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Our History



In 1947 Nettie Brokaw of Camano Island had a dream. She called her friends together to discuss forming a Republican Club on Camano.  Mrs. Victor DeBaer, President of the Everett Women’s Republican Club, was on hand to offer her assistance and information on the advantages of belonging to an organized group and the importance of having laws and pending laws explained thoroughly so that women could differentiate between fact and propaganda.

 All present were in favor of forming a club and the Camano Island Women’s Republican Club (CIWRC) was born – chartered under the bylaws of the Washington Federation of Republican Women (WFRW).  The first elected officers were President Marie Ruggles, Vice-President Helen Bates and Secretary Buelah Bray.  They served 1947-1948.


Helen Knapp of Maple Grove was the first membership chairman.  The club started with 19 members and within 60 days had increased by 60%.  In six months, membership totaled 41.  Dues were $1 per year.  There were four precincts on Camano at that time – Utsalady, Livingston Bay, Mabana, and Camano.  Now there are seven.

The Club was, and still is, affiliated with the Washington Federation of Republican Women, and,  by January 1948, the club spread its wings and joined the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW).


The club was very active raising money through dinners, plant sales, white elephant sales, and bake sales. The Sunshine fund was financed by a penny drill at the end of each meeting.  Some of the meetings were designated as “work meetings” where candidate literature was addressed and mailed and letters written favoring or expressing dissatisfaction with bills before the legislature.  Members spent time at each meeting discussing current events and often entertained many guests and candidates for State and National office.  They kept a scrapbook of Club activities and a “question and suggestion” box for members and guests to submit topics they’d like to hear more about.


In 1952 Marie Ruggles lost her home in a fire that destroyed everything in it, including her husband and a filing cabinet full of Club files.  Marie subsequently moved to Seattle and gave up politics when she became a Federal employee.


Despite this setback, the club carried on, supporting candidates and the community through various fundraising events, including rummage sales, luncheon and card parties, style shows, home tours, and “Round Up” dinners in Stanwood.  In November 1956, for the first time in the history of the Island County Republican Central Committee, a woman, Maxine Geisel of Camano Island, was elected to handle the reins.  In 1969 the Club hosted a dinner for Governor Evans.


Over the years the Club was kept alive by dedicated volunteers actively pursuing Republican goals. They earned a NFRW Diamond Award for outstanding Women’s Republican Clubs on two different occasions.  Beginning in 1981, the Club sponsored the Camano Home Tour which proved to be a popular fundraiser as well as great public relations for Republican women in the area.  The last tour was in September, 2010. 


In 2015 the Club won an NFRW Silver Achievement Award and another in 2017 for their participation in six  National program areas - Club Function, for example: meetings, activities, a, participation in state and national events; Membership Development, education and support;  Program, including recruitment, membership handbook, speakers; Leadership Development training; Campaign Activities – candidate support, conventions, forums;  Community Relations – projects, publicity, and events; Caring for America -  involving adopting  a project to support members of the community; and Education/Literacy Programs – supporting both local and NFRW scholarship programs.


One of the highlights of CIWRC activities is the annual WFRW Day at the Capitol where 100 or more Republican ladies in red converge upon the Capitol building during the legislative session to meet and listen to their representatives in government.  Another is our annual Tea membership drive and fundraiser.  Still others are Caring for America projects benefiting our community and our service men and women. For example, the 2014 Christmas Stocking Donation to Housing Hope Teenagers, the 2015 American Hero Quilts, the Camano Island Women’s Expo, the Club 70th Anniversary celebration Potluck Picnic and Rally at the Beach featuring local candidates, and a monetary donation to Lincoln Hill High School for homeless teens. The 2017 USO fundraiser netted $8,870 to support over 800,000 service members and their families from Washington and Oregon who travel through the USO NW HQ at the Sea-Tac travel center.


Thanks to our current Vice-President, the Club remained active despite COVID-19 restrictions.  Beth Munson, CIWRC President who served from 2019-2021, found offices for the GOP Headquarters in Stanwood where the Club was able to hold regular meetings and offer support to state and local candidates.


Today WE’RE BACK and welcome you all to join us in the cause of good government through education and political activities.  Our motto is WIN – with Women in Numbers we can make a difference!

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