District Twelve History


Altrusa International


Altrusa was founded in Nashville, Tennessee on April 11, 1917. Altrusa became the first national organization of business and professional women. As Altrusa grew around the United States, ten districts were created in geographical areas in 1930. Altrusa became Altrusa International in 1935 when Altrusa organized its first club in Mexico. From that first step over US borders in 1935, Altrusa moved into Puerto Rico, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, India, Korea, Russia, Ukraine, Ireland, Great Britain, Bermuda, Canada, and New Zealand. The first Altrusa representative to the United Nations was appointed in 1946.


The name “Altrusa” was coined from ALT (altruism) and USA (United States) – possibly because of high-running World War I patriotism. Mamie L. Bass, Altrusa’s first national president, was enchanted with the name for its “devotion to the interests of others” concept.

District Twelve


District Twelve actually existed first as District Ten, which was created in 1930 with nine clubs in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana and the province of British Columbia. On October 1, 1955, boundaries were changed, and District Ten officially became the new District Twelve. At that time, the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories were added to District Twelve, while the four Montana clubs were transferred to the new District Ten. Alaska became part of District Twelve in 1958.

The first Governor of District Ten was Belle Melvin Frazier, an elementary school principal from Everett, WA. Belle served as Governor from 1930-1933. The first Governor of the newly created District Twelve was Dr. Loretta M. Miller, a college administrator from Ellensburg, WA, during the 1955-1957 biennium.

In 1956, District Twelve had 1271 members in 41 clubs around the northwest. The highest number of members and clubs in District Twelve was in 1985 with 1732 members in 47 clubs in our district.

The oldest District Twelve clubs still in existence are Spokane, WA (chartered in May, 1934), Pendleton, OR (chartered in October, 1938) and Centralia-Chehalis (chartered in February, 1949). Each of these clubs were part of the original District Ten, along with Olympia, WA, Longview-Kelso, WA, Central Grays Harbor, WA, Albany, OR, Roseburg, OR, and Nanaimo, BC. The first two clubs to charter as new clubs in District Twelve were Lake Washington East, WA in January, 1956, and Corvallis, OR in December 1956.

District Committees in the early years of our district included Projects, Vocational Services, Civil Defense, Geriatrics Council, Safety, Non-Partisan Public Affairs, Membership, Extension, and others.

The first District Ten Conference was held in Everett, WA in May, 1931. The first District Twelve Conference was held in May, 1956 in Tacoma, WA with a theme of “Toward Pinnacles of Service” and had 297 members in attendance.

The first ASTRA club in our district was chartered in October, 2005 as the ASTRA Club of Pendleton, OR. A second ASTRA club chartered in Roseburg in 2008.

From 1955 to the present, we have had many District Twelve Altrusans serve on Altrusa International committees and chair those committees.

We also have been honored to have three District Twelve Altrusans serve as Altrusa International President: Muriel Mawer of Seattle, WA (1973-1975), Barbara Chinn of Eugene, OR (1999-2001) and Ilona Kirby of Longview-Kelso (2013-2015).

Continuing our long and proud heritage of service, District Twelve Altrusans continue to evolve and profoundly impact our communities and our world through service.