Wyethia Club: A glimpse into Truckee women’s history
Building friendships and bettering the community.
These are the two tenets of Truckee’s oldest women’s organization, The Wyethia Club, which celebrates its 75th birthday this month.
The group, which started on Aug. 14, 1927, takes its unusual name from the delicate golden Wyethia wildflower, more commonly known as the “mountain mule ear,” that dots the local terrain.
In addition to a monthly potluck, Wyethia awards yearly scholarships, raises money for local charities, and serves as a catalyst for the creation of multigenerational relationships.
“We’re a totally community-oriented group,” said club member Parvin Darabi. “Everything that we do, benefits local individuals and the community of Truckee.”
Darabi first stumbled across the club from a listing in The Sierra Sun when she moved to Truckee in 1993.
“I didn’t know anyone when I came here, and this has turned out to be a great place to meet new people, make lots of good friends and learn about the Truckee community,” she said.
Although the group’s origin is fairly anecdotal at this point, many believe it was started by a local attorney, who wanted to give his wife an outlet for community involvement.
“We think [the group] was likely his wife’s idea, but back in those days, women didn’t have the power to start up a club or do something like this, so her husband did it for her,” Darabi said. “It began as a way to give women a chance to do positive things for their community.”
In the early days, the Wyethia Club was a chartered affiliate of the California Federation of the Women’s Club and was active in local events such as the Fourth of July parade, music programs, “Cabaret,” dances, masquerade parties and luncheons.
Since then, the group has continued to give more than four scholarships to Tahoe-Truckee High School students each year, in addition to money for women who want to go back to school as re-entry students.
“We’ve also supported local groups like Tahoe Women’s Services, Friends of the Library and Hospice,” said Club President Sandy Harmon.
Harmon first heard about the club when she accompanied an elderly neighbor to one of the frequent potlucks.
“I made some incredible friends in the short time I was there, and soon became a member myself,” she said. “It’s just so interesting and fun to talk to people of different generations.”
Most of the funds donated by the club come from membership dues and money that was invested after the sale of the group’s historic clubhouse on Riverside Drive in 1965.
“The group was forced to sell the clubhouse after membership dropped down from 83 members to 11 and was having financial difficulties,” Harmon said.
While Wyethia members currently total around 33, many are in their eighties, even nineties, and the group is constantly seeking new members.
“We’d like others to join so we can continue on and continue to give to the local organizations that we support,” Harmon said. “The great thing is that anyone can join. We have no restrictions.”
In celebration of its 75th anniversary and in hopes of rallying new members, the club is hosting a special party that is open to the public (men and women) on Thursday, Aug. 15, from 6:30-9:30 p.m., at the Tahoe Donner Clubhouse on Northwoods Boulevard. Members will provide food and refreshments, as well as hold a raffle.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun and we encourage anyone who is interested to join us,” Harmon said. “[The club] is a good way to make friends, and also hear some great stories of the old days in Truckee. Our older members are a real inspiration to the younger women and it’s also a great benefit to the older generations, to have something to look forward to each month, to get them out of their homes and socialize, exchange opinions and ideas.”
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