The Payson Woman’s Club, a nonprofit organization that has served the Payson area since 1921, is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year.
The club had 32 charter members —at the time there were only 150 people living in Payson — so that was a notable achievement.
Members of Payson’s oldest service organization, with headquarters at 510 West Main, continue to cook, sew and make crafts to sell so they can donate to several local charities.
For this special year — its 90th Anniversary — members have decided to expand their fund-raising programs and give even more to the community.
In order to be successful, they need the help of the community. What do they need? Just stop by and have a meal with them during their special events, or maybe participate in a silent auction or purchase something from their craft booths.
The more money they raise, the more they can give back to the community.
The ladies at Payson Woman’s Club give to the community through the following programs:
• Children’s Comfort Program, chair Vice President Lois Brice
• Women’s Angel Program, chair Secretary Carole Fries
• Senior Lap Robe Program, chair Director Dottie Williams
• Food Bank Program, chair President Sharron Shill
• History Outreach Program, chair Director Jeanne Peace
• Education Program, chair Treasurer Jayne Pyle
With the Children’s Comfort Program, members donate soft quilts and stuffed toys to the Payson Police Department to give to children who have gone through trauma and are in need of comfort.
The Women’s Angel Program was created to help women who have to leave their homes and stay at the Time Out Shelter. All of the women donate needed items and then get together and prepare beautiful baskets for women entering the shelter.
Most of them go there with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. A typical basket contains shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, lotion and something pretty — things that will hopefully make a woman feel better. Since many of the women have small children with them, the club has started making baskets for babies and small children as well.
The Senior Lap Robe Program was designed to help area seniors who are homebound, have no family or live in nursing homes. The women make the lap robes and donate them just before Christmas each year.
The Food Bank Program is to aid the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Payson. Non-perishable food items and baby diapers are gathered and taken to the local food bank. Right before Thanksgiving, the club donates frozen turkeys so more families can enjoy the holidays.
The Education Program gives a scholarship to a Payson High School graduating senior and this year the club has plans to start donating to the Rim Country Literacy Program. The more money the club raises, the more the club can give to the literacy program.
The first president of the Payson Woman’s Club in 1921 was Lena Chilson, followed by Lillie Chilson in 1923, Beulla Corbet in 1924, Cece Gibson in 1926, Julia Randall in 1927, Avis Chilson in 1929, Leona Fuel in 1931, and Theresa Boardman in 1932. Mayte Barkdoll, Valda Taylor, Anna Mae Deming and Ethel Owens were also presidents. The Payson Woman’s Club was the social center of Payson and led the way in programs to help others.
Any business, organization, or person interested in helping the Payson Woman’s Club help others, please call Sharron Shill at (928) 476-3334, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Board members Lois Brice, Carole Fries, Jayne Pyle, Dottie Williams and Jeanne Peace may also be contacted. All help is greatly appreciated and sufficient documentation for tax purposes will be provided. These donations will be used for the sole purpose and benefit of the above programs.
The Payson Woman’s Club meets the second Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m. at the Payson Woman’s Club building, 510 W. Main St.
The Payson Woman’s Club also owns and operates the Payson Pioneer Cemetery — and has since 1921. The current cemetery director is Jayne Pyle. The yearly, suggested donation for people who have families buried in Payson Pioneer Cemetery is $20. Some donate more. All donations are appreciated.
Please mail cemetery donations to Payson Pioneer Cemetery, P. O. Box 33, Payson, AZ 85547.
• Easter Fest, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 16
• First Fridays, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., May through October
• Pancake Breakfast, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 20
• Holly Berry Fair, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12
• Electric Light Parade, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3
These events will be held at the Payson Woman’s Club, 510 W. Main St., and all proceeds will go to programs that benefit Payson charities.
A look back at another anniversary
When the Payson Woman’s Club celebrated its 40th anniversary 50 years ago, the following appeared in the Payson Roundup Aug. 3, 1961:
“The Woman’s Club of Payson … was organized in August 1921, by Mrs. R.C. James, Mrs. G.T. Stevens, Dr. Mary Neff and Mrs. C.R. Risser.
“The first meeting was held on August 10th of that year in the old school house and plans were discussed for starting a building fund and a library.
“The following years saw a regular program of food sales, dances, bazaars, card parties and dinners that provided enjoyment for the community and cash for the club coffers.
“When the local bank went broke in 1932, it held over $500 of the club’s funds, some of which was later repaid. This setback did not discourage the members. They worked a little harder and were soon able to make a down payment on a lot on Main Street, the site of the present club building.
“The lot was originally occupied by three buildings, the largest of which became the club room, a smaller building, and a detached powder room, which was the prime target of Halloween pranksters and cost the good ladies around $4 each year to upright.
“The larger building had been operated as a bakery by a Frenchman, who apparently believed in diversified industry, for he used the smaller building as an illicit liquor factory and dispensed bread and bootleg with equal alacrity. No one seems to know what happened to the Frenchman when the ladies took over. He just disappeared, leaving a sizeable quantity of hootch for the ladies and the law to remove.”
Making a home in a bootlegger’s building, presented an interesting encounter for a several of early members of the Woman’s Club. The following is from the Northern Gila County Historical Society’s book “Rim Country History”:
“Prohibition was in full force, and the Paysonites were on the lookout for ‘sneaky’ Prohis who rushed in to get the ‘lawbreakers’. The Woman’s Club had recently bought a little frame building that had been used by the former bootleg-owner to store his wares in fruit jars. Communication had failed to reach the Prohi office in Phoenix. The Prohis ‘broke into’ the frame building just as the women were washing the dishes after their lunch meeting. The officers were embarrassed, but it is said that Theresa Boardman was furious that the law should raid the prestigious body of the Woman’s Club whose members were the pillars of the community.”