Southern Dames organizes in Alabama

Published 4:10 pm Monday, October 18, 2010

Shelby County members of the Southern Dames meet at President Connie Grund’s home in Mountain Brook. (L-R) Anne Gibbons (Vincent), Grund, Marlene Lawley (Helena), and Judith Arthur (Maylene).

In November 1962, a group of women met to form an organization with the common bond of women of Southern ancestry. On April 14, 1963, the National Society of Southern Dames Inc. (NSSDA) was chartered and chose the visually impaired to be their philanthropy project.

In 1981, the NSSDA honored Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf, by building a gazebo on the grounds of Ivy Green, Keller’s home. Keller is an honorary member of the NSSDA and the gazebo will be continually maintained by the Society.

The purpose of the NSSDA is: “to provide the support of the entire Eye Program through contributions for ophthalmic research, donations to Eye Banks, signatures on Eye Donor cards, assistance to the blind or those visually handicapped, and the advancement of knowledge through the study of Southern culture, which includes history, literature, art, music and creative arts.”

Active Southern chapters include Florida (3), Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina (3), Tennessee (3), and Texas. Organizing Chapters are Arizona, Virginia and Alabama.

Recently, an organizing meeting was held at the home of President Connie Grund of Mountain Brook. Other officers are: Vice President Carolyn Drennen (Mountain Brook), Chaplain Annette Smith (Ranburne), Recording Secretary Lucy Willis (Hoover), Corresponding Secretary Shelby Ward (Auburn), Treasurer Libby Clay (Hokes Bluff), Registrar Judith Arthur (Maylene), Historian Anne Gibbons (Mountain Brook and Vincent) and Parliamentarian Rita Reid (Montevallo).

Other Charter members include: Cookie Dorough, Jodie Flournoy, Linda Graham, Martha Greene, Helen Hahn, Martha Sue Howard, Laura Howell, Jane Lawley, Willie Ruth McDaniel, Kathryn Porter, Gail Pugh, Laura Ramsay, Lois Robertson, Phoebe Robinson, Linda Shabo, Karen Shallenberg, Carole Thomas, Davie Williams, Nettie Wilkinson, Sandra Wilson, Martha Young and Jean Vaughn.

Grund spoke at the meeting of the NSSDA’s program to promote the visually impaired. One of the first projects for the chapter will be for the members to distribute Eye Donor cards for eye donation is separate from body donation. The increase of eye donors is one of the primary goals of the Alabama chapter.

The NSSDA states that “Active Members shall be women of Southern Ancestry pertaining to the Southern States of the United States of America.

Each applicant verifying Southern Ancestry shall present an affidavit with seal of notary. Each applicant must include dates for all Southern ancestors listed on application.”

If you are interested in joining the Southern Dames, please contact the Registrar at

Phoebe Donald Robinson can be reached by e–mail at

About Phoebe Donald Robinson

I am President of Donald Real Estate and Ins. Co., Inc., a company that my grandfather , Charles J. Donald, founded in 1925. I am the third generation owner of the business. I am also the Columbiana Columnist for the Shelby County Reporter.

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