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In 1969, Mary Liebig and Betty Sprunk decided to start a group for friends devoted to helping others in Platte Center and the surrounding area.

"We decided we needed to do something to get our friends together, and we thought, 'Let's have a club,'" Liebig said. "We followed parliamentary procedure, then we had a little craft lesson or whatever the host wanted to do for a lesson."

Thus, the Modern Mrs. club was born. Like many ventures, this one started small. Dues for group membership were only 10 cents a month. Only eight people were in the group when it first started, but as word got out about it, more and more people joined.

Fifty years later, the club remains a key force within the Platte Center and Columbus communities, helping out area organizations and raising thousands of dollars for charity. Tuesday, members celebrated their golden anniversary with a commemorative dinner at The Wild Plum Beyond Bed & Breakfast.

The group has been key in helping to enhance the quality of life for people in Platte Center. Maybe the most notable thing is helping to build Elm Park through a paper drive. That paper drive proved to be very profitable for the group, so much so that they continued the fundraiser until 1990. 

"We did paper drives to try and get that started and get park equipment," Liebig said. "When other town businesses got involved, they put a shelter up and we gave $600 to the shelter."

The group also provided concessions at Platte Center baseball and softball games, not to mention 4th of July celebrations and other community events. Rarely does the group donate to organizations outside Platte Center, choosing to make their biggest impact in the town of 336 in which members call home.

"We try to keep our donations local," said Susan Brandt, a longtime member of the club.

The concession sales helped the club's bank balance, enough to allow the group to take trips to a wide variety of places, both across the state and throughout the Midwest.

"Usually, in summer, we do a trip to someplace," Liebig said. "We've gone to Indra's farm in Leigh, Louisville, we've had five women go up to the Mall of America, we've made numerous trips to Omaha to different places or Lincoln."

Group membership has changed throughout the years, but many of the members of the group have been there for decades. In addition to Liebig and Sprunk, people like Brandt, Bonnie Schumacher and Joan Greisen have been key parts of the organization since the 1970s. Liebig estimated that 41 different women have been a part of the organization since it started.

"We've gained members and we've lost members," Liebig said.

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Now, there are 15 members; however, only 12 showed up on Tuesday. Still, spirits were high, as the group talked about the many experiences that they had together over the years. It's that camaraderie that has kept the group together through the years.

"It's the fellowship and friendship that we have amongst each other," Liebig said. "When one of our members is hurting, we all pray and send cards and concern for them."

The group has seen a lot of changes throughout the years, as their children grow old and have children of their own. Members are excited about the future and want to continue the group for as long as they can, sticking together as good friends do.

"We're just looking forward to continuing this for who knows how long," Liebig said. "(We're) probably (going to) do more together. We don't have the fundraisers. We just don't want to do that anymore. A lot of what we do comes out of our own pocket now, instead of like before."

Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at zachary.roth@lee.net.

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