Carolyn Doughty

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It is safe to say that during the nearly 50 years she worked there, Carolyn Doughty was the Women’s City Club. Her role far exceeded her modest title of "executive secretary."

Doughty’s long and prominent career with the Women’s City Club began soon after her husband William died in 1918. She became a waitress at the downtown club, which focused on philanthropy, education, and the arts. Promoted to hostess within months, her role gradually evolved into executive secretary. The new organization needed administrative guidance and Doughty capably provided it. Thanks to her, members enjoyed excellent food, internationally famous speakers, well-appointed reading rooms, and a spirit of camaraderie.

Carolyn Doughty brought to her job polished social skills, abundant executive ability, and considerable resourcefulness. One incident especially illustrates these talents. The opera star Madame Schumann-Heink, who had arrived to speak at a club luncheon, discovered that her luggage had been lost. She refused to appear in travel attire. Unwilling to disappoint 350 waiting diners, Doughty rushed to the hotel room of the temperamental singer and calmly and persistently persuaded the stubborn star to honor her engagement.

The most notable of Carolyn Doughty’s achievements at the Women’s City Club involved social service. The club began an outpatient clinic at General Hospital, started a mothers’ milk station for premature and ill infants that saved hundreds of lives, supplied thousands of jars of home-canned fruits and vegetables for the needy during the Depression, and operated 12 playgrounds throughout the city.

The Women’s City Club established the Carolyn O. Doughty Fund for Children in September 1943 to honor Carolyn Doughty’s long years of outstanding service. The fund furnished food, clothing, equipment, and other items to local needy children. This fitting tribute continued the generous philanthropic tradition that Carolyn Doughty had so capably nurtured.

After nearly a half century of what she called her "hobby," Doughty retired from the club in 1964. She died in La Jolla, California, in 1975.

Acknowledgement: 

A version of this article previously appeared at http://www.kchistory.org/content/biography-carolyn-doughty-1882-1975-wom...

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