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This article was first published in Hometown Magazine of the KenTenn Area, August/September 2015, pp 14-15

Reprinted by Permission

The Gleason Woman’s Club: 100 years of Service

by Nelda Rachels 

It was 1914 and one by one, the countries of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East were declaring war against one another. While America resisted all efforts to become embroiled in these international affairs, President Woodrow Wilson honored its women by proclaiming one day a year as Mother’s Day. That same year, the women of a small southern town in Tennessee came together to create the Gleason Woman’s Club. This band of women did not realize it at the time, but they would need this bond of friend ship even more just three years later—when their sons and brothers joined that great bloodbath in Europe known as World War I

Over one hundred years later, the Gleason Woman’s Club still thrives, outlasting another World War, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the more recent battles against terrorism. In fact, one of the service projects of the club has been to send gift boxes to the military stationed overseas. Patriotism runs deep as the women engage in other civic-minded projects such as maintaining Tennessee and US flags at three separate entrances into Gleason. 

Martha Crews, current secretary, feels honored to be a part of such a group. She is a fairly recent inductee into the club, something this Virginian native had never expected—even though she has lived and been a part of Gleason for many years now. Other current officers are President Pam Belew, Vice President Ann Jonak, Treasurer Peggy Floyd, and Reporter Julia Fowler. 

For as long as anyone can remember, the Woman’s Club has kept its membership to a manageable eighteen women. Almost like the Supreme Court, its member ship stays much the same until someone moves or, sadly, dies. Even when someone is asked if she’d like to become a member, the person must wait until an opening becomes available. 

The membership is now older, unlike it was in 1914. A 1930’s photo shows a much younger demographic (albeit, of a few more than eighteen women). Perhaps one reason is that women didn’t work outside the home at that time and were thus able to attend the daytime meetings. Besides, a retired population may have more time on their hands for the extensive volunteer projects of the Club. 

The group meets once a month with two members acting as hostesses and serving the women a noonday meal—perhaps on fine China or catered in. Either way, it’s a relished part of the women’s time together. Even more important is the business meeting, in which upcoming projects are discussed. At the end of the meeting all members recite “The Collect,” a lovely poem which highlights the group’s Christian ideals. 

Martha recently shared some of the rich history and accomplishments of this band of women. For one, they have supported the Gleason Library from its inception, conducting fundraisers in an effort to help pay for everything from the librarian’s salary to rent on the original building. Some years ago, when the City of Gleason was able to step up its funding, the Club took a step back. However, it still supports the library whenever it can.

 The club’s civic-minded projects don’t end there. The upkeep of the Hopewell Cemetery was an early project, with ongoing Gleason beautification projects another. As examples, the group helped with the purchase of the old-fashioned lighting downtown, maintains the downtown landscaping, and, with the Gleason Gazelles, the decorating of the city’s Gazebo. Gleason’s original name was Oakwood Place, so the group oversaw a project to name a downtown park area after the city’s original moniker. A sign so stating was placed at the park in 2008 and solar lights at the park a few years later. 

The women raise money for these projects through membership fees and various fundraisers such as its cake sales at the Hometown Christmas Auction. This money often goes to individuals and groups in need. The group donates to the Weakley County Backpack Program, We Care’s Second Harvest food distribution efforts, Relay for Life, The Carl Perkins Center, and the Sadie Saves Epi-Pen and AED programs.As if that weren’t enough, at the end of the year, each of its member’s individual churches receive a donation for their Christmas food baskets. Currently, the churches which receive these donations are First Baptist Church, Church of Christ, First Methodist Church, and Tumbling Creek Baptist Church. 

It would be impossible to name all the projects that the Club has overseen over the years. However, the City of Gleason has recognized its many contributions and honored the Gleason Woman’s Club in 2013 as one of the Grand Marshalls and Servants of Tatertown in its legendary Tatertown parade. A plaque in their honor resides in city hall.

Perhaps the spirit and heart of the Gleason Woman’s Club is best understood through its poem, recited at the end of each meeting 


 (A Prayer Attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots)

 Keep us, O God, from pettiness; let us be large

 in thought, in word, in deed.

Let us be done with fault-finding, and leave off


May we put away pretense and meet each other

Face to face, without prejudice.

May we never be hasty in judgment and

always generous.

Teach us to put into action our better impulses,

            Straightforward and unafraid.

Let us take time for all things; make us grow

               alm, serene and gentle.

Grant that we may realize it is the little things that

create differences; that in the big things of life

                     we are as one.

And may we strive to touch the great woman’s heart

of us all; and Lord God let us not forget

                               to be kind 


This article printed by permission of  Hometown Magazine of the KenTenn Area,August/September 2015


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