Medina woman, Bea Good, brought lots of zest as leader of Grandmothers Club

Posted 25 June 2024 at 10:35 am

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian 

“Illuminating Orleans” – Volume 4, No. 19

Bea Good, shown here in her Sheriff’s Deputy uniform, was a national Grandmothers Club advocate. The Medina chapter, known as the Bea Good Grandmothers Club, was active for over 40 years and was a forerunner of the Medina Senior Citizen’s Center.

MEDINA – The Bea Good Grandmothers Club! A club with such an infectiously good-humored name was bound to be popular. But, “Bea Good” was not an exhortation to grandmothers, but rather, the name of the lively and energetic lady who introduced the club to this area and who was also nationally recognized in the Club movement.

But who now remembers Grandmothers Clubs?

The National Federation of Grandmothers Clubs came into existence at an Illinois Convention of Business and Professional Women in the spring of 1934, when Marie K. Brown, having just become a grandmother herself, was interested in knowing how many other ladies present were also grandmothers. Interest in the concept of “grandmothering” took hold.

The ladies applied for and received a charter from the Illinois Secretary of State on April 11, 1938, and the clubs were soon formed throughout the country.

The founders wanted to dispel the notion of grandmothers as doddering old ladies with glasses and wearing shawls, but rather, as lively women who were mentally alert, keenly interested and still active participants in the business and professional worlds.

They believed that “Grandmotherhood is a blessing, not a title,” and that the addition of that title does not mean that life is over, but that a new and enriching chapter has begun.

Their stated goals were:

“To achieve national recognition for Grandmother’s Day,

to glorify grandmothers,

to perpetuate for future generations the peace and liberty which we have enjoyed as citizens of the United States,

to promote better radio programs, better movies, better schools, and better recreational activities for our grandchildren,

to assist in research on children’s diseases and to establish a grandmother’s haven.”

Involvement in Grandmothers Clubs declined during WWII but resumed after the war. Bea Good started a club in Medina around 1945, having just moved here the previous year.

Born Beatrice L. North in 1890 near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Bea was a performing musician by the age of 15, playing piano for the one-reel silent movies at the local movie theater. She graduated to orchestra and later entertained troops and hospitalized veterans and worked as a welder on the war production line.

She married Ray Goode of Brockport, a railroad conductor with the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Bea preferred the spelling “Good,” it worked well with the name of her band “Bea Good and her Bad Boys.”

The Goods lived in Brockport and Niagara Falls before moving to Medina in 1944. They purchased the former home of LeGrand Whedon on the corner of West Center and Ann Streets and converted this stately home, built in 1906 by Watson Barry, coal merchant and bank president, into apartments. They lived there also.

In 1946, Bea Good of Medina, was elected President of the Chicago based National Grandmother’s Club. In August of that year, she entertained some of the national officers at her home: Mrs. Rose Dyvig of Chicago, Il., national vice-president of the organization and a former motion picture exhibitor and Grace A. Gray of Indiana, an early aviator and first female lecturer at the Federal Conservation Dept. of Indiana.

In 1948, Bea was re-elected to a second two-year term as Club President at the Annual Meeting held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thirty-eight states were represented at the convention, and over 300 members attended.

Mrs. Good spoke over the WLOL Radio Station on the Sunday afternoon, assured of a large audience, as the broadcast preceded the World Series ball game. The station was hooked up with Kate Smith, who was sponsor of National Grandmother’s Day. She named the 16 states which had already proclaimed the day. Speaking on behalf of the Club’s 6,000 members, Mrs. Good thanked Miss Smith for her efforts in furthering the national recognition of Grandmother’s Day.

Nationally, the Club flourished with 903 member clubs throughout the country in 1976 and over 25,000 grand-members. Locally, it was a popular club with as many as 90 members in 1968. The Club was affiliated with the Western New York Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Monthly meetings were held at the Presbyterian Church in Medina. The club was involved in philanthropic and community activities. They participated in the 1967 Erie Canal Celebration and had a float in the parade.

“Mrs. Durski drove, and Georgia Coon, Ruth Benham and Mrs. Benham rode in the float” (Minutes, July 12, 1967).

The Minutes of May 10, 1966, point to the link with the Medina Senior Center:

“We had a delicious lunch, after which, a representative of the Newfane Senior Citizens spoke on forming a club here in Medina. Mrs. (Helen) Waldo was appointed in charge of Senior Citizens formation.”

It was a natural evolution – the Senior Citizens would be more inclusive and serve a larger geographic area, while still championing the founding tenet of the Grandmother’s Clubs – that people over a certain age are not decrepit, doddering and disposable, but vital and active members of society.

Bea Good exemplified this to the end. She died on November 27, 1980, at the age of 90. In a Journal-Register editorial on December 4, 1980, Bob Waters wrote:

“Bea kept so busy that life just bounced off her like a moving target. A founder and national revered figure in the Grandmother’s Club Federation, deputy sheriff, welder on the war production line, worker with disturbed and blind youths, a hostess who entertained wounded war vets at her spacious home on weekends, cited and honored by her peers, by the State Legislature, by American Presidents and a Canadian Prime Minister.

But, most of all, to us, she was one of those busy, laughing, industrious souls who brought life and charm and distinction to Medina by living here, being visibly a part of the community, blending service with enjoyment.”

She was survived by a son, Lindsay C. Good of Niagara Falls, and a daughter, Betty (Richard) Carey of Hillsboro, Ohio, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Ray died in 1975. He and Bea are buried at Boxwood Cemetery, Medina.