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Moose Women celebrate half a century

Three of the Women of the Moose's charter members are shown. From left are: Charter Members; Donna Wilcoxson, Rose Leary and Betty Rustad. 1 / 3
A group of Women of the Moose members (including charter members) is shown at their 50th anniversary celebration. Back from left: Penny Himes, Rose Leary, Kenneye Vorwald. Middle from left: Audrey Denninger, Yvonne Huppert, Ann Thompson, Marion Vorwald, Liz Spittle, Peggy Ptacek, Kathy Croes, Chris Rowan. Front from left: Sue Duven, Betty Rustad, Rosee and Isaiah.2 / 3
Tim Himes in jail and "Sheriff" Duane Vorwald, were some of the cast of the Murder Mystery event that the Women of the Moose held to celebrate their 50th anniversary. (Submitted photo)3 / 3

One local group celebrated its 50th anniversary recently with a "Murder in Margarita" mystery. The River Falls chapter of the Women of the Moose staged the mystery event at the Moose Lodge, where the group also honored its anniversary with a dinner catered by the Loyal Order of the Moose (LOOM) men's organization.

Several original charter members were special guests at the celebration: Donna Wilcoxson, Rose Leary and Betty Rustad.

Charter Women of Moose members who weren't able to attend included: Ped Pechacek, Alice Spear and Evelyn Young.

"If it weren't for these wonderful ladies and those that have passed on we would not have such a wonderful group of members," said Women of the Moose member Kenneye Vorwald.

The Women of the Moose in River Falls has done a lot in the past 50 years.

"It's really amazing how fast the years have gone," said charter member Betty Rustad. "And we're still doing good things."

Rustad said she has many good memories from the past 50 years of membership. One of her favorites was a "kitchen band" the group formed years ago.

"We went to hospitals and we had a piano player, gal twirled a baton," Rustad said. "We went to the veterans hospital a couple times and that was a lot of fun, and it was very memorable."

The group also made homemade mincemeat, played cards and attended various charities and local organizations, many of which the group still supports today.

Those include:

• The River Falls Community Food Pantry

• The River Falls High School senior class party

• The Sharing Family's program at St. Bridget's at Christmas

• The mitten tree at WESTConsin credit union

• Mooseheart, and Moosehaven, charities founded by Moose international

Rustad said the members also support each other when needed.

The Women of the Moose also support Moose's international's charities — MooseHeart and MooseHaven.

MooseHaven is a retirement community. MooseHeart is a residential child care facility.

"I actually had a chance to go to MooseHeart the Child City," Vorwald said. "It was a wonderful experience to see the children, what their living and schooling environment is and how it helps them to succeed and go on with a college scholarship."

Where does all this money come from?

"We have bake sales, like when they have a breakfast down (at the Moose Lodge), the women have bake sales," Rustad said. "The women have fish fries and we get money from that."

And of course, members pay dues. And they raffle off quilts.

They also hold a large garage sale every April, at the Moose Lodge, 620 Clark St.

During River Falls Days every July, they hold a Bingo Event at the Lodge.

Membership dues also help support MooseHeart and MooseHaven.

The Women of the Moose meet twice a month. Though the groups are separate, they will have joint meetings with the men and cooperate with their activities.

Vorwald said the LOOM men own the lodge building, but as the Women of the Moose are affiliated with the local LOOM group, they have use of the building for events and meetings. However, as the Lodge building is also rented out for other events, the Women of the Moose check the calendar before scheduling events.

The men and women meet twice a month as a group. They go over the calendar and any new or old business.

Whenever the Women of the Moose hold an event that's open to the public, they send off a form to receive approval from Moose International.

Rustad said she hopes for good things for the future of the Women of the Moose.

"I hope we can get younger kids to start coming," she said. "I know there's so many organizations that are having the same problem.

"Like the kids are so busy now and a lot busier than what we were at say 19 and 20. I just hope that we can keep going with our organization and I hope that we can interest younger people to come into our organization. That would be great."

Vorwald said membership is $30 per year plus a one-time signup fee for new members.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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