The Friends of Susan B. Anthony began in 1968 as an informal February 15 birthday party luncheon organized by Beth Daane (pronounced DAY-nee), Director of the Gainesville Public Library. It was held in the dining room of what at that time was the Thomas Hotel. In attendance, including Ms. Daane, were Katie Dunn, Thelma Ford, Charlotte Yates, Paola Langford, Lily Carter, Florence Dunlap and possibly Annette Yoho, all librarians at the public library. After Ms. Daane’s death, Charlotte Yates, her friend and the public relations officer at the public library, continued the custom. It became an annual informal event that was held at various restaurants or private homes. As the years went by, other interested friends wanted to attend too. It was not until 1989 that recognition was given to a local woman who exemplified some of the qualities of Susan B. Anthony, that is, concern for full enfranchisement of women and minorities and equal rights for all citizens. It was the brainchild of Sheila Buros and Doris Bardon to surprise Charlotte with that honor. There are no membership cards or dues to be a Friend – just RSVP to the lunch invitation and you can consider yourself a Friend. We operate only on donations, in-kind or cash.
The group of Friends has no elected officers; it has never “formally” organized. However, the die-hard friends of Susan B. want to continue to acknowledge and remember this remarkable woman, her colleagues and the spirit of their time. We have chosen what has come to be known as Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of the 19th Amendment (woman suffrage), August 26, to do that. May we never forget their sacrifices, hard work and persistence. “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FoSBA Friends of Susan B. Anthony, Gainesville, Florida
As told by June Littler
It began in Gainesville, Florida in 1968 as an informal February 15 birthday party luncheon to honor Susan B. Anthony. It was organized by Beth Daane. She was the Director of the Gainesville Public Library. The luncheon was held in the dining room of, what at that time was, the Thomas Hotel. It is now the Thomas Center. In attendance at that first meeting, besides Beth, were Katie Dunn, Thelma Ford, Charlotte Yates, Paola Langford, Lily Carter, Florence Dunlap and possibly Annette Yoho, who were all librarians at the public library. It continued until Beth’s death in 1977, after which Charlotte Yates, her friend and her public relations officer at the public library, continued the event.
The annual informal event was held at various private homes or restaurants. As the years went by, other interested friends wanted to attend, so attendance rose and larger venues were needed. Charlotte kept track of calling people for the next event. It was not until 1989, when the list was getting so large it was hard to manage, that Charlotte received help from Sheila Buros and Doris Bardon, gathering to make arrangements at Tobey’s Restaurant in the Sun Center. They surprised Charlotte, and the rest of us, naming Charlotte the first FoSBA honoree. There were 71 people in attendance. I have pictures of everyone, except me, because I was taking the pictures (See the poster on this website).
As the years went by, Charlotte and I became good friends, because we both in the local branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She was the older sister I never had. I was sort of her left hand in putting together the FoSBA annual event, now known as the Women’s Equality Day luncheon. I have a picture of Charlotte sitting in a living room chair, with a footstool, the telephone, a copy of the Gainesville Sun, pen, note pad, a wastebasket, a box of tissues and the telephone book. That’s all she needed to captain her ship.
The committee she formed had one member of each co-sponsoring organization, the League of Women Voters, AAUW, UNA/USA, NOW, Unitarians, Quakers, etc. Included on the committee was outspoken Emily Browne, a member of NOW. Emily never let us leave any unclaimed meals behind – it had to go to St. Francis House.
When Charlotte passed away in April 2003, a lot of the planning had already been done for the August event, so all I had to do was organize the mailing party in mid-July, buy the envelopes and stamps and get the photo-ready invitation information to the printer. By then, we had accumulated donations for such expenses and had a bank account. I added a few more people to help with extra chores, especially the mailing list. Nancy Parkinson was my biggest help. Beverly Hill was a regular mailer, too.
As technology advanced, there are no more mailing parties, stamping the return address on the envelopes, stuffing 400 envelopes, and affixing labels and stamps. We finally paid to have the printer fold the invitations so we didn’t have to do that, too. Printing and mailing was our biggest expense. The mailing list has gone from 3x5 inch cards in a box, individually-typed envelopes, to labels typed on a typewriter onto a page of 30 labels, to being typed on a computer, and printing the labels from there. The early programs with honoree and speaker were typed, cut and pasted for a fold-over format and taken to the printer.
Eventually the coordinating committee had about 15 people, including some past honorees. Some newer members have advanced computer skills, so we can get information to people in a more expeditious way. We decided not to officially organize with elected officers as it was too much trouble, red tape and paperwork to do so. The committee works well by a combination of consensus and chair fiat, and the group only has one event per year so we tried to keep it simple. In other words, even though we are a non-profit group we are not a 501(c)3 organization; we pay sales tax. We have no dues or membership cards. If you’ve attended a FoSBA luncheon or made a donation to it, please consider yourself a member. Any extra money we receive, over and above expenses, goes to a charity of our annual speaker's choice and to fund a participant in "Girls State." How did THAT happen?
In 2005 in discussion with Dot Whittle, an AAUW member and also a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, she mentioned that she was working on their "Girls State" program and were short on funds. I mentioned that I had been a Girls Stater, and she had, too. The idea percolated that FoSBA could solicit more donations to help fund it. It turned out so well, that we have continued the tradition. We subsequently discovered that at least twelve (12) FoSBA members* had been participants at "Girls State" (see the FoSBA Girls State Tab on this website), so we really do have a connection and a reason to help fund the very worthwhile program of exposing girls to the possibility of more meaningful participation in the political process.
Our first donation to the "Girls State" program was in 2005 and the selectee participated in 2006. We have contributed to the program for 17 years, except in 2020, with 30 girls being funded for the program, for a total of $5900. The cost has gradually increased from $300/girl, and now is $400.
Other highlights of our history worth mentioning: The Honorable Shirley Chisholm was our speaker in 2002, with Barbara Oberlander as the honoree. In 2003, we had the Honorable Patricia Schroeder and Ann Marie Rogers was the honoree. In 2006, we had “the two Doris’s” – Doris “Granny D” Haddock of walking across the United States at age 90 to raise awareness and support for campaign finance reform fame, and Doris Bardon, a local activist as the honoree.
Time has marched on and I, too, have had to depend on helpers to carry on what Beth and Charlotte started. After Charlotte died the “committee” included some previous honorees; Barbara Oberlander was one of them.
The group seems to be sufficiently structured now with younger members who, I feel confident, will manage to hang in there for a while longer. I am grateful that, Barbara, my colleague for many years at Santa Fe (College), was willing to step up and help in the continuation of FoSBA. Charlotte left us in 2003, yet the tradition continues. She once told me that the thing she was most proud of was continuing FoSBA. I think we should be proud of us, too, as this is a collegial endeavor.
In conclusion, I’ll just remind us that: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” The Friends of Susan B. Anthony know that. Let’s not forget it.
*FoSBA Girls Staters from 1948-2004: Gert Desjardin, June Littler, Dot Whittle, Bliz Feldherr, Margaret Boonstra, Betty Attie, Barbara Scott, Margaret Zircher, Janet Jamieson, Kathy Kidder, Michelle Kupperman Ott, Natalie King. If there are any others, please identify yourselves.