A Brief History of Rangerettes Forever
by Jeanne D. Hale, Founder
Director of Public Relations, 1972-1985
In the fall of 1979, Rangerettes Forever was born. Its parent organization, the Kilgore College Rangerettes, came into being in 1940, the brainchild of our beloved Gussie Nell Davis. Not much thought was given to an offspring - even as late as 1965 when a large group of former team members celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Rangerettes.
However, in 1979 when the Rangerette museum was moving forward, a large number of former Rangerettes came together to identify the thousands of photographs Miss Davis had saved, some of which even she could not place into a particular year.
To prepare the year-by-year photographic scrapbook for display in the museum, the net was cast broadly for all former Rangerettes; its foundation was the guest registry of women who attended the 25th anniversary. The women in the 25th anniversary guest register were used as a starting point. They were asked to send names and addresses of former Rangerettes with whom they stayed in touch. Almost two-thirds of that fourteen-year-old mailing came back undelivered; however, from the one-third who replied, dozens of new names and addresses were generated. The same letter was sent again to the new names, and to their friends, and to their friends.
Approximately 75 ladies showed up and identified the photos to compile the pages for their years of the scrapbook. Someone said, "Gee, this is such fun. We should do it again." A real reunion of all former Rangerettes was planned for the Showcase’s opening day—October 13, 1979.
Following the Showcase opening, former Rangerettes met informally in the on-campus faculty lounge, declared themselves an organization, and elected Priscilla Abshier Sliva of Houston as President. They had no by-laws, no dues, no formal membership--only loosely worded goals and a resolve to meet again the following spring for a luncheon and attend Rangerette Revels. The practice of meeting twice annually--at Homecoming and in the Spring—was underway.
Determining an organizational name was the next step. Names were submitted. The Executive Committee reduced the list to eight entries and submitted to the membership for a vote. The name Rangerettes Forever, submitted by Joy Holland Coleman of Dallas, was overwhelmingly selected. The new name reflected Miss Davis’ insistence that “once you are a Rangerette, you are always a Rangerette.” Minimal membership dues of $5 annually were set, mostly to offset frequent correspondence costs. Generously, Kilgore College assumed operating expenses. By-Laws were also adopted.
In the Spring 1981, Frances Meyer Ferguson of Kilgore, a member of the first line, was selected President; Frances’ health was declining and she resigned her post after approximately a month. Mazie Mathews Jamison of Dallas was Vice President and was elevated for fulfill the balance of Frances’ term. She was re-elected the following year for a second term.
In 1983, Lynn Williams Holt of New London became President; she embarked on a vigorous program to expand the organization’s scope of activities and influence. Lynn spearheaded a fund drive to place the Rangerette figure on the Women's Gymnasium. Kilgore College matched funds the organization raised so the project was completed in half the time. Life memberships were established during this period; those funds were dedicated to a reserve account that later became the basis for the Scholarship Fund. Privately-endowed scholarships with naming rights were underway as well.
In 1984 the Rangerettes and Ranger Band were invited to perform in the January 1985 East-West Shrine Bowl in Palo Alto, California. The game’s director of pageantry wanted to embellish halftime and Rangerettes Forever met the challenge. After rehearsals and costuming, they performed at the 1984 Kilgore College Homecoming: their first-ever, on-field performance. Rangerettes Forever was now ready to take its show on the road. The 1985 Shrine Bowl was a huge success.
Upon Mrs. Hale’s retirement, Archie Whitfield took the responsibility for Rangerettes Forever, a growing and enthusiastic organization. The Adopt-An-Active program was established and the first Rangerette directory was published. The group also performed internationally for the first time in 1986 when they accompanied the Rangerettes and Ranger Band to Nice, France for the Battle of the Flowers Festival in Cannes, France.
A smaller group of Forevers returned to Nice, France in 1987. The 1988 East-West Shrine Bowl halftime in Palo Alto, California saw another Rangerette/Ranger Band/Forevers performance. In the summer of 1989, the first-ever Rangerette Mini-Camp was inaugurated with proceeds earmarked for next year’s scholarships. Rangerettes’ second director—Deana Bolton Covin—is the architect of the mini-camp concept.
By the late 1980’s, marked growth was evident in memberships, lifetime memberships, as well as increased dedicated and endowed scholarships.
In 1989 the Rangerettes Forever performed with the Rangerettes and Ranger Band in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. The first captain of the Rangerettes, Judy Lyle Hale, led the Forevers on her 65th birthday. A smaller group of Forevers appeared in the 1990 Cotton Bowl Classic parade in Dallas. These events were part of the Rangerettes' 50th Anniversary Celebration. In addition, the first Silent Auction was held to increase scholarship funds.
The second Mini-Rangerette camp in 1990 netted more than $30,000. This brought the two-year camp total to more than $50,000. This made scholarships possible for all active Rangerettes and sophomore managers, with the excess going into a Permanent Foundation Fund for future scholarships.
Deana Bolton Covin's contribution to Rangerettes Forever is well-documented. While director, she volunteered time above her regular duties to train the Forevers for performances. She gave her graduating sophomores a one-year membership in Rangerettes Forever to start them on their way to remaining active in the organization. Mrs. Covin also proposed the Rangerette summer camps, and volunteered her time to the camps for years, just like the dozens of Forevers who work the camps today.
From humble beginning in 1979, Rangerettes Forevers has outgrown its dream. They’ve gone far beyond an alumni group and are generous with time and resources. The incidental goal of fellowship and lifetime friendships is evident in the large numbers of Forevers who return to KC each year for Rangerette-related events and activities.