Rural Club Celebrates!

Rural Women’s Republican Club (RWRC)

Celebrates 60 Years and its Founding Mothers

By: Patsy Dillingham, President RWRC

On Monday, March 21, 2022, Dutch’s Daughter Restaurant in Frederick was the setting for The Rural Women’s Republican Club to celebrate its 60th Anniversary.  Also, celebrated was Jill Chadwick’s 99th birthday (her official birthday was Monday, March 21st), the last surviving Charter Member of the club, and the last two Founding Mothers of the club--Bonnie Anthony and Dorinne Armstrong.  The foundation that these ladies established for the club is still carried on today—strong political values, as well as the importance of Community Outreach.   Thank you to Margie Shultz for being the official photographer.

There were 26 members and guests attending.  Special Guests were:

Jill Chadwick’s Sons and their spouses—Dan and Wykie Seamans; Charles and Jane Ann Chadwick;

Bonnie Anthony’s Daughter— Carole Morgan;

Dorinne Armstrong’s son-- Richard Armstrong and Dorinne’s guest, George Mauser, son of Elaine Mauser, the Founder of the Rural Women’s Republican Club. 

The History of the Rural Women’s Republican Club

By Dorinne Armstrong

The Rural Women’s Republican Club’s was founded on June 5, 1962.  This small club is still appropriately named.  The Upper Montgomery County area is still very much a rural area.  We are surrounded by 95,000 acres of the Agricultural Preserve, with Sugarloaf Mountain towering over the rolling acres of beautiful farms.

Some trivia from that year:

  • President John F. Kennedy demands removal of the Soviet missile bases in Cuba;
  • Marilyn Monroe dies, apparently from an overdose of sleeping pills.
  • U.S. establishes semi-permanent military presence in Vietnam
  • Popular songs: Go Away Little Girl, The Loco-Motion, Sherry, Monster Mash, Big Girls Don't Cry;
  • The Beverly Hillbillies and The Twilight Zone were the top TV shows;
  • Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter O’Toole, was voted top movie that year;
  • Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr. becomes first American to achieve earth orbit;

There was so much happening in that year, it prompted Elaine Mauser (chartered member—now deceased) to get involved in Republican politics.  She took the initiative to call the Montgomery County Federation to see if there was a Republican club in the upper part of the county.  There was not.  So—it all began.  Elaine Mauser, Pat O’Hanlon, Jennie Fulton, Sylvia Herman and Mary Helburn from the Federation, got together for lunch at the Potomac Valley Country Club in upper Montgomery County to discuss plans for starting a new club.  It’s part of the tradition—Rural does its best work over food!  Together, they came up with a list of names and found enough Republican ladies to invite to an organizational coffee to be held at the home of General and Mrs. Wedemeyer in Boyds.

On June 5, 1962, twenty-eight (28) women came for coffee and about fourteen (14) signed up to become the first charter members of the newly formed club.  One woman in attendance suggested that the club be called “The Rural Women’s Republican Club.”   The record shows that she never attended another meeting, but the name still remains.  It’s recorded for posterity that the first paid member was Bessie Reddick of Poolesville and Pat O’Hanlon was the first president of the club.  Jill Chadwick, a charter member, is still in the club today and remains very active.  Although she did not attend the first meeting, Dorinne Armstrong came to the second meeting and is still active today.  Bonnie Anthony is still active today and served as President 1991-1993. 

As with any start-up club, the most urgent need was money.  The one attempt at fundraising was a bake sale at Selby’s Market, where the club netted $18.07.  To earn more money, two members, Elaine Mauser and Dorinne Armstrong came up with the idea of having an old-fashioned box supper in the barn on the Wedemeyer farm, where the Armstrongs were renting at the time.  The Wedemeyer’s were kind enough to give the club permission to use the old barn (probably thought it was a great way to get it cleaned out.)  The club went to work!  Everyone pitched in we scraped the floor, ridding it of years of barn gunk, hung wire for Chinese lanterns, pushed hay around to provide appropriate seating, hired a Country Music group called “The Blue Grass Travelers,” and sent out invitations. A tradition was in the making.  On June 7, 1963, the first “Saturday Night in the Country” began and that tradition is still very much alive.  About 30 couples attended the first one, each with a beautifully wrapped box supper to be auctioned off by a real live auctioneer.  The first Saturday Night in the Country netted $558.35—not bad for a small club in its embryonic stages.  Though the format has changed some through the years, we still have an auction, good food, entertainment and best of all we have a great time with each other and our guests.

After all these years, the Rural Women’s Republican Club remains small but mighty!  We support our candidates very well, work hard for Republican causes and we always do very well in our volunteer hours. Our Community Outreach continues to be a top priority of the club. The friendships that have been established in this club have been long lasting, and the family atmosphere has been an incentive for others to join this political and caring club.


Montgomery County Republican Party