In 1932, Amelia Earhart was President of the Ninety-Nines, International Organization of Women Pilots, and membership was growing in California. There were twelve members in California.
The Southwest Section governor, Gladys O’Donnell, sent Margaret Perry Cooper (Manser) to the Bay Area to suggest to the local members that two chapters be formed in the state. These new chapters would allow members to work together closer to further aviation in California.
With a majority approval, the Bay Cities Chapter was formed on March 2, 1932 at the Hotel Whitcomb in San Francisco. Initially, the Bay Cities Chapter covered the geographic area of northern California, northern Nevada, and Utah. The other original 99s chapter in the Southwest Section was the Los Angeles Chapter.
The first meeting of the Bay Cities Chapter was held on March 1, 1932, with all nine charter members in attendance. A few days letter, the newly elected Chairman, Ruth Marshall, wrote the following in a letter to Southwest Section Governor Margaret Cooper: “You would have been happy to hear how well we all got along together. I only hope that the additional members will enter into the spirit of the Club as the nine girls present Tuesday evening did. It is certainly gratifying to me to see them all together—it is a thing I have worked for and dreamed of for over a year. I feel genuinely grateful for the honor they have given me in voting for me as their leader up here.”
At the second anniversary of the chapter, Lillian Anderson wrote: “Each face in our little club unit is a distinct personality; not the color of the hair or the brogue of the tongue, but the person within. And wherever there are varied personalities thrown together, one personality gives to another that which that other needs and takes what it needs in return, enriching both.
This give and take has silently occurred through various happenings, various occasions. Happy hangar dances; meetings and hearing celebrities; hearing worthwhile instructive speakers; a sudden tragic death with its attending never-to-be-forgotten sad funeral—blue and white flowers, planes flying overhead dropping flowers, while a casket is being lowered. And a beautiful wedding, with veil, bridesmaid, engraved invitations, guests, and everything. Cross-sections of life as varied and as beautiful as the faces of an uncut stone. So, on this, our second anniversary, we can look back with pride, sadness, joy and pleasure. We haven’t missed a single thing!”
This spirit, as shared by Ruth and Lillian, is our heritage. From the very beginning, these nine charter members knew the value of coming together in fellowship, and they contributed greatly to the future success of the Bay Cities Chapter.
From the original nine charter members, over the years Bay Cities Chapter has grown to its current membership of 42 members (plus the chapter has spawned off numerous other chapters over the past seventy-six years). The Bay Cities Chapter current membership includes the Ninety-Nines International Past President Joyce Wells and four past recipients of the 99s Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship (all four are airline pilots). Of course, the five student pilots in the chapter and all the other diverse members are an integral part of the fellowship and fun of the Bay Cities Chapter.
Original content September 2008