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Woman's Club 75 Year History

Woman's Club 75 Year HistoryBy Marge Coonen

It promotes a lot of pride, when a woman’s club can survive three quarters of a century in a city of just over 3,000 people. That’s our Seymour Woman’s Club, which will be celebrating its 75th Anniversary with a party on March 28, 2009. The club was born during one of the blackest depression periods this country has ever known. On February 9, 1934, the first meeting of the group, which was called the Library Reading Club, was held in the Seymour Public Library. It 1934 the library was located on the second floor of the Old City Hall on Main St. Mrs. Ray Miller was the first president. Mrs. E. T Hawkins held the office of vice-president; Mrs. R. T. Jones was secretary and Mrs. Wm. Beck, treasurer. There were 27 charter members.

Club Motto

The club motto was, “Ambition has no rest.” Their flower was the tea rose and the colors were green and ivory. Initial dues were one dollar a year, with an admission fee of 50 cents. The club met twice a month on Friday afternoons at 2:30 and had a 5 cent penalty for tardiness. The club started as a study group and the members presented all programs. They gave book reviews, travel talks, studied artists, poets, opera, Shakespeare, famous men and women, and other interesting subjects.
In 1936, the club became known as the Seymour Federated Woman’s Club. Its aim was “Fellowship, Literary Improvement and Social Service.” A new constitution and by-laws were adopted. Meetings were scheduled for every second and fourth Monday of each month at 8:00 P. M. Members still contributed to the programs, but it was felt that outside speakers would give the club a lift. Among the early speakers was the late Senator Joseph Mc McCarthy, who had just returned from overseas and was on medical leave, and Judge Keller from the Outagamie Courthouse. In 1950 the group began meeting on just the second Monday of the month. The club’s scrap book, shows that in the early years many meetings were held in private homes. There were also outings held at cottages at Loon Lake.


Since slacks were not worn in the 30’s, pictures show everyone is dressed up in nylons, heels, and their best dress. Most meetings were concluded with refreshments being served and a member would preside at the tea table. When Seymour celebrated its centennial in 1968. the Woman’s Club again became involved and entered a float in the parade, which attracted 40,000 people to Seymour. They worked on the Seymour Centennial Booklet, which traced Seymour history from 1857 to 1968, and they were the hostesses of a Centennial Tea that was held in the new Municipal Building. The tea was for the community and visiting dignitaries, among them, the then Lt. Gov. Jack Olson. The women dressed up for the occasion in lovely gowns and hats that had a 1868 look. Delicious bars and cookies, made by members, were served. The past president of the club presided at the tea table.

Social Service

Through the years the club has lived up to its aim, “Social Service” by contributing to many causes such as the Red Cross, cancer drives, War Chest Fund, Community Chest, nursing scholarships, gifts to veteran’s hospitals, sponsoring girls for Badger State, and even back in the late 30’s giving $5.00 to the high school music department for chorus robes. At Christmas time, boxes of clothing, toys, fruit and candy were distributed to needy families. In the “war” years, as many as 20 big boxes of clothing and Christmas items were delivered a few days before Christmas. Old toys were collected, painted, and put in good repair. Dolls were mended and redressed, and members of the Woman’s Club spent a happier Christmas knowing that they had done some good in the community. As time went on, and everyone got a job, there was no longer a need for help of this kind so it was discontinued. Today the club still gives fruit baskets or plants at Thanksgiving to the shut-ins and aged of our community.

Christmas Contest

In December of 1941, the Woman’s Club and city council sponsored an exterior Christmas decorating contest. Many homes were decorated and beautifully lighted for the holiday season. Even the city water tower was decorated with a wreath. The judges of the contest felt that Seymour was the best-decorated town in the Fox Valley. Then WWII came, and put a stop to the contest. To raise money for its activities the club held pastry sales, auctions, white elephant sales, a traveling basket, and even engaged in selling vanilla. As larger donations were given away, the club took on bigger projects; the dances, hobby shows in the 40’s, a harvest luncheon in the 80’s, style shows, and the Christmas walk.

Style Show

On October 23, 1939, the group had its first style Show at the high school auditorium (site of our present day police station). Fashions of the 30’s were modeled along with dresses dating back to the Civil War. Even snowstorms could not keep the audience home when the Woman’s Club was presenting a style show. In March 11, 1963, a crowd of four hundred came out during a heavy snowstorm to see a touch of spring as they witnessed the “Spring Dreams” style show. It was held at the Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall. The fashion shows, with styles coming from Kahnt’s, Miller’s Dept. Store, Sally B’s, jewelry from Cumiceks, and hairstyles done by local beauty Salons, continued until 1990. The last show was held on November 12, with clothing coming from “Ritzy Rags” and “Ben Franklin”. Since then, with members’ children or grandchildren as the models, they have put on Easter parades, and more recently, Halloween parades, for the residents at Good Shepherd.


At the May banquet in 1961 the club announced the winners of the first Senior Girl Scholarship. The winners were Gay Kollath and Janice Reinke. Each girl was presented with $25.00. The following February, the club voted to give one $75.00 scholarship for any girl at the Seymour Union High School who wish to go to college. By 1981, the club was offering two $200.00 scholarships for any Seymour High School senior who would be attending college or technical school. Today, the Woman’s Club offers four $500.00 scholarships to graduating seniors. In the 1960’s a group of civic-minded people in Seymour had the idea to look into the construction of a man-made lake. The Woman’s Club became involved in the project and as a result, sponsored their first dance. It was a charity ball held on Monday, December 17, 1962 at the Hotel Seymour. Carl Knopp’s three-piece combo from Waupaca provided the music. It was a community project and a total of $362.00 was presented to the City Council and deposited in an account titled “Seymour Community Pool Fund“. The Seymour Lake and Lake Park, located north of the city, opened in June 1966, with construction beginning the summer of 1965.

Dances and Raising Funds

Many dances followed. One was a Mardi-Gras dance and then on February 9, 1973, the first of many “Sweetheart Balls” was held. The Woman’s Club introduced a cabaret style dance to the community. They were held in the basement of the Municipal Building. The Ray Reis Band and Duane Wussow’s Allegros provided the music for these parties. The last “Sweetheart’s Ball was held February 9, 1983. It was the 50th Anniversary Party of the club. The “Roaring 20’s”, a local talent show, was held February 16, 1963. The club organized it, and various civic groups and individual organizations from the community joined the Woman’s Club to put on a delightful show. Admission was 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. Col. Caboose from WBAY-TV appeared with his puppets as the highlight of the show. Over 800 people attended the popular performance. $400.00 was raised and the proceeds were for the Special Education Room of Seymour Elementary School, which was taught by Hilda Koepp. At that time, Seymour had the privilege of having one of the four Special Education rooms in Outagamie County.
Additional proceeds from the dances were used to provide funds for various service projects, among them were the Senior Girl Scholarship, The baby-sitting clinic, Trees for Tomorrow, Helen Mears Art Contest for 8th graders, New Hope Nursery, the foreign exchange student program, and
Youth for Understanding.

Educational Projects

From January 7, 1975 to April 9, 1988, the group sponsored a baby-sitting clinic for boys and girls from age 11 to 15. The Ladies were always interested in encouraging the young people of the community in art. While they were affiliated with Wisconsin Federated Woman’s Club, they contributed to the Helen Mears Art Contest and the Penny Art Fund. The Woman’s Club Art Contest has been going since 1984 when junior high school students were encouraged to enter. In 1986, they took part in the Wisconsin Youth Art Month, and sponsored an art contest in the 5th and 6th grades in the area. Over two hundred students from Rock Ledge, Black Creek, Nichols, and St John’s took part. Today the contest is held for middle school students in both Black Creek and Seymour. Professional artists are judges, and the artwork is on display at both local libraries during the month of March in Seymour, and April in Black Creek.

Home of the Hamburger

When the Home of the Hamburger celebration came to Seymour in 1988, The Woman’s Club helped serve the 2,000-pound burger to a crowd of over 14,000 people. Since then they have helped each year with the advance button sale, by delivering and collecting the buttons from Seymour area businesses.

Outstanding Citizens

Ten members of the club have been honored at Seymour’s Outstanding Citizens. They are, Celia Schuster (1974), Gladys Stern (1983), Leone Du Four (1990), Pam Zak (1993), Jean Melchert (1995), Letty Kailhofer (1998), Jean Rohloff (1999), Agnes Kahn (2002), Dorothy Reed (2003), and Marge Coonen (2008).
In the 75 years of the club’s existence there have been many officers who all deserve a great deal of credit for making the Seymour Woman’s Club a success. Mrs. Ray Miller served as the first president from 1934 to 1936. Other presidents have been:
Club Presidents

Mrs. Wm Uecke 1936-1938
Mrs. Roger Jones 1938-1939
Mrs. Frank Longrie 1939-1940
Mrs. Everett Mc Bain 1940-1941
Mrs. Harrison Smith 1941-1942
Mrs. Ernest Schuster 1942-1943
Mrs. Chester Bliss 19433-1944
Mrs. Joseph Lotter 1944-1946
Mrs. Stewart Droeger 1946-47
Mrs. Anton Jenquin 1947-1949
Mrs. Lincoln Neider 1949 1950
Mrs. Ted Nickoden 1950-1952
Mrs. Forest Huth 1952-1954
Mrs. Carl Melchert 1954-1955
Mrs. Maynard Sherman 1955-57
Mrs. Carl Tickler 1957-1960
Mrs. Ray Gulbrand 1960-1962
Mrs. Robert Wolk 1962-1963
Mrs. James Schuette 1963-64
Mrs. Florian Rohloff 1964-66
Mrs. Elmer Gosse 1966-1968
Mrs. George Cisler 1968-1972
Mrs. Don Hoff 1972-1974
Dolores Pingel 1974-1976
Dorothy Reed 1976-1978
Letty Kailhofer 1978-1982
Thelma Tech 1982-1983
Judy Rottier 1983-1984
Shirley Doersch 1984-1985
Sandy Ebert 1985-1986
Kathy Cumicek 1986-1987
Carolyn Hechel 1987-1988
Kathy Cumicek 1988-1989
Mary Kuhn 1989-1990
Katie Swanson 1990-1991
Kris Peters 1991-1992
Debbie Peterson 1992-1994
Marge Coonen 1994- 1995
Janet Olson 1995-1996
Karen Keune 1996-1997
Dorothy Reed 1997-2001
Catherine Kollath 2001-03
Thelma Tech 2003-2006
Mary Wright 2006-2007
Marge Coonen 2007-2008
Mary Cheslock 2008

The Woman’s Club is committed to its original motto, “Ambition has no rest.” The organization continues to contribute toward improving the quality of life in our community. If you would like to become a member of a service organization that makes a positive difference in the lives of many, speak with any Woman’s Club member.

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