A spot of tea, an afternoon of conversation and a chance to put on a beautiful dress and frilly hat brought together women — grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, friends, alumni — for a good cause Saturday at the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts, where the Westminster College Woman’s Board hosted its 97th Silver Tea.
“It’s a lovely place for ladies to be able to dress up, and it’s fun to see the kids,” said Noreen Rouillard, a two-time past board president and member of the college’s Class of ‘51. “It’s a fun tradition.”
The board was established on May 9, 1905, and held its first Silver Tea 11 years later at the home of “Mrs. Harbert W. Reherd.” The event netted $32.50.
The board’s goal was to help what was then a small number of women students succeed, said Corrine Riekhof, current board president. The initial teas were designed to educate those students about “lady culture.”
In time, the board’s mission expanded. In 1935, it held a rummage sale to raise money — collecting $169.99 — to provide a scholarship for an orphan boy. There was a period when the board sold aprons to raise funds to help students, but the teas are now focused on that goal. Money comes from tickets to the event and proceeds of a silent auction and sales of baked goods, flowers and plants, and a share of sales from vendor booths.
Today, the annual affair helps fund at least nine student scholarships. The board also raises money for other causes at the college, such as an endowed science chair and helping cover travel costs for a college choir, Riekhof said.
For the past eight years, Lottie Felkner has attended the tea with a daughter, daughter-in-law and granddaughters. Felkner, 86, is a professor emeritus of nursing and was the first director of the nursing program established at Westminster College in 1948 in collaboration with St. Mark’s Hospital.
Granddaughter Tayna Felkner, 26, said she enjoys seeing how many people know and greet her grandmother each year. Plus,”It’s fun to get all dressed up and be fancy,” said Tanya, who was there with sister Trisha. “Both Trish and I have done theater, so it’s like playing a part.”
Tanya Felkner said this year she modeled her look — a black dress with caplet sweater, long, black mesh gloves and a lace and feather hairpiece — after Miss Ethel Chauvenet in the play “Harvey.”
It was the third year that Kori Sandberg of Salt Lake City attended the tea with her grandmother, which she said offers them a chance to celebrate Mother’s Day and indulge in a fancy high tea.
And though she is just 6, it was Olney Crofoot’s third time at the tea, too.
“I like it,” said Olney, who came with her mother and grandmother and wore a feather and faux diamond hairpiece with a bright pink, white and black sundress for the occasion. Of all the delicacies she’d tried Saturday, Olney didn’t hesitate when asked which one she liked best.
“The red velvet cake,” she said.