The History of the Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts, Alumane Club
The Pioneer Valley Alumnae Club was originally established on February 19, 1910, and was chartered in 1912 under the name of “Western Massachusetts Alumnae Club”. Founders included Vermont Beta Grace Goodhue Coolidge, who eventually became First Lady when her husband, Calvin Coolidge, was elected President of the United States in 1923.
In 1954 the club was chartered under the name of “Greater Springfield, Massachusetts, Alumnae Club” and rechartered in 1960. More recently, Patricia Noonan Lowell served as the Club’s President during the 1990s. Patty was incredibly dedicated and was an active participant at biennial Pi Phi Conventions. She also received the Evelyn Peters Kyle Angel Award. Lenore Bernashe became President in Year 2000 when Patty retired due to health reasons. In 2005, Lenore stepped aside to become the club’s Vice President and new leadership took over the office of President. The club’s name was changed to “Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts, Alumnae Club” in 2005.
The club may be small, but it is made up of enthusiastic members. The Pioneer Valley Alumnae Club is pleased to hold six or seven events per year. The club was recognized in 2010 for the club’s literacy campaign. The club teamed up with the Granby, Massachusetts, Girl Scout Troops #40097 and #40093, helping the girls decorate bookplates that were later submitted to Pi Phi’s Headquarters.
The Pioneer Valley Alumnae Club has an ongoing partnership with the Providence Ministries for the Needy (Margaret’s Pantry, Holyoke, Massachusetts) by donating food items. Additionally, they are pleased to support Breast Cancer Research with the “Rays of Hope” walk each year, and they will continue the club’s support for the Ronald McDonald House with the club’s aluminum tabs donations.
- Grace Goodhue Coolidge was a founder and first President of the alumnae club. Meetings often took place at her home on Massasoit Street.
- One of the club’s most distinguished members is Wisconsin Beta Jane Kaltenbach Townsend, a retired biology Professor Emerita at Mount Holyoke College. Jane was a loyal part of the Marine Biological Laboratory community since 1958, which was also the year she joined Mount Holyoke. Over the years, she brought many Mount Holyoke undergraduates to the Marine Bilogical Laboratory community, many of whom stayed in her Woods Hole home. In 2005, the Dean of Faculty at Mount Holyoke wrote: “It is with particular pleasure to note that biology Professor Emerita, Jane Townsend, who allegedly retired from the College more than a dozen years ago, continues to both teach and publish at an enviable clip. She has published 16 papers since 1993, such as ‘Glycoconjugate localization in larval and adult skin of the bullfrog’ (Journal of Morphology), and ‘Immunocytochemical detection of integrins alpha 3 and beta 1 in allographs of the marine sponge’ (Biological Bulletin), both in 2004. Jane, they congratulate and thank you!” Jane now resides at the Holyoke Healthcare Center where she enjoys many regular visitors, including those Pi Phis whom she has touched over the years with her kindness and terrific sense of humor.