In the fall of 1980, a history committee was formed for the purpose of researching the beginnings of women's clubs at Appalachian State University. The committee met in the home of Mrs. Bebe Plemmons, wife of ASU's second president, on September 5 to draft a report of their findings. In addition to Mrs. Plemmons, who arrived as the first lady in 1955, the committee consisted of Maxie Edmisten, an alumnus of ASU who was Dean of Women until her retirement and who has been on campus since 1956; Mary High, a first-grade teacher in ASU's demonstration school until her retirement and who has been in Boone since 1959; and Kathy DeGroat, also a resident of Boone since 1959, whose husband, Eric (now deceased), was in the Health and Physical Education Department. The Board extends a special thanks to the members of this committee for their efforts in researching and writing the following report.
Faculty Dames was the first club for women at Appalachian State Teachers College (ASTC). It was made up of wives of faculty members and was chiefly a social organization. One day in 1960, Mrs. Plemmons (affectionately referred to as Mrs. P) invited the wives of all department heads and the wives of administrators to the President's Home to discuss starting what turned out to be the Ad-Mins Club. Its primary function was to assist Mrs. P in welcoming and helping newcomers and to provide people to serve as hostesses with her at the annual faculty picnic and at the lovely teas Dr. and Mrs. Plemmons had frequently in their home for faculty and town people.
Mrs. P felt the need also for a Newcomers Club and it was started in 1960. All women connected to ASTC were eligible to be in Newcomers for three years and it was an active organization. To quote from its constitution:
"It shall be the object of the club to unite its members in common interests, to promote a spirit of friendliness, to provide social opportunities, and to assist the newcomers in adjusting to the campus and community." With the conviction that "a happy wife assures a happy husband" it is felt that the Newcomers Club was a strong and effective influence in keeping many faculty members in the fold.
A Student Wives' Club was formed the same year, at Mrs. P's instigation. With more and more married students on campus, she saw the need to have the wives get together to discuss (and frequently to solve) mutual problems, and to aid each other in making adjustments and in many other ways.
In 1962, Mrs. P's baby, Appalachian Woman's Club (AWC) was born. All women associated with ASTC were eligible for this group, which met monthly at first and featured various types of programs, including tours of homes and an annual fashion show. An annual Summer School Coffee was held, and each fall a social hour and a tour of the campus was conducted for all newcomers, men as well as women. Hosts and hostesses were provided at each building and small groups were conducted through the facility. AWC provided sponsors for both the Newcomers Club and the Student Wives' Club
In the mid-70's these groups combined into one club, Appalachian Woman's Club, with Newcomers and Student Wives becoming interest groups of the parent club. Other interest groups also were organized and many remain active: bridge, both morning and evening; a coffee group; dance; bowling; needlework; child-rearing discussion group; book groups; exercise; arts and crafts; travel; play-reading; antiques; swim; and gourmet groups were formed whenever enough interest was shown to warrant it.
The committee feels that the club has filled a real need and that it has benefited the college community and the community at large. In 1980 the name was changed to ASU Women's Club, but the purpose and the spirit remain much the same. Vive ASU Women!
To update the history for the Club’s 40th anniversary, Ellie Lyne, Club Historian and longtime member and Gail Johnson, 1999-2001 President summarized the next two decades. The Board thanks all members who contributed to this work.
The 80’s brought many changes to women’s lives as they tried to balance employment outside the home with family responsibilities. The Child Rearing Interest Group was most active during this decade. New Interest Groups were formed that were closely tied to the University. Club members worked as Family Day volunteers, ushers for “An Appalachian Summer”, committee members to produce “An Appalachian Christmas” and docents at the Appalachian Cultural Museum.
The 90’s brought a more tranquil time with only six presidents serving during the ten-year period versus thirteen in the 80’s. Interest Groups became known as Activity Groups. Day Trippers was among the new groups formed. Members enjoyed bike trips, canoeing on the New River, hiking and exploring regional museums, exhibits, and theater.
Members welcomed Kay Borkowski’s ( wife of Frank Borkowski, ASU’s fifth Chancellor) active participation in the Club activities and her help with the Club’s involvement in ASU events such as the Gala and the Centennial Celebration.
As we entered 2000, members enjoyed 22 Activity Groups again reflecting women’s interests in family, jobs, volunteering, and self-improvement. Monthly meetings included luncheons, two Newcomer’s coffees, afternoon tea, and evening events of theater and sunset social. A website was established and maintained by Jackie Harris. Memorabilia was placed in the University Library Archives under the direction of Judith Phoenix and Ellie Lyne. The Constitution and By-Laws were updated and approved to reflect our current needs by Leona Duke and committee members Kay Borkowski, Kay Bosworth, Jan Goodell and Gail Johnson.
During 2001-2004 Presidents Barbara Speir and April Sauls led the club as it continued to serve the university community and the High Country. 2005 marks the 45th year of the ASU Women’s Club with new outdoor activity groups reflecting the members’ interests.