how it began

Excerpted from essays written by Sheila Thompson in 1958 and 1968, commemorating the 10th and 20th anniversaries.

The Monrovia Guild began in October, 1948 as a tenacious idea in the minds of a group of women.  They met together at a tea at Marjorie Turner’s to hear a speaker from Children’s Hospital tell them of its needs and programs.  Before that day I doubt if any of us could have told where Children’s Hospital was located or what were its specialities and functions. To quote Kay again [first Guild president]:  “After the tea we sat and talked.  We decided to  telephone a large group of women and invite them on a tour of the hospital, with the view of possibly forming a guild.  This tour took place on November 11, 1948 with 28 women attending.  The tour sold the group, and in a short meeting that day we voted to organize.”

From the very beginning this energetic group of women made philanthropic history in Monrovia.  They were full of clever, ingenious ideas to separate our citizens from their money, which they promptly forwarded to Children’s Hospital – all the while enjoying themselves immensely, and learning a great deal about  the hospital in the process.  Their guiding star has been Mrs. Gabriel Duque, who by her own example of constant service and true dedication, has been an inspiration to us all.

Our first year was, of course, all “firsts.”  Our first project was a theatre party benefit at the Stage Theatre to see our friend, Don, in the production “And so to Bed.”  July found us deciding to have our first husband’s fun party and we held a dinner at the Tennis Club.  This wasn’t exactly a colossal success.  Our group hadn’t jelled yet, and we were afraid to let our hair down.  If it hadn’t been for a very learned discourse between Don and Wilbur on the value of hair pieces, I’m afraid it would have proved a very dull evening.  Thanksgiving of that year we gave our first party for the school children at the hospital, and in December, 1949 we started our first annual Christmas Giving.

By March, 1950 we had completed our first full year and we were accepted by the hospital as a full-fledged guild so we were entitled to invite a group of associates to join us and we welcomed our first 13 associates at our first associate tea in April.  Ever since, our associates have been an important part of our working group.   In March of 1951 we really branched out with our first elaborate fashion show given by McBratney’s at the Women’s Club.  We also had a first in our Monrovia Day float, incidentally our last.  We won a prize though.  Also we had a fish bowl concession at the Fair.  These proved to be too much work and with one more repeat on the fish bowl we had all we could stand.

Over the years active members thought of many other ways of raising money and donating services to the hospital including selling Christmas cards, working as volunteers and tour guides, have a safety program, hosting a fashion show and a lecture, selling ash trays, having an art festival at the Stuft Shirt in Upland and a Box Social at the Monrovia Tennis Club.  Buying and wrapping Christmas gifts for children in the hospital and convincing individuals in business and industry to donate to the hospital.  Junior Associates made toys, tray favors and bridal outfits for children, and decorated baskets and waste containers.  One of the highlights each Spring was the annual tea given by the seniors, who also gave dinners and a successful bridge tourney to raise money for the cause.

Looking back over the past 20 years, it’s nice to remember that it’s only our second birthday celebration.  As mere infants, the Guild set a highly ambitious course, of which every single member should be proud.  Now the evidence is before you, and even greater deeds can be accomplished in the years to come.


Taken in 1959.  From left to right:  Anna Marie Petrie, Kay Coughlin (first Monrovia Guild president), Gretchen Littlejohn, and Margie Ferguson.

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