Atascadero club celebrates 75 years of rallying for women's rights

leallan@tcsn.netNovember 12, 2012 

What would a community be without its social and service clubs, especially here in Atascadero?

One of the oldest organizations -- outside any of the local church "circles" -- was the Atascadero Women’s Club, which was founded by the earliest residents of Tent City in 1915. The group was originally chartered as “The Live Oak Circle.” It was both social and service-oriented.

The women organized first as a unit of the Woman’s National Republic, which was the idea of Mabel Gertrude Lewis and her husband, Edward Gardner Lewis, back in University City, Mo.

So it is no surprise that a woman’s club would be an important part of Atascadero’s earliest days. The club quickly reorganized as a member of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs during a meeting held in the home of Marguerite A. Travis, the group’s first president. The club disbanded about five years ago.

Tonight, the Atascadero City Council is expected to present a proclamation extolling the virtues of the local branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The club was organized here in 1937 with 10 members.

Two of the women most responsible for getting the organization going were Maybelle Frandsen, and Shelley Fenny, both teachers --Frandsen at the Miramonte School and Fenny at the high school

By 1950, the Atascadero branch boasted 22 members. A list of some of the past presidents is a Who’s Who for civic leaders: Janice Stewart, Elaine Oglesby, Ruth Doser, Helen Ewing, Ellen Baer, Judy Anderson, Joey Conklin, Betty Putnam, Janet Grummitt, Jayne Sacks, Susan Seliskar, Carol Bruns, Barbara Dabul, Grenda Ernst and Shirley Summers, among others.

Current presidents are Barbara Brogen and Kaye Rasband.

This year’s theme is “Pay It Forward” based on the book and film. The book’s author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, spoke at the fall kick-off meeting.

These women have been paying it forward for 75 years by being instrumental in supporting such causes as education, equal rights and equal pay for women, focusing on math and science for girls, ways to combat bullying and sexual harassment, and more.

In addition, AAUW is responsible for establishing what has become the North County Women’s Shelter and Resource Center, a senior nutrition delivery program and a summer program for children in the area of the fine arts.

The organization will celebrate its accomplishments in a gathering slated for this Sunday.

I see the local branch of AAUW as a group dedicated to giving Atascadero a social conscience.

Lon Allan's column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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