Webster has a Women’s Hall of Fame?

15 Mar

I really never know where my next blog idea will come from. In this case, it was an email from my friend Kathy Taddeo at the Webster Museum. She was writing about an unrelated topic but happened to mention something that really piqued my interest: the “Webster Women’s Hall of Fame.”

A Webster Women’s Hall of Fame? I’d never heard of this before, and I immediately wondered whether it still existed, where it could be found, and who’s been inducted. I clearly needed to do some research.

My first stop, of course, was the Webster Museum, as it always is when I need to find out something about our town’s history. Town Historian Lynn Barton was able to tell me a few things right away: the Hall of Fame was a program run by the Webster Business and Professional Women’s Club (BPW), and it no longer exists. Mostly because the club itself no longer exists.

Lynn had a box of records and papers from the BPW, and the museum had several other boxes filled with materials tucked in their back room. After about an hour poking through them, and with additional help from museum volunteers and my friend (and 2000 inductee) Shirley Humphrey, I was able to pull together a pretty good picture of what the Women’s Hall of Fame was/is.

The Webster BPW was established in 1964, but the Women’s Hall of Fame wasn’t created until 1975, which was officially designated by the United Nations as International Women’s Year. Its purpose was to “honor and perpetuate the memory of women in Webster, past or present, who have significantly affected the lives of those around them.”

Nominations were open to all Webster women and were solicited through notices in the Webster papers and forms posted at the library and at Town Hall. 

The first inductee was Marie Stone, who taught history and Latin at Webster High School for 40 years, and was instrumental in establishing the Webster Historical Society. She was the best friend and colleague of Esther Dunn (author of Webster…Through the Years) and was part of the organizing committee which formed the Webster Museum at Town Hall in 1976.

The last woman to be inducted was Carroll Manning, in 2004. Carroll moved to Webster in 1973, where her husband Rob established the Webster Veterinary Clinic. She was very involved in the Webster Arboretum, and was also known for knitting hundreds of pairs of mittens to donate to those in need. Carroll passed away in September, 2021 at 90 years old.

The Webster BPW continued to meet regularly until 2014 when it was finally dissolved due to declining membership.

Below, you’ll find a list of all of the Women’s Hall of Fame inductees. (No one seems to know why there five honorees in 1999.) The Webster Museum has photos of them all, and hope to some day soon put together an exhibit honoring these amazing women. There’s a good chance you’ll recognize some of the names.

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Shirley Humphrey

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