The Dallas Council on World Affairs had been bringing international leaders to Dallas for a decade when the decision was made to form a ladies' support group. On June 14, 1961, Gen. Robert J. Smith, Chairman of the Board of the Dallas Council on World Affairs, hosted a luncheon at the City Club for 20 prominent young women. He proposed that they form a special fund-raising committee to be called Les Femmes du Monde Committee.Those members who attended the Inaugural Luncheon were:
Mrs. Charles P. Storey
Mrs. Walter Pharr
Mrs. Vera Hartt Martin
Mrs. Ethan B. Stroud Jr.
Mrs. Robert G. Storey Jr.
Mrs. Joe Lambert
Mrs. Betty Forsling Harris
Mrs. W. L. Perryman Jr.
Mrs. N. B. Clinch
Mrs. Harold F. Volk
Mrs. Carl Ragan
Mrs. Alex Camp
Mrs. Nancy Wynne
Miss Joan Reeves
Mrs. Dale Davis Pitt
Mrs. William Shadrach
Mrs. Edwin J. Foscue
Mrs. Clint Murchison Jr.
Mrs. Ruth Ascarelli
Mrs. John Baskett
Members of the press who attended the organizational luncheon included: Val Imm of the Dallas Times Herald; Ann Draper of the Dallas Morning News; Kay Cobelle; Julie Benell of WFAA-TV, Peggie Mazziotta of the Dallas Times Herald and Miss Doris Jacoby of the Dallas Morning News.
Gen. Smith opened the meeting by describing the segments of the Dallas Council: the Women’s Group, the Dallas Committee for Foreign Visitors and the Young Executives Group. He described the recent Conference on Religion and Freedom and its worldwide recognition – several of the conference’s addresses had been broadcast on “Voice of America.” He explained that the Council hosted study clubs as well as large events to which world leaders were presented. And he stressed that the Dallas Council on World Affairs is “our Council” and needed funding to maintain its budget of about $50,000 per year.
Mrs. Charles Storey described her own participation and her husband’s in the Council’s activities. She said their lives had been “greatly enriched by their experiences.” Mrs. Pharr told of a similar group in Los Angeles and recommended that Mrs. Storey be appointed chairman and that Mrs. Pharr would agree to be co-chairman.
The Kennedy administration had just begun, with interest in fashion at a peak following that year's Presidential Inauguration, so the new committee decided to present an annual one-day Benefit Sale of clothing and boutique items, consisting of donations from their own closets, with all proceeds benefiting the Dallas Council of World Affairs.
In 1987, Les Femmes became its own nonprofit organization, and in 1995 Children's Medical Center Child Life Program was added as a second beneficiary. Les Femmes continued its Benefit Sale at Exchange Park through 2001.
Since then, Les Femmes du Monde has presented monthly civic and educational programs monthly during the spring. In the fall and winter is the annual Woman of the Year benefit, Victory Luncheon and Dixie Marshall’s annual Christmas Party.
LES FEMMES DU MONDE’S FIRST PRESIDENT HELEN STOREY:
Helen Hanks Stephen Storey was born in Helena, Arkansas, and was a member of Chi Omega at Randolph Macon University, Old Miss and SMU. She married attorney Charles Porter Storey in 1950. During their 68 years of marriage, they had three sons, “all good men,” as she describes them. She and her husband shared programs such as the Foreign Students Program at SMU Law School and the Dallas Council on World Affairs. She served on the board of Junior League of Dallas, as docent of the Dallas Museum of Art and is a member of the Dallas Woman’s Club.
LES FEMMES DU MONDE SECOND PRESIDENT DR. JOANNE STROUD BILBY: Dr. Stroud was one of the six Founders of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture which was established in November 1980 as a nonprofit organization, along with Drs. Donald Cowan, Louise Cowan, James Hillman, Robert Sardello, and 2012 Woman of the Year Dr. Gail Thomas. All six had been colleagues at the University of Dallas. The Founding Fellows integrated the study of humanities into discussions about shaping the modern city of Dallas. They offered programs in education, psychology, civic virtues and city planning. Dr. Stroud continues to direct the Institute's Publications, and she and Dr. Gail Thomas serve as advisors and teachers in programs in psychology and culture.
1961 MEMBER JEAN ROBERTS: Jean Roberts was a founding board member of the Dallas Council on World Affairs as well as of the Dallas Arboretum, Old City Park and the Crow Museum of Asian Art. She is a member of the Dallas Symphony Association and the Dallas Museum of Art. For 63 years, she has been married to Robert Roberts, one of the Founders of Dallas Council on World Affairs and an executive of Procter & Gamble. The Library of Congress recently interviewed him about his World War II experiences. She had her own advertising and public relations firm and was editor of Scene Magazine.
1961 MEMBER BILLIE LEIGH RIPPEY: 2006 Woman of the Year Billie Leigh Rippey has taken leadership roles across the spectrum of Dallas. She founded the Rita Hayworth Gala for Alzheimers Disease Research, the Dallas Cotillion, and has been recognized for her contributions to the mission of the American Red Cross and the Tiffany Circle program. She received the Uma Award of the Red Cross at the Tiffany Circle Society of Women Leadership Summit.