Marian Wood Adair
1908 – 2004
Marian Wood Adair grew up in a small town of just 6000 persons, Hillsdale, Michigan, USA. Her passion for the international community was ignited by her high school French teacher. Mademoiselle taught with enthusiasm, creativity and knowledge that other cultures were very interesting. Mademoiselle opened Marian’s vision to the world. After college, Marian and some college friends traveled around Europe. The young women saw all the sights, enjoyed the new cultures, and tried out their French language skills on the French. Marian and the other recent college graduates had a wonderful time—Marian, however, was smitten with the people. Mademoiselle’s teaching and the trip through Europe were the catalyst she needed to become a global woman.
When Marian’s husband, E. Ross Adair, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1950, Marian, Ross and their two children, Caroline and Stephen, moved to Washington, DC. Marian saw the opportunity to once again enjoy the global experience. This time she wanted the international experience for other women as well.
Marian and her husband, Congressman E. Ross Adair, were invited to many diplomatic functions in Washington, often in the company of the same circle of people. The husbands were participating in the same diplomatic arena. Marian’s curiosity made her especially interested in meeting the wives. It was difficult to cultivate true friendships when one meets others for a few quick minutes at large, social gatherings with hundreds of people in attendance.
In Washington, Marian also met women who had struggled in their own countries; women who had the possibility to be exceptional but who had to work very hard to show or to share their exceptionality; women who had to be resilient to survive. Marian’s daughter remembers one heartfelt comment by her mother. Caroline asked, “Mom when you meet women from other cultures, other countries, what to do see in the women?” Mother replied, “I see eyes.” That reply told Caroline a lot. She knew her mother could see the soul of a woman through her eyes.
In her book WINDOW ON WASHINGTON, Marian states “…By 1953, I could resist no longer and felt motivated to organize a small group, where we would learn about each other on a first name basis.” Marian shared her club idea with several diplomats who encouraged her to proceed. Mme. Von Roijen, wife of the Ambassador from the Netherlands, was most encouraging giving Marian the advice that she needed.
Even in the earliest days, it was truly an international effort. The first meeting was held at the home of the Adairs on May 5, 1953. The following quotation is from the Minutes of that meeting as saved by Marian. “…The purpose of this meeting was to form a small club for diplomatic and congressional wives whose husbands dealt with international matters. The wives of six diplomats, each from a different country, were invited to the first meeting because they had the desire to help found this club and because of their geographic location.” The second meeting included the international members, plus Congressional wives with the purpose of the club being to develop friendships and build bridges of understanding, worldwide. Eventually eight International Clubs were organized. Then Marian founded and became the First President of Welcome to Washington International Club. Now Sister Clubs have been organized within the United States and worldwide under the name, Welcome Clubs International.
Ross Adair was appointed U.S. Ambassador the Ethiopia in 1971. While in Ethiopia, Marian continued to stay involved. She organized various women’s activities including two prayer breakfasts.
Mrs. Adair’s activities in Washington D.C. emphasized work in Christian, congressional, and international organizations which included; Women’s Committee of International Christian Leadership; Congressional Wives Prayer Breakfast, The Congressional Club, the League of Republican Women; the Capitol Speakers Club of Washington, the National Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. Marian Adair was named the Hoo’s Hoo of Hoosier Women awarded by the Indiana Society of Washington.