History of the
Republican Women’s Club
Written April 1983
From The Beginning
It is early September 1960, and Texas is still 99.9% Democratic! The Dallas County GOP organization must get into high gear for the Nixon-Kennedy presidential campaign and the election of John Tower to the U.S. Senate, Tom Byrne to the State Legislature and Frank Crowley to the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court. This is a big year for the GOP, we have 21 candidates in the State of Texas! By 1970, we will have 21 candidates in Dallas County alone!
Our County Chairman, Peter O’Donnell, has the responsibility of finding the workers to get the job done. There are 13 Republican women’s clubs in the county working at top speed, but they need help, and the question is where to find it. These clubs meet and work mostly during the day because of family responsibilities. Peter comes up with the idea of the great, untapped resource of women who work during the day but who can give time in the evenings and on weekends and asks the Dallas County Council of Republican Women to organize such a group.
With Dorothy Cameron representing the Council, and serving as temporary chairman, a meeting of business and professional women interested in organizing a Republican women’s club was called for 7 p.m. September 14, 1960, in the Baker Hotel English Room, with 31 women attending.
Dorothy said the reason for the meeting was two-fold: To establish an organized group for SPECIAL jobs, because the organized group works best, and to inform and EDUCATE women in politics.
Peter O’Donnell spoke briefly on the things that were needed:
1. Things that require no money and no time: Endorsement cards for newspaper ads; wearing campaign buttons; bumper stickers on cars; and talking up the GOP program.
2. Things that require time but no money: House-to-house surveys; telephone projects; staffing headquarters; working in downtown headquarters after hours; plus the hundred other things women do in politics.
3. Dependability on the part of volunteers: He urged the group not to make commitments unless they would fulfill them and always to put forth their best efforts.
The working gals were enthusiastic and voted to meet monthly at 6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday at a downtown location for dinner, and named themselves the Downtown Republican Women’s Club.
Monthly meetings are fine and to be desired in regular times. But these were special times and time was short before election. So these gals had their first regular meeting only five days later at the Golden Pheasant Restaurant, 1417 Commerce Street, on September 19, 1960, with 38 in attendance.
Officers were elected to cover the period from September 1960 throughDecember 1961, after which time officers would serve calendar year terms. The first officers were Lee Wood, president; Virginia Parsons, 1st vice president; Marion Boyer, 2nd vice president; Dorothy Vaughan, recording secretary; Aileen Clark, corresponding secretary; and Peggy McDonald, treasurer.
At the first meeting, the group voted to forego the regular October meeting and instead to meet twice at GOP Headquarters for work sessions to help with the massive amount of work to be done before the election. Meantime, the individual members were working several nights per week at headquarters.
The first meeting also brought forth the plans to start our course in Practical Politics immediately after the election. After all, we were beginners and had much to learn. The Practical Politics course would be repeated several times during the next few years so most members were able to take advantage of it.
During those weeks before the 1960 election, our members participated in all the projects where womanpower was needed, and it has continued that way to this day.
As history records, Frank Crowley was elected — the first Republican to serve in the Dallas County Courthouse, and this was the “foot in the door” we needed. We lost the presidential election, and Lyndon B. Johnson became vice president. At the same time, LBJ won the U.S. Senate seat over John Tower. The only good thing was that not even LBJ would be allowed to serve in both offices. The Democratic governor appointed a Democrat, William Blakley, to serve in the Senate until a special election could be held in May 1961. So Tower had a second chance.
That special election made history, for the GOP sent Tower to Washington. Much of the credit for that win goes to the Republican women’s clubs throughout Texas. While the fledgling DRWC made a good start during the 1960 general election, it was during the preparations for the special election that the Party found out what a great bunch of workers they had in the Downtowners, and we have been performing in our assignments ever since.
On that long ago September 14, 1960, when Dorothy Cameron said one of the purposes of our group was to organize for special jobs, we took seriously the word “special.” When called upon to handle and distribute materials for the GOP primary elections, we accepted the challenge and performed these duties for more than a decade.
In fact, for a majority of those years, the team that headed up the supplies job was composed of Nettie Craig, Peggy McDonald and Dorothy Vaughan. Most of our members have worked hard and long on many projects, and it is not our purpose here to single out individuals. The list would be much too long. But we thought special mention was due here because this team repeated so many times.
Before leaving the subject of primary elections, we may have some newer members who don’t know that, until just a few years ago, the GOP had to conduct its own primaries. That meant: Find buildings; use paper ballots; order and distribute supplies; dig old, dilapidated ballot boxes out of the courthouse basement and have them hauled to a distribution point where our precinct chairmen had to pick up the boxes and other supplies; and then conduct the election. All the while, we were doing it the
hard way, and the elected Democratic officials in the courthouse were giving all the county-owned voting machines to the Democrats. It was years before we Republicans were allowed a voting machine, but for the last few years we have had “equal rights.” Who says we don’t know anything about discrimination?
As reported earlier, we started out with downtown dinner meetings. When so many offices started moving to outlying areas, it became harder and harder for a lot of our members to get downtown after work, so we changed our meeting place to GOP Headquarters. We hereby express our very special thanks to the County GOP for allowing us to meet at Headquarters for several decades and for the cooperation and generosity shown us through the years.
We don’t want to leave the impression that our membership is, or ever was, limited to businesswomen. We welcome everyone with open arms! Our original members are retired now, but we are blessed with many new young business and professional gals. Retirement from a job has not meant retirement from GOP work. You can find our retiree members at Headquarters and any other place where there is work to be done.
Please pardon us if our immodesty is showing for thinking we have a special and different club. However, honesty prompts us to admit to some weaknesses. For instance, we have been unable to reach the large membership of some of the daytime clubs, nor have we been at the top of the list in money-raising projects, but always have managed to sprinkle a few dollars here and there to help our candidates. Just as we will continue to strive for more members, we are going to strive for bigger bucks, too.
Our community involvement work usually is done through cooperation with the Council. Perhaps the most gratifying of all such projects were the monthly birthday parties for underprivileged children in United Fund day care centers, the Red Cross Christmas gift project for our servicemen in Vietnam, and currently, the Stew Pot Ministry of the First Presbyterian Church in helping to feed the “street people” of Dallas.
The regular jobs done by the clubs are well known, as are the chores for the special events such as all the GOP state conventions held in Dallas through the years. We are looking forward to the Biggie in 1984, the Republican National Convention, for which we will be on hand to do our share.
While we are prone to think chiefly in terms of “work,” benefits in terms of friendships and pleasant associations are to be savored and treasured. So let’s savor the fringe benefits and hold fast to our dedication and strive to make sure that any project of our club is to further the election of GOP candidates in Dallas County, Texas and the nation.
(Compiled by Lee Wood, Frankie Vogt, Jane Jones, Irene Carnes, Peggy McDonald, Nettie Craig and Dorothy Vaughan)
Written September 2005
Our Continuing History
Through the years, our club has helped the party grow to the point where, in 2005, a Texas Republican, George W. Bush, is President of the United States. Two Republican Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, represent the Lone Star State in Washington. And in Austin, Governor Rick Perry and all the statewide elected officials are Republicans.
Republicans are in control of the Dallas County Courthouse, where we have club members holding elective office. In 2005, Livia Liu had the honor of being appointed Judge of Criminal District Court #7 in Dallas County by Governor Rick Perry. Hon. Faith Johnson is Judge of the 363rd Criminal District Court. An associate member, Hon. Dianne Jones, is Judge of the County Criminal Court No. 11.
Our club regularly sends delegates to the National Federation of Republican Women and Texas Federation of Republican Women conventions. With this increased visibility at the national and state level, we felt it appropriate to change the club name in 1990 to the Dallas Downtown Republican Women’s Club.
DDRWC has won six consecutive Diamond Awards, the highest NFRW award, and is a multi-time winner of the TFRW John Goodwin Tower Achievement Award. In 1999, DDRWC received a TFRW Best Newsletter award.
We not only work on Republican National Conventions but three DDRWC members have been at-large alternate delegates. Dot Adler served at the 1988 GOP National Convention in New Orleans, Iva Stewart at the 1992 convention in Houston, and Judge Faith Johnson at the 2000 convention in Philadelphia. .
Eight DDRWC members flew to Washington in January 1989 for President George Bush’s inauguration, seven were on hand for President George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001 and six were there for his 2005 inauguration. Several members attended Governor George W. Bush’s 1995 and 1999 inaugurations in Austin.
Peggy Polito and Patricia Van Winkle currently serve as precinct chairmen. Peggy received a travel award from the Republican Party of Texas for her outstanding contribution as a precinct chairman.
Dot Adler. Debbie Sanchez and Peggy Polito have been board members for the Dallas County Council of Republican Women. Several DDRWC members were elected delegates to the 2004 Republican State Convention in San Antonio.
In 2001, DDRWC adopted a kindergarten class at City Park Elementary School in a low-income neighborhood near Downtown Dallas. Members contributed school supplies for the children as part of the NFRW/TFRW No Child Left Behind program.
For our 2004 service project, DDRWC contributed dictionaries to Our Lady of Perpetual Help School under the No Child Left Behind program.
Now, in our 45th year, the Dallas Downtown Republican Women’s Club strives on, doing the job our team assumed in 1960. We continue to focus on involving business and professional women in the political process, informing and educating women in politics, and working to elect Republican candidates at the county, state and national level. Dorothy Vaughan — a founding member and recording secretary in 1960 — continues to be a member of our club.
(Compiled by Dot Adler, September, 2005
Written December 2010
Our Golden Anniversary
When the Dallas Downtown Republican Women’s Club began planning our 50th anniversary celebration in 2010, our #1 priority was working to elect Republican candidates in the Nov. 2 general election.
The Dallas County Republican Party had hired our Campaign Activities vice president. Cornelia Cree, to work at the DCRP phone bank. This was after Cornelia proved to be an outstanding volunteer at Republican Headquarters, organizing the staffing of the telephone reception desk.
We decided to have the Golden Anniversary celebration on Tuesday, Dec. 14 — a regular meeting night — at Republican Headquarters, our regular meeting place. We invited Taffy Goldsmith to be our keynote speaker and to install our 2011 officers. Taffy is a past president of both the Texas Federation of Republican Women and the Dallas County Council of Republican Women and a former Dallas County Republican Party vice chairman.
The 2010 election resulted in the election of all Republican statewide candidates and the election of four more Dallas County Republicans to the Texas House of Representatives. Unfortunately, all the GOP candidates running countywide in Dallas County lost their races.
In 2010, DDRWC added eight new members, bringing our total membership up to 29. Dorothy Vaughan and Jessie Smart, who were charter members in 1960, are still members of our club.
The club continued to focus on winning National Federation of Republican Women and TFRW club achievement awards. To date, DDRWC has won seven Diamond Awards — the highest NFRW award— two Gold Awards and one Bronze Award. Our club also won the TFRW John Goodwin Tower Award each year in which we received an NFRW Award.
Under the leadership of Betty Dawson, our Literacy chairman, DDRWC supports Our Lady of Perpetual Help School via our literacy programs. We contribute dictionaries to OLPH, the alma mater of several DDRWC members, and also donate books for the school library under the NFRW Mamie Eisenhower Library Project. In lieu of gifts to our speakers, we contribute books in their names to the OLPH library.
Sharon Hassell established our club website, www.ddrwc.org, which is turning out to be good for membership recruiting. Several prospective members found DDRWC via an Internet search and subsequently joined the club
DDRWC member Patricia Van Winkle, a long-time precinct chairman, was a Presidential Elector in 2008.
Lisa Sutter serves as a Carrollton City Council member. Now that TFRW clubs are required to be political action committees, we are fortunate to have Lisa filing our PAC reports with the Texas Ethics Commission.
Dot Adler, now TFRW historian, arranged for TFRW to contribute the Federation’s archives to the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University, where they will be preserved and accessible for research. In 1955, Dot covered the TFRW founding convention in San Antonio as a San Antonio Light reporter. She returned to San Antonio years later and obtained copies of all the news stories that had appeared in the San Antonio newspapers about the first TFRW convention. Those articles are now in the TFRW archives at the SMU library.
Sandy Denton is DDRWC historian and keeper of our club scrapbooks, which go back to the 1960s. Sandy is a past president, who has served in many DDRWC offices,
Over the last half century, DDRWC members have contributed mightily to changing Texas from a 99.9% Democratic state to where Republicans hold all Texas statewide offices. This is a wonderful heritage, and we look forward to a bright future.
(Compiled by Dot Adler, 11-26-2010)