Wilson Ruritan's first female member has long history with club

November 20, 2011|By JANET HEIM |
  • Nealie Whitaker is the first female member of the Wilson Ruritan Club.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

CLEAR SPRING — For the regulars who attend the Wilson Ruritan Club breakfasts throughout the year, many will recognize Nealie Whitaker as a volunteer.

Until her induction as the first woman in the club on Nov. 1, though, she was helping as a nonmember.

The club, which Whitaker said is 56 years old, was seeking new members and she decided she wanted to join. A 1976 Clear Spring High School graduate, Whitaker said she grew up with a lot of the men in the club.

She remembers her mother and grandmother receiving from the club pork from butchering and fruit baskets at Christmas.

“They’d give you the shirt off their back and ask what more they could do. I wanted to be a part of it,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker, whose maiden name is Graves, lives in Clear Spring on part of what used to be her family’s dairy farm, known as McMullan and Graves.

With 41 members “and counting”, Whitaker said she’s recruiting “anybody I can, any way I can.”

Whitaker and her husband, Mark, have been married 10 years. They have five children between them.

Mark Whitaker is in his second year as the club’s president. Nealie said her daughter, the youngest of their children, is involved in Ruri-Teen, a service club for teenagers.

“We’re trying to bring in younger members, and bring in new ideas and a new focus,” Whitaker said.

She’s quick to give credit where it’s due, though.

“There’s a lot of great things these guys have been doing long before I got there,” Whitaker said.

The club raises money by holding breakfasts, spaghetti dinners and selling Easter flowers, among other things, sharing the proceeds with the community and other community organizations. It also provides scholarships to Clear Spring High School students.

“We help a lot people and are very civic-minded,” Whitaker said.

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