Lee Russell introduced his friend of many years (they are co-members of the Friends of Oceanside Library Board) and Rotary: Mary Lou Elliot. Mary Lou is an honorary member of our club and was one of the original 4 women Rotarians, members of the Duarte Club in California. At the time she was invited to join the club, she was a JH
principal. All of the members of the Duarte club were in favor of the women joining with the exception of one gentleman who ended up quitting the club. After learning that the club admitted Mary Lou and 3 other women, RI terminated the club’s charter for “violation of RI by-laws which intended for clubs to be all-male.” Mary Lou noted that the original 1906 RI laws did not state this, only that members should be “Persons of Good Character” with no mention of gender. The women stayed on as members of the club and the club continued to serve its community and members as an outcast club. The club created its own Rotary pin which was the Rotary gear with an “X” through it to signify the un-inclusiveness of RI at the time. The issue was brought to the RI convention and in a vote of 1060-
against and 34-for, women were again denied admittance. Eventually an attorney and friend of the Duarte club, Stanford Smith, volunteered to file suit against RI to legally force them to admit women. The ACLU joined as well and the case was heard by the CA Supreme Court, was denied, appealed a couple of times and finally was taken all the way to the US Supreme Court who ruled in favor of the Duarte club on May 4th, 1987. RI appealed the decision
and lost. Mary Lou and here club members we called “The Mouse that Roared” and they made that the image on their club flag. Sadly, when Mary Lou moved to Oregon and tried to join a club there, she was denied admittance with the reason being “no more spaces for her category….” Fortunately we have come a long way since then, thanks to brave, persistent leaders such as Mary Lou.