Columbus Monnett Club Celebrates 100 Years

Laurie McGregor Connor ’77 (left) talks to the gathering during the presentation of flowers to past Monnett Club presents including (from left) Ann Armstrong Knodt ’61, Sally Eliot Williams ’48, and Dusky Johnson Reider ’51.

Liz Long Downey ’06 joined the Columbus Monnett Club because her grandmother, the late Margaret MacGregor Nichols ’37, was a member and attending the meetings gave them a deeper shared bond as OWU women. In May, Downey was among those who gathered at Scioto Country Club for a luncheon to mark the last remaining Monnett Club reaching its 100th anniversary.

The first club started in 1910 in New York City, in the name of Mary Monnett, an OWU student who donated $10,000 for the completion of Monnett Hall during her senior year in 1857. The Columbus chapter was founded by Mary Hull Sisson 1909 in 1918 for women who wanted to continue the fellowship they’d shared at OWU by doing volunteer sewing work together for the Red Cross. The clubs also provided educational programs, service projects, and scholarships to the communities of each chapter. The Columbus chapter was the third and became part of a network of 19 Monnett Clubs from Boston to southern California.

Janet Raup Gross ’81 said one of her favorite things about the club is the diversity of ages and class years represented by the women involved. “You get bits of wisdom and you learn things from the people around you,” she said.

Gross originally came to a meeting as a college senior to make connections in the political science field.

“I was invited by Ann Tarbutton Gerhart ’69 while looking for a job. Ann said, ‘Why don’t you come to a Monnett Club meeting?’ And after that, I just kept coming back,” she says. Gross’ daughter, Charlotte Gross, is now a rising junior at OWU.

At the May event, Brent Carson of the Delaware County Historical Society discussed OWU and Delaware in 1918. During World War I, the women of Monnett Hall posted war bulletins acknowledging female war efforts, organized book drives for soldiers, and spearheaded letterwriting campaigns to soldiers.

Carson devoted part of his talk to discussing the rules and policies of Monnett Hall and OWU in 1918, getting plenty of laughter with his references to Monnett rules dictating: “Escorts should be dismissed at the door without protracted conversation” and University rules such as: “Men and women shall only walk one block together.”

Laurie McGregor Connor ’77, a past Monnett Club president, says she’s especially proud of the value the club places on each member. “We believe in parliamentary procedure, and we believe everyone has a voice and a role to play in the club,” she said. “It’s refreshing to see an organization like this.”

Chapter president Virginia “Ginny” O’Grady Shipps ’70 urged everyone to take a few minutes in the coming month to write down their favorite OWU and Monnett memories.

“‘God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December,’ ” she said, quoting playwright James M. Barrie. “Our goal is to not forget these memories. Hopefully by next December, we’ll have the roses.”

Women interested in attending future Columbus Monnett Club events may contact Ginny Shipps at or check for scheduled events at

By A.L. Davies ’19

Return to the Fall 2018 OWU Magazine