Photo by Maryann Mook

The Zonta Club of the Corry Area, during Zonta International’s Centennial Celebration, was recognized by District 4 for the club’s dedication to advocacy for supporting Zonta’s cause of “No to Violence Against Women.” Showing a certificate of appreciation are club members Bev Burton, left, and Kathy Berkey. The Corry club celebrated its 40thanniversary on May 31.

By Maryann Mook

Secretary/Corry Zonta



It all started with a cup of tea.

Now, 40 years later, the Zonta Club of the Corry Area is still going strong, and its charter president is still a member.

Patsy Nichols, 82, was the first president when Corry’s Zonta club was chartered on May 31, 1980. Club members are celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The club received its charter from the Erie Zonta 1 club.

The Corry club was chartered as a club in District IV of Zonta International. Zonta International is a worldwide women’s service organization. Zonta International envisions a world in which women’s rights are recognized as human rights and every woman is able to achieve her full potential.

“Some members of the Zonta club of Erie came down and took us out to a tea,” Nichols said about how the Corry club was formed.

Nichols said one of the women was Joyce Mountain, the organizing officer of the Erie club.

“They came and asked us to start a club,” Nichols said. “We called it the Zonta Club of the Corry Area, and it included Corry, the Spartansburg area, the Clymer area and Union City.

“We got a dozen or so members together.”

The “dozen or so” turned out to be 27 charter members.

The Corry club’s Charter Presentation Dinner was held Oct. 11, 1980, at Peek’n Peak Ski Lodge in Clymer, New York.

Dr. Bernadine Haringsma, second vice president of Zonta International, welcomed the Corry club into Zonta International. Haringsma, of The Netherlands, also presided over the installation of officers and directors.

In addition to Nichols, charter members were Norberta Kane, vice president; Marilyn Mitchell, secretary; Margaret “Peg” Anderson, treasurer; directors Pauline Thomas, Rita Jackson, Madlyn “Madge” Ahl and Bonnie Hogan; and members Janet Birk, Betty Courtwright, Sister Dominica DeLeo, Shirley Duink, Jan Frushone, Dorothy Garfield, Florence Grice, Mary Gutz, Marjorie Hopkins, Dr. Mary Ann Kibler, Shirley Loomis, Bertha “Berdie” McMichael, Thelma Measel, Barbara Nichols, Carol Ottaway, Martha Pfusch, Rose Sita, Connie Warthman and Ann Wharton.

The club met at various locations, including restaurants and members’ homes.

The club hosted fundraisers in order to give money back to the community.

“We used to have card parties,” Nichols said. “We’d work our butts off and make only about $250.”

Over the years, the club stopped holding card parties and some other fundraisers that didn’t bring in a lot of money for the effort put into them.

One fundraiser, however, has held its own for almost 30 years – the car/cash raffle.

Nichols said Corryite George Barr was a guest speaker at one of the meetings and talked about fundraising.

“He came to our meeting and said, ‘Why don’t you have a raffle and sell tickets?’” Nichols said.

That was when the Corry Zonta club’s car/cash raffle was born. The club sold 210 tickets, and the winner would be presented with the keys to a new vehicle.

Nichols was the top seller of the tickets, and today she still sells the majority of 250 tickets.

“The Ford garage always gave us the lowest bid,” Nichols said.

The first raffle was held in 1991 and saw Ron and Marlene Jones win a 1992 Ford Taurus that Zonta purchased from Humes Ford of Corry. Today, the winner receives $10,000 cash to keep or put toward the purchase of a vehicle.

Throughout its history, the Zonta Club of the Corry Area has participated in several other fundraisers, such as a pie and candy sale, refreshment booth, rummage sale, plant sale, meat raffle and purse auctions.

But the Corry club’s biggest goal is to give back to the community via service projects and monetary donations, which it has done in several ways. The Corry club has supported an annual Christmas dinner with gifts provided for a local organization; the Regional Home Health and Hospice’s Garden of Life; the American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days; the Salvation Army’s Love in a Bag; 21st Century Girls; annual scholarships for high school graduates, college students and adults; and the Herbert S. Vaughn Memorial Fly-in Breakfast.

Virginia Irish joined the Corry club in the mid-1980s and remained a member until she moved from Corry 1997. She is a past president. She recently returned to the Corry area.

Irish said Zonta gave people an opportunity to step up, become involved and meet new people.

“It was a great organization,” Irish said, recalling she and another member, the late Bonnie Hogan, attended a conference together in Canada.

Irish said the Corry club started its scholarship fund because there was money in the treasury.

“We figured that would buy a book or two,” Irish said, laughing.

The Corry club used to set up tables and have fundraisers at events like Glenn Mead Day and Sunday in the Park.

“Wherever there was a function, Zonta would be there,” Irish said.

And Irish still has mementos from the time she joined.

“I still have the yellow rose from when I was initiated,” Irish said.

The Corry club has also adopted service ad advocacy projects such as Free the Girls to provide bras to developing countries as a source of income for survivors of human trafficking, and birthing kits to provide sterilized births for women in developing countries.

As another service project, the Corry club has “adopted” Safe Journey, a shelter for victims of domestic and teen dating abuse.

The Corry club also has an annual program on Amelia Earhart, who was a Zontian. A pioneer aviator, Earhart and her navigator disappeared in a plane crash near Howard Island in the Pacific Ocean in 1937. Bones that were found on a small island in the pacific were later identified as Earhart’s.

Sandy Crowell has been a member of the Corry club since 1990. She has served five, one-year terms as president and is the outgoing president. She said she has stayed with the club so long because its members do so much for the community – and the world.

“We say no to violence against women, and we fight for equality for women, and have really concentrated a lot on human trafficking and childhood marriage,” Crowell said. “It’s all so important.

“Plus, we have interesting programs, and it’s a great group of women.”

Sandy Zeaman is the incoming president of the Corry club. She has served three terms as president and is the person who schedules programs and speakers. She has been a member since 2007.

“I enjoy helping different organizations and people, and I enjoy all the people who belong to the club,” Zeaman said.

She likes scheduling the programs, meeting the speakers and being informed.

“I like being aware of what’s going on,” Zeaman said.

Lynda Williams joined the Corry club in 1990 and was a 23-year member. She has served as treasurer, secretary and president.

Williams and her husband, Terry, were instrumental when it came to the car/cash raffle and the dinner when the drawing was held.

“That raffle is probably the best thing we (Zonta) ever did,” Williams said. “The price of the cars kept going up, so we decided to give away $10,000.”

The money then, can go toward the purchase of a vehicle.

Thanks to the car/cash raffle, the club has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the community. The car/cash raffle also raises funds that Zonta of the Corry Area presents to several area nonprofits.

Williams also believes the scholarships are a worthy cause, especially the adult scholarship.

“With the adult scholarship, you’re helping people get a second chance,” Williams said.

Reva Lowry has been a member of the Corry club twice, first joining in 1991. She has served as secretary and currently serves as treasurer.

“I think we do a lot for the community and that’s why I joined,” Lowry said. “I feel with the money we make from the car/cash raffle, we give back to the community.

“I think we do a lot for the community.”

Nichols was Corry’s District Justice when the Zonta Club of the Corry Area was chartered. The now-retired district judge remains a member. She hosted the scholarship check presentation picnic at Nichols Camp in Spring Creek for several years and hosts the club’s July picnic there.

At the time of the charter, Nichols was 42 years old, and not sure she should be a Zonta member. 

“I laughed,” Nichols said. “I didn’t really feel I fit in because they were a classy bunch of women. It’s been an honor to be in the club with them.”