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Staff photo, Brooke Self
Pat Glisson and Jerry Clarke hold up a Barstow Women's Club scrapbook with a photo of the club's first president Ella Pitcher inside.

Barstow Women's Club looks back on 90 years

If you go:

What: Barstow Women’s Club 90th Anniversary Tea

Where: Barstow Senior Center 555 Melissa Ave.

When: April 20, 1 p.m.

Call Pat Glisson at 760-252- 4575 or Sue McCoy 760-241-4873

to RSVP by April 10

BARSTOW• Early memories from the Barstow Women’s Club 90-year history are tucked neatly away, pressed into about 20 scrapbooks.

Everything from old club bylaws, handwritten notes, black-and-white photos and newspaper clippings are included.

On April 20 the club will commemorate its 90th anniversary. The current membership of 40 women will host a tea meeting and skit open to the public. The skit will recognize eight of its founding members, including its first president Ella Pitcher.

“Ellla Pitcher started the club to beautify the town and to help promote programs that would benefit Barstow,” said historian and member Pat Glisson. “Maybe somebody else would have started it, but not the way she did.”

The club began in 1922 with 53 chartered members, according to club records. Pitcher served the early group with zeal by organizing the women into 10 committees, according to Glisson.

“Everyone had a job assigned to her and not one shirked her duties,” Glisson said. “One of her sayings was ‘don’t be like Clyde who just came for the ride.’ You are going to work.”

For its first official community act the club welcomed California Governor William Stephens from an early morning train at the Harvey House in 1922 with armfuls of desert lilies, according to Glisson.

The governor was to give a speech in Barstow that day and a committee from the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce had apparently overslept, she said. Ella Pitcher and the club members had “saved the day.” Another great memory was receiving an American flag from U.S. President Ronald Reagan after a member sent a letter requesting it, Glisson said.

Today the club has its hands in almost every civic group in Barstow, donating money to various organizations and charities and providing scholarships annually to local students, according to a former president of the club, Jerry Clarke. The club sponsors the Boys & Girls Club, March of Dimes, New Hope Village and Desert Manna to name a few.

The club just finished “Project PJ’s” where they donated 80 pajama sets to abused women in Barstow, Clarke said. They also donate to Newspapers in Education and fundraise for a fourth-grade class from Cameron Elementary School to go on a field trip to San Juan Capistrano.

“It just amazes me what we get done,” Glisson said. “Many don’t realize all that the Women’s Club does in Barstow.”

Today the club has 40 members with the average member being around 60- or 70-years-old, according to Clarke. The oldest member is Wilma Ford at 101. Glisson said the women hope to bring “new blood” into the club so they can continue their service to the community. In recent years they have been able to add almost five new members every year, according to Glisson.

The Women’s Club is apart of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs that was founded in 1902. The club meets the first Wednesday of every month at Los Domingos at noon for lunch and a program. Glisson said all women from all backgrounds are welcome to join, and new members must apply and pay a $40 fee.

Contact the writer: 760-256-4123 or

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