What began as a joke between friends grew into an international society for ladies who are dedicated to pursuing fun, friendship and fulfilment.
The Red Hat Society was born in 1998, when Sue Ellen Cooper gifted a friend with a red hat and the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph, which describes an older woman in purple clothing with a red hat.
Cooper’s friend enjoyed the gift so much, she gave red hats and poems to other friends and - voila! The Red Hat Society was born when the group of ladies decided to wear their hats and poorly matched purple ensembles out to tea, for a lark.
Today, the social club has grown to more than 20,000 chapters in the U.S. and 25 foreign countries.
In Richmond County alone, there are approximately 8 chapters, and Susan Sellers is Queen of four of them.
“We have so many members that we had to split off into smaller groups because restaurants can’t accommodate us all at once when we go out,” said Sellers.
In keeping with the tradition, Red Hatters in Richmond County go out dressed to impress in red and purple.
“We stopped traffic in Charlotte once,” laughed Viola Reddick, a member of the Ladies With Hattitude chapter. “About 16 of us were crossing the street, and traffic just stopped for us. It was the nicest thing!”
Ladies in the Red Hat Society meet with their chapters once a month to share meals, play games, or go to shows. Once a quarter, all the chapters get together for a “grand hoot.”
“People look when they see us coming,” said Doretha Jefferson, Vice Queen of the Red Hat Divas. “Other ladies approach us and want to know how they can join - even younger ladies. They can just see how much fun we’re having and want to be a part of it.”
To become a member of the super social society, women must be at least 50 years old.
“We’ve had a couple of younger members, who must wear pink and lavender, but they’ve aged up and we had a ‘red-uation’ for them,” said Sellers.
The ladies embrace the fun in life, refusing to “sit home and get old,” according to Reddick.
“We are groups of ladies who enjoy sharing our lives, making our own fun and who make a conscious choice about what kind of older women we will become,” said Sellers. “We embrace and enjoy life.”
According to Sellers, “Red Hat ladies love to shop,” and often hit the malls together.
“We go out to eat, bowl, see movies, take cruises,” she said.
One group recently attended ‘Menopause: the Musical,’ fitting for a group of ladies who enjoy their age with grace and humor.
For more information about the Red Hat Society, call 910-582-7985 or visit www.redhatsociety.com.
— Staff writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.