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President of homemakers clubs proud of group's legacy

July 26, 2010|By JANET HEIM
  • Nancy Itnyre is president of the eight Washington County Homemakers Clubs and was recently re-elected to a second four-year term.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

BOONSBORO -- If you ask Nancy Itnyre what's important to her, friends and family top the list.

That connection, along with a desire to give back to the community, has led to involvement with several community organizations.

While the community benefits from Itnyre's efforts, so does she.

"I've met so many nice people. That's the part I've enjoyed," Itnyre said.

Itnyre retired from her job as a secretary at the Food & Drug Administration in Rockville, Md., about eight years ago. She and her husband of 15 years, Jerry, live in Boonsboro.

Nancy Itnyre got involved with the Boonsboro Homemakers Club about six years ago because one of her sisters was a member.

Now Itnyre is president of the eight Washington County Homemakers clubs and was just re-elected to a second two-year term. Prior to that, she was president of the Boonsboro club.

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Itnyre, whose maiden name is Nalley, grew up in an Air Force family. She lived in Newport News, Va., and Glen Burnie, Md., before her family settled in the Boonsboro area when she was in fourth or fifth grade.

A 1962 graduate of Boonsboro High School, Itnyre remembers being in one of the first classes to graduate from the new school.

Itnyre is proud of how the approximately 100 members of the county's homemakers clubs -- Boonsboro, Brightwood, Cavetown, Clear Spring, Dry Run, Funkstown, Green Acres and Leitersburg -- contribute to the community.

Some visit nursing homes, and make bibs and wheelchair/walker pouches for nursing home patients. Others sew comfort dolls for ambulance companies to give to children during emergencies. They also collect items to donate to local nonprofit organizations, among other things.

This year, 18 local students received homemakers club scholarships, which is a source of pride for Itnyre. The majority of the scholarship money is raised from an annual scholarship auction, Itnyre said.

The first Washington County homemakers clubs were started in 1917 in Williamsport, Clear Spring and Cavetown by a home demonstration agent and the programs related to farm skills for rural women. The Funkstown Club was founded three years later and recently celebrated its 90th anniversary, while the Brightwood Club is the youngest, having begun in 1976.

Itnyre said the meetings were formal early on, with women wearing their Sunday best, including hats and gloves. The organization's name has changed from Washington County Federation of Rural Women to Washington County Extension Homemakers Council to Washington County Association for Family and Community Education to its present name -- Washington County Homemakers.

A 1929 record shows demonstrations on canning, freezing, ironing men's shirts in five minutes, making dress forms, metal or glass etching as a craft, draperies, slipcovers and chair caning.

Itnyre has little free time, choosing to volunteer instead. She likes to do oil and watercolor painting, when time permits, although she gives most of her artwork away.

She has served as president of the Boonsboro Lions Club and Itnyre thinks she was the first female president. She also belongs to the local "Oldies but Goodies" group of the Red Hat Society, Trinity Lutheran Church in Boonsboro and TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) 77.

When not volunteering, Itnyre, who has an adult son and an adult daughter, likes to spend time with her 5-year-old grandson, who lives in Rockville.

"He's the light of my life," she said.

She feels fortunate to have her two sisters and two of her three brothers living locally. One brother lives in Newport News, Va.

"Oh my. I tell you what, I'm very lucky. We have a close family," Itnyre said.

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