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Past Presidents Reflect

In preparing for the 70th anniversary issue of our Tropical Topics magazine, we asked some of our past presidents to share a memory from “their year.” Here are some of their comments.

“In the Line of Duty”

Muriel Hall (1962-63): The Junior League’s 35th Anniversary Ball and the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred simultaneously!

Priscilla Greenfield (1975-76) was scheduled for major surgery during the less hectic summer months of her presidency. This was a time when the JLM and the community were considering creating an Arts Council. Priscilla had already been prepped for surgery and was drifting under from an injection when Roberta Turner, community research chairman, called seeking Priscilla’s permission, as League president, to call a community town meeting of all the cultural organizations in Dade County to discuss the feasibility of establishing a Council of Arts and Sciences, now called the Dade County Cultural Affairs Council.

Mary K. Lynch (1987-88) was asked to step in and take over as president when Sherrill Britton transferred. Mary became president on the 4th of July without the benefit of having a president-elect year. Nothing like on the job training!

Linda Brown (1992-93) “Rediscovering Horizons – Little did I know the impact of my theme for the year until August 24, 1992, when Hurricane Andrew crossed our shores and changed our lives forever. Like most of Dade, the way JLM responded was beyond our wildest expectations. The caring and generosity will never be forgotten! 1992-1993 embodied what the JLM is all about!”

 

“Daughters”

Roma Pape Swanson (1945-46) remembers being pregnant with her daughter during her presidency and always remarks that her daughter was ready for the League because she had already heard the first portion of the provisional course.
Martha Miller (1959-60) tells us that one day her six-year-old daughter asked,”Who is this lady – Junior League?” Martha said it wasn’t one lady – it was an organization. Her daughter replied that she would NEVER belong. Martha said: “That’s all right, you have to be invited!” Thirty years later her daughter was the president of her own League – the Norfolk League – so you can see that Junior League training continues through the family.

Maggie Massen Blake (1983-84) recalls having her one-year-old daughter Caroline at her side during the presidency. The child was referred to as, “the little girl in the wicker basket.”

Becky Roper Matkov (1985-86) tells us that her daughter Grimsley was six years old when she was president. “The most memorable event of all was the grand opening of the Downtown People Mover on April 19, 1986. As president I was invited to the special ribbon cutting ceremony and since Grimsley did not have school that day, she was with me in the high-powered crowd of mayors, CEO’s, dignitaries and county and city officials. Afterwards, as we went around the loop looking over downtown, I told Grimsley that she should always remember that she was the very first child to ever ride on Miami’s famous Metromover!”

 

“Friendships/Good Times”

Miriam Hutson (1960-61) “The most memorable event was the wonderful day-long 35th Anniversary reunion on October 10, 1961, at the Dupont Plaza. We reaffirmed our pride in the League and our goals of education and community service. A highlight of the event was a fun luncheon where everyone sat with their provisional class.

Maggie McDonald (1969-70) at first said she really didn’t have anything to say – but then called back to say she had been thinking that her presidential year was a great year for her youngest daughter, Susan. She had been free of cancer for 10 years! (She’d been diagnosed at 8 months of age and undergone two extensive operations.) Maggie said she and her board spent the whole year rejoicing!
Pamela Johnson (1971-72) “Most memorable? My board members. They were ideal. Motivated, giving and creative. I’ll never forget them.”

Lane Convey (1977-78) “One of the nicest aspects of a League presidency, in retrospect, is the long -lasting friendships forged on the job. I remain very close to my predecessor Marilyn Hicks and my successor Nancy Leslie – we certainly know each other inside out, from all that we shared. A similar bond seems to exist between president and recording secretary (all that haggling over words, I guess!), as I remain in frequent contact with both Claire Eldredge Weber (president when I was recording secretary) and Sonja Ryskamp (recording secretary when I was president) ironically, more often by written word, since they now both live our of town!

 

“Robberies with a Twist”

Ruth Admire (1964-65) “The Encore Shop was broken into and robbed and the police who responded didn’t know who to call. They found a League Directory and looked for the most prestigious person to contact. They didn’t call the president –they called the sustaining advisor!”

Jane Chadwick (1993-94) “One night the JLM executive committee was staying late at headquarters after a meeting when the alarm in the Encore Shop went off. The shop had been broken into right in front of us-but the only thing that had been stolen was a red sequined dress hanging in the window!! We found out later that a ring of transvestites had been marauding Coral Gables, breaking into stores and stealing evening gowns!!

 

 

“Changes!”

Nancy Lomax Leslie (1978-79) recalls that the agenda for the first meeting she chaired as president turned out to be a discussion regarding the issue of a more open admissions policy. This issue was being discussed in preparation for the annual conference. Nancy believes that the changes in the entire structure of the League have helped make it a stronger and more viable organization.

Susan Jones (1986-87) remembers the debate among members about school-based clinics, “Talk about different opinions!” Susan did say that these different voices are what makes the League strong.

Dale Webb (1981-82) “Etched in my memory is the fact that during my tenure, in an attempt to streamline, and become more effective, we had our first board retreat out of town and spent two intense days redesigning the board structure. While it was very successful and the council system worked…all I can remember is spending a lot of time that year in meetings trying to figure out how to make them shorter or eliminate them! Have we figured that out yet?”

Pamela F. Poulos (1991-92) “The 500th Anniversary of the founding of America inspired our theme of Tradition, Reality and Vision. Building on past traditions, while realizing present uncertain economic factors, made our final Miami Magic fund-raiser a nostalgic occasion.

 

“Brush with Fame”

Johanna Hoel (1958-59) felt that the whole year was one of great satisfaction with the turning over of the Science Museum to the community, as the highlight. She also told a story for our last issue of her “Brush with Fame” in the Rose Garden of the White House with Mamie Eisenhower. Some of the presidents did not understand the instructions, and therefore gave the First Lady their age, along with their name!