The History of Zonta Club of the Black Hills

February 15, 2015 4:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
Our Zonta Club of the Black Hills was chartered on October 12, 1950. Our first President, Helen Jane Gormley-Hare was a local dermatologist. An elaborate dinner was held to commemorate the event, complete with an ice sculpture “Z”. The event was held at the Alex Johnson Hotel, which still stands today in much of its original form.

Early service projects included donation and delivery to public sites the “Dreypacks” which were used to diagnose diabetes. In 1955 two mental detention rooms were equipped at the Bennett-Clarkson Memorial Hospital. In 1960, Father Pire’s ANNE FRANK Village for War Torn Children was given care packages and cash donations from club members. In 1965 cash gifts were presented to the Boys Club Building Fund, and to Girl’s State.

Even up until 1971, when blood glucose monitors were in use, but expensive, club members were still delivering up to 19,000 “Dreypacks” which cost the club $460.00. From the 1971 results, 196 people were deemed to be “reactors” which meant they had diabetes.

Ruth Hanson, a nurse anesthetist, was President of the Club in 1971-1972. She was also the first ZONTIAN of the YEAR in 1976-77. She later became chair of the newsletter and Club Historian. Much of what we know about the club’s history from its charter to now is because of what Ruth saved, stored, and took pictures of during many of our meetings and events. Our newsletter was called the PAHA SAPA ZONTIAN, of which PAHA SAPA is the Sioux Indian word for the Black Hills. The earliest excerpt from the PAHA SAPA ZONTIAN we have on file is dated August 16, 1964, Vol III, No. 3, with Ruth Hanson as the Editor.

In 1970, the club gave money to the Drug Forum, Boy’s & Girl’s State. In 1975, an original program was started to lend hospital equipment to those in need of recovery at home. By 1980, the club was funding Women Against Violence, which is now known as WAVI (Working Against Violence). We continued to sponsor Boy’s & Girl’s State.

In 1982, the needs of our community had grown, so our club began to plan a unique event that would benefit businesses, enhance the lives of working women, while earning funds for those that had projects worthy of our funds. By 1985, we contributed funds to the following: BH Workshop-Special Olympics, WAVI, Hospital Pediatrics, Boy’s & Girl’s State, and a program for Sexually-Abused Children.

In 1986-88 biennium ZI “Double Five” contest our club achieved a gain of 10 new members per biennium, and was awarded a $50 discount price off the registration fee for the 1988 ZI Convention.

So for the past 32 years, our club has used the ZONTA Woman’s EXPO as an annual fundraiser with various themes, formats, and concepts along the way. It continues to involve women-owned and woman oriented businesses and is an effective and exciting way to recruit new members. Our club has fluctuated in membership from 40-80 members over the past 30 years.

We have received numerous awards from Community organizations for gifting them with funds. There is the Certificate of Appreciation from Dr. Manlove, President of Wellspring, Inc. for being “part of the solution in 1996 as he developed a program for troubled youth. We received the WAVI “Spirit of Peace” award in 19… We had pledged $5,000 for 5 years towards the “ZONTA” Board Room in the lower level of their new building.

Between 1990 and 1993 our ZONTA WOMAN’S EXPO was earning the club between $14,000-$19,000 a year after expenses. We started taking applications for the funding locally, in addition to donating to the Amelia Earhart ZI fund and to UNIFEM annually from 1990-1993. In 1998, we had 1000 EXPO attendees, 110 booths at $100 rental fee, and $19,582 in ticket sales.

We have had two past District 12 Governors from our club, Lois Demos and Dorothy “Bunny” Tyler. We also were proud of our District 12, as we have a PAST INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, Amy Grubbs.

Upcoming Community Events

October 14, 2021 11:30 AM • Civic Center Holiday Inn
November 11, 2021 11:30 AM • Civic Center Holiday Inn
January 13, 2022 11:30 AM • Civic Center Holiday Inn
February 10, 2022 11:30 AM • Civic Center Holiday Inn

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Zonta Club of the Black Hills • President: Andrea Hovey
PO Box 8163
Rapid City, South Dakota 57709 • (605) 390-8250 • E-Mail:

Charter No. 0246 • District 12, Area 1 • Organized October 12, 1950
A member of Zonta Club International