Oak Park in 1968. Among them: League of Women Voters of Oak Park and River Forest, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, Oak Park PTO Council and The West Towns Illinois Chapter of The Links, Inc. She is currently on the Executive Board of the Oak Park Branch of the NAACP, Co-Chair of the Oak Park/River Forest Gang and Drug Task Force, past Chairperson of the Nineteenth Century Scholarship Committee, Board member of the Oak Park Development Corporation (OPDC), Board member of the Oak Park Senior Center, Oak Park River Forest High School Scholarship Advisory Committee; LifeLink Corp., Former Board member of Family Service & Mental Health Center, West Suburban College of Nursing and Oak Park Hospital.

Sherlynn, as Director of Community Relations for the Village of Oak Park, Illinois from 1973 to 1999, was instrumental in profiling the richness and diversity of the Village. She has contributed greatly to developing Oak Park's strengths as a racially diverse community, both in her official capacity and as a volunteer.

Sherlynn, has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards from local and statewide organizations including: Oak Park Education Foundation Staszak, OPRF Rotary Club's Carl Winters Award, OPRF Chamber of Commerce's Athena Award, Oak Park Teacher's Association Friend of Education, Oak Park Township Volunteer, Cook County's Unsung Heroine Award, Oak Park Senior Citizen Center's Ulyssean Award, OPRF A.P.P.L.E; NAACP Community Service Awards, Municipal Human Relation Association Owen Thomas Award, Metropolitan Leadership Council for Open Communities. The Village of Oak Park's Public Works Department and the Oak Leaves Newspaper planted a tree, in Lindberg Park, in her name. She was honored as Volunteer of the Year in 2009 by Thrive Counseling Center (formerly Family Services).

Sherlynn is a long time member of The First United Church of Oak Park and has served as its Moderator. She majored in Speech and Drama at Fisk University and has three grown daughters, two son-in-laws and three grandsons.

Sherlynn Reid

Mila Tellez
Elected to membership 2007


Mila (Svoboda) Tellez was born in Chicago in the 1940's into a first generation immigrant Czechoslovakian family, learning English as a second language in grammar school. Mila grew up leaning the value of work and business through her many jobs during high school and on to an eclectic entrepreneurial business career. During the mid-sixties, Mila lived in Veracruz, Mexico, where she had an import/export business and learned to speak Spanish. After returning to Chicago, she noticed the burgeoning Hispanic population. Recognizing both a business opportunity and a chance to give back to the community by helping this new immigrant population learn English, Mila founded EXTRA Bilingual Community Newspaper. This family business just celebrated its thirtieth year in operation.

Presently, Mila is an Oak Park Library Trustee as well as the President of the Nineteenth Century Charitable Association. In 2003 she was voted Oak Park's Villager of the Year by the Wednesday Journal. Recently, Mila's bilingual newspaper was awarded the Peter Lisagor Award for Creative Journalism. Mila has an Associate's Degree from Triton College. She is married to a wonderful husband, J. Nile Wendorf, with four children and six grandchildren.

Mila Tellez