History of Zonta Club of Converse County

Douglas, Wyoming
In 1951 the horrific images of WWII were just starting to fade in the minds and hearts of the small rural community of Douglas, Wyoming. A blip on the map of Converse County, some call Home of the Jackalope. This was a ranching area with the mineral industries lightly discovered. With the war over and a new outlook of prosperity and adventure was beginning to take hold in a group of like minded and strong valued women. These ladies knew how important it was and is to reach out and become involved in the lives of other women. Making a positive difference in the standards of the quality of their lives at home, and around the world became an important goal. The Zonta journey started by our pioneer heroines of Douglas had begun!
The Zonta Club of Converse County was first Chartered in 1951. It was organized in June of the same year 63 years ago.
Names of some of the Charter members are Chloris Jones, Vanessa Birdsall, Lois Ditzler, Edith Browning, Antoinette Stoddard, Margaret Anderson, Pearl Eathorne, Lucille Combs, Margaret Thurston and the Cross Family contingency consisting of Mary Cross, Barbara Cross, Alzire Cross and Jenny Cross. …and many more. The membership totaled 65.
In 1958 the membership was 55. That same year the 7th Anniversary of Zonta International was celebrated at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. A few of the members of Converse County Zonta traveled the long distance to attend.
As the scrap books were read with avid eyes of current members, it was clear that there were a few overriding themes to the early years of the Zonta Club that still exist today. The importance of Scholarships of Women’s Adult Education, contributions of clothing, food, medicine, and money for the needy, and of course to the children in the community was helped in many various ways throughout the last 63 years.
Barbara Cross was First President in 1951. She also held the District 12 Governor role from 1954-1956. To this day we still have the Barbara Cross Memorial Adult Education Scholarship.
Here are some major highlights, activities and projects from the last 63 years.
1950’s : Newborn incubators donated to the local hospital, youth Center fund raisers, untold numbers of baskets filled with food and clothing drives for the county’s less fortunate. Nursing School Scholarships were given.
1960’s and 1970’s: unused eyeglass drive, parties and programs for the Extended Care facilities, Nursing Scholarships, Adult Women Education Scholarships (only groovier)! Hungarian Relief Fund, American Field Services Exchange Student Sponsors were in operation.
1980’s and1990’s: Funds to help build and drill water wells in Sri Lanka were allocated to Zonta International. The local Blood Drive was being organized and continued for the next 15 years in Douglas.
2000’s: In 2003 Zonta Club of Converse County was given the Flag Service Award. Habitat for Humanity, Used clothing fashion shows and sales were very popular, as were the Flower Walks during the summer. The Wyoming Pioneer Museum grounds were replanted by the Zonta “Grounds Beautification Project” Teacher’s Pet Project Scholarship came to fruition, helping hundreds of school children in the county. Funds were raised by Farmers Market sales for many young women’s education endeavors. The Jubilee House became a recipient for our cause to advance the status of women here in Douglas.
Though the membership numbers wax and wane, the true testimony of Zonta rings true and alive in the hearts of past and present members alike in Douglas, Wyoming.
Researchers: Mary Julia Wilson (Cross), Arlene Ekland-Earnst, Maureen Morgan
Author: Maureen Morgan