Club History

Photos and News Clippings

Organization and Membership –
The Zonta Club of Pierre-Fort Pierre was organized as Zonta International Club No. 351 on September 28, 1955. Zonta International President Dorothea F. Radusch signed the certificate on October 10, 1955. Vera E. Bollinger, of the Zonta Club of Valley City, ND was the sponsor for the club. The Pierre-Fort Pierre club was the third club chartered in South Dakota, behind the Zonta Club of the Black Hills in 1950 and the Zonta Club of Aberdeen in 1953.
The first organizational meeting for the club was held in the St. Charles Hotel Dining Room., where the following officers were elected:
President: Ida McNeil
Vice President: Mercedes MacKay
Secretary: Geraldine Ostroot
Treasurer: Jennie Jones
Directors: Isabel Warne, Inez Widdoss and Adeline Grandle
It was decided that the club would meeting monthly on the third Monday of each month at 6:30pm. The club adopted a constitution and bylaws in March of 1956.
The Charter Dinner was held on November 21, 1955 at Faith Lutheran Church in Pierre, SD at 6:30pm. Secretary of State and Charter Member, Geraldine Ostroot was the Master of Ceremonies. Ellen Van Hise was the Charter Dinner Committee Chair.
South Dakota Governor Joe Foss, Pierre Mayor A.E. Munck and Fort Pierre Mayor Fritz Hodoval spoke at the dinner. Governor Foss related an incident from his experience as a Marine Aviation Officer when he served as Operations Officer at Santa Barbara, CA and discovered that the maintenance crew consisted of 168 women marines. “At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to fly an airplane maintained by women” he said, “but they did such a good job that we never had an accident.”
District 12 Lt. Governor Louise Denney, from the Zonta Club of Billings, installed the 22 Charter Members including Miriam Dewell, Elsie Fiesman, Edith Graff, Adeline Grandle, Rose Hengel, Jennie Jones, Sylvia Knowles, Mercedes MacKay, Ida McNeil, Geraldine Ostroot, Dorothy Pulles, Minnie Richards, Eunice Schliessmann, Cordelia Shevling, Geraldine Spargur, Freda Thomas, Mary Trople, Ellen Van Hise, Isabel Warne, Inez Widdoss, Marjorie Forney and Anne Yokley
Out of town guest included Katherine Jacobsen and Florence Beckers of the Zonta Club of the Black Hills and Edna Durland, Bernice Anderson, Audrey Arntx, May Joyce, Margaret Moensch and Edna Albey of the Zonta Club of Aberdeen.
In November of 2015, the club celebrated 6o years as an organization. The club decorated the 29 Feet “South Dakota Tree” for Christmas at the Capitol. The theme for the year was “Christmas Around the World.” The tree was decorated with hand-crafted yellow roses and flags of Zonta club countries. An anniversary celebration was held at the St Charles, the same place the first organizational meeting was held in 1955. The District 12 Governor, the mayors of Pierre and Fort Pierre, as well as members from the Zonta Club of the Black Hills attended.
Over the years the membership of the club has fluctuated between 20 and 40 members. The club’s last Charter Member Sylvia (Knowles) Schultz passed away in 2012.
Service & Advocacy–
In 1956, the club adopted their first service project: “Dental Welfare/Health for Children”. The project was to assist needy children with funds for dental care. The club allocated the first funds in July of 1956. In December 1957, the club provided the first toothbrushes to Pierre and Fort Pierre 1st graders. The County Welfare Director said “The Zonta club’s fund for dental welfare is the only direct service for dental care of needy children. Without Zonta’s funds for dental care and the Lions Club fund for sight saving the county office would be without aid for many children needing care.”
At the District 12 Conference in 1962, The Pierre-Fort Pierre club was given an achievement award for the dental health project. The project was described as “The most unique project of all of Zonta International.”
In addition to distributing toothbrushes, the club expanded the project. In October 1963, the club sponsored and assisted a Pierre dentist, in doing the first ever dental survey of all school students in the 1st through 6th grades to see if they needed dental care. The first year they saw 1,816 mouths. 840 needed attention and were directed to see their family dentist.
In 1966, the club sponsored a Dental Health Poster Contest for 4th, 5th and 6th grades. One of the winning posters was “A brush in time will save all mine.” In 1971, according to Service Chair Ruth Hines, Zonta asked the question, “What have you done for your child’s smile lately?” The club continued the Dental Health Project until 1976.
In 1964, the club started a new project. The club printed and distributed pamphlets to mothers of babies born at St. Mary’s Hospital. The pamphlets printed on blue and pink paper contained suggestions for car safety for both the babies and their older brothers and sisters.
The club started its first scholarship program in 1964. The club offered loans/grants to deserving applicants for practical nursing training at the Pierre School of Practical Nursing. Later the funds were given as scholarships.
In 1965, the club started sponsoring a Defensive Driver’s Course and had cross-walk and slow signs installed near the school in Fort Pierre in conjunction with the Zonta International Safety program. The Defensive Driver’s course continued for several years.
To reflect the international aspect of Zonta, on September 12, 1976, the club held a Citizenship Tea, which honored area residents from 31 countries who had become naturalized citizens.
In November 1982, the club sponsored coloring books for a children’s sexual abuse prevention program pilot at local schools. The coloring books used the concept of “red flag” and “green flag” touches to show children what touches are good and what touches are scary, confusing or bad.
In August 1995, the club served the “The Banquet” for the first time. The club continues to serve a meal to over 300 disadvantaged people each year.
In 2012, the club launched an advocacy project called “Real Men Raise Their Voice Against Violence.” The club partnered with the local volunteer fire and rescue squad to create posters with the slogan “Real Men Raise Their Voice Against Violence.” The posters included hotline and emergency numbers to call if a person is being abused or they know of someone who is being abused. The posters were placed in the Pierre-Fort Pierre area. In addition to partnering with the local fire and rescue squad, the club also worked in conjunction with the Missouri Shores Domestic Violence Shelter and the South Dakota Coalition Ending Domestic and Sexual Violence. The project was featured in the March 2013 United Nations UNiTE to End Violence Against Women E-News. It was a high honor to be included with other projects from around the world. The project earned the club the District 12 Advocacy Award in 2013.
In 2013, the club expanded on the “Real Men” project by doing posters with the Pierre High School Football Team. The posters were a part of the clubs activities surrounding the “Zonta Says NO” campaign to stop gender-based violence around the world.
International and District Activities –
The club attended its first Zonta International Convention in 1958 in Sun Valley, ID. Adeline Grandle was the club delegate to the Convention. Except for 6 times, the club has sent a delegate to the 31 International Conventions between 1958 and 2018.
The club attended its first District 12 Conference in September 1956 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Spring, CO. Adeline Grandle and Esther Anderson attended as the club delegate and alternate.
The District 12 Conference was held in Pierre on September 28-30, 1962, at the St. Charles Hotel. Nearly 100 Zontians attended. The Zonta Club of Pierre-Fort Pierre received a district award for the Dental health project.
In 1964, Charter Member Isabel Warne was elected the District 12 Governor at the District 12 Conference in Billing, MT. This was unusual as Isabel, had not served as the Lt. Governor, but had served as the District 12 Service Chair previously. Isabel served as the District 12 Governor from 1964-1966 and went on to be selected as the Zonta International Service Chair for 1966-1968.
The club hosted the District 12 conference on September 19-21, 1969, during the 50 year anniversary of Zonta International. The conference business meetings were held in the State House Chamber and the banquet was held at the King’s Inn.
On September 16-18, 1999, the club hosted the District 12 conference at the Ramkota River Centre. Eighty-two Zontians from Colorado, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming attended.
Fundraisers –
The clubs first fundraiser was a “Come and See” Tea which was a Holiday Decoration Exhibit held at the Pierre National Bank (now BankWest) Community Room. There was no admission, but there was an opportunity offered for gifts of silver or folding money. The tea featured inspirational items for Christmas decorations and gifts. The items were not for sale, but club members were on hand to describe the construction for copying by the “do-it-yourself” home-maker. The first of its kind in the area, the tea was held in December of 1957, with more than 230 people attending and raising over $120. The tea continued to be held for many years and in 1965 more than 1,200 people attended. The tea continued to raise funds to support the dental health project until 1972, when it was discontinued.
The club started to add new fundraisers. In October 1964, the club presented a pageant “Land of Infinite Variety” as a fundraiser for nursing scholarships at the Pierre School of Practical Nursing. The pageant used 30-40 costumed characters depicting the highlights of the history of South Dakota. The pageant was first presented at the District 12 Conference in 1962.
On September 25, 1967, the club hosted a Style Show with fashions being provided by The Hollywood Shop and Brady’s Menswear. Over 200 people attended the show.
January 30, 1965 was Zonta Day at KCCR Radio. The club ran KCCR Radio from 6am to 5:30pm. The advertising for the day was sold in advance by the club members and all broadcasting during day was handled by the club. They read the commercials, spun the records, read the news, weather, sports, etc. The purpose of “Zonta Day” was to acquaint the area listeners with the objects and goals of Zonta International as well as raise funds. “Zonta Day” at KCCR was supported by about 135 merchants in the Pierre-Fort Pierre area. The club did “Zonta Day” for several year after.
On October 19, 1968, the club held the first Flea Market at the City Auditorium. The funds raised at the Flea Market were used to fund nursing scholarships. Starting in 1974, the club sponsored Diabetics and Blood Pressure checks at the Flea Market. On September 17-18, 1977, the club held the first Antique Show.
The club continued to hold the Flea Market and Antique Show until 1990, when they were combined into the Holiday Craft Show, which is still held in November of each year. In 1992, the club added a Spring Craft Show. These two craft shows are still the club’s major fundraisers.
Compiled in March of 2014 by Denise Luckhurst, President
Updated in November 2019 by Denise Luckhurst, Historian
Zonta Club of Pierre-Fort Pierre, District 12, Area 1, Club 0351
The information was taken from the club scrapbooks, directories and newsletters.