DeLand’s Woman’s Club dissolves, ending a long era of service

Last leader — Carolyn Morrison, the final president of the Woman’s Club of DeLand, receives an official proclamation from DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar. The club held its final luncheon May 8. 

Last leader — Carolyn Morrison, the final president of the Woman’s Club of DeLand, receives an official proclamation from DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar. The club held its final luncheon May 8. 

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

Members to the end — Gathered at Grand Villa of DeLand for a luncheon to mark the end of the Woman’s Club of DeLand are many of the club’s final members. From left in front are Kay Laws, Phyllis MacPherson, Evelyn Warren and Jan Gindl. In back, from left, are Stacey Horn, a teacher who leads the DeLand High School Juniorettes club that was sponsored by the Woman’s Club, along with Jeanette Basile, Pat Kane, final President Carolyn Morrison, who holds the City of DeLand proclamation honoring the club, Jane W

Members to the end — Gathered at Grand Villa of DeLand for a luncheon to mark the end of the Woman’s Club of DeLand are many of the club’s final members. From left in front are Kay Laws, Phyllis MacPherson, Evelyn Warren and Jan Gindl. In back, from left, are Stacey Horn, a teacher who leads the DeLand High School Juniorettes club that was sponsored by the Woman’s Club, along with Jeanette Basile, Pat Kane, final President Carolyn Morrison, who holds the City of DeLand proclamation honoring the club, Jane Wright, Kay LeDoux, Sandy Simoneau, Elizabeth Pardee, Anna Pagello, Jan Marion and Mary Meeker. Not shown, but attending the luncheon, are Virginia “Ginny” Trometer and Blanch Voetberg.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

What now for the Juniorettes? — High-school and middle-school members of the Juniorettes, with their sponsoring teacher Stacey Horn in the middle in front, gather for a photo at Chess Park in Downtown DeLand. The future of the young women’s service club is uncertain, as it has been sponsored and partly funded by the DeLand Woman’s Club. However, Woman’s Club members are hopeful that an online Woman’s Club will pick up the sponsorship. Horn said there are currently 25 Juniorettes. The service club, once open

What now for the Juniorettes? — High-school and middle-school members of the Juniorettes, with their sponsoring teacher Stacey Horn in the middle in front, gather for a photo at Chess Park in Downtown DeLand. The future of the young women’s service club is uncertain, as it has been sponsored and partly funded by the DeLand Woman’s Club. However, Woman’s Club members are hopeful that an online Woman’s Club will pick up the sponsorship. Horn said there are currently 25 Juniorettes. The service club, once open only to high-schoolers, has been expanded to middle school, she said.

PHOTO COURTESY STACEY HORN

After more than a century of service, the Woman’s Club of DeLand is no more. Seventeen members distributed the club’s remaining funds to charities and said goodbye at a May 8 luncheon full of memories.

The can-do club that helped create a charity wing at DeLand’s hospital, varnished schoolroom floors and landscaped schools because no one else would, lobbied DeLand city government for municipal garbage pickup, wrapped bandages for soldiers and raised thousands of dollars for scholarships finally could not carry on, defeated by a changing society and a shrinking membership.  

DeLand’s Woman’s Club got its start at a meeting of 30 women on the Stetson University campus in March 1906. It was formed as a branch of the national organization that had been founded in Boston in 1871 by a newspaper woman after she was denied entrance to an all-male Press Club event.

DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar spoke at the luncheon. He called the 112-year-old club “a shining example of leadership” and said the DeLand Woman’s Club’s accomplishments have had immeasurable positive effects on the community.

In 1988, in its 82nd year, the Woman’s Club of DeLand was 158 members strong. That year, the club received 23 awards from the national Woman’s Club for projects that included the Special Olympics, Evergreen Day School, The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia and Friends of the DeLand Library. 

The busy and active club began making contributions to Hacienda Girls Ranch in Melbourne and supplied judges for the Volusia County Spelling Bee and Science Fair.

But with more and more civic clubs going coed, and most women working outside the home, membership began declining.

In 2011, the Woman’s Club donated the clubhouse at 128 W. Michigan Ave. that it had built in the 1920s to Florida United Methodist Children’s Home.

The Children’s Home sold the building in 2014. It now has been fully restored as a residence and is currently occupied by its second private owner.

Despite losing the building, the Woman’s Club soldiered on. Luncheon meetings of the aging membership continued — held at nursing homes and assisted-living communities.

Still, fundraising fashion shows provided money for an annual scholarship to be given to a graduating senior, a member of the Woman’s Club-sponsored Juniorettes at DeLand High School.

But, finally, with a limited number of active members to engage in projects and provide funds to support General Federation of Woman’s Club projects, a tough decision had to be made.

“This decision closes the long and illustrious history of an organization whose sole purpose was to promote the social, cultural and spiritual life of its members while lending support to all civic efforts for the betterment of the community,” longtime club member Jeanette Basile read from a history of the club presented at the luncheon. 

“This was not a decision we took lightly, to end the club, and in fact, it’s painful,” the club’s final president, Carolyn Morrison, said. “But the members of many years, in their wisdom, realized there was no way to continue and voted to come to an end. Then, as of April 30, the end of our fiscal year, we closed.”

– Erika Webb, erika@beacononlinenews.com 

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