South county club rolls out red carpet

Welcome Club wants to boost membership

By BILL MILLIGAN

One hears an audible buzz of conversation upon entering Bartolino’s South restaurant on South Lindbergh Boulevard as the South County Welcome Club meets for lunch on the second Tuesday of each month.

Stepping through a sliding door, the buzz grows louder. The conversation comes from 30 or so women who seem to have known each other for some time. Amid the buzz, one picks up bits of conversation.

“We had a gal that was really rambunctious and she would organize white-elephant sales,” a woman at one table said. “I really enjoyed them. She would get up and auction things off with all the patter in between. She passed away. We really miss her.”

“Did she?” someone else at the table said.

“Aunt Joseph? No. I don’t know,” another said.

“Well, anyway, she’s not coming anymore,” the first said. “Maybe she can’t come.”

“What’s going on over here?”

“This guy wants to know what we’ve been doing for the last 40 years.”

“Oh, God.”

The club began as a committee that welcomed new residents to south county, but quickly changed in the late 1960s when they learned the umbrella welcoming organization’s bylaws prohibited membership after a year of active participation.

“Once they were members for a year, they had to leave,” said Joanne Gunther, who has served as club president since 2007. “The women didn’t want to break up, so they started this club. They did a pretty good job, set up a constitution and bylaws. It kept us going for all these years.”

Today, the club has 39 active members.

When the bylaws were established in 1967, membership was limited at 100.

“Like a lot of clubs, membership has dwindled,” Gunther said. “We try and keep it going because everyone enjoys it.”

Women interested in joining or visiting a luncheon to test the waters, are asked to call Gunther at (314) 892-6865 or Membership Chairman Elise Das at (314) 894-0146 for more information.