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Published: Tuesday, 10/19/2010

After 60 years, Waite grads still part of 'club'


Sixty years ago, Marie Fejes feared she was losing touch with girlfriends from her days at Waite High School.

So Mrs. Fejes suggested the young married women meet once a month to socialize, starting Oct. 27, 1950. Nearly every month since, the "club girls" have gone out, cooked feasts, attended shows, played cards, and enjoyed other activities - and supported each other through births, deaths, and everything in between.

"We were there for one another when we needed help," Mrs. Fejes said.

Added Jean Oberkiser of Oregon, who was consoled after her daughter died last month: "We still are."

Six Waite high school graduates made up the core of the club until 1993, when Joanne Hooven of Toledo died. The club's remaining five founders - two who graduated from Waite in 1945 and three in 1946 - were joined a few years ago by Gerri Rudolph of Toledo, the 64-year-old daughter of member Bea Clark of South Toledo.

Ms. Rudolph is the oldest among the group's children and always felt like she had numerous mothers. She and any other youngsters already born were not at the club's first meeting, when the women just talked, but there were times over the decades when families were involved.

Early on, a few other women drifted in and out of the club, but the core has stuck together.

"Believe it or not, we have very, very, very few disagreements," Mrs. Clark said. "We'd never let it break us up."

The club has never had a name. It has never had a president. Dues were discontinued years ago.

There have been maybe a half-dozen times when inclement weather or illnesses have prevented the club girls from holding their monthly meeting, mostly in the last couple of years. With the five core members in their early 80s, some of whom are widowed but none divorced, cancellations may become more common in coming years, they agreed.

Some members have other connections besides Waite and the club. Jean Roberts of Oregon, Mrs. Clark, and Mrs. Fejes, for example, all started school together at East Side Central Elementary School.

Pat Kovacs of Walbridge and Mrs. Fejes are sisters-in-law. And Mrs. Fejes and Mrs. Roberts both have been married 63 years.

The club girls have traveled together for a summer trip to Toronto. They used to do a Christmas gift exchange, but now they try to attend a holiday performance instead.

"One year we went to Detroit to see the Rockettes," Mrs. Roberts recalled.

For the last couple of decades, the club girls typically have gone to lunch every month and played cards, with some members more competitive than others. They rotate hostesses, who pick the restaurant and provide space for a spirited afternoon of Michigan rummy.

"When we were younger, we used to vent about our kids and our husbands, but that doesn't happen now," Mrs. Clark said.

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