TOP LADIES OF DISTINCTION, INC. was chartered by eight ladies in the great state of Texas on September 8, 1964, as a non-profit educational, humanitarian organization.
Here is how the story goes: In 1964 while serving as ‘first lady’ at Texas College in Tyler, Texas, Mrs. Willie Lee Glass was the recipient of a luncheon invitation from Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson “First Lady” of the United States of America and a fellow Texan. Mrs. Glass summoned a former student, a Texas College graduate who was now a major in the US Air Force to represent her at the ‘power luncheon.’ Major Ozella M. Dean, a resident of Washington D.C. answered the call and she was among a multi-disciplinary bevy of outstanding women from all over the world attending the luncheon.
Major Dean was impressed and inspired as a result of what took place at the luncheon. She shared her enthusiasm with Mrs. Glass and also contacted a relative in Tyler, Texas, Mrs. Franchell Boswell. These trailblazers assisted Major Dean in contacting other people to ascertain if enough concern, interest and strength could be generated among distinguished women (who would agree to work cooperatively) to help alleviate the myriad of problems confronting youth in their respective communities. A group of distinguished and respected women answered the call. It is from this idea and nucleus that TOP LADIES OF DISTINCTION, INC. has developed into an internationally known and respected public service organization of black women.
The first meeting to establish policies and to enact governing laws for the organization was held June 4, 1964 at Texas College in Tyler, Texas. The purpose of the organization was to marshal the talents, energies and skills of women nationally in a collaborative effort to help alleviate the moral and social problems confronting youth in the mid-sixties. Thus, the organization was born.
Since its inception, the organization has expanded its objectives to include its focus on youth (known as Top Teens of America), improving the status of women, service to senior citizens, community beautification and community partnerships. Chapters nationwide support the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Popele (NAACP), the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and awards national scholarships to at least one in each of TLOD’s six geographic areas. Moreover, TLOD has included in its program, a cooperative peer education facet with Top Teens of America and the National Foundation of the March of Dimes.
Membership in TLOD has grown to include thousands of dedicated, concerned and hardworking members. The Ladies represent a cross-section of resourceful woman power, all of who work in the interest of the more than 4,000 Top Teens. Top Ladies support other major thrusts of the organization geared toward enhancing the quality of life for our fellow human beings.
Ongoing programs and projects are important to the fulfillment of TLOD’s mission. As ‘shapers of change’, members of TOP LADIES OF DISTINCTION, INC. have, through each administration continued their efforts toward ‘Serving Youth and Adults.
Recently the organization lost an outstanding member of Top Ladies, Mrs. Ollie Durkee Morris, who resided in Altadena, CA. Lady Ollie started the Altadena Chapter of TLOD in 1992. She will be sorely missed.
Article submitted by Betty J. Ford, publicist and resident of Pasadena. Viewing is 3pm, Wednesday, Mar 10, at Evergreen Mortuary, 204 N. Evergreen Ave. East LA, CA. Graveyard services are 12noon, Thursday, Mar 11th.