Members of the General Federation of Women's Clubs in Elkins recently paid tribute to the memory of Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck by hosting a contest in her honor.
Cathy McMenamy, chair of the Elkins GFWC, organized an event that spanned several seasons and rewarded members for reading books by Buck, a famous author and humanitarian who was born in Hillsboro in 1892.
"I challenged the members of the women's club to read," McMenamy said.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Katie Kuba
Cathy McMenamy, left, Pearl Buck chair for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in Elkins, presents a certificate to prize winner Jan Hagerty at a recent reception at the First United Methodist Church.
The contest began in the spring and ended at the club's meeting Oct. 16.
Points were given to each member for reading books that Buck had written, and extra points were awarded if books were checked out from the local library. At the end of the contest, each point was represented by a ticket that was drawn in a lottery.
Jan Hagerty's ticket was selected, and she received a gift certificate to Mainline Books. She read 20 works by Buck.
"I'm a big reader," Hagerty said. "I was fascinated by her life."
She said she started the contest by reading an autobiography on Buck's life. This allowed her to gain some perspective on the subsequent works she chose.
She praised all the Women's Club members for their dedication.
"I thought the women really stepped up to the plate," Hagerty said.
Everyone in the club was challenged to read, and McMenamy said she expected more than 50 participants.
McMenamy also discussed the history Buck had with the Women's Club.
She said Buck used to visit clubs in West Virginia, and the Elkins Club was the first to officially support her. She added there is a room dedicated to GFWC at the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Museum in Hillsboro, which is open for public tours.
As continual supporters of the library, the Elkins Women's Club donated copies of every Buck book before beginning its contest, McMenamy said. Buck's most famous book is "The Good Earth," which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932.
Speaking about the impact of the contest on the local club meetings, she said conversation about Buck increased significantly.
"It stimulated conversation about Pearl Buck and her books," she said.
When asked about her favorite books, McMenamy said she preferred the two biographies of Buck's parents, who served as missionaries in China.
"Her parents were very interesting people," she said. "You feel like you're inside her mother and inside her father."
McMenamy said Buck's father was obsessed with Chinese culture, but her mother longed to return to the U.S. when the family was living in China.
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