HURON — Parker King’s mom had been in Job’s Daughters as a young girl and so it seemed only natural for her to enroll her daughters when they were old enough.
“But if I had somebody who was interested in joining, I would tell them to come to one of our prospective member parties,” King, the Miss South Dakota Job’s Daughter said Thursday.
As she prepares to begin classes this fall at South Dakota State University, her reign of wearing the crown is ending with the organization’s annual grand session in Huron this week.
Members of the state’s seven local chapters — called bethels — are holding meetings and competitions.
“Some of these girls as young as 10 years old memorize parts that they’ve recited,” said Jen Blake of Rapid City, grand guardian of Job’s Daughters of South Dakota.
The organization teaches memorization, leadership, organization and public speaking, “all of that in a safe environment,” she said.
It is also a philanthropic organization which supports service projects to help communities and the less fortunate such as the Hearing Improvement Kids Endowment fund, or HIKE, which purchases hearing assistive devices for hearing impaired children.
Job’s Daughters International will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. It was founded in 1920 by Ethel T. Wead Mick of Omaha, the wife of a physician.
She belonged to a social class at that time that spent time at frequent tea parties.
“But she started this organization and fought for women’s suffrage,” Blake said. “Her idea was to teach young ladies how to stand up for themselves.
“These girls vote for their own officers,” she said. “That was an idea that was unheard of 100 years ago when she started this,” Blake said. “But this whole organization was built on the idea of teaching young women to become ladies. Even 75 years ago that was shocking.”
It was 75 years ago — on June 5, 1944, the day before the allied invasion of Normandy that has been known since as D-Day — that the South Dakota bethel was founded.
Job’s Daughters of South Dakota was chartered in Huron.
It grew over the years, but unfortunately the statewide membership has declined more recently. The Huron bethel is among the ones which have disbanded.
“We’re trying really hard to let people know that we still exist,” Blake said.
People they talk to often say they remember Job’s Daughters when they were kids, but that they didn’t realize it was still around.
Joining the grand session and speaking to the assembly Thursday evening was DaNiel Wood of Sioux Falls, Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Masons of South Dakota.
Also a philanthropic organization, the Masons are frequently thought to be a secret society, but that’s because they don’t talk about their giving, he said.
“We do a lot of things behind the curtain,” Wood said. “We help a lot of people, we do a lot of donations, but we never seek recognition for that.”
Other branches of Masons are much more public. One of them is the Shriners, who financially support children’s hospitals.
South Dakota has 72 lodges and roughly 5,000 members. The North American Conference of Grand Masters in Masons, with 800 attending, convened in Rapid City in February.
“To be a Mason you only have to have a belief in some type of a supreme being,” Wood said. “We don’t discriminate based on race, religion, sexual preference, any of those things that people like to be labeled these days.
“And,” he said, “we believe in promoting equality. All of our organizations carry the same virtues.”
King, from Worthing, said she has enjoyed her time in the organization and her year as Miss South Dakota Job’s Daughter.
However, there will be no successor for 2019-2020 because there weren’t enough girls who opted to run. Contestants must be at least 16 years old. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a pageant in another year, Blake said.
King said she has traveled throughout the state and has been to Chicago, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City. Later this year she’ll head to Kansas City.
As girls talk to their friends about the organization, they share stories about Job’s Daughters, the skills that they’ll learn and all of the fun places they get to go, she said.
While it might be approaching the century mark, the basic premise envisioned by its founder in Omaha remains unchanged. “That’s what we’re still doing, Blake said. “We’re teaching these young ladies, these young girls, to grow up to be leaders.”