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Embracing Life With Gusto & Fabulous Red Hats
by Dick Kauffman


December 15, 2003
Monday - 1:20 am

Ketchikan, AK - Ladies with lacy, frilly red hats and feathers were aplenty at the Red Hats Society's Christmas party Sunday at Queen Mother Kay Gundersen's home. Walking into a room filled with a sea of red hats can be almost heart-stopping for an old man such as this writer, and the variety of purple outfits and frills played tricks on my old eyes until I adjusted to the fact that I had been privileged to enter the domain of the ladies of the Red Hat Society.

Members of The Rain Drop Chapter of the Red Hat Society pose for a group photograph.
Members of the Rain Drop Chapter:Kay Gundersen, Queen Mother; Lynn Clay, Vice Mother; Sharon Monrean, Social Butterfly; Kim Kondzela, Hystarian; Nancy Kaste, Sergeant in Gloves; Harriett Zerbetz, Anti-Parliamentarian; Licha Kelly-King - Email Female and Banker; Evelyn Bullock; Cherri Peavey; ; Imo Bylund; Elaine Huddle; Lois Munch; Marian Ranniger; Susan Stone; Barbara Mestas; Joan Nugent; Stormie Robinson; Ann Thompson and Carol Johnson... Photo by Dick Kauffman

The Red Hat Society is an organization that is taking the United States and Canada by storm. The Red Hat Society gets its name from a California woman who dared to wear a "funky" red hat and a purple dress in public after reading Jenny Joseph's poem "Warning" which celebrates the aging process. Jenny Joseph's poem has been the inspiration for more than 12,000 Red Hat Society chapters throughout the United States - including Ketchikan. The only requirement to be a member of the Red Hat Society is that you wear a purple dress and a red hat to dinner and be ready to embrace middle age with style.

And Ketchikan's Rain Drop Chapter of the Red Hat Society members are no different when it comes to red hats and purple dresses! These elegant and vibrant Ketchikan ladies dare to mix their reds and purples in a variety of shades and styles and dare to go for the gusto together! And underneath all the frivolity, these ladies adorned in these breathtaking red hats share a bond of affection, forged by common life experiences and a genuine enthusiasm for wherever life takes them next.

Members of The Rain Drop Chapter of the Red Hat Society pose for a group photograph.
Photo by Dick Kauffman

Ketchikan's Rain Drop Chapter is the first Red Hat Society in Alaska and was founded by Kay Gundersen, now known as the Queen Mother, and Licha Kelly-King. The Rain Drop Chapter currently has 19 members.

Sixteen of the nineteen members attended Sunday's Christmas party. However, the ladies of Ketchikan's Rain Drop Chapter of the Red Hat Society do meet on a regular basis for tea in their red hats and purple dresses, of course. These ladies embrace life and celebrate the milestone of turning 50 (not the millstone!). Obviously for the observer, fun is foremost and rules are few. In fact according to Ketchikan's Rain Drop Chapter of the Red Hat Society, there is pride in the 'disorganization' of the organization. Why not? After all, life is too short to be taken seriously so go for the gusto together!

One chorus taken from the Red Hat Society's song provides a description of this lively group:

Now the way I understand it,
They don't want to change the world.
They just like being together,
They just like being girls.
They like good conversation.
They just like having fun
With a purple dress and a red, red hat
For each and every one.

In the spirit of fun, here's an excerpt from the Rain Drop Chapter's version of the Night Before Christmas:

... But she seems to be happy and we get along,
If she'd just quit singing the Red Hatter song.
All about how she's been such a good wife.
And now it's her turn for the Red Hatted life!
With a tear in my eye I patted his shoulder
And said, " I know buddy, they're nuts when they're older."...

They do have the right idea. Enjoy yourselves! Whether it's celebrating life by wearing red and purple or finding comfort in togetherness both bring happiness - and isn't finding happiness what it's all about.



Photo Gallery


The elegant table setting....


Evelyn Bullock and other Red Hat Society ladies enjoy the opportunity to chat...


Red Hat Society ladies are always ready to share a smile.
Kay Gundersen, Queen Mother is pictured on the right.


Elegant ladies of the Red Hat Society...


An original hat! Sharon Monrean, Social Butterfly...


Members who are under 50-years-of-age wear pink hats. Licha Kelly-King pictured on the left is Rain Drop Chapter's Email Female and Banker
and on the right is Kim Kondzela, the group's Hystarian.





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