Junior League of Omaha Celebrates 100 Years

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The 100th anniversary of the Junior League of Omaha is upon us, and there are two events to mark this special occasion. The 100th Anniversary Celebratory Luncheon was held on March 15 at the Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District, and the 100th Anniversary Annual Meeting & Cocktail Reception will be on May 3 at the Joslyn Art Museum. These two events are truly “A Celebration of the Junior League of Omaha’s Past, Present and Future.”

Bethany Banister and Patricia Stillmock are the co-chairs of the 100th Anniversary committee, and they have been creating and executing the plans that surround the festivities for nearly three years. When asked how the history of the League influenced their preparations, they responded, “The team of historians and our committee did an amazing job looking into the history of the League, and it inspired all aspects of our planning.” Joslyn Art Museum, for example, not only has historical connections to the Junior League, but the architecture of the building dates back to around the same time as the Junior League of Omaha’s establishment.

A great deal of time has been spent on making the 100th anniversary celebrations special, and this includes research into the past and interviews with Sustainers and past members of the Junior League. In addition to studying the records at Junior League of Omaha headquarters, the committee has worked with the Omaha World-Herald, the Durham Museum, and the Douglas County Historical Society to locate anecdotes, photos, and stories from the past. Sustainers have been generous with sharing their archives, and Banister and Stillmock agreed that these interactions have been “the most fun and rewarding part of this journey.”

I asked Bethany and Patricia if they had any special details they wished to share about the anniversary events, and they shared that Yesterday’s Lady, Sue McLain, was the guest speaker at the Celebratory Luncheon on the history of the little black dress. A monetary gift to The Rose Theater, an organization with whom the Junior League of Omaha has a strong history, was bestowed. Another highlight was a video interview with the oldest living Junior League of Omaha Past President, who also attended the event!

As we enjoy these special events, we remember the theme: A Celebration of the Junior League of Omaha’s Past, Present and Future. Bethany and Patricia “hope that the League continues to be a strong organization that teaches women how to be great volunteers while making great friendships.”  

Tickets to the 100th Anniversary Annual Meeting can be purchased at https://www.jlomaha.org/100-anniversary-celebrations/.

Junior League Shop at Children’s Hospital

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Junior League members working in the Hospitality Shop at Children’s Memorial Hospital. The League founded the shop in 1948, giving all proceeds to the hospital. In 1956, they turned the shop over to the Friends of Children’s Hospital Guild.

Reprinted with permission from the Omaha World-Herald. This photo was part of the history in the 2006 Toast to Omaha A Cookbook Presented by the Junior League of Omaha.

The Owl and the Pussy Cat

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In 1933 the Junior League took over the Children’s Theater from the Omaha Community Playhouse and annually produced a play with League members in the cast. From left, children Courtney Campbell, Denman Kountze, Jr. and Sally Rullman admire Junior League members Kathryn Tukey as the cat and Josephine Coad as the owl in the April 1936 play “The Owl and the Pussy Cat” performed at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

 

Reprinted with permission from the Omaha World-Herald. This photo was part of the history in the 2006 Toast to Omaha A Cookbook Presented by the Junior League of Omaha.

 

Mad Hatter’s Ball

 

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Mrs. William Sample and Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Weaver are all smiles wearing their creations for the Mad Hatter’s Ball at the Blackstone Hotel, May 3, 1947

Reprinted with permission from the Omaha World-Herald. This photo was part of the history in the 2006 Toast to Omaha A Cookbook Presented by the Junior League of Omaha.

Giant Jumble Project

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From left Ann Wachter, Katie Best, Mary Pat Kleyla and Betty Coad were among the provisional Junior League members planning a “Giant Jumble” project in February 1955. Their hope was to procure more than $1,000 worth of new and used merchandise for the leagues’s Jumble Shop. The Junior League assumed operation of the Jumble Shop from the Nebraska Society of Colonial Dames in 1947 and continued to operate the shop at 3038 North 90th Street until 2008.

Reprinted with permission from the Omaha World-Herald. This photo was part of the history in the 2006 Toast to Omaha A Cookbook Presented by the Junior League of Omaha.

Planning The 1935 Follies

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Arthur Seeling, left, and Wesley Totten, both of New York, meet with Junior League members Mrs. H Malcom Baldrige, seated, and Mrs. Loring Elliott, standing to the left, and Mrs. Bernard Wickham, standing to the right, to discuss plans for the 1935 Follies at the Central High School Auditorium. Junior Leagues across the country partnered with Cargill Company to produce Follies-style shows in the 1920s and 30s to raise money.

The Cargill Company would send an advance team to Omaha to scout locations, audition League members and produce the show from their pool of choreographers and linguists. After tow weeks of intense rehearsal, the Junior League cast would put on the Follies. Revenue grew from netting a reported $3,000 in 1920 to around $17,000 in the final years.

Reprinted with permission from the Omaha World-Herald. This photo was part of the history in the 2006 Toast to Omaha A Cookbook Presented by the Junior League of Omaha.

Sailing the Seven Seas

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These Junior League women took part in the Junior League Cruise Ball at the Fontenelle Hotel in October 1936. Costumed to represent steamships are left to right: Kathryn Hosford as George Washington; Mrs. John Byrne as the Bremen; Harriet Kelly, the President Coolidge; Jean Dudley Gallagher as the Ile de France and Mrs. Hearne Christopher as the Empress of Russia.

Reprinted with permission from the Omaha World-Herald. This photo was part of the history in the 2006 Toast to Omaha A Cookbook Presented by the Junior League of Omaha.