Continuing our Centennial Story…

1937 news article

Did You Know That The Women of Tacoma Started FTJ?

In the early 1900’s in Tacoma there had been talk of the need for a home where men and women in the “sunset slope” might find comfort, company and freedom from anxiety. Leadership to fulfill this need came from Mrs. John Q. Mason, president of P.E.O. Chapter C. Focusing on Philanthropy and Education, this was the first Chapter (group) of an International Organization formed in Tacoma. Fifteen women who had faith and vision were appointed to go forth and lead the way.

Tacoma Old People’s Home

Steps were taken in 1922 to incorporate the Old People’s Home. An inaugural board was chaired by Mrs. Virginia Mason.  It included the Mayor C.M. Riddell and Mr. H. E. Williams, chairman of the county commissioners, and 15 women leaders from Chapter C of the P.E.O. was chaired by Mrs. John Q Mason. They leased a home for 3 years, which became Restholme, and were joined by the late Mrs. J. P. Weyerhaeuser and Mrs. Charles H. Jones. Some $1000 checks came in as did contributions to furnishings and the first 14 residents before Christmas 1922. An endowment fund was formed by Mrs. Jones and others and was used for expenses.

Circles Formed

More financial aid was needed, and all over town Restholme Circles were founded, prototypes of Orthopedic Guilds, Ladies’ Auxiliaries, Junior League and Church Circles. This was an idea attributed to Mrs. W. H. Miller (P.E.O.) to form Circles of 20 person each, all working toward one objective: raising $5000 each year for the Home through big annual bazaars and many other fundraising efforts. From 12 Circles in 1922, the Circles grew to 29, and over fifty thousand dollars would be raised for the Franke Tobey Jones Home in the years ahead.

A Cabinet of Circle presidents gathered monthly, meeting in the Tacoma Hotel, YWCA, Broadmoor, or University Union Club. Reports were given of fundraising efforts from each Circle president followed by a lunch and usually bridge tables. Circles continued to raise money and meet monthly to hear updates on changes and the needs of the Franke Tobey Jones Home. They helped to provide laundry facilities and a new refrigerator when needed. A Motor Squad committee was set up to provide needed rides. A granddaughters’ group was formed that brought visits and activities to the residents. Teens from Stadium High school also interacted with residents. Decorating a Christmas tree and providing gifts became an annual project for the Circles.

$60,000 Contributed By Circles

Over about a 20-year time span, the Circles contributed to the operating expenses of the Home a total sum of approximately $60,000 (nearly $1.1 million in 2024 purchasing power).  The residents, staff and Board members were always deeply grateful for the women of Tacoma’s dedication to Franke Tobey Jones, and, indeed, their financial support was relied upon for years to help keep the Home financially sound.  As the years rolled by and the Circle members grew older, and as other means of support became available, the number dwindled until in 1950 there were only five Circles left averaging 12 members. The work that was started by P.E.O. sisters on faith and love and carried forth by many women in Tacoma who were active in Circles is now reflected in the growth, beauty and care provided at Franke Tobey Jones.

Photo Caption:
February 5, 1937, Tacoma News Tribune: Beloved among Tacoma organizations is the Franke Tobey Jones Home, made possible through the affectionate regard of the late Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Ada Gibson, the first and only superintendent of this place, which has always held the devoted support of a large group of Northwesterners. Since its inception, the home has been a main object to a group of Tacoma women who have interested many others to form Circles to serve its welfare. These Circles center their work in a cabinet, which has just elected officers for the new term. The camera caught these leaders at the Home this week picturing them with Mrs. Gibson (extreme right). Mrs. A. W. Wormwood, vice president, was kept at home by illness and other officers absent were Mrs. C. J. Allgood, Mrs. A. E. Cromwell and Mrs. Harold Bird. Pictured (left to right) are Mrs. W. L. Brown, treasurer; Mrs. E. C. Cornell, chairman of t finance; Mrs. L. L. Thompson, organizer; Mrs. Clifford Spike, president, and Mrs. Gibson. Photography by J.R. Eyerman.

Categories: General