Cultivating culture

Cultured minds dug their hands in deep decades ago to beautify the landscape with shrubbery and enrich minds with books.

Columbiana Culture Club members discovered a wealth of these accomplishments as they set out to commemorate a major milestone.

“We had no idea how much fun we were going to have; we had no idea how much we were going to learn about our club in celebrating its 100 years,” said past president Judy Quick.

Culture Club and dozens of community members gathered May 13 at the Columbiana United Methodist Church to revel in these accomplishments.

“We’re so proud to host this gathering of the cream of the crop of Columbiana,” said Don Wright, pastor of CUMC.

Culture Club members were the first to usher in many young families moving to the Columbiana area in the 1940s and 50s. Longtime member Mary Suttle can attest to this.

“They were the ones to welcome us in to Columbiana,” Suttle said. “They really made us feel at home.”

Current President Linda Cundiff said the group supports local Relay for Life events, provides scholarships, looks for new ways to assist the school system and supplements the library budget.

“The history of the Culture Club is really like a mini history of this area of Alabama,” Cundiff said. “Many times way back when, they would get together to play bridge and sing but after the war years it really changed more to community-oriented work.”

The club motto is and always has been “Higher Things.”

The women who organized the club, Mrs. Purdue and Mrs. Lightcap aspired to learn new things, Quick said.

They spawned the lending of books and later the creation of the Columbiana Library, provided scholarships to local students, supported soldiers during wartime, encouraged local artists and made sure the city always looked its best.

Jane Wright is president of the Alabama Federation of Women’s Clubs. She said the anniversary is unique.

“I think it’s a wonderful celebration for them,” Wright said. “A lot of clubs just want to be a social club, they don’t want to do the community service aspect. To have three wonderful clubs in town working together is so unusual.”

Anne Davis joined Culture Club in 1957.

“I think they have always done something to help our community,” Davis said. “It was never just a social club that met to have a good time. We always looked for members that were civic-minded.”

The group sells pecans and cookbooks each year to fund their projects. The group also raises funds to support its efforts through dues and individual contributions.

Culture Club 100th anniversary books, compiled by Beverly Hall, are on sale for $15.