The OFWC Woman's Club of Steubenville started its 2012-13 club season off on a somber note, remembering two longtime members who passed away since the women last assembled for a meeting in June.
A moment of silence was observed for Shirley Mitchell, the club's treasurer for the past 16 years, and Joan Powell when the club held its kickoff meeting Thursday at the Steubenville Country Club.
Beth Rupert Warren offered a devotion entitled "Forever Friends" in their memory and led the group in prayer before lunch was served. Hostesses were Donna Keagler and Jan Glaub Rainbolt.
Shirley Valuska, left, was presented a life member certificate by Kathy Mills, president of the Woman’s Club of Steubenville.
The club normally meets on the first Monday of the month, but met Thursday instead because of the Labor Day holiday. It will resume that schedule starting in October with meetings through December. It will no longer meet in January and February in anticipation of bad weather, picking up with a March-through-June 2013 meeting calendar.
The lunch was very good - salad, chicken crepes, apple pie and ice cream - and so was the company. I enjoyed sitting next to local author Karen Majoris-Garrison with our conversation running the gamut of writing and horses to finding time and making time in the framework of what typically is hectic day-to-day living.
Eileen Krupinski, vice president program chair, introduced guest speaker John R. Holmes, an English professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville since 1985 whose fascination with Steubenville began in 1991 when he was asked to portray Steubenville's namesake, Friedrich Wilhelm Von Steuben. Dressed in period attire, Holmes is a commercial staple touting downtown Steubenville "where everyone knows your name."
Krupinski said that over the summer she had read Holmes' book - "Remembering Steubenville: From Frontier Fort to Steel Valley" published in 2009 by History Press, its focus entirely local histories. Rather than giving a "book report" herself, Krupinski let Holmes, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., do it instead.
Minus the wig, costume and accent familiar to Holmes' portrayal of Von Steuben, Holmes said he wrote the book despite not being a native of the area and despite his training to write about literature, not history.
He concentrated on characters with a story to tell, touching at the meeting on Bezaleel Wells, who literally laid out Steubenville and built the first woolen mill in the United States in Steubenville in 1815 after bringing to the area the first Merino sheep that produced more wool at less cost.
He also mentioned Hetty Elizabeth Beatty, whose husband Charles, a Presbyterian minister, founded the Steubenville Female Seminary in 1829. Hetty was the principal of the school that closed in 1898, educating an estimated 5,000 in its history. It was Hetty's suggestion that a "nice school for girls" needed to open, a pioneering idea that "a solid education for girls was an important thing."
For those who aren't history buffs, stories of Steubenville's past are interesting for sure.
Copies of the book sell for $19.99 - as Holmes quipped "darn near $20" - and are available locally at Historic Fort Steuben's Visitors Center. Part of the proceeds benefit the fort, so Holmes encourages a purchase there.
Kathy Mills presided at the business meeting, beginning her second two-year term as president.
At the board meeting in August held at Eat 'n Park, Warren was elected secretary to fill a vacancy, and Garrison was elected treasurer. Warren's election leaves the membership chairman position open, which Mills noted is an important one indeed.
While the club needs someone to step up to the plate and assume that responsibility, Mills reminded the members how they all have the ability to recruit members to join the organization. "Everyone has the potential to get just one person," Mills said. "Otherwise we won't have a Steubenville Woman's Club," Mills said, encouraging members to share with others what the club is all about - "serving other people, helping other people, what this club was based on. Don't let people think we're 'lunch ladies.' We serve this community."
The meeting also included applause for Dolores Dooley and her work on the club's program booklet, which incidentally, in addition to noting the passing of Mitchell and Powell, also notes the deaths of Catherina Lancia and Exel Weinman.
Members offered suggestions on what charities they'd like to see some club money support.
The meeting ended with Mills presenting a life member certificate to Shirley Valuska, who is beginning her 46th year in the club. In talking with Valuska afterwards, she joined the woman's club after having been in the junior woman's club, which was in its day limited to 100 members and always had a waiting list.
The Oct. 1 noon luncheon meeting at the country club will feature the Rev. Richard Davis, vice president of community relations at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, whose topic will be "This is My Life." Davis will share memories of growing up on the south side of Buffalo, N.Y.
Krupinski and Dooley will serve as greeters and hostesses.