The San Gabriel Writers’ League of Georgetown, TX, began in 1989 when Lois Parker explored with Ingrid Lansford the idea of founding a local organization similar to the Austin Writers’ League. Ingrid had organizational experience, and having just finished a graduate degree, she had time for such a venture.
Following the initial planning session, they called Jheri Fleet, then Director of the Austin Writers’ League, for help. She guided them with practical advice about such things as meeting place and level of dues, then surprisingly, gave them a list of Austin Writers’ League members in Williamson County and suggested contacting them. She encouraged them to set a date for a first meeting, inviting local AWL members and others Lois Parker offered her home for the first meeting, writing a letter of invitation which Ingrid typed and sent to nearly 60 people. On April 17, 1989, thirteen people laid a foundation for the organization that grew into the San Gabriel Writers’ League. Those founding members are Mary and John Fenoglio, Jeane Hutson, Morton King, Ed and Ingrid Lansford, Mary Loescher, Elizabeth Moon, Elaine O’Brien, Lois Parker, A. W. and Martha Tieken, and Roma Weirich. All offer ideas concerning the organization.
Morton King suggested the name, “San Gabriel Writers’ League.” The group decided to remain informal, with members rotating the jobs of “convenor” responsible for the program and “scribe” to record minutes. Later, Pat Ball took on the job of treasurer to collect the nominal dues, becoming the first to hold that office.
The Georgetown Public Library offered a meeting place in exchange for reviews of new acquisitions to appear in the Williamson County Sun. Members donated books to start a special collection on writing for the library. Mary Loescher arranged a radio interview for two of the writers, and the book reviews in the Sun helped publicize the League so that membership quickly grew beyond the original thirteen people. In the beginning, members gave presentations and workshop-type programs, but by the second year, speakers from outside the group came to share their expertise. In that same year, Morton King helped start special interest groups.
Mary Fenoglio served as “scribe” several years, expanding that job to include a newsletter, later named “The Gabriel Writer” by Mary Hobbs. Soon the group adopted a traditional structure. In 1990, Roma Weirich led, whether as Convenor or President, is not clear. In 1991, Lois Parker led the organization following the first official election, followed by Kay Simonson (1992) and Mary Hobbs (1993).
Theresa Hale (completing Mary Hobbs’ term as President, 1993) led the next big step. The group compiled, edited, and published “Poems,” an anthology written by members. The group also sponsored public readings at Cianfrani’s Coffee House during Martha Voelter’s terms as President (1994 and 95).
Cindy Weigand (President, 1996) organized the first Writers’ Conference in 1997, followed in 1998 by Joan Neubauer (President, 1997), and Joan Hall with Artie Stockton in 1999, Sheran Vaughn in 2000, and Laura Butler in 2001. Formal affiliation with the Austin Writers’ League (later the Writers’ League of Texas) strengthened the San Gabriel Writers’ League, as did participation in community events.
Paul McKinley (President, 1998) designed and produced an innovative directory with photographs and bios. Joan Hollier with technical assistance from Rick Hauenstein updated it in 1999, and prepared copy for reprinting in 2002. In 1999, under the Presidency of Rod James, the San Gabriel Writers’ League numbering 71 members adopted Bylaws and continued to provide support, education, and encouragement to local writers.
Roger Busfield, Jr. served as President in 2000 and 2001 with membership expanding to 86. Under his leadership, SGWL qualified with the State of Texas and the Internal Revenue Service for tax exempt and nonprofit status as a 501-C-3 organization.
Founders were awarded Honorary Life Memberships.