Twenty-five years ago, Kathy Jo Schweitzer became a member of the local Kiwanis Club of Port Clinton. As the advisor of Port Clinton High School Key Club, she had no idea that her name would go down in history. But it certainly did, as she was recently honored at the Kiwanis International Convention in New Orleans, with the KI Legion of Honor Award. As a Distinguished Past-President, Schweitzer has become one of the first women (July 7, 1987 to Sept.30, 1988) in the world to join the all-men service organization and to be invited to this celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Women in Kiwanis.
It was a long road before Schweitzer, or any other woman, could become a Kiwanis member. While amendments to allow women as “official” members continued to fail year after year, that didn’t stop women from taking on numerous roles. One woman regularly attended a California Kiwanis club meeting for 58 years, but wasn’t allowed to be a member; she played the piano during the meetings. Women not only helped as musicians, but also were the center of many Kiwanis social events. Ladies’ nights became popular in the early years, when men could invite their wives/significant others to experience Kiwanis fellowship.