Our History

Our History

Soroptimist International of Stuart was chartered in the fall of 1954. It is an association of executive business and professional women. Planning for the club began when Helen Noble Burgess and Jane Chaney, representing Soroptimist International of Ft Pierce, called on Rosaleen Murray, manager of Stuart Chamber of Commerce, asking for names of qualified business and professional women. From a list of thirty prospects, Beatrice Pittman and Anita Morrison took over leadership and gathered a group to meet at the Chamber of Commerce Building in September, 1954.

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In November 1954, the club with 20 members, was chartered at a dinner at the Stuart Hotel on US 1 just south of the Roosevelt Bridge, site of Mullet Square. (Mullet Square is no longer in existence due to construction of the new Roosevelt Bridge-11/1/1997). Buena Meade and Margery Silvers of the sponsoring Ft Pierce club officiated. Lillian Armstrong Dassori, who was then County Supervisor of Schools, was the charter president and Anita Morrison, vice president. Luncheon meetings were held twice monthly in the Stuart Hotel dining room where the cost of a complete meal was $1.00.

The first project was saving the Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge on Hutchinson Island and its establishment as a museum. This was the last remaining of 10 Florida shelters for shipwrecked sailors. A Martin County Historical Society was formed in 1955 through instigation of the Soroptimist Club; and Martin County assumed

ownership of the museum. Val Clear, brother of Soroptimist Zola Swarthout, was the first museum director and literally “beat the bushes” to collect historical items to depict the past of this Indian River area so important to Florida history.

Past Presidents

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