It’s December 1918 – peace was declared only 4 weeks previously, bringing to a close The Great War.
A “Ladies Night” is being held by the Buffalo Kiwanis Club. It is very cold with snow on the ground, but inside the Ballroom of the Hotel Statler, decorated in the colours of the Kiwanis Club, the atmosphere is dense with good humour, celebration and Christmas cheer. At many tables are seated jolly men and their beautifully gowned escorts, the ladies, in whose honour the festivities are given. The music of the orchestra is almost silenced beneath the merry and hearty laughter and witty remarks by Kiwanians, in ‘very friendly and appropriate slams’ invented for the Occasion.
However, at one of the tables sat an appreciative group of five women – all active in business in the Buffalo community. They understood what this gathering meant to the men. The very closeness each one felt to the other was fully noted and they admired the fact that, even with business cares and problems, they knew how to play. As the evening progressed, full of excitement, the thought came to these FIVE, how splendid if WOMEN, business and professional, could enjoy the same spirit of friendliness in associations with each other and in an organization of their own. So out of this belief, a purpose predominated and with VISIONS and DREAMS to make this a REALITY, one month later a covenant was signed by this little group of FIVE.
The leader of the group was Mrs. Wanda Frey Joiner, the General Manager of the Buffalo Paint and Glass Company, who had accepted her invitation to join the Kiwanis Ladies Night. She was 36 years old.
Wanda’s beginnings were far from ordinary and she was no stranger to challenges. Born on September 4, 1882 in the seaside resort of Odessa, Russia to parents of German heritage, her father died before she was born. Her mother was Eugenia Frey, the daughter of the famous German poet Ludwig Koehler, and her father, Alexander Frey, was a graduate of the Imperial College in St. Petersburg. This small, fatherless family then had to wait nine long years for Ivan, Wanda’s brother, and Eugenia, her mother, to be released by the Russian government to leave Odessa and to be granted entry into the United States of America. It was their hope to make a new home in Buffalo N.Y. with their aunt. Finally, at nine years old, Wanda arrived in her new country.
Wanda knew that her future was in her hands, so she worked hard. She was endowed with a keen sense of knowing “what she wanted” and “going after it”. She chose the most promising opportunity for advancement by accepting an entry-level position at the Buffalo Paint and Glass Company and worked hard to make her way up the company ladder. Then, in 1910, wedding bells rang out when Wanda Frey married Robert Parks Joiner. Shortly thereafter she left her occupation behind to begin her new life as a wife. Sadly, Robert Joiner died a short three years later. About the same time, the Buffalo Paint and Glass suffered a heavy loss and sought out Wanda Frey Joiner to re-join them to sort and settle their many claims. Upon completing this work, her time with the company once again concluded and Wanda moved to California to join her brother. Not long after her move though, she received a very flattering offer to return to the Buffalo Company once again, but this time as its General Manager – the position she held when she attended the Kiwanis Christmas Party.
With the death of the Buffalo Paint and Glass Company’s President, Wanda was offered that position, which she accepted and accomplished with great integrity and recognition. At the same time, Wanda was busy guiding her new international classified executive and professional business women’s service organization.
Upon retiring, Wanda moved back to California and enjoyed her life living among her many Quota friends. Wanda Frey Joiner passed away in June, 1968, aged 86 years – a Quotarian for 50 years! Her Quota legacy lives on and the beautifully embroidered black shawl which was brought by her mother from Russia in 1891, is now framed for posterity and hangs on the wall of the Executive Director’s office as a lasting reminder of her heritage, her achievement, and her gift to every Quota community.
With thanks to Past International President Helen Turk – “A Symphony of Life” the story of Wanda Frey Joiner – Founder of Quota.
January…… the Original FIVE.
Want to print and distribute these messages to your club? Click HERE to access the printable PDF archive of this series.