These memories are excerpts from interviews with women who have been members of the BSU Women's Club organizations for at least 25 years. We thank everyone for contributing their memories!

A majority of photos in this section are from the Ball State University Digital Media Repository. More information about the digital archives and the BSU Women's Club collection is at the bottom of this page.

Janet Ahlersmeyer

BSU Women’s Club members were very friendly and welcoming. I loved the interest groups; the salad supper was a favorite. I served on committees and was secretary for a year. I loved the antique group, reading group, and cooking group. The Christmas evening at the President’s home and luncheon at the Alumni Center library were favorite holiday events.

Lauren Bishop-Weidner

I wanted to find “my people” and the Women’s Club provided that intellectual and social outlet. When our children were young, play group was wonderful. My own personal favorite thing has always been the book group where I met so many smart, funny, and philosophical thinkers (especially Alice Thomas). I always enjoyed the Salad Carry-in, although I have not been a regular attendee.

I remember that a group of us in the Newcomers Group formed our own group. We called it “Explorers Club.” That group has been my highlight; we are life-long friends (such as Linda McKean and Margaret Ann Zivney). We have a shared past, and it is warm and comfortable to be together.

Vernetta Fluegeman

I joined the Women’s Club to make friends and enjoy the Salad Carry-In because I can meet members who I do not see in interest group activities. I am a member of Wine Tasting, Couples Gourmet, Book Group, and, Euchre. Between 2009-2011, I served as Club Treasurer. I was co-chair of Wine Tasting 2005-2007.

I enjoy Couples Gourmet because my husband cooks! We have fun working on dishes together. When Cathy was three years old, I had a babysitter to take care of her during our Couples Gourmet in my home. Unfortunately, the babysitter got sick, but everyone at the dinner was understanding of the situation.

Jean Gadziola

My first experience with BSUWC was in the fall of 1968 when I arrived in Muncie as a new faculty wife. My husband was one of 14 faculty who joined the English Department that year. We almost had enough to make up our own club! I joined University Wives at that time and found that it opened up a great new circle of friends that I enjoyed socializing with. The fall Salad Carry-in was always a favorite.

This was a good way to meet wives in other departments as well as getting to know those that entered the same year as I had. I think I made my first faculty wife gaffe that year when I experienced the cookie exchange. Seemed like a good idea to me, and so I industriously made about eight dozen cookies to bring. I was horrified to see that most brought under two dozen to exchange and quickly loaded up their plates with new cookies to take home. There was no way I was going to take home eight dozen cookies and appear like a glutton for cookies. I took home about eighteen cookies to the great disappointment of my family.

Because my life became more complex with work schedules and family concerns, I had to stop attending the evening University Wives group. I have later rejoined BSUWC as my life has taken a turn with fewer family responsibilities and I am delighted to know that many of those early friendships and some new ones are available through the Club.

Gail A. Greeni

I joined the Women’s Club for fellowship with others and wrote the first computer program that produced the Club’s membership booklet. I have enjoyed singing with the Distaffs, playing bridge, and Couples Gourmet. As Ball State began to hire more faculty in the 1970s, the Newcomers’ Club was the best way to meet people. It was also an important social outlet for my husband.

We especially enjoyed meeting new couples at Couples Gourmet. I remember three special meetings: a Slovakian dinner and celebration of Hungarian Gypsy life and culture; a Presidential dinner where we had a fun night with Monopoly money, and a Flaming Dinner where Trudy Pelligrini made spiced rabbit and other dishes were also “on fire!”

Joining the Dissonants/Distaffs was important to me because it helped to make Muncie my home. We all raised our children while singing and older women guided younger mothers.

With Mary Lou Barilla, we set up a babysitting co-op. We kept track of our hours so that our work was evenly distributed; no money ever changed hands. We also had rules: NO SWEETS!

I remember our year-long “share cropping” experiences on Ball State’s Heath Farm property. We had to provide our own water, but could successfully plant corn and squash. Our friends Eric and Mary Johnson and other connections led the University to expand this farming program by other community members.

Kathleen A. Hozeski

I joined the Women’s Club in 1969 and was part of the Newcomers’ group for two years. It was a great opportunity to meet other women with the same questions and needs. Many friendships were made and have continued. We had cookie and recipe exchanges as well as experience planning small meetings for our group. After two years, we felt comfortable helping on committees with the larger group of women.

Our Salad Carry-In was a great start to the academic year while enjoying renewed friendships and delicious food. The Christmas Open House at the President’s house was always so festive and put us in the holiday spirit.

I often use the Club cookbook from 1993, and think of you often and of the many times we worked together. I am so glad that I have this cookbook and it brings back memories of our wonderful years at Ball State.

Dotty Murk

The best aspect of the Women’s Club is the members, the unique, intelligent, and talented women, some of whom have become lifelong friends. These connections were personally enriching because I met people from different departments and learned about activities on campus. Club activities for couples were also good.

I have enjoyed all the interest groups and general meetings. I served as the Club President, 1988-1989 and also Vice President and have been a member of almost all of the interest groups. I have been on eleven committees and worked as vice president when the President was overseas. That year, I prepared the Board’s six meetings over the academic year.

My favorite groups are Ladies’ Gourmet, the Distaffs, and Book Club. Ladies Gourmet is my favorite— a lot of fun. The Distaffs began when I was President of the Club. We sang at nursing homes, church events, the Alpha Center (adult day care facility), and, made donations to A Better Way at Christmastime. Through Book Club, I have expanded my horizons, reading books that I would not have read on my own. At the end of the year, we put together a ranked list of books for the following year. We have really good discussions.

Working on the International Group is very important because helping international students is part of the Club’s mission. With Therese Weakland and Ann Eastman, I remember teaching these skills: sewing, baking, and even, how to drive! Hope Robinson gathered furniture for students. The group hosted an annual dinner, and later, a dessert party.

In 1993, the Ball State University Calendar of Cooking was published. With others, I worked very hard on our cookbook and wrote this dedication in the Preface:

“This cookbook is dedicated to all good cooks throughout the history of Ball State University and to the best of our traditions…. (the cookbook) reflects the precedents of hospitality, generosity, fellowship, and good eating within the university community.”

We printed 1,500 copies of our book and were proud of its publication.

Barbara Ottinger

For our first two years in Muncie, the Club was a great way to get to know the university community as “a new family.” My sons, ages 3 and 5, went to the Club’s babysitting co-op at times, and later we used the same concept of shared babysitting with our neighbors.

I enjoyed the varied small groups; the emphasis on Scholarships; and, appreciated officers’ efforts to develop new ideas as we grew from University Wives to the present Women’s Club. Joining University Wives was a great way to meet other Ball State University women which included the Newcomers’ Club! I have enjoyed the annual fall Carry-In, Bridge 101, and other activities.

Ruth Payne

I joined University Wives in 1971 because I wanted to meet women with similar interests. I was president of the Newcomer’s Club, a group for university wives in their first and second years at Ball State. I have enjoyed the various interest groups the organization offers where it is easier to meet others in smaller groups of women.

While I was on the Officer’s Board in 1972-73, we discussed a special theme to get more women to come to the September meeting each year. Someone suggested having a Salad Carry-in. There were several dissenting comments, such as “Just salads?” and “No one will come to a carry-in without meat dishes!” and, “It will never fly” …Well, we gave it a try anyway: and all these many years later, it is still one of the most popular meetings of the year.

Anna Preston

I joined the Club in 1976-1977 for one year. I joined the Women’s Club again in 1983/1985 because I was invited and have been a member ever since. I have been in Ladies Gourmet, Dissonant Distaffs, and, one year I joined Needlework.

I was also a Board Member 2002-2007 as publicity and interest group chair. Currently, I am only in the Euchre group. When I started the group in 1994, we had 8-10 members. Now, my members list has 32 members. Kim and Dom Caristi even started a Couples Euchre group. I am known as the “Euchre Queen” and enjoy playing and sharing carry-ins and snacks.

I have been a member of Ladies’ Gourmet for 20 years and one year I was chair of the group. We published a cook book; I know that Dotty Murk tested every recipe! It was my dream to become a gourmet chef. I remember many of the themes of our dinners: Mardi Gras, Soup-er Bowl (Eunice Bryant’s husband made venison stew), Amish, George Washington (everything involved cherries). My husband is a very picky eater, so when I was assigned to make a lobster/crab dish, he did not come! In the 1980s, we pushed for healthy foods.

When I first came to Muncie in 1976, I was overwhelmed by the huge group that attended the Salad Carry-In at the Muncie Central Gym. The entire gym was filled! That year, we had 20 new members just in the Newcomer's Group.

What I enjoy most about BSU Women’s Club is the socialization. I have met wonderful, smart women who have inspired me, motivated me, and helped me to relieve my stress just by having friends to talk to. The interest groups are just fun.

Rosemary Rugsaken

I have been a member of the Women’s Club since 1989. In 1987, I was invited by the Newcomers’ Club at a time when my son was a 6-year old and I was working full-time. I remember the Salad Carry-In in 1989 and have been involved in the International Group and Ladies’ Gourmet. At Gourmet dinners, we had a core group who enjoyed these “ladies’ night out” and opportunities to have a served, fancy meal of several courses.

The International Group brought food for receptions for international students, at first side dishes, and later, appetizers. The University provided our main dish. We especially enjoyed the December cookie exchange, especially Anna Preston’s raspberry swirls.

In my first year of membership of the Ladies’ Gourmet, our group was invited by Sandra Worthen for Guests’ Night at the President’s House. When I arrived at the house, Mrs. Worthen said to me: “Did you bring your husband?” I did not know about the tradition of “guest night,” so left Kris working at home! I was embarrassed that I had not known about bringing a guest!

Nanette Rushton

I first joined the Women’s Club in 1969 because I had a faculty sponsor from my husband’s department.

I have been part of Tea and Travel, Bridge, and the gardening group. I enjoyed the Salad Carry In and Spring Fling because you have a chance to meet new people and to see others you know, but would not see otherwise.

Nancy Umbach

Some of my favorites have been Ladies’ Gourmet, tea parties, International Group, Couples Dinner Group, and, Book Group. Suzanne Plesha asked me to be the Newcomer’s chair. She gave me a huge packet of papers so I could work on the packets for the upcoming academic year. This was before everything was digital.

Also, with help from my committee, I contacted newcomers to Ball State and invited them to a reception at the President’s house. I learned that two of the newcomers had lived in the same house at different times in a small Texas town.

I loved the salad carry-ins. It was always fun catching up with BSUWC friends after a summer off. Mostly, I loved the opportunities to make new friends.

Claudia Updike

I have been a Club member since 1976. I was invited to join the Club by a friend and my favorite Club activity is euchre. We play once a month. I am also a member of Couples Euchre, and I love the tea parties!

Sandra Worthen

I wanted to participate in the activities of the club and use the opportunity to get to know other women in the Ball State community. (Sandra participated in Women's Clubs at the University of Delaware and IU Pennsylvania before coming to Ball State in 1984.)

I organized the Scholarship Program for non-traditional students. I enjoyed most working with the scholarship committee, watching our endowment grow, and participating in the selection of worthy non-traditional candidates to receive our scholarships. I remember interviewing a scholarship candidate who was brave enough to tell the selection committee that her husband was in prison. She was very deserving and showed promise of being a contributing member of society. We awarded her a scholarship. I also remember that there was a non-traditional students’ association. We had a scholarship candidate who told us that her family did not read books. She loved reading and we gave her a scholarship so that she could transfer to Ball State.

I organized fundraisers such as the sale of our cook book. I remember that Dotty Murk worked very hard on that project. The cook book was successful because so many members could contribute. We had a committee to review submitted recipes, so it was quite participatory. It was in the early days of the internet; today, we look up recipes on the computer!

I held our first event for the Newcomer’s Club in 1984 at the President’s House on Meadow Lane. There were just so many interest groups: Ladies’ Gourmet, Needlework, Play Group, and Club events such as the lunch for members and families in the Architecture Atrium before basketball games. That event was organized by Alice Thomas.

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