Mature Friends Web Site

Who We Are   How to Join   Where We Meet   When We Eat   What We Do   Who Runs Us  

How to Contact Us   What's Our Story   What Groups Are Related

What’s Happening This Month 

Mature Friends
PO Box 21203, Seattle, WA 98111-3203


We have moved to a new website!!!

For our updated calendar of activities, membership forms, and lots of information about us, please bookmark this new address:

Mature Friends' new home

Our active, fun-loving group of over 200 members meets regularly to share common interests such as traveling (both locally and internationally), attending arts events, playing bridge or pinochle, reading and discussing books, making investments, touring gardens, taking walks and going on hikes, choosing among many options for dinners and lunches, cooking, and tasting fine wines from our own state, from other states, and from around the world. Truly, Mature Friends offers something for everyone and for most every taste.

Who We Are

We are you . . . or who you will eventually be — gay and lesbian individuals and same-sex couples over 40.  Membership is confidential! We do not share our membership list with any other organizations or individuals, period. An active group, we enjoy a variety of activities as well as travel and food.

Paying Our Dues

To join up, all you have to do is pay nominal annual dues and show up at any of our events. Groups our size naturally incur operating expenses, and Mature Friends is no exception. To rent the our home base, the Wallingford Community Senior Center, and to pay other expenses, members pay annual dues, which cover from January 1 through December 31.

Membership dues: $40 per year per person

Members pay their dues on January1 every year. Of course, the dues are prorated for those who join at different quarters throughout the year.

How to Join

Why not join us today and get in on the fun? Just fill out the membership form and send us your check for $40.00 per person.

You can fill out the Mature Friends Membership Form. in one of three ways:

Mature Friends
PO Box 21203
Seattle, WA 98111-3203

Information about Mature Friends

Come on, meet some new friends and join in on the fun! A good place to start is with our next potluck, at the Wallingford Community Senior Center.

To find out the date of our next potluck or any other activity, check out the date in the current newsletter.

Hey, by the way, first-time guests at the potluck don’t need to bring anything!


Mature Friends, its officers, directors, and members, hereinafter known as The Club, may assist members to arrange travel, outings, meals, and other activities. The Club assumes no responsibility for any loss, injury or expense incurred by members’ participation in these activities, and cannot be held liable for any acts of commission, or omission, on behalf of any vendors that may be involved. Participants should take measures to protect their investments and participation in group activities.

Where We Meet

Our main meeting place is centrally located in Wallingford on the lower level of the Good Shepherd Center, the Wallingford Community Senior Center. All of our potlucks take place here, as well as the bridge club, the pinochle club, the camera club, and the weekly exercise group. Check out the address below, and click the link for a map.

Wallingford Community Senior Center (Home base)

4649 Sunnyside Avenue North
Seattle, Washington 98103


Other activities meet elsewhere, and sometimes their meeting place changes from month to month. To find up-to-date locations for each activity, see the current newsletter.

When We Eat

Like any army of people, we at Mature Friends travel on our stomach. Practically every time we get together, we eat. To accomplish this feat, we offer four regular activities centered around food. Each activity consists of either dining in or dining out. Actually, there are more than four, but the others are informal, such as the lunch out on Wednesdays after the three-mile walk around Green Lake.

We Cook
We Eat Out
Monthly Potluck
Bimonthly Lunches
Annual Picnic
Bimonthly Dinners
Dinners for Six
Christmas Lunch

Annual Banquet

We Cook

Although there are only two dining-in activities per month, they are major lynch pins that hold us together and allow us to share our culinary arts with other members of the group.

Monthly Potluck

On the last Saturday of each month (with a few exceptions), members at large get together for a potluck dinner at the Wallingford Community Senior Center. This event is the brick and mortar of Mature Friends, allowing members to keep in touch regularly and to welcome new and prospective members.

Room Set UpBuffet

The social hour, with others sitting in the room off to the left, and at 7:00, our buffet table Is ready!

For information about the potluck for this month, click
What Dish to Bring.

But the potluck is more than just dinner — it’s a social and educational event. Beginning at 6:00 p.m. with appetizers, we socialize while sampling each other’s culinary creations. At around 7:00, the main course is served, with several dishes for each course — salads, hot dishes, vegetable dishes, and finally our just desserts. Then sometimes a guest speaker gives a short program, which can vary from art displays to presentations from other gay groups, tales of adventure abroad, serenades by musical instruments. After the program, it’s time for dessert, coffee, and more socializing.

Normally, the potluck is held at our home base in Wallingford. But two months out of the year we do something different:

Dinner for Six

For those who want to open their homes to a small group of Mature Friends who love to cook and entertain, you can join the Dinner for Six. This activity consists of a pool of gourmets and novices who share a love of cooking and entertaining. The pool is divided into couples (either real partners or just friends who double up). Each couple takes an evening during a month to cook a dinner for the other two couples. When the group has rotated three times, the pool of members is shuffled into different pairs of six people.

But you do not have to be a four-star chef to join the Dinner for Six. All you need is a desire to share your favorite foods with a fun-loving group who appreciates all kinds of meals.

We Eat Out

If you enjoy eating out with a lively group of restaurant aficionados, then by all means join us for our lunches and dinners out.

For this month’s schedule, click Dates and Times.

Lunches Out

Once a month, many club members get together for lunch on Capitol Hill. These lunches are purely social and allow members to touch base with each other in a gay-friendly atmosphere.

Christmas Lunch

Every year in mid-December, large number of Mature Friends get together in true holiday fashion for a Christmas lunch. Held in Seattle on a Saturday preceding Christmas, Mature Friends gather in a private dining room at Robb’s 125th Street Grill. This festive occasion kicks off with a rousing cocktail hour (or two).

Relive Last Year’s Event

Dinners Out

In addition to the lunches, we meet twice a month for dinner out -- the first and third Tuesday of the month. For variety, the specific restaurant will change from time to time, but for now we meet at Palermo on the first Tuesday and at the 125th Street Grill on the third Tuesday. Both restaurants, like any other restaurant we choose, offer a full bar, separate checks, and easy access.

What We Do

Never letting moss grow under foot, Mature Friends is an active group. From simply playing bridge or pinochle to travel abroad to competing and winning medals in the Gay Games every four years, you’ll surely find an activity to entice you. Remember that large groups have the clout to negotiate lower rates on any kind of activity, from theater tickets to trips overseas. This clout leaves you with more money for shopping, dining in fancy restaurants, or splurging on anything else that appeals to you. And you get the added advantage of enjoying these activities with a ready-made group of people who share your interests.

The following list describes our current activities. The list just keeps growing. Do you have an idea for something new? Our board of directors would love to hear from you.

The two card games, Bridge and Pinochle are open to both members and nonmembers. These are the only two activities open to nonmembers.


Discussing Books Seeing Shows
Investing Funds  Hiking
Getting Healthy Taking Trips
Playing Pinochle
Playing Bridge
Visiting Gardens Tasting Wines
Playing Board Games
Oddball Outings

Check out the schedule for all activities for this month by clicking the following link:

This Month’s Schedule at a Glance

Discussing Books

What have you been reading lately? If you like to read contemporary fiction and non-fiction, we have just the club for you! Our book club gives members an opportunity to read and discuss one book every other month. We aim to choose books that receive critical acclaim, often because they have won a literary or journalistic prize or simply because they are best sellers and people are talking about them. Since quite a few of these noteworthy books now include gay and lesbian themes, we often read such books. Although we don’t promise that every book will be a gem, we take the attitude that we can learn something from any book.

We meet every other month in the early evening and in a member’s home, where we share some cookies and coffee, spend a little time getting to know each other, and settle down to discuss the book. A lot of thoughtful discussion ensues, and you will have a good time joining in. This isn’t the graduate level seminar you would find at a university, but if you like reading and want to share ideas with others in a spirit of conviviality, this is for you.

Look for the announcement in the web version of the newsletter identifying the book and the meeting place. All the books we read are in paperback and most of the books come from the Seattle Public Library’s special collection for book clubs.

Some books we’ve read include:
And many more!

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for this month’s book today! Be sure to check the newsletter for current information.

Investing Funds

So, you don’t know a small cap from a large cap or even a baseball cap? Well, Mature Friends has a solution — A Better Club for Investing, which meets at 7:00 p.m. once a month.

Any member of Mature Friends who wants to add to their savings by investing with a group can get ahead through consensus and judicious investments by joining this club. Not only do you add to your portfolio, but you learn more about wise financial planning and how the markets work. Meetings are conducted over dinner at a variety of cafes in the Seattle area, giving you the chance to hone your fiduciary skills while expanding your repertoire of local eateries.

So, come join our investment club and learn while you earn. Check out the times for our next meetings

Getting Healthy

Every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. (precisely), rain or shine, a group of Mature Friends will gather for a walk around Green Lake.  Fast walkers, slow walkers, part way lake walkers — all are welcome.  A small group use to gather after the Wednesday exercise class however when the class was canceled, a decision was made to still gather on Wednesday at Green Lake for a walk around.

WOW! The group keeps growing with new faces every week to replace those that are snow birds, travelers, or other valid excuses. Recently, the group has grown to twenty walkers. (You really don’t need an excuse, since attendance isn’t taken.)
So, why not join the fun, camaraderie, and fresh air?

Following the walk those who are hungry head over to the Blue Star restaurant, 4512 Stone Way North, for a light lunch.

We meet just north of the parking lot that is adjacent to the boathouse on the west side of the lake close to Aurora.

Playing Bridge

Not for card sharks only, members who are interested in testing their skills meet every Wednesday at the Wallingford Community Senior Center. Not exactly tournament bridge or cutthroat, this activity is for anyone no matter the level of skill, from beginner to pro. The purpose is to relax and have some fun at the card table. There is a slight fee collected to off-set the rental of the hall, but it’s well worth it.

Bridge is open to members and nonmembers. Members pay a $4.00 fee per night (on top of the $40 membership fee) and nonmembers pay $5.00 per night.

Playing Pinochle

Join other members for some Pinochle fun. The group meets on the first and third Wednesdays at the Wallingford Community Senior Center. Depending upon the number of participants, you can play from three-handed to five-handed games. You don’t have to be an expert, we’ll teach you how to play. Like the bridge group, there is a small fee collected to offset the rental of the hall.

Pinochle is open to members and nonmembers. Currently both pay the same fee of $4.00 per night.

Seeing Shows

It’s show time, folks! With lower group rates, it’s easy and cheaper to see local, professional, and college productions around the town. So . . . Lights! Camera! Action! — Whoa! CUT! CUT! CUT!!! Not that kind of show (although it’s been done!). What we’re really talking about here is something with a higher brow — live theater, opera, concerts, visiting museums, and of course, performances of the various gay and Lesbian choruses.

Also, in the fall, a group of Mature Friends drive down to Ashland, Oregon, for the annual Shakespeare Festival. More than just theater, we also celebrate Daedalus, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s fundraiser for AIDS, including a reading of a play appropriate to LGBT issues and a talent show produced by the company, which includes the ever popular underwear contest, where you get to stuff your donations into the underwear of the actors or crew members.

But in addition to our formal outings as a group, many members get together informally on short notice for impromptu outings of two to six people. Something similar took place while we were touring Europe a couple years ago with a beautiful concert in Vienna. Can you imagine? Enticing, eh?

For our upcoming plans, see the blurb in the latest newsletter.


If structured exercise isn’t for you, or if you’d just like to explore the local area on foot, you can always join us for our monthly hike. Hiking in natural areas outdoors, whether mountains, seashore, or desert, refreshes the spirit and the body. In our walking and hiking activities, we focus on places with moderate length and elevation. In summer and fall, we sometimes take longer hikes out of town, while in the rainy season, we lean toward local hikes and walks.

Hikes for this month

All hikes are day hikes. If we go out of town and you share a ride, expect to chip in a few dollars to the driver for gas. Also, we sometimes brown bag it for lunch along the trail. Other than that, this activity offers an invigorating, healthy, and inexpensive way to enjoy a few hours during the day.

So, keep an eye on the newsletter to find out when and where the next hike will be. And then come and join us! Take in some fresh air while sharing the pleasure of seeing nature with friends. Warning! The enjoyment may become addictive.

Taking Trips

Mature Friends love to travel. From near to far, we’re on the go every year.

From day trips to long weekends to short hops to Nevada, we take reasonably priced escapes to visit wineries, to see the fall leaves, to spend long weekends in Vancouver and in Portland, and to visit favorite, inexpensive gambling sites and see shows. Our experienced travel committee is always coming up with exciting, affordable getaways.

For those who like to venture a bit farther, we’ve taken tours of Eastern Europe, cruises to the Mediterranean and countries around it, sailed to South America and around the Horn, visited Italy’s Tuscany region, and also cruised to Australia, New Zealand, and up and down the west coast of the United States and Canada.

Each year offers new and exciting destinations. So be sure to check out the latest newsletter online for details of upcoming adventures.

Check out our upcoming plans.

Visiting Gardens

From April through October, our resident horticulturalist arranges a monthly tour of a garden in the Puget Sound area, enjoying the splendor as well as the plants. Most are free of charge, but a few charge entrance fees.

These tours never fail to delight the eyes and please the noses of our members from home gardeners to experienced horticulturalists. We usually have between ten and thirty people attend. Each month takes us to a garden where we see various innovative arrangements by professionals as well as skillful amateur gardeners. We visit both private gardens as well public gardens, often getting a glimpse behind the scenes.

So, be sure to join us on these tours to learn new tips and tricks to make your garden bloom to its full potential, or just come along to smell the roses, while enjoying the scenery and the good company.

Be sure to check out the newsletter and see what new and exotic destinations await you!

Tasting Wines

Every other month, the oenophiles of Mature Friends meet at a member’s house to sample specific types and vintages of wines. From Pinot Grigios of Oregon to the Malbecs of Argentina, our wine group sits squarely on the cutting edge of highest quality wines at affordable prices.

A wine is assigned in advance and everybody brings a bottle to share. Then we all sample what each other has brought and tell what we know about that vintage. But don’t be intimidated. The group’s experience ranges from novice to well-informed connoisseur.

So come and sample the grape in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere of like-minded gourmets. Give it a try. Check out our next meeting

Oddball Outings

Our newest activity teed off with a miniature golf tournament at the Green Lake Pitch & Putt golf course. Initiated by our treasurer, the outing was successful enough to schedule another in August. Actually, the local tours began much earlier informally with tours of the University of Washington’s rowing facilities, a tasting tour of Fran’s Chocolates, and a visit to the Herbert H. Warrick Museum of Communications. Finally, in August, the tour organizer latched on to a name and the “Oddball Outing” was formalized.

The outings take us on tours around town, often to little known places. Lately, the group has expanded to include the Museum of Glass in Tacoma and their Museum of Art. Short, simple day trips packed with new experiences and sights. So, come on a join the group and see fascinating sights, often right under your nose.

Check out our next destination.

Who Runs Us

To coordinate a big group with many activities, you need careful organization and leadership. Mature Friends has both. During the May potluck each year, we elect a ten-person board of directors from the membership at large, and this board elects officers from its membership. Meeting monthly, the board and officers manage the affairs of the organization. Board members and officers can serve up to four years consecutively.

How the Board Is Organized

The board, in turn, is split into committees, headed by board members. Each committee is responsible for a specific group activity or event. All members are encouraged to serve on the board or on a committee, in line with their interests.

As mentioned earlier, Mature Friends publishes a monthly newsletter to inform the membership of upcoming events and to convey additional information of general interest. In the newsletter, you’ll find a calendar of the current month’s events so that you can see at a glance what’s going on when. Although board members write the main content of the newsletter, Mature Friends encourages everyone to submit an article now and then.

Note: If you’re not yet a member, you can still check out our monthly activities in the web version of the newsletter.

How to Contact Us

If you have any questions or would like further details about any specific events or about Mature Friends in general, please contact us either by regular mail or e-mail:


Mature Friends
PO Box 21203
Seattle, WA 98111-3203


Information about Mature Friends

What’s Past

Everybody has a past. Some are quite . . . what’s the polite word? Oh, yes . . . colorful. And others are quite sordid. Then there are those . . . well, you don’t really want to know. But many are open books. Luckily, Mature Friends’ history is the latter.

Why We Need a History

The history of any organization resides in its members. This is all the more so with voluntary organizations. However, with the passage of time, individuals with knowledge of the organization moved on for one reason or another, leading to a loss of its history.

Preserving an organization’s history is vital, not only for the continuity of the organization, but also as a legacy for the future of the community it serves. Mature Friends has been an organization for older gay men and women for many years, but has not made any concerted effort to record its history.

Gay studies is increasingly becoming a legitimate academic pursuit, so for an organization to be included in the development of gay culture, it is incumbent to document its activities in a form and place that will be accessible to future historians. So, in June 2005, the Board of Mature Friends established a History Committee and allocated funding to gather and document the early history of Mature Friends.

How We Obtained the History

One of our long-time members, Wes N., was appointed Chairman of the History Committee. A group of volunteers gathered together to decide upon the operation of the committee how it will gather its information and how it will make available its findings in a form and place accessible to future scholars and laymen.

The committee decided to obtain oral histories from as many of the founding and early members as could be identified and assembled. A set of questions covering important topics that each of the interviewees should address was compiled. Each interview session was recorded on tape and later transcribed. For this task, the committee was fortunate in having the services and cooperation of Ruth Pettis of the Seattle Gay History Project. Alvin Fritz of the Gay Library of the University of Washington (U.W.) was also contacted. The U.W. Library will be the final repository of the information collected and the final report, as well as ancillary documents.

The committee interviewed ten persons who were founding members or were members at an early stage of the club. The interviews were conducted in an informal setting, with the interviewee free to recall his or her early experiences with the club. Committee members in attendance were free to interject, to comment on, amplify and in some instances correct statements that were made. It was apparent at this stage, some 16 – 18 years after the founding of the club, that memories were a little hazy. Fortunately, the club has an extensive archive of materials which was an invaluable resource in the preparation of this report.

The list of committee members, questions asked of the interviewees, and individuals interviewed are listed in the appendixes, which are not published here.

So, grab your favorite snack, and pull your chair closer to the computer. Relax and enjoy an overview of how this unique group formed and how it became the large, multifaceted social group we have today, with over 200 members.

How We Formed

All the persons interviewed generally agreed that John Reeder was the catalyst behind the formation of Mature Friends. John had not intended to found a new organization, but had preferred to work with existing organizations. One such organization was the Lavender Panthers, an offshoot of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a group created by the then Mayor of Seattle, Wes Uhlman. John was interested in having an organization as a safe place where men and women of the community can come together. John’s first association with the Lavender Panthers was to help them organize a Christmas party in 1988. John enthusiastically helped plan the party, and in the end, did the decorations with fresh greens, provided red table cloths and a program. John’s energetic efforts were not viewed favorably by the women who comprised most of the original members of the Lavender Panthers. His efforts were regarded as a “taking over” of the club.

Officers, Name, and Purpose

John still felt a need for an organization where older gays and lesbians, those over 50 years of age, could meet socially in a safe environment. A safe environment meant a non-bar environment, in as much as these were older people for whom the bar scene was not a good place to meet others in a similar age range. In addition, John himself had recovered from alcoholism, so bars were not a good environment for him. John put together some ideas and called upon Don Moreland and Harold Mick, who were both at that fateful Christmas party. As early as January 4, 1989, letters of invitation were sent to friends to attend an organizational meeting on January 13, 1989. A second meeting on January 27, 1989, was held to elect temporary officers and to consider a name for the organization. The first or acting officers were: Don Moreland, president; Shirley M., vice-president; Eugene Van V., treasurer, and John Reeder, secretary. A specifically gay name was to be avoided since many of the target population (that is, prospective members) were wary about being in an outwardly gay organization. A dichotomy should be noted, as pointed out by several of the interviewees, that some of the same people had no qualms about frequenting the gay bars. A name was expeditiously chosen, as correspondence soon after the January 27 meeting contained the name “Mature Friends.” Legend has it that either John Reeder or Glen H. sat down with a dictionary and came up with the right combination of words. The name was also attributed to one of the early members, Dorothy F. The group was known thereafter as “Mature Friends.” The statement of purpose was “Mature Friends is a resource organization of individuals 50 years and older promoting human services, social interaction, education, and comradrie [sic] in and for the Lesbian and Gay community.”

First Gathering

With February 1989 coming up, a Valentine party for gay and lesbian seniors was planned. The social room at Grace Gospel Church in Ballard was obtained free of charge. Invitations were sent out and others were contacted by word of mouth. Around 25 people attended. It might be said that Mature Friends had its beginning at that Valentine party.

[I recall attending a February potluck a year or two later at Greenwood Hall, which John Reeder had decorated in a Valentine theme. John proclaimed it an anniversary potluck. — D. Lee].

While the Valentine party was a success, it should be noted that it was a new experience for many of the people who attended. Many had lived their lives with their gay persona hidden from all but their closest friends, and here they were, at a party with people whom they barely knew or had not known at all. As John recalled, people barely uttered their first names.

Growth and New Locations

The success of the Valentine party prompted the fledgling organization to look for a larger space. Again, it was John Reeder who came to the fore. John had access to Greenwood Hall in Phinney Ridge. He lived next door and managed the hall. Club members helped to clean up and paint the hall, and helped John install a small kitchen. The monthly potlucks and activities such as the Bridge group met at Greenwood Hall until 1995. By then the membership had grown and a larger space was needed. Thanks to a lead from member Bob Johnson, the club moved to the Odd Fellows Hall in Ballard, where the group continued to meet for 22 years. Then in  April 2017,  thanks to then-president Bruce T, we moved our home base to the Wallingford Community Senior Center.

Formalizing the Organization

In the months following that first Valentine party, John, Don, Harold (nicknamed “Mick”), Eugene, Van V., Shirley M., Glen H., and many others continued to meet. They still had in mind Mature Friends as a social service organization. To be a credible organization when it came to tax exempt (501(c)3) status consideration, they felt it necessary to be on a sound financial footing. Fund raising activities were planned. One such fundraising activity was a garage sale, which was tremendously successful. Other fundraisers were progressive dinners, at which attendees contributed money. These activities put the club on a firm financial basis. The progressive dinners eventually evolved into the “Table for Eight,” social gatherings wherein members gathered in groups of eight for dinner at a member’s home. They would then rotate among the group of eight. Eight people for dinner proved to be unwieldy and the concept changed to "Table of Six." Recently, this activity has been renamed more appropriately “Dinner for Six,” which has been quite successful and continues to the present time.


Social activities were always part of Mature Friends. Some of the early activities were Saturday Socials, Lunch/Tea Dance, and outings such as one to the Tulip Festival. Travel was spearheaded by Eugene Van V. and is still one of the major activities today. The Saturday Social and the Lunch/Tea Dance did not last for long, but very soon dining out, both lunch and dinner, became a regular activity. The Garden Tours was also a popular activity. Both the dining out and garden tours were ideas promoted by Glen H. [It should be noted that Glen H. was a Landscape Architect.] A most enduring activity has been the potluck dinner. This event began in mid-1989 and continues as the most prominent monthly activity. Later activities included monthly walk/hike, both locally and farther afield, a weekly exercise group led by Len T., and more recently a pinochle group which meets twice a month.


While the club avoided an outwardly gay name, early on, the active members promoted the club within the gay community. At the Pride Festival of 1989, the club staffed a booth to inform the community of the new organization and to recruit members. In 1996 and 1997, the club had a contingent in the Pride parades. Although Mature Friends has reached out to the gay community, club membership was and is still confidential. Only board members and activity heads have access to the membership list to conduct their affairs.

Lesbian Membership Declines

In the beginning, there was a strong involvement of women in the organization. They served on committees and were board members. However, as the club grew, the number of women members has decreased as well as their participation in the club organization and activities. The bridge group still attracts a fair number of women players. The decline in women members and their participation was regularly broached during the interviews for this history, but no definitive answer or answers were forthcoming.

Social Organization

The club has been a success as a social organization. As a group, it remains non-political and non-sectarian. The original idea as a social-service organization has largely been abandoned, mainly because the membership preferred it as a social organization. A Sunshine Committee functions currently to recognize members’ birthdays and send get well wishes for illnesses and condolences to survivors of members who have passed away.

Recording for the Future

This report is not an exhaustive history of Mature Friends. It covers the founding of the club and the events leading to its founding. It addresses the questions raised by the History Committee and tries to find a common answer from among the people interviewed. In some cases, the answers were supplemented by information from the archive for clarity. A ten-year retrospective was written by Jerry O., which appeared in the February 1999 newsletter. It is included in the appendix of this report. When a president’s term is completed, such president will write a summary report. These reports will be kept as part of the history of the club.

And that brings us up to the twenty-first century and the second decade of our club.

Letter from Jerry Olson, Long-time Member Now Deceased

Mature Friends: A Decade of Success
Jerry Olson, Mature Friends Newsletter, February 1999

“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming is the only end of life.” Robert Louis Stevenson

A meeting was held at the Grace Gospel Chapel in Ballard on January 13, 1989, to form a new organization in Seattle to be called MATURE FRIENDS to serve, the gay and lesbian community. The organizational meeting grew out of meetings with the Lavender Panthers, active in Seattle at that time. It must be pointed out that John Reeder, Seattle art teacher, was the “spark” the “live-wire” if you will, behind this initial meeting. John sent out many letters inviting a large number of people to attend the meeting. At this meeting an organizing committee was elected and several participants were elected as acting officers. Don Moreland acting president; Shirley Maser, acting vice-president; Eugene Van Voorhees, acting treasurer; John Reeder, acting secretary. This committee of acting officers set about establishing the by-laws for an organization with 87 members at the outset, securing the necessary tax exempt status and such everyday concerns as installing a telephone, opening a bank account, getting a Post Office box and address (30575 - 98103), and setting up a telephone answering machine.

Charter members of the organization included: George Bauer, Stephen Blair, John Enders, Jan Erickson, Rolland Friend, Simon Genovart, Glen Hunt, Ken Love, Shirley Maser, Harold Mick, Don Moreland, Art Morgan, Frank Neff, Wight Reader, John Reeder, Bob Schultz, and Eugene Van Voorhees. Don Moreland was elevated from acting president to president in the first year. Bill Cunningham replaced him in 1990, but failed to serve out his term and was succeeded by Don who served another term and was replaced by Harold Mick who served until 1992. Harold Mick was replaced by Ray Ordway. Len Tritsch assumed the presidency in 1994 and continued in that capacity until 1998. He then served as acting president with Lewis Finch as President-Elect for the period 1998–99.
A Quarterly Newsletter was quickly published with John Reeder as the first editor. John Enders took over the editorship in 1991, and at this time the newsletter began to appear on a monthly basis, as it has continued to do so until the present. Dan Lee and Jack Motteler were co-editors for 1992-93, followed by editor Dick Meyers in 1994. Paul Dietrick assumed these duties in 1994 and continued as editor until 1999.
The first meeting place for the organization was at the Grace Gospel Chapel at 22nd and 64th in Ballard where the social room was used for MATURE FRIENDS social activities. From time to time the group also met at the Friends Center in the university District. John Reeder lived in a little apartment with a patio behind the Greenwood HaIl at 65th and Greenwood Avenue North. John worked for the owner of this complex and scheduled the use of the hall for various groups. Greenwood Hall was provided rent-free the first few years until John resigned from the organization. Money had been raised at a garage sale to help get appropriate furniture, paint, and equipment for the kitchen. It was small, often crowded but it was home!

MATURE FRIENDS moved to the International Order of Odd Fellows Hall at 1706 Market Street in Ballard on September 1, 1995, where the group continued until April 2017.

The activities of this organization have continued rather stable over the course of a decade with more having been added up till the present. Almost at once the now traditional Last Friday of the Month Potluck Dinner and the Annual Potluck Picnic were inaugurated. The picnic had almost always been held successfully at Seward Park. In addition a variety of interest groups were established with chairpersons and committees. These included: Bridge Group, Garden Club, Dining out, Dinners for Six (sometimes for eight), High Tea, and Tea Dances. Early on there were fund-raising activities such as popular Progressive Dinners, and Garage and/or Sidewalk Sales. Although these sales events were very successful (the first raising over $1200), they were canceled, and as the MATURE FRIENDS newsletter has stated, members disagreed as to what to do with the money. Then, as now, the organization experienced strain as to what causes to support.

The activities also included many trips from local to out of state to international travel. Local trips, with some consistency, included the La Connor Tulip Trip, Leavenworth for autumn leaves and Christmas lighting, the Diablo Dam in the North Cascades, the Bloedel Reserve, the Yakima Valley Wine Country, Puyallup Daffodil Festival, and the Pilchuck Glass Factory. Many of these trips and activities remain a part of the organization’s activities today.

MATURE FRIENDS has always been a non-profit, non-partisan, and non-sectarian organization. However, this has not meant that MATURE FRIENDS has not been involved in social issues. Several of our founders were, and continued to be, social activists. Don Moreland, first president, certainly earned that title as he served on the Governor’s Aids Task Force, President of the Seattle Dorian Society, the Lesbian and Gay Democrats, a GSBA member, a Privacy Fund Founder, and in addition to many other activities of local and national significance, he was an openly gay delegate at large for the Washington Democratic Party and was a member of the Gay Caucus during the 1968 National Democratic Convention. John Reeder was a member of the Dorian Society, GSBA, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign Fund, and people for the American Way. He also participated in the National March on Washington, D.C. in 1968, and served as a member of the American Friends Service Committee.

The non-partisan and non-sectarian legal status of the organization has not prevented it from supporting political issues when they involve gay and lesbian rights. The organization has always reached out to all churches friendly to gay and lesbian issues. For many years canned goods donations to the Chicken Soup Brigade were made at the Friday night Potluck Dinners. From the very beginning there has been an information booth at the Pride Festival, and for the past three years [1997-1999] at least as many as 12 to 15 members have marched in the Pride march. Every year the organization has a group walking for the Northwest AIDS Walk.

Many members continue, as they have over the years, to work with local organizations in a volunteer capacity, and the Chicken Soup Brigade, Bailey-Boushay House, the Northwest AIDS Foundation and many other groups. Sometimes the newsletter contains information concerning volunteer activities. From time to time there have been Potluck Programs, featuring such issues as gay and lesbian adoption rights, same-sex marriage legislation and the like. These programs have not always been met with unanimous enthusiasm! On a few occasions members have, been seen to walk out grumbling! A good example of controversy has been the recent board decision to restrict financial support to the gay and lesbian community to one fund-raiser and one donation per year! Sort of the United Way approach to social concerns. Many members continue to be concerned about “outing.” This is certainly understandable in light of the repressive times in which many members came of age. As a result the membership lists are restricted to board members and are carefully guarded and kept confidential. An amazing example of this concern is found in the reaction of a member in January of 1992. In resigning from the organization, a member wrote: "I hereby resign my membership in MATURE FRIENDS, for the following reasons; When I first paid annual dues in June 1991, I was not aware until I obtained a copy of the by-laws in September, that the purpose of MATURE FRIENDS was geared to the “gay community with which I feel no special identification.”

MATURE FRIENDS shall function as a non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian resource organization to provide social activities, education, and human services, creative housing solutions, to protect against discrimination and other considerations appropriate to individuals over 50 in the Gay and Lesbian community, and friends fifty and over. (By-Law, Adopted July 1989 and amended June, 1990.)

[Editor’s note: Since then, the board has lowered the age requirement in the by-laws to include individuals over 40.]

Second Decade and Beyond

Mature Friends was founded in 1989 as an organization where older gays and lesbians can meet socially in a safe environment. Twenty years later, it still functions as an organization for older gays and lesbians in the Puget Sound Region. But as one member once remarked, “We’re not old, we’re MATURE.” And that has been the hallmark of Mature Friends. Far from being a group of senior citizens, Mature Friends have maintained through the years a vibrancy and energy through the many activities sponsored by the club or informally among various members.

Update on Activities

The second decade saw Len T. at the helm, at the end of his long term as president since 1994. He was succeeded by Lewis F. in 1999, followed by Don Moreland in 2000, Bob McQ. in 2002, Charlie F. in 2004 and Kent H. in 2007. Kent led Mature Friends into the Third Decade, before handing the presidency off to Mark J. in July 2010.

Many of the activities begun earlier still continue:

The potluck, held on the last Friday of the month, still draws a large number of members and guests, with often more than seventy attending.

The Bridge group, one of the earliest special interest groups, continues today with as many as six tables of avid players weekly. The Bridge group was headed for many years by C. Henry H. and later by Paul S.

Not to be outdone, a Pinochle group, under Walter J. and others, was started in 2006 and attracts twelve to fifteen participants in their twice a month meetings.

Mature Friends are not entirely sedentary. An exercise group meets weekly, followed by a walk around Green Lake. It has not been unusual for non-members to join the exercise group, and subsequently learn about and join the club.

For the more adventurously inclined, a monthly hike, sometimes in local parks and sometimes farther afield in the Cascades, is held, first under the capable leadership of John K. and more lately under Dale J.

In addition, the garden tour group has visited many public and private gardens in the region, initially under the joint leadership of Lloyd Herman and Dr. John Wott, and lately under Dr. Wott alone. We are fortunate in having Dr. John, professor emeritus of Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington, with his extensive knowledge of and connections with the area gardeners and horticulturists, leading the garden tours.

If the garden tours are a legacy of late member and Mature Friends founder Glen H., so too are the dining-out groups, collectively the Knife-and-Fork Club, which comprises the lunch group, meeting semi-monthly, and the dinner group, meeting once a month. The dining out groups has been kept going by many volunteer coordinators, notably, Harry W., Mel H., Walter J., and currently by Don S. and Bob McQ. In addition to the lunch and dinner groups, the club coordinates the Dinner for Six groupings, an intimate dining occasion for six (three couples, not necessarily partnered couples), the dinner host rotating among the three ‘couples’. The groupings are then reassigned each quarter. Group members demonstrate their culinary expertise at these gatherings. Thanks are due to the juggling talents of Dick N. and Jim Y. in arranging these groups. Mature Friends have always enjoyed good food and drink.

Apropos good food and drink, the Annual Banquet to celebrate the anniversary of the club is an anticipated social event of the year. The event was moved from February, which was more appropriately the founding month of the club, to late spring in May or June. The banquet has been held at various venues, such as the Yankee Diner (later the Yankee Grill) in Ballard, Anthony’s Homeport at Shilshole, the College Club downtown, and the Best Western Executive Inn in lower Queen Anne, and now at the Women’s University Club.

Starting in 2005, the Board instituted an Annual Volunteer of the Year award, a feature during the Annual Banquet, to recognize the importance of volunteers’ contributions to the club. The award, by nomination from the membership, acknowledges a member who has put forward an extra effort in his/her service to the club. The recipients have been Harry W. in 2005, Don K. in 2006, C. Henry H. in 2007, Dan L. in 2008, Curt Johnson in 2009, and Gordon L. in 2010, Bil B. in 2011, Paul S. in 2012, Kent H. in 2013, Len T. in 2014, Bruce T. in 2015, and our Garden Tour guru, Dr. John Wott in 2016. Who will we give the coveted plaque to this year? Gosh, I hope they don’t mirror the Academy Awards Best Picture Oscar and give it to the wrong person!

In addition to the Annual Dinner, the Annual Picnic takes place in August. The picnic has been held at various Seattle park locations through the years, from Lincoln Park, Seward Park, to the present location at Woodland Park. The club provides hot dogs and burgers with the trimmings and members are asked to bring potluck picnic dishes to accompany the hotdogs and burgers. Larry W. organized the picnic for several years, until he passed the leadership over to John K. Then Brian W. took over for two years, and now Bruce T. secures the shelter house each year for Annual Picnic. Bruce also makes sure we have plenty of soft drinks, hotdogs, and bratwursts, and he also grills them.

Add to this the annual Christmas holiday brunch organized by Harry W., complete with a white elephant gift exchange for a good time. In 2014, Jim W. took over the brunch, and with the consent of members, stopped the white elephants gifts in exchange for bringing Toys for Tots.

Mature Friends are also cerebral. An ongoing Book Club with eight to fifteen members meets monthly to discuss a book assigned at each meeting. This is done with the cooperation of the Seattle Public Library, which supplies copies of the books to club members. All this effort was coordinated by John L. Later, Dick N. took over the reins of the club and has since passed them on to Bruce B.

Cerebral may not describe the Investment Club, but perhaps “crystal-ball gazing” might be appropriate. The Investment Club began meeting late in 2000 under the leadership of Ed Estes to provide a fun, informative and collegial means for Mature Friends to manage their money and stay current on economic issues. Members contribute a specified amount and study the stock market to decide how to invest their collective funds. The Investment Club has attracted a number of members, but to keep it functioning so that all members have opportunity for input, membership must be kept small. As a result a second investment club dubbed A Better Club for Investing was started in 2008 to accommodate this growing interest. After eight years leading the Investment Club, Ed stepped down, and the leadership of the investment clubs fell to Don C. Currently, Ray B. has combined the two investment clubs into one, A Better Club for Investing, meeting once a month at a local restaurant.

Although Mature Friends was chosen as the group’s name initially to avoid an overtly gay name, the club has not been hesitant about participation in the larger gay-lesbian community. From the beginning, active members staffed a booth at the annual Gay Pride festival to publicize the club within the community and the club has been a contingent in the Pride parade. In the past year, the Board has decided to forgo a booth at the Pride Festival, feeling that the booth has been of marginal value in membership recruitment relative to the investment in time and money. The upcoming older generation is increasingly computer literate, and the Mature Friends’ web site, by webmasters Curt Johnson and Gordon Lovell, has been an important source of information to the community. Prospective members also learn about club activities through various media, such as the Seattle Gay News.

Travel has been a part of the club from its inception, and continues through the second decade. Trips are organized by the Travel Committee, under the current leadership of Bruce T., from short one-day or weekend trips to near-by points, to longer across-country and overseas trips. They are too numerous to detail, but of the former, fun trips have been made to Vancouver, British Columbia, and Portland, Oregon, as well as wine tours in eastern Washington and in Oregon. Local trips include visits to the Glass Museum in Tacoma and the LeMay Car Museum also in Tacoma, where members waxed nostalgically at cars they might have driven or wished they had driven. Trips farther afield include some fondly remembered ones, such as the trip to Montreal, to Eastern Europe, to the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, China, and most recently Spain and southern France. Now with Bruce T. as leader of the travel group, we extend our thanks to Jerry J. and Don Moreland as well as Marlyce B. and Gary H. for their expertise and experience in organizing these trips.

Summing Up

The club continues to grow in membership. By the end of the second decade, paid members number more than 260. To highlight some of our members, members’ profiles were a regular feature in the newsletter. Members were interviewed and their stories were capably compiled by Scott W., Kyle B., and John L. These profiles provided a glimpse into the lives and the varied backgrounds of our members. Unfortunately, after John stepped down, nobody else has volunteered to continue interviewing the members.

Finally, as the club moved toward the end of the second decade, it became clear that Mature Friends did not have a recorded history. There was concern individuals with knowledge of our history would vanish through relocation, attrition, and death. Gay studies are increasingly becoming a legitimate academic pursuit, so for an organization to be included in the development of gay culture, it is incumbent to leave behind documentation of its activities in a form and place that will be accessible to future historians, scholars and laymen. The board established a History Committee and allocated funding to gather and document the early history of Mature Friends.

The list of our organizations members involved in this project from start to finish is huge. A report covering the founding of the club and the events leading to its founding was to be the centerpiece of the project. Ten persons who were founding members or were members at at early stage of the club’s development were interviewed. It was apparent at this stage that memories were a little hazy. Fortunately, the club has an extensive archive of materials which was an invaluable resource to supplement the interviews and help in the preparation of this report. Newsletters, Board meeting minutes and agendas, President’s summaries, internet website printout and club by-laws were also gathered and assembled after an extensive search. The completed project is now at the Special Collections division of the library at the University of Washington.

The success of Mature Friends since its beginning in 1989 is best summed up by club president Charlie F. in 2006, “Our Club members, retired or not, possess extensive work history that they put to good use for the benefit of us all. Those qualities also make for exciting and stimulating association...I urge all members new and old to contribute to our many activities and projects...I’m confident that you will find your association with Mature Friends enjoyable and rewarding.”

— Dan L.

What’s Related

On this page, you’ll find links to other gay and Lesbian web sites.

  • Three Dollar Bill Cinema
    Three Dollar Bill Cinema provides access to films by, for, and about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their families, and a forum for LGBT filmmakers to share and discuss their work with audiences. They curate themed screenings throughout the year and produce programs in partnership with other arts, cultural, and service delivery organizations in the Greater Seattle area.

  • Seattle Gay News
    An LGBT Newspaper — proudly serving Seattle and the Pacific Northwest for over 37 years.

  • Seattle Men’s Chorus
    This site gives the concert schedules as well as other information about the chorus.

  • Lambert House
    A safe environment for gay kids to meet and socialize.

  • OUT 4 Sustainability
    A community-based organization committed to advancing the status of lesbians by combating oppression and by promoting empowerment, visibility, and social change.

  • Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA)
    A “Chamber of Choice” organization of Seattle area businesses owned and operated by gays and Lesbians.

  • Seattle Frontrunners
    Our local gay and Lesbian running group.

  • Arts West
    A non-profit, multi-disciplinary arts organization located in West Seattle with programs in music, theater, visual art, education, play-writing, and late night entertainment.