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Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc.
Augusta Chapter

HISTORY

It all began during the summer of 1980, when Mrs. Ora Thompson was visiting her sister, Mrs. Catherine Robinson, in St. Louis, Missouri. During this time; Mrs. Thompson attended a seminar and met Lady Fredda Witherspoon who was then National Second Vice President of Top Ladies of Distinction, Incorporated and also the organizer of the St. Louis Chapter of TLOD.

Lady Ora was approached by Lady Fredda concerning a chapter in the Augusta area, but Lady Ora tried to explain that Augusta did not need another Women’s organization. Lady Fredda insisted and finally Lady Ora agreed to get Augusta involved.

When Lady Ora returned home, she immediately called together other leaders in the Augusta Community to interest them in starting a chapter, but unfortunately, this approach did not work. On January 11, 1981, she called together a group of women to explore the possibilities and interest in organizing a chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction, Incorporated in Augusta. This meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Ora Thompson. This group met for several months and reviewed the objectives and structure of the organization. During this time, several of the women who attended the first meeting decided that they were not ready for induction into the organization. The women who attended the first meeting on January 11, 1981, and continued with the group were:

Ora Thompson, Organizer                    Ella B. White

Frances Weston                                   Theresa White

Vivian Thompson                                  Mildred Kendnck

During the months prior to the induction, Dr. Ruth Neal and Ann Thornton joined the group.

On November 20, 1981, the eight ladies named above were inducted as members of the Augusta Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. The elegant ceremony took place at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Ranzy (Lady Frances) Weston in North Augusta, South Carolina. Lady Vivian Crawley, National President of the Organization from Cincinnati, Ohio and Second Vice President, Lady Fredda Witherspoon from St. Louis, Missouri, were in charge of the induction ceremony. After the ceremony, a lovely dinner and reception were held and the Lords were the special guest. Lady Ora Thompson had now completed the task that had been placed upon her. A big THANK YOU goes to Lady Ora for not giving up and for accepting the challenge from Lady Fredda Witherspoon.

The first Officers elected were:

1. Lady Ann Thornton, President

2. Lady Theresa White, Vice President

3. Lady Mildred Kendrick, Secretary

4. Lady Ella B. White, Financial Secretary

5. Lady Frances Weston, Treasurer

6. Lady Ora Thompson, Organizer

7. Lady Vivian Thompson, Top Teen Advisor

Nineteen eight-two (1982) was a trying year as the ladies studied the organization, set some guidelines, wrote the local By-laws and began to look for other women who might be interested in becoming Top Ladies.

In the Spring of 1982, the Chapter hosted the first fund-raiser with a Private Showing of Designer Fashions by Mrs. Ann Johnson. This was held at the home of Lady Frances and Lord Ranzy Weston. This was a lovely affair and well attended. It was a Garden Fashion show and the 1982 Debutantes served as Hostesses.

In the Fall of 1982 a group of ladies were invited to attend a reception to introduce them to the organization. These ladies were voted upon and made application for membership. On March 19,1983 at the Area IV meeting held in Savannah, Georgia the following ladies were inducted as Top Ladies:

Lady Lurene Johnson      Lady Josie Wills

Lady Johnetta Williams    Lady Mary Nichols

Lady Juanita Williams      Lady Nettie Smith

Lady Johnetta Williams was elected Secretary after Lady Mildred Kendrick became inactive. In the Spring of 1983, the chapter sponsored the second Private Showing of Mrs. Ann Johnson’s Designer Fashions.

The Augusta Chapter was given the responsibility of hosting the Area IV Meeting in March of 1984. The Ladies worked hard and were proud of the success of the meeting. Lady Bobbie Morehead was National President. Lady Betty Hicks was the Area IV Director. Lady Fredda Witherspoon also attended and gave helpful leadership for the success of the meeting. The meeting was held at the Hilton Hotel. The highlight of the Area Meeting was the Luncheon with Dr. Judy Carter as the speaker. Flossie Myles was inducted as a Top Lady in April of 1984. Our first scholarship was presented to Teen Paula Curtis who is a graduate of the University of Georgia and now is a practicing Pharmacist in Atlanta, Georgia. The scholarship was in the amount of $500.

In the Spring of 1985, the chapter sponsored a luncheon at the Hilton Hotel. This luncheon featured a program targeted toward our Teens as we shared the rich heritage of our African American Culture through Verse and Music and featuring Dr. Andolyn Brown as our speaker. Joi Johnson was crowned our-first “Top Tot” winner and Charone Bolder and Byron Williams were crowned as “Top Teens”. During 1985, we were beginning to grow and become more involved in the four (4) “Thrusts” of the organization. Top Teens were under the leadership of Lady Vivian Thompson and Lady Juanita Williams and they were very active and excited about attending the Area IV Meeting in Columbus, Georgia. We were pleased to have three (3) new members inducted at this meeting. They were as follows:

Lady Alma Hunter

Lady Judy Lamback

Lady Lela Stone

During these early years, although small in number, the Chapter celebrated and observed Anniversaries and Founder’s Day. The Thrusts were enforced. Senior Citizens were visited in nursing homes and were given parties and supplies to support the residents in these homes. Beautification projects were carried our at Paine College, Bethlehem Center and the group sponsored a city garden. Status of Women did some net working with projects. More than two hundred (200) voters were registered through the Voter Registration Project conducted by TLOD. Top teens were active in several Community Projects. The Sickle Cell Project was a main thrust for Teens. March of Dimes Drive and preparing Thanksgiving and Christmas boxes for needy families were some of the activities that they enjoyed.

We lost by death Lord Calvin Thornton and Lord Maurice Thompson.

During these years, Top Ladies were very active in Area IV Meetings. Lady Frances served as Treasure for the Area for several years. Each year the Chapter was represented at Parliamen-Top and Syn-Lod. The Executive Committee served for two terms, but as new members were inducted, they all became active working members on the four (4) Thrusts.

1986 was the first year we presented “Distinguished Men Who Cook” as our fund-raiser and community project The affair was held at the Old Medical College Building. The Chapter and Community were very pleased with this event Amena Weston Smith was crowned our “Top Tot” and Iris Dawn Gaylord was our “Top Teen”.

June 1986, was the time to turn the reigns over to a new Administration and it was with JOY AND THANKSGIVING that our new officers were installed. The new officers were:

PRESIDENT - Lady Frances Weston

VICE-PRESIDENT - Lady Vivian Thompson

RECORDING SECRETARY - Lady Judy Lamback

CORRESPONDING SECRETARY - Lady Alma Hunter

FINANCIAL SECRETARY - Lady Josie Wills

PARLIAMENTARIAN - Lady Lela Stone

During the years of 1986-1990, under the leadership of Lady Frances Weston, the chapter made great strides. Top Teens were well organized with Ladies Vivian and Juanita serving as their advisors. Teen JuIie Gilyard served as president and many accomplishments were made.

Senior Citizens, Status of Women and the Beautification Thrusts set yearly goals and many helpful and meaningful programs were presented and conditions improved.

Chapter Anniversaries and Founders’ Days were celebrated and observed. A decision was made to have a public Founders’ Day every five years and private observations other years. We named and recognized the Lady of the Year at the Founders’ Day Observation and she was pinned with a “Lady of the Year” pin.

The membership of the chapter increased and new members were inducted. Lady Andolyn Brown, Lady Eliza Cave, Lady Mary James, Lady Millicent Mazyck, Lady Yvonne Shaw and Lady Willie Harrell. These ladies were immediately welcomed after their inductions and given tasks and responsibilities. They were a great asset to the Chapter.

Our Fund-raiser and Community Project, “Distinguished Men Who Cook”, continued to grow and the place of this Celebration was moved to the North Augusta Recreational Center. The Ladies agreed that Lady Ann should be recognized in the history as the Lady who planted the seed for this project

Many Ladies were recognized in the community for their great achievements. Congratulations and recognitions were always given at Chapter Meetings. Many hours were given by the Ladies in different volunteer capacities.

The number of Ladies and Teens increased at Area Meetings. The Teens represented the Chapter well by participation in activities and on programs. The Chapter was recognized one year for having the largest attendance of Ladies and Teens. The Chapter was presented a silver slipper one year for following in the foot-steps of the Founders. Lady Vivian was elected Area Teen Advisor. Lady Frances continued to serve as Area Treasure. We were also well represented yearly at Parlimen-Top and at Syn-Lod by Ladies, Lords and Teens.

We increased the scholarship for a Teen to $1,000. A President Award is presented to a deserving Teen each year for $100.

During this administration, we celebrated the marriage of Lady Andolyn Brown, daughter of Lady Frances. We were special guests at the ceremony and each Lady was presented a pink orchid pin. We also lost Lady Andolyn Brown to the state of Louisiana. We also lost Lady Flossie Myles who moved and became inactive. Lady Josie Wills resigned because of illness. We mourned the death of Lady Ella B. White who was a Charter member.

After four years and a period of growth and achievements under the leadership of Lady Frances Weston, we pause to give heartfelt thanks and a bouquet of orchids to this administration. We will remember this President as one who always expected “class” in every effort presented. We also feel that this leadership effectively implemented our National Motto: “Serving Youth and Adults as we orbit toward the Twenty-first Century”.

1990-1994 — At the June, Nineteen Ninety (1990) meeting, the new officers were installed by Lady Frances Weston. The new officers were:

PRESIDENT - Lady Vivian Thompson

VICE PRESIDENT- Lady Nettie Smith

RECORDING SECRETARY- Lady Yvonne Shaw

CORRESPPONDING SECRETARY- Lady Lurene Johnson

FINANCIAL SECRETARY- Lady Juanita Williams

TREASURER- Lady Judy Lamback

PARLIAMENTARIAN- Lady LeIa Stone

TOP TEEN ADVISOR- Lady Mary James

Lady Vivian effectively endorsed our National Theme: “Programming Our Thrust for Effective Empowerment in Century Twenty-one”. Each Thrust worked hard each year to support and carry out goals that were set.

STATUS OF WOMEN - emphasized voter-registration. Ladies received training to prepare them to register voters. They were successful in having a large number of persons to register each time they volunteered.

SENIOR CITIZENS - continued to do an outstanding job with Ladies volunteering to deliver Meals on Wheels. Ladies Alma, Lurene and Frances delivered meals on a weekly basis. We were also pleased to have Lord Hughlon Johnson to join these ladies as a “Meals on Wheels” volunteer. Money was provided by the Thrust to support the cost of meals for two seniors on a monthly basis.

BEAUTIFICATION - This Thrust continued to sponsor and oversee the care of the garden plot on Twiggs and Ninth Streets. The “beautiful yard contest” that is held in July and the “Christmas Lighting Contest” each December are always the highlight of the Chapter and is enjoyed and appreciated by the community and its winners. Lady Ore, our organizer, has chaired this Thrust and the Sunshine Committee since our inception. Lady Ora never forgets a Lady’s birthday, illness and any special recognition of a Lady or a family member.

TOT TEENS - Our Teens have grown in number as well as program. They are active in their school, community and church activities. They enjoy attending the Area and National meetings. We have had several Teens to participate and win Area and National recognition in oratorical competition. Advisors report excellent participation and behavior at all times. We are kept informed on the progress of former Teens who are in college and are doing well and receiving honors. Lady Johnetta accepted the Chair of this Thrust after the resignation of Lady Mary, and with the support of Lady Judy and others. We certainly speak proudly of our Teens. Their meeting place is the Bernie Ward Recreational Center.

MEMBERSHIP - We were pleased to have Lady Patricia Roberts inducted early in the administration after several delays. Another highlight for the Chapter was a “Getting To Know You Dinner”. This was given for Ladies who were prospective inductees. After this special occasion, the following ladies were received as members and a local induction ceremony held for them:

Lady Bettieanne Childers-Hart

Lady Eloise Bennett

Lady Gloria Johnson

Lady Jacqueline Lawrence

Lady Brenda Morton

Lady Diane Murphy (was inducted at a later date)

This ceremony was held Mach 12, 1993, at the Laney House, Lady Hattie Morris, Area Director, presided at this ceremony. A reception for Ladies and Lords followed the Induction ceremony.

Ladies decided to change our place of meeting from homes to the Laney House as a permanent meeting place with the exception of the December meeting and an occasional special event when a Lady would like to use her home or another facility. The action was taken because of the increase in membership and the responsibility of members entertaining in their homes. We pay a small fee for the use of the house. Ladies are assigned as hostess for the month and these meals are catered with a set monthly cost of the meal to each Lady. An added attraction at the Laney House is the display of art work by Black artists that is portrayed each month. Thanks and appreciation was given to Lady Theresa for her faithfulness in opening and closing the House for each meeting. Lady Theresa is also a Board Member of the Laney House.

We were able to increase our contributions to the UNCF, NAACP and the Mini Theater. Contributions were made to local high schools to support them In many musical events and testing programs. We helped to sponsor a reception for Nikki Giovanni at Augusta College. Scholarships for Teens were increased to $2,000. The annual Fund raiser, “Men Who Cook” continued to be successful. We were able to sponsor several Tot contestants who helped make our efforts successful financially. Many of the Cooks for this effort are Lords and we are pleased that the Lords have been supportive of our total program.

Continued recognition was given to many Ladies who had excelled on their jobs, community activities and personal achievements. Lady Bettieanne was elected a State “Representative”.

Excellent reports were made by those representing us on a regular basis at Area and National meetings. We say a special thank you to some ladies who have been very faithful in their attendance. Ladies Vivian, Judy, Nettie, Lurene, Johnetta and others as they were able to attend.

Lady Yvonne gave us a thought for the month and a “Chuckle” at the end of each set of minutes mailed monthly. We looked forward to the personal touch.

We were sorry that the following became inactive: Lady Mary James, Lady Eliza Cave, and Lady Willie Harrell.

We all were terribly saddened by the deaths of Lady Josie Wills and Lord Charles James.

At the May 1994 meeting, the Nomination Committee presented the slate of officers for 1994-1996. The members accepted the slate. The new officers are:

PRESIDENT- Lady Nettie Smith

FIRST VICE PRESIDENT- Lady Lurene Johnson

SECOND VICE-PRESIDENT - Lady Judy Lamback

RECORDING SECRETARY- Lady Patricia Roberts

CORRESPONDING SECRETARY- Lady Jacqueline Lawrence

TREASURE - Lady Eloise Bennett

FINANCIAL SECRETARY- Lady Millicent Mazyck

TOP TEEN ADVISOR - Lady Johnetta Williams

PARLIAMENTARIAN - Lady Lela Stone

These officers were installed by Lady Vivian at the June Meeting. Ladies were asked to wear pink TLOD T-shirts and white pants for this special meeting.

We applaud Lady Vivian and the officers who worked with her during this administration. Every member is congratulated for the contributions she made to the organization.

Lady Nettie, her executive committee, Thrust chairpersons, and members of the Chapter are now beginning an exciting term. The new program of work is “Mentoring, Nurturing and Collaborating to meet the challenges of the Nineties and Beyond”.

Ladies have been elected, appointed and recognized to noted positions during this administration. Lady Vivian was appointed as National Chair of the Boswell Endowment. She was also featured in the Wall of Fame as a trail blazer at the 1997 Syn-Lod. Lady Nettie was appointed Area IV Chaplain. Teen Latrice Stewart was elected Financial Secretary. Lady Bettieanne was appointed to a Judgeship in the Augusta Area. Lady Juanita was recognized for her outstanding work with Adult Education. Many Ladies made local and national news for outstanding achievements on their jobs, churches, and community involvements.

Our fund-raiser “Distinguished Men Who Cook” continued to be successful. With the help of dedicated parents of Top Tots and Teens we have been able to increase our total revenue to more than $13,000 some years. We changed our place for this event for two years to the Savannah Rapids because of increased seating capacity. Lords and men of our community continue to volunteer and share their culinary skills.

We increased our membership with the induction of Ladies Shirley Tucker and Christine Miller-Betts in 1997 and Lady Beverly Crawley in 1998. Lady Francis became inactive because of illness of family members. Lady Theresa became inactive because of illness. Lady Bettleanne moved to Atlanta. We mourned the deaths of Lord Graham White and Lord Howard Tucker.

Continuation of our Anniversary and Founders’ Day were celebrated. Each year we proudly named and honored the ‘Women of the Year”. The Ladies received the special pin of recognition. Many Ladies yearly made note worthy achievements in their careers. Several Ladies retired after many years of service in their chosen professions. Ladies, Lords and Teens continued to attend Area Meetings, Parliamen - Top and Syn-Lod with good representation at each meeting.

Each monthly meeting was enjoyed with the hostess planning excellent meals and activities that were seasonable if she desired. The December meetings were very special. We remembered different groups with special gifts. We also exchanged gifts among ourselves. Great Fellowship!

We supported financially many school projects and community activities. An open Founders’ Day was celebrated in 1995. Crystal awards were presented to four “Unsung Heroines” from our community. They were recognized for their unselfish service and accomplishments in our community.

The Four Thrust planned and carried our many projects and activities.

STATUS OF WOMEN - The Thrust planned the recognition of “Unsung Heroines”. This celebration is to be continued at each open Founders’ Day. We were informed of organizations and agencies where we could Network. United Way, CSRA Classic Training Consortium and the Heart Association. The Chairperson for the Thrust represented the Chapter working with these groups.

SENIOR CITIZENS - The Thrust continued to support “Meals on Wheels” sending quarterly contributions to support the program. A relationship with the Salem Rehabilitation center was enjoyed.- Special gifts were provided at Christmas to those persons who are not remembered by family. Ladies were given names of persons who they could keep in touch with. Sing-a-longs were enjoyed during the year. Some Ladies attended the yearly Beauty Contest where women from the center participated. The Thrust is working on helping to decorate an assigned room at the center where we will be able to hang a plaque recognizing the Augusta Chapter of TOLD. Games were purchased by the ladies and presented to the BelleTerrace Senior Center, a part of the Richmond county Community Development Each year a resource person was invited and shared with the Chapter information on the care and concerns of Seniors. Keeping us aware and prepared for service.

BEAUTIFICATION - The yearly summer project on the “Beautiful yard contest” continued over the years. We only missed one summer because of heat and shortage of the water supply. The “Christmas Lighting Contest” continued to be a special project and each year delightful families have been met in different areas of the community. Both of these projects have given us an opportunity to be visible in the community. The Chair of this Thrust, Lady Ore, continued to Chair the Sunshine Committee. She has done an outstanding job in remembering Lady’s birthdays, illness, condolences and any special recognition of a Lady or family members.

TOP TEENS - Top Teens are a very active group and continues to grow. We have had as many as 39 Teens active during some years. They met twice each month and followed a planned schedule of monthly activities. Included were workshops and seminars on health and educational issues. They have fund raising projects to help support trips to area meetings. They have worked closely with the March of Dimes. Teens participate in the fund raiser and are active in preparing and participating on the program. Excellent attendance and participation are at Area meetings. There have been winners in oratorical competions on the Area and National level. They have also won recognition in Spelling Competions. They participated on many different programs. Scholarships have been awarded to Teens for $2,500 each year. The Teens continue to be active in their schools, churches, and other community activities. Positive reports are always made on Teens discipline wherever they represent the Chapter.

The By-laws committee updated the local By-laws to keep in line with the National By-laws. They were approved and each member received a copy.

At the May 1998 meeting the nominating Committee presented a proposed slate of 1998-2000 officers. This slate included the position of Assistant Recording Secretary/Corresponding Secretary. The slate was presented and accepted. They are as follows:

PRESIDENT- Lady Lurene Johnson

FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT- Lady Yvonne Shaw

SECOND VICE-PRESIDENT- Lady Christine Miller-Betts

RECORDING SECRETARY- Lady Flossie Myles

ASSISTANT RECORDING SECRETARY/CORRESPONDING SECRETARY - Lady Brenda Morton

FINANCIAL SECRETARY - Lady Dianne Murphy

TREASURE - Lady Gloria Johnson

The officers were installed at the June meeting by Lady Nettie.

This administration served for two terms. After four years of service we now pause to say “Thank You” to Lady Nettie and the officers who worked so closely with her. Lady Nettie and her officers were faithful in attendance at all meetings and kept the Chapter informed on the work of the National Organization. Recognition is given to Lord Otis Smith for his support in attending many of these meetings and traveling with the group. Lady Nettie always closed her meetings with words of inspiration. Her closing comment at her last meeting is one to be remembered. “The Lord is my strength…My strength to climb the hill of difficulty and not be afraid”.

 

 

 

 

 

This page was last updated on Tuesday, April 01, 2008

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