OUR 100 YEAR HISTORY
Zonta Club of Dallas was organized in May 1924, with 22 members, and was the first classified service club for executive and professional women in Dallas.
Charter members included: SARAH MENEZES who was the first woman Assistant United States District Attorney in Texas; MARY CONGER was the first woman Deputy Clerk of the United States District Court in Texas; HATTIE HENENBERG who was Associate Justice of the first Texas Supreme Court composed entirely of women; and MARY ETHEL WELBORN the first woman CPA in Texas.
In 1930 this club endorsed and worked for the City Manager plan of government for Dallas. In the early 30’s AMELIA EARHART, a New York Zontian, flew into Dallas in an autogiro to visit the Dallas Club.
In 1934 this Club started a Zonta Service Award presented to a Dallas woman who had made a distinctly constructive contribution to the community life of Dallas through volunteer service, or who had signally advanced the cause of women. This award was made annually for fifty (50) years. The presentation received recognition by the press, which became more difficult to obtain for service work.
SARA T HUGHES, a member of this Club, was named Judge of the 14th District Court, and later became the first woman to be named a United States Federal Judge, and in that position administered the oath of office to Lyndon Johnson after President Kennedy’s Judge Sarah T. Hughes assassination.
Zontians joined other women’s groups in vigorously protesting a Dallas City Council action which proposed to discharge all married women employed by the City whose husbands were employed.
The campaign for greater participation by women in government gained momentum and names of qualified women were submitted to the City and County for appointed boards.
Post war planning, international relations and legislation to benefit veterans were important topics to the Club during the 40s. Educational scholarships at Southern Methodist University were provided. Concern for the less fortunate encouraged this Club to establish the Zonta Community House in West Dallas. Activities included: prenatal and well-baby clinics conducted by the Dallas County Medical Society, Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troops, home training and guidance for girls and women, legal aid and accounting advice for adults.
In the early fifties, eight of our members were doctors, several were lawyers, and about half of the Club members were the first woman in her profession or field.
MILDRED McCOOL joined the Club in 1947, served as president in 1951-52.
In 1953 DR. RUTH GUY, President in 1961-’62, was one of the people who started the science of blood banking. DR. GUY taught at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and her former students have gone all over the world to establish blood banks
RUTH MADDOX, joined in 1952 and recalls the many ways the Club’s efforts that changed Dallas. Her professional work designing commercial lighting gave Dallas 1000;s of illuminated buildings that are the sparkle in Dallas night time sky.
The Zonta Club of Dallas provided the initial $1,000 to establish “The Family Place,” Dallas’ first shelter for battered women and children.
A Zonta Greenspot was adopted as a bicentennial gift to the city. Cooperating with the Dallas Parks Department, a downtown triangle parking lot at Young, Marilla, and Akard Streets was chosen for landscaping and beautification for the enjoyment of visitors and citizens. $20,000 was provided for this project from 1965 to 1971.
As Director of the Dallas Public Libraries, member LILLIAN BRADSHAW was the first woman head of a department of the City of Dallas, and still today the only one. Under BRADSHAW’s leadership the new downtown library and a network of branches were built.
In the early 70s member ANITA MARTINEZ was the first woman to serve on the Dallas City Council.
In 1973 the club gave a scholarship to a woman law student in honor of SARAH T. HUGHES. This was continued for twenty five (25) years. The United Nations International Women’s year in 1976 was supported through activities which highlighted women’s concerns, such as hunger and peace. MARGARET BRAND SMITH, of the club, attorney and insurance executive, served on the Dallas Commission on the Status of Women.
The Zonta Club of Dallas North was organized in 1988, and the Zonta Club of Dallas 3 was organized in 1989. Starting in 1988 consecutive BESS JUDD Awards have been made to members who represent the “Spirit of Zonta” through their service.
Two library projects included the Dallas Public Library and furnishing books and money to the Groesbeck Library honoring former member DR. MINNIE MAFFET. Dental care was provided to the Dallas County Detention Home for Children. Internationally, three water wells were built in Sri-Lanka in honor of members: two past District Governors, PAT GORDON and BESS JUDD, a fifty year Zontian, and EDNA WILLINGHAM, a forty-eight year member.
Zonta Club of Dallas provided monetary assistance for the Open Door Multi-Lingual Preschool, a program to prepare children for public school who are from non-English speaking families. They gave money annually for special needs and $15,000 to complete a matching gift to secure a bus. In addition members provided parties, Easter baskets, and birthday books to encourage literacy. Member, ANNE SNODGRASS, CPA, has served many years on the School’s Board of Directors.
In 2001 the Club received a grant from Zonta International Strategies to End Violence Against Women (ZISVAW) for the “Bullyproof” program. Member KALETA DOOLIN had an idea for a program that targets seven to twelve year olds and is designed to teach them how to understand and cope with bullies, abuse, violence, and the myriad of emotions that accompany these social and psychological problems.
The Club introduced the Young Women in STEM Award in 2011. Patterned after the Young Women in Public Affairs award, this recognizes a young woman aged 16 to 19 who has excelled in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculums and has woven those skills into community service and volunteerism. In 2013 the award was renamed the Ruth P. Maddox Young Woman in STEM in tribute to deceased member RUTH P. MADDOX.
The Club collaborated with The Family Place, a local non-profit that empowers victims of family violence by providing safe housing, counseling and life skills, on the proposal. Zonta International chose the Bullyproof proposal as one of four recipients for a $15,969 grant that year