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The Local Chapter Story

The Northern Black Hills ABWA Chapter as you know it today has been created over the years by a number of women and a lot of hard work. Please read on about the beginning, the middle and the future of the Northern Black Hills Chapter. 

In 1980, Mabel Hayes a member of the Rapid City Chapter contacted Carol Langenfeld Athow by letter to see if women in the Spearfish area wanted to start a chapter. Athow contacted Dorothy Johnson, an ABWA member at large, from Sioux Falls, SD.  These two women were able to spread the word to the Northern Blacks Hills area and they held several meetings at the First National Bank (now Wells Fargo) to determine how many women would be interested in a local chapter.

Eighteen women gathered on June 26, 1980 to form The Northern Black Hills Chapter.  The installation ceremony was held at the Holiday Inn. The chartering chapter was the Mt. Rushmore Chapter of Rapid City with 20 of their members in attendance.

Installation of officers was conducted.  Dorothy Johnson, President:  Carol Langenfeld Athow, Vice President; Sharilyn Reuppel, Recording Secretary; Lila Lecy, Corresponding Secretary; and Iann Schreiner, Treasurer.

Dues were set at .50 per month or $6.00 per year and collected from 25 women to form the chapter.  Chapter meetings where held the third Thursday of each month.

The first scholarship money  raised was $50.00 given by the Mt. Rushmore Chapter on June 26, 1980   The Northern Black Hills Chapter's first scholarship was awarded in May of 1981 for $300.00.  However, the treasury was short $36.74.  Statements were quickly sent for dues and raffle ticket sales began. 

From 1980- 1988, the Chapter focused its efforts on raising money for scholarships.  Money was raised by:

  • Selling Raffles tickets at $1.00 a piece for $100.00 in cash.  Half of the $100.00 went to the winner and half to the chapter treasury. The chapter raised $303.00.
  • In January 1981, plants were sold at  the chapter meeting                                             
  • A White Elephant sale was conducted in June 1981.
  • The Oops Box  was introduced  by Joy Krautschun. Everyone’s names is submitted that belongs to the chapter.  Those in attendance put in 50 cents.  A name is drawn and the proceeds are split 50/50.  An oops card is sent to those not present.  Fran Fremont's name was the first drawn and she wasn’t present.  This tradition is still being done today.
  • In April 1982, the Chapter conducted a Boss’ Night Auction during the annual banquet and business associates event.  Members borrowed items from their bosses office and auctioned them off.  A total of $53.85 was raised at this event.
  • Century Club – each member would sell tickets for $100.00 drawing each month.
  • Another idea was to conduct meetings in chapter members home. Those that did not bring food are charged $5.00 which goes to the Chapter treasury.  This traditions is carried on in 2005.
  • Members cooked and sold bratwurst at Sawdust Days in September 1996.
  • A rummage sale was held in August 1987 raising  $373.78.                                          
  • The chapter sold pepper bellies at the at Home Trade Show concessions in June 1988.             


None of these were large profit makers but they did add up over time.


It was in 1989 when Patty Roadifer and Carol Langenfeld Athow returned from an

ABWA Spring Regional Conference.  They had a new fund raising idea  that would

change the Chapter’s history.   They called this fundraiser the STRUT.


The National Office was promoting the STRUT as a way for chapters to raise money.  It

Was a walking relay race with teams consisting of four women.  The women are dressed

in business attire (blazer with skirt), tennis shoes, and carry a briefcase in one hand and a

Women’s in Business magazine in the other.  Local business are asked to sponsor the



In September 1989, the first annual ABWA STRUT was launched in Spearfish.  We had

15  sponsors and raised  $750.00 .   We realized that fundraiser was fun, healthy, got

people involved in our scholarship efforts, and was great publicity for the Chapter.  It

also meant that the chapter only needed to conduct one fund raiser per year for

scholarships.  In 1990 we raised our first $1000.00 for scholarships.  In 2004, we raised

$3,400.00 for scholarships. Since then, we have given 3-5 $1000 scholarships each year to BHSU students.


The Chapter is not just about fundraising for scholarships.  It also promotes leadership and networking.  At each chapter meeting, there are guest speakers from the surrounding community.  Topics covered include health, finances, legal, work issues, self-help advice, etc.   Members are asked to chair the various committees:  banquet, education/scholarship, membership, newsletter, program, publicity, STRUT.


Members are encouraged to attend the National and Regional ABWA conference each year.  They offer a wealth of information for working women and are a great place to network.


Of course it’s hasn’t been all work in the past 30 years.   Members always find time to have fun and explore friendships through a skip day at the waterslides, Secret Pals, Dirty Santa at Christmas time, Swarm Day parade float, monthly meetings and just being there for one another.


During the past 30 years, members have came and gone but the purpose of the organization never changed.  It can be summed up in three words friendship, leadership, and scholarship.


ABWA’s challenge is one of involvement and the commitment to make a difference.  The reward is the satisfaction that comes from being an active participant in American Best Women’s Association.