The Gateway Garden Club of Martinsburg had a pre-organizational meeting April 9, 1953 at the home of Ms. Anna Atkinson with twenty members present. Mrs. Felix Schneiderhan, the Regional Director, spoke on the organization of a garden club and the requirements necessary to become a federated club. The club decided upon the name “Gateway” at this time.
At the second meeting in May1953, the following members became Charter Members of Gateway Garden Club:
Also at this meeting in May1953, the following officers were elected:
In June of that year, a Constitution and By-Laws were adopted which limited the active membership to twenty-five. Later that year in November 1953, the club voted to become federated. Subsequently,certificates of membership were awarded to the club in June 1954 by the West Virginia Garden Club, Inc. and the National Council of State Garden Clubs,Inc. During the years Gateway has carried out a number of civic projects which have included planting and maintaining the planters at the entrances to Way Memorial Park, planting trees on the grounds of public buildings, and landscaping the miniature Golf Course at War Memorial Park, latter receiving a grant from Shenandoah-Potomac Council. Other award-winning projects have included the Beautification of Burke Street Elementary School that was funded in part by Burke Street Alumni. In addition, Gateway has annually awarded a scholarship to Camp Caesar for a local youth.
In conjunction with Berkeley County Council, Gateway in the past has participated in beautifying the planters in historic downtown Martinsburg, beautifying specified areas in War Memorial Park, the planting of bulbs at West Virginia rest stops on I-81 and decorating the Martinsburg Public Library during the Christmas season. The club has participated in the annual House and Garden Tour since its inception in 1955.
Gateway members have participated in inter-club flowers shows and have staged both club shows and inter-club shows. The club’s entries have been ribbon winners in numerous flower shows locally and regionally.
Gateway has the honored distinction of having a member who is an accredited flower show judge: June McClung was recognized for this accomplishment at the annual luncheon in 1991.
In the spring of 1993, Gateway Garden Club celebrated its 40th anniversary at the Martinsburg Room, located in the Martinsburg Public Library. Club Historian Sarah Steptoe gave a brief history of the club followed by a social hour. Gateway members re-dedicated their commitment and renewed their enthusiasm for the upcoming year.
Since its founding in 1953, Gateway has welcomed and enjoyed nearly 100+ alumni. While members come and go, the spirit of the club remains as it started:
Obituary for Sarah Steptoe (to the top)
Sarah Duff Steptoe, a long-time resident of Berkeley County, passed from this life on August 6th 2015 at Berkeley Medical Center, surrounded by family and friends.
Born in Martinsburg on November 6th, 1921, Sarah’s father was the late Dr. James Abram Duff , and her mother was the late Pansy Kittinger Duff. She was pre-deceased by a half-brother, James A. Duff Jr., and half-sister, Naomi Duff Smith.
Sarah graduated from Martinsburg High School in 1938 and attended Northfield Seminary for one year prior to matriculating at Hood College. She graduated from Hood in 1943 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
On April 2nd, 1942, Sarah married Ensign Robert (Bob) Mason Steptoe of Shepherdstown. Following Bob’s Navy service in World War II, the couple lived in Charlottesville Virginia, where Bob attended and graduated from the University of Virginia Law School. In February 1949 they moved to Martinsburg where Bob began his law practice and Sarah started her church and community activities that grew and flourished over the next 65 years.
Sarah was preceded in death by her husband Bob; son, James Duff Steptoe; and two daughters-in-law, Mary Pat Thompson Steptoe and Patricia Gail Steptoe. She is survived by three children and their spouses; Robert M. Steptoe, Jr and Rebecca Jarvis Steptoe of Clarksburg; Philip P. Steptoe II and Lynne Seibert Steptoe of Martinsburg; and Sally Steptoe Hazard and Sprague W. Hazard of Charleston.
She was the devoted grandmother of nine: Robert M. Steptoe, III of Morgantown; Katherine Steptoe Fisher of Columbus, Ohio; Elizabeth Steptoe Smailes of Morgantown; Anne Steptoe-Sexton of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Charles Y. Steptoe of Street, Maryland; James G. Steptoe of Martinsburg; Dr. Hannah W. Hazard of Morgantown; Dr. S. William Hazard III of Hershey, Pennsylvania; and Rebecca Hazard Dick of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Her fifteen great-grandchildren are Dylan S. Steptoe and Sarah E. Steptoe of Street Maryland; Robert M. Steptoe, IV, Charles H. Steptoe, and Miles T. Steptoe of Morgantown; D. Blake Fisher, Lillian S. Fisher, and Marshall S. Fisher of Columbus, Ohio; Cooper J. Hazard, Brandt W. Hazard, and Grady T. Hazard of Hershey, Pennsylvania; Carter O. Smailes and Campbell T. Smailes of Morgantown; Genevieve G. Dick and Catherine P. Dick of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Sarah’s focus was always on her family, and her activities at Trinity Episcopal Church, Martinsburg and in the Martinsburg/Berkeley County community developed and matured along with her children. As a young mother, she taught Sunday School, served as cub scout den mother, volunteered at the girl scout office, and was active in the PTA of each child’s school. She and Bob sang in the Trinity Church choir for almost fifty years, and guided all of their children into church activities.
As her children grew and moved on to higher education and careers, Sarah re-focused her attention on church, community, and support for Bob’s public service as a state legislator. She served as a lector, Lay Eucharistic Minister, chairperson of the Altar Guild, Saint Mary’s Guild, and the Episcopal Churchwomen at Trinity, as well as multiple terms on the vestry. Sarah began her long service to the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia as chairperson of the diocesan Episcopal Churchwomen, Ecumenical Coordinator, Standing Committee member, and National Cathedral Representative. Her outstanding support for church and diocese led to her service to the national church, which included selection as a delegate to five meetings of the General Convention of the church, member of the Standing Committee on Ecumenical Relations, and member of the Board of Trustees of Virginia Theological Seminary. For her service to the church at all levels, Sarah received the Rector’s Cross, the Bishop’s Cross, the Order of Jerusalem, and the Bishop’s Shell award, a recognition for living her baptismal covenant.
In the Martinsburg/Berkeley County community, Sarah was instrumental in founding and operating the Norborne Early Learning Center at Trinity Episcopal Church, chairing and serving on its board. She was a key player in the 1979 meetings of several area churches to see how they could better transform faith into service. She chaired or co-chaired committees that founded CCAP/Loaves and Fishes, and Meals on Wheels. Sarah was an initial committee member for the Berkeley Senior Center and Panhandle Home Health and was also Chairperson of the Friends of the Library. On the state level, Sarah served a term on the West Virginia Humanities Council. She was recognized by the Beta Sigma Phi service sorority as a First Lady of Martinsburg.
Sarah was an artist, poet, and reader. She worked in oil and watercolors, and gave many of her works to family, friends, and organizations. Her poetry was appreciated by the local poetry community and published in the poets’ corner of the local paper. She read and reviewed new books on radio, and is fondly remembered for her radio readings of children’s books. Bob and Sarah delighted in world travel and shared many trips over the years. This made her an outstanding contributor at Travel Club, of which she was a member for over fifty years. Her home and gardens were another of her many interests. She was a founding member of the Gateway Garden Club and showed her home on two annual house and garden tours.
Always the mother, grandmother, great grandmother, friend and mentor, Sarah enriched many lives on her long journey through life. She lived for each new great grandchild and rejoiced in the bounty of her family. As she grew to old age, she made new friends to replace the friends that had passed on. Similarly, in her old age she was unable to do the church ministry she had done all her life, so she adapted. When she was able to attend church, she listened to people and quietly consoled and encouraged them. She was the matriarch of not only her own family but her church family as well. Sarah lived the abundant life she was promised and shared her blessings with all who knew her.
Visitation will be at the Brown Funeral Home, 327 West King Street, Martinsburg, on Friday August 14th from 4-6PM and from 7-9PM. At her request, interment will be private on August 15th. The memorial service will be at Trinity Episcopal Church, 200 West King Street, Martinsburg, on Saturday August 15th at 11:30AM.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Trinity Episcopal Church, 200 West King Street, Martinsburg WV 25401, Norborne Early Learning Center, 200 West King Street, Martinsburg WV 25401, or CCAP/Loaves and Fishes, 336 South Queen Street, Martinsburg WV 25401.
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