Thursday, August 7, 2014

She's the Queen of the Month

This month, we have selected a local Queen (of two Chapters) and Ambassador Marlene Matthews.  She was born nearby in Santa Ana and lived there until she married and moved all the way to the city of Orange, less than 10 miles away.  After high school she received her A.A. degree from Santa Ana College.  She met her husband, through mutual friends, not long after he returned home from serving four years in the Air Force.  They have now been married 52 years and are parents of two grown daughters and proud grandparents of four grandsons.

Marlene was a stay-at-home mom until her girls reached junior high, at which time she began working as a school photographer and assistant tax accountant.  Her hobbies include water aerobics, thrift store bargain hunting and “as many craft projects as I have time for.”   Among her crafts projects have been several memory albums of RHS conventions.

She first became familiar with The RHS when a close friend joined what turned out to be a closed Chapter.  So Marlene started her own Chapter, describing this as “the best thing I’ve ever done.”  She thoroughly enjoys her “Ramblin’ Roses” gatherings but says the highlights of Red Hatting, for her, are the annual Red Hat Society international conventions.  She has not missed a single one since Dallas in 2004!  Marlene says “I’ve made HUNDREDS of new friends all over the country/world.”  The most prominent of those friends is her “BFF and the Sister I never had,” Queen Marcy LaSalle, who lives way across the U.S. in the state of Michigan.  Their contact began on the RHS website and they first connected in Dallas in 2004.  Now, Marlene and Marcy are known among a great many Red Hatters, as “the M & M Sisters.”  They are both grateful for the “Scarlet Sparkle” that has become their treasured friendship.

When asked her secret for keeping her Chapter strong, Marlene says that she has kept it to 20 Members, allowing them to become very close over the years.  When it came time to enroll them as Supporting Members, Marlene paraphrased a famous statement from JFK (President John Kennedy):  “Ask NOT what the RHS can do for YOU…but what YOU can do to support the organization.”

Marlene showed herself to be a real innovator when she started her second Chapter, “Wenches Gone Wild,” a group of women who enjoy dressing as pirates (in red and purple, of course) and swaggering hither and yon.  Taking their cue from Marlene, lots of other Hatters have also started RHS pirate Chapters.  In fact, they have become so popular that Marlene and Marcy (her First Mate) host an all-pirate private event following the formal close of each International Convention.  If you’re going to the San Francisco convention, keep your eye out for those bawdy ladies sporting eye patches, knives between their teeth, tricorn hats and even (some) with stuffed parrots riding on their shoulders.  And watch out for those blunderbusses too!  Arrrrrrrrrrgh!

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