Jackie Geddings Gilbreath, president of the Jasper chapter, welcomed those in attendance and began with a quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.
“Well-behaved women rarely make history, well with all due respect to this Harvard University professor, I must disagree and I have history here to prove it,” Gilbreath said. “Our club originated in 1969, but the roots of our organization run much deeper.”
The Pilot Club’s theme this year is “Life is a Hoot with Pilot,” which was adopted from the Alabama Anchor clubs “Life is a Hoot with Anchor.” Alabama Anchor District and Walker High School’s Anchor Club President Hali Lyle was also in attendance Thursday.
The first Pilot Club originated in Macon, Ga., in October 1921 by Elizabeth Leonard. Gilbreath said the name “Pilot” came from the riverboat pilots that were so popular back during that era. In November 1921, shortly after the club was established in Georgia, the first Alabama Pilot Club was started in Montgomery. The convention that was held in Montgomery in 1926 was where Pilot members first received their code of ethics. The first Pilot Club of Jasper started on Dec. 11, 1969.
The first Anchor Club began in 1952. Gilbreath said there are now more than 300 Anchor clubs in six different countries with approximately 10,000 members.
The Anchor Club first started in Walker County at Walker High School in 1973 and has been recognized as Club of the Year several times. Pilot now sponsors clubs at Walker, Carbon Hill, Curry, Dora and Oakman. The clubs were chartered in the various schools beginning with Walker High, then Carbon Hill in 1986, Curry in 2005, and Dora and Oakman during the 2012-2013 school year.
“At this time our five Anchor clubs are working together to plan Walker County’s first ever county-wide prom for special needs students, which is an idea that originated from our new club in Dora. We’re very proud of all of our Anchors and the work they’re doing to make a difference in their schools, their communities and throughout Walker County,” Gilbreath said. “We expect great things from these young people.”
Over the years the Pilot Club has raised money and donated many necessary items; for example, the club donated an ambulance to the Red Cross to be used in WWII, rebuilt a village in France and fed 80,000 Alaskan and Japanese citizens through the Meals for Millions program.
It also established the Miss Walker County Pageant in 1972, which is a preliminary for the Miss Alabama Pageant.
The club continues to stay busy with projects, fundraisers, benefits and events from year to year.
Upcoming events include the Holiday Bazaar and Silent Auction following the Veteran’s Day parade on Nov. 2 and Christmas ornament sales, which will feature the old Walker County Library and the book mobile in honor of Carl Elliot’s 100th birthday.
“As you can see, the Pilot Club of Jasper, the Alabama District of Pilot International and our entire organization are all filled with very well-behaved women who have already made history and women who are right in the middle of making history today,” Gilbreath said. “... I truly do believe that Life is a Hoot with Pilot.”