Templeton Women’s Civic Club looks back on 100 years of service

slinn@thetribunenews.comDecember 4, 2013 

This month, the Templeton Women’s Civic Club celebrates a century of service.

“It’s been an integral part of our community all these years,” said Letha Blythe, the group’s president.

The public is invited to help celebrate the Templeton Women’s Civic Club’s 100th anniversary at a Dec. 7 open house at the Templeton Community Center, 601 S. Main St. The free event features music, storytelling, refreshments, a raffle and displays depicting the club’s history.

The first meeting of what was then known as the Women’s Civic Improvement Club of Templeton was held Dec. 10, 1913. Led by their first president, Mrs. H.V. Magnusson, the 77 charter members established the club’s bylaws and began fundraising efforts to build a clubhouse and reading room.

“When they started this club it was a real social gathering place for all these women who were out on the farms and ranches,” Blythe said, describing the nonprofit organization as part social club, part service organization.

They raised $300 by crafting “fancywork,” selling sandwiches at the local swimming hole and organizing concerts and other events, she said.

In January 1915, the 20- by 40-foot clubhouse opened on property donated by what is now the Templeton Chamber of Commerce. Over the decades, the building served as a library, school house and meeting place for churches and civic organizations.

Then, in 1991, club member Lucille Butler died, leaving a sizable portion of her estate to the group.

The club used that money to build a 2,500-square-foot building, then deeded it to the Templeton Community Services District. The club retains the right to hold meetings and events at the Templeton Community Center, which opened in April 1996.

The Templeton Women’s Civic Club currently has 37 members who meet the first Wednesday of every month. Annual dues are $30.

In addition to awarding two $1,000 scholarships to Templeton High School seniors each year, members support several local organizations including Atascadero Loaves & Fishes, the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County and RISE, as the former North County Women’s Shelter & Resource Center and Sexual Assault Recovery & Prevention Center are now known. (The total amount donated varies by year, Blythe said.)

They also bake dozens of cookies every holiday season to share with shut-ins.

Members enjoy an array of social programs including talks and demonstrations on such subjects as antiques, floral arranging, grand jury service and wildlife rehabilitation.

“It’s a good way to get to know people,” said Blythe, a Templeton resident since 1995. She joined the Templeton Women’s Civic Club 17 years ago; her 97-year-old mother and 50-year-old daughter are also members.

According to Blythe, membership is open to women of all ages living anywhere in the county, although most members call the North County home. The club’s ranks include former members of disbanded women’s clubs in Atascadero and Paso Robles, she said.

For information about the club, call Letha Blythe at 239-9599.

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