The Woman's Club of Catonsville to disband at end of 2012

Years ago, the Christmas season meant a time of special activities for members of the Woman's Club of Catonsville.

Patricia Rivas, a member for nearly 25 years, remembered how club members would make wreaths and other holiday decorations to display in Catonsville.

There would be a special Christmas program for the monthly meeting at the clubhouse on St. Timothy's Lane, said Rachel Fink, a member since 1976.

This year, Christmas will be special because it will be the club's last.

After 80 years, the club is disbanding as of Dec. 31.

Its clubhouse, purchased in 1951, will be donated to the Catonsville Community Foundation.

"It's very bittersweet," said Anne Kaufman, the club president."We're glad they're going to do something with it.

"We were a really hard-working group, a dedicated group," she said. "But times change."

The group has 70 members, she said, but not enough had stepped forward to fill a slate of officers to lead the club in 2013.

"We're all very sad," she said. "But times have changed. Younger people are extremely busy now."

In its final months, the club's actions added to its legacy of working for the community.

Kaufman led a group that put together gift bags for veterans, Rivas said, and Carolyn Timmins' spearheaded a group that handed out small gift bags to older residents of area nursing homes.

Such efforts, and the encouragement of friends who were already members, had prompted Mt. Airy native Becky McNamara to join the club in 1957.

"I made a lot of friends and did a lot of work for the community," said McNamara, the club's most senior member, who moved to the area after marrying a Catonsville native 64 years ago. "It's sad, very sad.

"We can't do what we used to. We're getting older. Women now, they're raising their families and working at the same time. I didn't have to do that," said the proud mother of two daughters, one a lawyer and the other a certified public accountant.

Rivas said she joined the club at the urging of her sister, Ariana Sheehan, and because she was interested in painting.

What was once a large art class has now shrunk to five students and there has not been an art teacher to lead it for several years, she said.

"There was always something to do in the club every day if you wanted to," she said. "It is a big loss."

Fink said she was drawn to the club by its crafts program and became so involved that she twice served as club president during her 36 years as a member..

"I made some wonderful friends there and the club has done many wonderful things," she said. "I will miss it terribly."

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