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Women carry on College Club 70 years after it began

February 20, 2002

Women carry on College Club 70 years after it began



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer


WAYNESBORO, Pa. - In the early 1930s a group of educated women in Waynesboro were looking for camaraderie, culture and a cause.

They got together for the first time on Jan. 16, 1932, and organized the Waynesboro College Club to establish a scholarship fund to help college-bound women at the local high school.

The club's 54 original founders have passed on. Leah Hollengreen, the last surviving charter member, died last year.

The founder was Eleanore L. Hoover. She was the first president in 1932 and served again in 1950.

A check of the club's membership list in the early years shows that many of the women had graduated from major colleges and universities, including the Ivy League schools and the Seven Sisters.

The club used to meet nine times a year, usually in a member's home, often one of Waynesboro's larger, elegant homes.

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"We needed a big home to meet in because there were so many of us," said Florence Angle, 87, a member since 1942 and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. "We always met in lovely homes," she said.

Pauline Maxwell, 88, a Juniata College graduate, said it was easier for women to be active in the club.

"Women stayed home more back then," she said. "They work today. They have less time to do other things."

Club meetings have always included a speaker, a music program and a book review or educational program.

Archibald Rutledge, poet laureate of South Carolina, spoke at the club's first meeting, according to the minutes. His topic was "Nature Studies of my Plantation Days."

"Everybody I knew belonged to the College Club," said Polly Moyer, a Hood College graduate who joined in 1954 after moving to Waynesboro.

Twenty-five of the nearly 150 women who belong today are over 70 yet the still vibrant club is thriving with young blood.

Membership requirements were and still are simple and rigid. Members must have at least two years of college.

The average age of members today is 40. Many are younger, said Barbara Bowersox, 52, the president. She graduated from Penn State University in 1985.

The club meets four times a year in a local church hall. The members present their scholarships at an annual banquet.

Over the years the club has given out nearly 100 scholarships. At first they were loans. In the early 1950s the loans became outright gifts.

Male students became eligible for the $2,500 scholarships in 1995.

The scholarships are based on need, academic achievement, character and community involvement.

From 12 to 15 students apply for the scholarship each year, said Peggy McCleary, 52, a graduate of Wilson College and the University of Virginia and the club's historian.

Money for the scholarships is made through fund-raisers.

"The women who started the club were interested in cultural activities and in education," said Helen Overington, 94, who has degrees from Goucher College and Cornell University. "They did a lot for the community."

The members take particular pride in the club's civic activities. Over the years it has been involved with or helped to sponsor the Red Cross, war bond drives, community concerts, the Easter Seal Society, Memorial Park, Friends of the Library, United Way, Girl Scouts, Red Run Park, the Cancer Society, Humane Society, senior citizens and YMCA, among others.

While civic affairs are the heart of the club, its soul rests with its cultural and educational interests. It shows up today in the continuing education programs the club sponsors for its members.

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