REX DERR, Director of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Agency, and
former Mayor of Olympia and former Olympia Kiwanian, and past (year 2000)
Thurston County Citizen of the Year, spoke at the October 20, 2008, meeting
of the Olympia Kiwanis Club. Rex reminded us that is has been ONLY 21 years
since women were allowed to join - officially - as members of Kiwanis.
In 1968, when the Kiwanis International Convention first addressed the issue
of allowing women to become members of Kiwanis, only 3 clubs voted in favor
of this modern idea.
In 1982, when the Kiwanis International Convention again addressed the issue
of allowing women to become members of Kiwanis, about 33% of the club
present were in favor of the idea.
In May of 1987 the U S Supreme Court ruled against Rotary International and
said that Rotary must accept women into membership.
In 1987, when Rex Derr, as the current president of the Olympia Kiwanis
Club, moved at the International Convention to allow women to join Kiwanis,
40 Kiwanis Clubs in 16 states were openly violating Kiwanis International
rules by allowing women as members of their local clubs. After much debate,
and some amendments to insure women would be allowed into Kiwanis clubs
throughout the world, the motion passed.
This was after Kiwanis affiliated clubs had already allowed women into
membership. In 1973, Circle K (colleges and universities) opened its
membership to women. In 1977, Key Clubs (high schools) allowed women as
Several members joined Rex Derr in his presentation, by rising and speaking
about their recollections of club committee meetings, board meetings, and
general club meetings debating the issue.
Since 1987, and even before 1987, women have generously contributed to their
communities through Kiwanis and continue to do so.