Celebrating San Diego Women for More Than 50 Years

April 13, 2017 Ranch & Coast

Women of Dedication ~ Celebrating San Diego Women for More Than 50 Years

Posted on April 13, 2017

Since 1965, the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary of San Diego County has held an annual luncheon that serves as the major fundraiser for the organization. Year after year, the event honors a selection of women who have made incredible contributions to our community through volunteer service in myriad cultural, educational, medical, religious, scientific, and philanthropic organizations. Funds raised at the event support The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary of San Diego County’s programs that provide for the neediest regardless of race, religion, sex, or age. Here, we take a look back at the evolution of this significant event, and the remarkable women recognized along the way.

By Darlene Gould Davies, WOD 1989

Women of Elegance 1965-1975

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Women of Dedication made its very visible debut in 1965 as Women of Elegance.

The 2017 luncheon was the 53rd event. It has led a fabled existence over the past half century, providing a beacon light that shines on selfless service to others by devoted women. The concept was that of Emmy Cote, a dynamic Women of Dedicationwoman who served as chair of the first two luncheons in 1965 and 1966. Cote conceived of Women of Elegance as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army, and it has remained just that. The venue for the first year’s event was the scenic Kona Kai Club on Shelter Island and there were two designated presenters, the Door of Hope and Booth Memorial Hospital. As was the style of the time, a fashion show followed the Women of Elegance presentation. That year’s fashions were showcased by the wonderful Hafter-Haggarty specialty store in downtown San Diego. Every aspect of the day was top notch, from music by Bill Green to celebratory tributes. Those first Women of Elegance were prominent in the community and were married to powerful men — powerful in varied ways and all influential leaders. Among the husbands were bank presidents, an aircraft pioneer, influential lawyers, an educational leader, and an international financial figure. One of the honorees, Donna Sefton, was the daughter of former San Diego Mayor Harley Knox and the wife of Thomas Sefton of San Diego Trust & Savings Bank. She was accomplished in her own right, having worked as a flight stewardess, and provided leadership in the Junior League of San Diego. Like all the women of that year, she was elegant and graceful. Some of the ladies represented multi-generational San Diego families.

Women of Elegance for 1965 were: Mrs. Anderson Borthwick, Mrs. William Cosel, Mrs. David Garfield, Mrs. Thomas M. Hamilton, Mrs. I. Norman Lawson, Mrs. Jack Oatman, and Mrs. Thomas Sefton. All honorees were identified by their husbands’ names — women’s first names were not acknowledged at the time.

Women of Dedication

 

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Only seven women were named Women of Elegance in 1965. By 1970, the number of women selected was 11, up from the original seven. That number grew over the next 45 years, reaching as many 15 in recent times. Women of Elegance was still the title and would remain so through the decade of 1965 to 1975.

At the luncheons, Women of Elegance were usually escorted by their husbands, but there were exceptions. In 1970, the escorts were U.S. Marines. Mrs. Harry Ragen was chair that year and the site was Town & Country Hotel. The following year, 1971, sailors from the U.S. Navy acted as escorts. Mrs. John J. Einhorn was chair and the fabulous John Hogan provided fashions, again at Town & Country Hotel.

Women of Dedication

By the end of that first decade, 1965-1975, Women of Elegance was firmly established in the San Diego social and cultural community, with copious print coverage of the event in the San Diego Union and San Diego Evening Tribune, as well as in local magazines. It definitely set a very high bar for attainment. As the mid-1970s approached, there were plenty of societal changes, and those sweeping changes presented challenges in terms of remaining relevant, raising funds for Salvation Army, and continuing to spread the word about the power of volunteerism.

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The signature yellow roses delivered to the homes of honorees haven’t always been yellow. A couple of 1965 publicity pieces described orange carnations. Yes, orange. Later, a January 21, 1973 Evening Tribune article by columnist Opal Crandell described the red roses delivered to homes that year.

Women of Elegance/Dedication 1975-1985

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Women of Dedication luncheons haven’t always had themes. As social change swept through the 1970s, it was reflected in the women honored and the title bestowed on them. Entering the second decade of Women of Elegance/Women of Dedication, there Picture4had already been a sign of change, a portent of the future. A woman of note, Mrs. William J. Doyle, a.k.a. Dr. Anita Figueredo, who had been as stunningly successful in her career as in her volunteerism and family life, was named a woman of Elegance in 1973. Though emphasis was on volunteering and Dr. Figueredo certainly had done plenty of that, she was also a Costa Rican-born MD who was the first female surgeon in San Diego County and the mother of nine children. Married to an MD who authored books, hers was an extraordinary life. She maintained a close friendship with Sister Theresa in later years, treating her medically in the last stage of her life. Dr. Figueredo represented the future: women who give to their communities while maintaining professional careers. That 1973 selection was a departure from the pattern established by Women of Elegance. Many of the honorees worked before their marriages, but not afterward. The second decade was influenced by women’s redefined roles as lived by Dr. Figueredo. Women of Dedication would continue to emphasize volunteer work, but would also acknowledge the complicated lives of its honorees. Women’s stories reflected more complexity as the second decade of Women of Elegance continued. The 1976 event was held at the Town & Country Hotel in Mission Valley. Mrs. C. Temple Murphy was chair, fashions were by the great John Hogan, whose downtown store was the store for the finest fashions ,and the popular Bill Green again provided music. The proceeds were $1,168.41, with 693 people in attendance.

Women of Dedication

The venue changed from Town & Country Hotel to Hotel del Coronado in 1977, where Women of Elegance founder Emmy Cote chaired it again. This was the last year of Women of Elegance. It was renamed Women of Dedication in 1978. Mrs. Evan Jones was chair.

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Cubic Corporation underwrote the printing for all Women of Dedication pieces for the first time in 1978 and continued that very substantial support from 1978 through 2013 — for 35 years.

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The first “Presentation Tea” in 1980 introduced the Women of Dedication to the public and press. This raised the interest level regarding the big event itself.

Among the 15 Women of Dedication of 1980 were such women as Judith Keep, Mrs. Joe Sutter, Mrs. Frank Weston, and Mrs. Allan Zukor, all of whom had solid professional careers but had generously volunteered large chunks of their time to helping others. The women were still listed by their husband’s names, with the exception of Judith Keep.

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Fashions at the 1984 and 1985 Women of Dedication luncheons were provided by Saks Fifth Avenue. Fashion shows continued to be important elements of the event in future years.

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For most of the years between 1965 and 2002, fashion shows were part of the Women of Dedication program. After 2002, there were no more fashion shows, but, rather, a variety of performances.

Women of Dedication 1985-1995

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The Women of Dedication Selection Committee is anonymous and is composed of women appointed by the President of the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary. Identities of committee members are kept secret. Therefore, no lobbying is possible.

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Some very well-known San Diego personalities have served as Women of Dedication moderators over the last 50 years. Among them are Eileen Jackson, Burl Stiff, Diane Bell, Jack White, Andrea Naversen, Dan Nordstrom of Nordstrom and, back in 1990, the future 50th Anniversary Chair Carol LeBeau.

San Diego Union columnist Burl Stiff presented the 1986 Women of Dedication, commenting and reading their impressive biographies. Stiff, like his predecessor Eileen Jackson, was a strong supporter of the event and he devoted considerable space in his social column to both the fall tea and the spring luncheon. 785 people attended that year and $17,175 was raised. 1987 brought 986 guests and produced a profit of $47,249.86, high points that set challenging future goals. In 1991, Stiff again presented Women of Dedication as they walked down the ramp. He continued to write about the remarkable ladies for many years.

Cote, the visionary founder of Women of Elegance/Women of Dedication, wrote this in the 1989 printed program:

“Women of Dedication are volunteers. They are chosen to be honored as Women of Dedication because they have made special contributions to the quality of life in San Diego through their volunteer efforts on behalf of hospitals, educational institutions and cultural and civic organizations. Without their commitment, little could be accomplished without considerable cost in money and time. We salute the Women of Dedication for their untiring efforts on behalf of others and the magnificent example they set for the entire community.”

Women of Dedication

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Founder Emmy Cote was honored at the luncheon in 1995.

Luncheon themes were popular in the last half of the 1990s and the years afterward, but not as much between 1985 and 1995. From 1985 until 1995, women continued to be acknowledged by their husband’s names, for example Mrs. Joseph Y. Yamada. There were several exceptions where women were designated by their own first names, however. Women were in the process of establishing their own identities. It was a time of transition.

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There has always been a wide range of causes for which Women of Elegance and Dedication have worked. Education, medical care, visual and performing arts, homelessness, and childcare have benefited from endless volunteer hours. No specific areas of service and philanthropy have dominated the story.

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In 1995, the 30th anniversary of Women of Dedication, three former recipients from the previous three decades were honored, in addition to the traditional 15 for that year. Those three women were: Dr. Anita Figueredo from the first decade, Elsie Weston from the second decade, and Judy McDonald from the third.

Women of Dedication

Women of Dedication 1995-2005

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Women of Dedication luncheon chairs are usually past honorees. They are steeped in the wonderful tradition because of their personal experiences with the event, so they bring insight to their roles.

Event themes during the 1995-2005 decade were wonderfully imaginative. They ranged from Spring Reverie to Unabashed Romance and Our Shining Stars. Some others were Tribute to Excellence, Tradition of Caring, New Beginnings, WOD Stars on Parade, and Humanitarians with Heart.

In addition to two past male commentators, Burl Stiff and Jack White, NBC/39 News Anchor Marty Levin presented Women of Dedication. Levin did a terrific job at the 2000 event. Women of the community have been officially presented by prominent San Diego men over the years.

Women of Dedication

 

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For many years, room was made on the covers of invitations and programs for the names of every living past Women of Dedication honoree. The names got smaller and smaller as more names qualified for cover inclusion. By the mid-2000s, however, all those names couldn’t be scrunched onto covers no matter how talented the art director, so that iconic image disappeared. However, the names of honorees continue to appear inside printed programs.

In 2003, Burl Stiff featured SAWA’s super volunteers Katherine Rogerson and Ralphine Greaves in his San Diego Union column, describing them as two “who have worked together for years on the presentation teas.” Those two beloved ladies were pictured alongside the article.

Women of Dedication

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Every effort is made to find county geographical balance in the selection of Women of Dedication each year. Ideally, ladies will represent North and South County, East and West and Central San Diego. Determination of honorees is also dependent on the actual nominations submitted by former Women of Dedication. Diversity is an important factor in the selection process. However, the quality of service to others is the major criterion.

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Service to others runs in families. Mothers and daughters have been named Women of Dedication. For instance, Dr. Anita Figueredo and Teresa Doyle, Yvonne Larsen and Christine Andrews, Charlotte Nielsen, Berit Durler and Astrid Shannon, (mother and two daughters) Betty Brayshay and Marla Black, Kay Rippee and Lynn Silva, and Mary Brito and Andrea Bokosky.

Women of Dedication

Women of Dedication 2005-2015

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The 2005 Women of Dedication luncheon presented 14, not 15, honorees. That was true of the previous year, 2004, also. The number returned to 15 in 2006.

One of the more imaginative themes was that of 2011, when the title of the luncheon was “15 Fantastics,” acknowledging the amazing and selfless work of that year’s Women of Dedication, all fantastic! Emcee was the 10News Weather Anchor, Pat Brown, who declared her motto to be “Life is not a Dress Rehearsal.” Chairs of the event were the mother/daughter duo Chris Andrews and Yvonne Larsen, both previous honorees, Yvonne a Woman of Elegance in 1973 and Chris a Women of Dedication in 2004. Yvonne chaired the luncheon in 1972.

The magnificent Manchester Grand Hyatt was a popular venue during the first part of this 2005-2015 decade, but the event returned to the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina more than once in the latter period. Some chairs were particularly fond of the catering services there. But, for 50 years, Women of Elegance/Dedication has flourished in a variety of settings. Each venue provides its own personality and ambiance. The 2015 Women of Dedication luncheon took place at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel.

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The chair of Women of Dedication chooses the year’s theme with the blessing of an advisory committee composed of the last five chairs. The vision is that of the chair, and her committee helps her to bring that vision to reality. Some creative themes during this decade were “Philanthropy by the Sea,” “A Garden of Giving,” and “Art of the Heart.”

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During the 1995-2005 decade, introduction of auctions as event elements greatly boosted income. Pat DeMarce, chair of the 2000 “Tribute to Excellence” luncheon was a firm believer in the importance of silent and live auctions as means of fund raising. Steadily, profits increased.

The 2013 Women of Dedication luncheon raised a whopping $190, 512.84, due to the commanding leadership of chairs Betty Brayshay and Marla Black, a loving mother/daughter team whose seamless cooperation brought in funds that set a record for the most money ever raised at the event. Compare that amount to 1967’s profits of $1,329.56 and, even factoring in inflation, the difference is astounding. Make no mistake — the 1967 committee was justifiably proud of showing a profit for this new philanthropic effort, but no one could have predicted the degree of success that would be attained in later decades. 1968 brought in $1,469.53, $140 more than the previous year, 1967. Times were good.

Women of Dedication

 

“Art of the Heart,” chaired by Terry Cooper in 2014, netted $139,519. The bar was raised, in terms of philanthropic stature of women honored, number of attendees, and money raised for The Salvation Army.

Women of Dedication

The 2015 Women of Dedication luncheon exemplified all three aspects, beginning with the extraordinary quality of the women being celebrated. They were: Vicki Baron, Dr. Constance Carroll, Molly Cartmill, Diana Annala Chalmers, Judith Jarcho, Dr. Elizabeth Jones, Lisa Lindgren, Cinda Lucas, Micki Olin, Clarice Perkins, Doreen Schonbrun, Marti Showley, Holly Smith Jones, Lois Stanton, and Lori Walton. Carol LeBeau and Connie Conard were co-chairs.

 

The 1969 Women of Elegance printed program defined elegance in the following way:

“A Woman of Elegance must, above all, be flexible. She must have remarkable agility of heart and mind to cope with the constant and unpredictable changes that will surely come in the course of her life. She must do many jobs well, dividing her time and energy and interest among her family, herself, and others. She must be more than willing — she must be determined — to grow, to become the most she can become, and to put the fullness of her abilities to the best possible use.”

Our Women of Dedication are both elegant and dedicated. They belong to a special group of ladies who share a strong bond that is 52 years old.

Women of Dedication 2015-2025

A NEW DECADE BEGINS

As Women of Dedication entered its next decade, indeed its next 50 years, change was in the air. The 51st year was an ideal time to introduce some new elements to the beloved event. So in the spirit of “out with the old and in with the new,” the traditional Women of Dedicationafternoon tea in a private home setting for introduction of the 2016 WOD honorees was replaced with an early evening reception at the La Jolla Country Club. This decision turned out to be a terrific one. The November 2015 evening celebration that announced the chosen women was a smashing success. Always well attended by women, there were more men in attendance due to the later time of day. Another new element was the addition of an honorary chair. The 2016 Women of Dedication introduced in fall 2015 by Vicki Eddy and cheered at the 2016 luncheon were: Lilly Cheng, Kerry Payne, Dorothea Laub, Kristy Gregg, Arlene Esgate, Lise Wilson, Fern Siegel, Karin Donaldson, Rachel Peniche, Sandra Maas, Charlotte Perry, Valerie Cooper, Elizabeth Lou, and Carol Lazier. The big event was held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt on April 27, 2016, with a theme of “The Gift of Giving.” Co-chairs were Sherry Ahern, Susan Oliver, and Susie Spanos. Joyce Glazer was the first ever honorary chair of the luncheon. Nayda Locke was Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary President.

Women of Dedication

As always, there were numerous human interest tales associated with the luncheon , and one of them involved honoree Rachel Peniche. Her boyfriend accompanied her to the luncheon and bid on a “mystery” gift on the table. He was the winner and he gave the one-carat diamond ring inside the box to Peniche. Lynn Schenk, Rachel’s proud step-grandmother, was there that day, which was meaningful to both women because Schenk was a Woman of Dedication in 1978.

The 2016 WOD luncheon set a new record bringing in $228,937.52. It was a resounding success.

“Angels of Dedication” was the theme chosen by the 2017 Women of Dedication chairs, Joye Blount, Jeri Rovsek, and Delores McNeely. Because the La Jolla Country Club setting for the Presentation Reception was so popular the previous year, the 2017 chairs elected to return to that venue in fall 2016, and at the early evening time. Again, the honorees were introduced by Vicki Eddy and there were remarks by Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary President Pattie Wellborn. The 2017 Women of Dedication proudly announced were: Susan Hoehn, Nayda Locke, Sally Fuller, Yolanda Selene Walther-Meade, Dee Ammon, Evangeline Sharpe, Rosemary White Pope, Joani Wafer, Olga Worm, Norma Jones, Caroline Nierenberg, and Tracy Lyon. Yolanda Selene Walther-Meade’s mother, Yolanda Walther-Meade, was a former Woman of Dedication. The number of honorees selected for 2017 was purposely limited to 12 in order to ensure greater time for and attention to the women.

Women of Dedication

New and old elements were mixed to lend freshness, yet retain traditional aspects. The idea of an honorary chair was embraced, but in 2017 two women were named: Betty Beyster and Mary Ann Beyster. WOD continued to be forward looking.

Manchester Grand Hyatt was the site of the spring luncheon and the proceeds from the luncheon benefited Centre City Community Corp and Auxiliary supported Salvation Army programs of San Diego County. sandiego.salvationarmy.org

Courtesy Photography

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The post Celebrating San Diego Women for More Than 50 Years appeared first on Ranch & Coast Magazine.

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