By Kirby Brooks
The La Jolla Villagers were born when founding president Jane Howells and her friends got kicked out of the La Jolla Newcomers Club in 1971.
“Well, we didn’t get kicked out exactly, but you were supposed to graduate and we didn’t want to lose all of the friends we had met,” recalled current president Cherry Lee, adding, “We wanted to continue to meet regularly.”
And meet regularly they have.
The La Jolla Villagers celebrated their 40
anniversary on March 23 with a luncheon at the La Jolla Country Club. Of the 27 past presidents, 11 still-active presidents attended and four former inactive-presidents (Clarice Kuck, Marion La Roca, Fran Whidden and Jinx Pitrofsky) even arrived. Whidden traveled from Arizona to be there!
Lee, who will pass the torch to the next president this summer after serving as president for two years, is a founding member but spent 25 years away from the group while teaching at La Jolla Country Day School.
“I cheated,” she laughed. “The other two founding members have been here for all 40 years. “ Along with Lee, founding Villagers members include Pat Jackson and Mary Wayne.
But the 40
anniversary luncheon wasn’t just about gabbing and gobbling up country club fare, the ladies also listened to a presentation about the history of San Diego’s Little Italy by Jim Bregante.
Upcoming events will include a lecture by art historian James Grebl, and a presentation by Douglas Gordon, “Normandy Loves Us … The Untold Story.” The group also plans to travel to Carlsbad to visit the Gemological Institute of America, which is quite fitting as their newsletter is called the “Villagems.”
The Villagers — ages 45 to 90 — is one busy group of women. Each month, they host Adventures in Eating, Fourth Fridays Bridge, Couples Bridge, Games Galore, Sunday Supper Club and other events. Most are ladies-only, but the Villagers’ better halves are invited to Couples Bridge and the Annual Christmas Brunch.
The Villagers also have a book club, the Bookworms, but it isn’t your standard. Instead, it is a traveling library. The ladies report on their latest paperback read (much easier to tote around from meeting to meeting than hardbacks, noted Lee) before swapping.
The Villagers continue to meet on the fourth Wednesday of the month for lunch (September-May) a tradition that began on the fourth Wednesday in March back in 1971. Before the La Jolla Country Club, the South West Yacht Club and the Marine Room hosted the Villagers for their charitable luncheons.
Friendship and philanthropy is the glue that has held the Villagers together for all these years. UC San Diego’s Shiley Eye Center, the San Diego chapter of Meals On Wheels, and Becky’s House are their chief causes, although they adapt according to local organizations in need. During the San Diego fires, for example, the Villagers donated to the Salvation Army.
“Maintaining our friendships has been the most important part of being a La Jolla Villager,” Lee emphasized. “Even while I was playing hooky for all of those years [while teaching], I stayed in touch by playing golf and tennis with my friends from the group.”
• The La Jolla Villagers has a 100-member cap. There are currently 85 members.
• The Villagers are always looking for new friends. The only requirement is to have a La Jolla address.
• Annual dues: $25.
• Contact: Cherry Lee (858) 459-9495.
• Motto: “Friendship, friendship, just the perfect ‘blendship!’
When other friendships have been forgot,
Ours will be hot!”
• Next luncheon: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 27.
• Reservations: $30.
• Contact: Janet Judge (858) 459-5184.