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Queen Mother
Margaret Webb
    Smiles from
    the West
    to the World!
She's whimsical. She's witty. Her heartwarming smile lights up entire rooms. Best of all, she's the
perfect person for to feature on the inaugural Queen of Hearts because she models what Red Hat
women can be...and should be. Recently, chatted with this remarkable woman who
started the second Red Hat Society chapter in Texas, the first in Lubbock.

MBY: Tell a little about your background and family.

MW: I have a daughter, Rhonda. She’s my only child. She has a daughter and son—Christina and Christopher.
Christina has three children—a girl and two boys—Alyssa, James and Jacob.

MBY: You grew up in West Texas, right?

MW: I was born in Big Spring. When I was eleven we moved to Sweetwater. That’s where I finished high school.

MBY: What were you involved with in school?

MW: I was a cheerleader. I did some acting. I loved doing plays and costumes.

MBY: Hmmm….some things never change. What else?

MW: I was on the annual staff and worked on the school newspaper.

MBY: What happened next?

MW: I got married and we moved to Kansas, then eventually came
back to Texas and settled in Lubbock. That’s where I did my college

MBY: Where?

MW: South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, just thirty-some miles
from Lubbock.

MBY: Tell about your husband.

MW: Bill Webb. He worked in the banking industry, very respected.
He passed away five years ago.

MBY: So sorry to hear that.

MW: We are never ready for something like that to happen, are we?

MBY: But you survived. In fact, you’ve not only made it through this difficult time, but you’ve found a way to pour
yourself into a number of great causes.

The Road to Red Hatting
MW: I’ve always been active in church and social activities. It’s one way of meeting great people and
giving back whatever you’ve been blessed with to others.

MBY: What is it that prepared you for founding the first Red Hat Society Chapter in Lubbock—one of
the first in Texas?

MW: I remember something as far back as when I was a youngster in Sunday School in Big Spring. My
other brother and I were both in the same class at church, and our teacher told my mother that we
were the greeters. It wasn’t an elected office or anything, but as she told my mother, every time that
any one new came into the class, we would just naturally go and shake the person’s hand and
welcome them. We weren’t told to do this, but I guess we had both just picked it up from seeing our
parents and other adults do something similar. I’m saying that to mention that it seems like I have been
in that role most of my life.

MBY: Before we talk about that role in getting the Red Hatter movement going in West Texas, let’s talk
about another great cause in which you’ve been active—the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra.

MW: It’s a true passion. I’ve always loved music of all kinds. The symphony was founded back in 1946,
and it has become a very important part of the cultural fabric of the entire South Plains Region. It has
become a strong, financially-stable, professional orchestra with nationally-known guest conductors
and talented musicians that truly touches so many people of all ages and different musical
backgrounds throughout the area.

MBY: What all did you do with the symphony?

MW: I was on the Board of Directors and the Executive Board, then I was Hospitality Chairperson for
ten years.

MBY: Hospitality seems to be a word that applies to everything you do. What did this position mean in
relation to the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra?

MW: Welcoming, hosting, and entertaining the guest artists when they came into town—making sure
they were at
rehearsals and dinners and wherever they were supposed to be at any given time. I literally was
with these artists from the time they hit Lubbock until they the moment they left.

MBY: That had to be exhausting…

MW: It was, but what a rich and rewarding time as well.

A New Purpose
MBY: What a great preparation for getting involved in Red Hatting.

MW: It was wonderful preparation, but probably one of the big things that helped me later on was my years with
the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. I got to experience what went on in Lubbock and what we really had to offer
here. That’s when I truly realized that I wanted to be involved in something that would benefit women my age, as
well as the community.

MBY: Enter the idea for the Red Hatters, right?

MW: Actually, at that time, the Red Hat Society didn’t exist. I even had a name chosen for this group that I thought
might work, yet not knowing where it was going to lead.

MBY: A name already?

MW: Yes. Then as time progressed, I picked up a copy of
Romantic Homes Magazine and read an article about
the Red Hat Society. It was the first I had ever heard about the Red Hatters. I thought, “This is it!”

MBY: A major light bulb moment?

MW: It really was. I suddenly thought, “This is what I’ve been preparing to do my whole life.”

MBY: What was so momentous about the article?

MW: Like I said, it talked about the Red Hat Society, a social organization founded during 1998 in California for
women 50 and beyond. It spoke about the founder of the Society, Sue Ellen Cooper, how in 1997 she gave a
friend named Linda Murphy a 55th birthday gift consisting of a red fedora purchased a year earlier at a thrift store
along with a copy of the now-famous Jenny Joseph's poem "Warning."

MBY: That’s where the red and purple started, right?

MW: Yes. The opening lines of that poem read:
    “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
    With a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me…”

MBY: How did that poem lead to the Red Hat Society?

MW: Sue Ellen repeated that delightful gift several times, and eventually she and several of her friends bought
purple outfits and held a tea party.

MBY: Who would have thought that such a simple gift would eventually ignite an international phenomenon?

MW: Absolutely. Then and now, the Red Hat Society’s primary purpose not to be a sorority or a service club. Sue
Ellen and the other women just came together to have fun, friendship, freedom and fulfillment. It’s as simple as

MBY: And to wear red hats?

MW: Definitely to wear red hats!

Contact with California
MBY: What happened next?

MW: Well, I contacted the editor of the magazine. Sue Ellen’s name was mentioned, but
there was no contact information listed in the article. Through the editor I got Sue Ellen’s
email address and emailed her.

MBY: What did you write?

MW: In the article it stated that her fondest dream was to proliferate these chapters far
and wide. In my email I simply asked how to get a chapter started. She replied and told
me how to do it. In a month’s time, the Lubbock chapter became the second in the state
of Texas. Twenty-two ladies came to our first meeting.

MBY: You are known as the Lubbock Red Hats now. Was that your chapter’s name in the

MW: At first we were called “The Select Few.” When we quickly reached 200 members, I
decided that the title didn’t exactly fit.

MBY: How were you able to work it out to have the "Exalted Queen Mother" to come to

MW: We were the second place that Sue Ellen visited when she first started going
around to the different chapters.

MBY: That had to be an exciting time.

MW: Oh, yes! We held it at the Lubbock Civic Center. In 2002, the Lubbock Avalanche-
Journal put on an annual event called, “A Time for Women!” They asked us to help host
it, offering time for a workshop and a booth. So I called Sue Ellen and said, “My chapter
membership is starting to explode.” Then I explained to her what was going on and
about the newspaper event. She asked, “My I come there for it?” I just about fainted. I
couldn’t imagine anything like that.

MBY: How did it go?

MW: She was here two nights and three days. She and I did a workshop called, “Just for
Today, Come Learn to Play!” The attendance was phenomenal. People came in from all
over the place as far away as New Mexico and places around Texas—Dallas, Amarillo,
and so forth. They all wanted to meet Sue Ellen. And we had lots of new members that
joined our Lubbock chapter, as well.

MBY: That to be exciting.

MW: It was such a great experience.

Red Hat Highlights
MBY: So, let’s skip forward from that time. So much has happened since those early
years. Other than the Exalted Queen Mother’s visit, what have been some other

MW: Sue Ellen asked me to come to the first-ever Red Hat Society convention. It was in

MBY: What year?

MW: I believe it was 2003.

MBY: What did that involved?

MW: I was to lead the Queens Council. Everything was such uncharted territory at that
time, and I had no idea what I was going to do. I called her and asked for ideas. She said,
“Just tell us what your chapter in Lubbock does because you are a pacesetter.”

MBY: What did she mean?

MW: Well, we had already done quite a few activities out in the community.

MBY: So that’s what you shared?

MW: I did. After I described what all we did in the South Plains area, then some of the
other Queens came up and shared some of the things they were doing to get the word
out. It was one of the most memorable things I’ve done.

MBY: As the Red Hatter concept began spreading, were you contacted by others who
wanted to do what you had done in their own communities?

MW: Oh, yes. I spent lots of time going to the other chapters and seeing the programs
they put on and what they were doing. That’s really how the momentum kept going,
because we all learned from each other. I loved getting ideas from other Queen Mothers
and bringing them back to see how these concepts would work for us. It was so
to see everything growing and expanding.

MBY: Anyone who sees Red Hatters today knows without a doubt that the chapters are hardly cookie
cutter groups. There is so much variety, not just from chapter to chapter, but also within the chapters.

MW: One of the things that I noticed very early that the most successful Queen Mothers were able to
take good ideas and apply them specifically for their areas. What we did in the Lubbock area didn’t
always work for the girls in the Dallas area. They have a greater variety of places to go than us, so we
had to be very creative in putting together outings and so forth. The gals in Louisiana found it easy put
together such things as boat cruises and Mardi Gras-type events, while that would involve quite a bit
of travel for us. But there were lots of things that we could do that didn’t always work as well for them.
As time progressed, we all learned from each other. It was amazing to see how each Queen Mother
and chapter adapted the good ideas to their areas. That has continued to be one of the strongest
building blocks for the entire Red Hat Society.

MBY: What great friendships you must have formed?

MW: That has been the highlight—to go around to other chapters and meeting the other ladies, getting
to visit with the Queen Mothers, and to see what all they do to make things work well where they are.

    The Red Hat Garden
    MBY: Tell about the Red Hat Garden in Lubbock that continues to get so much

    MW: Back in 2002, the manager of the Texas Tech University Horticultural Center
    was on my queens court and came to me with an idea for planting a garden in the shape
    of a red hat as a community project. Everyone thought it was such a wonderful idea and
    jumped right in to getting the flower bed ready and planting it. Each lady planted at least
    one plant in the garden.

    MBY: And tell about the dedication.

    MW. That was very touching. When we had the presentation with the media and
    dignitaries there, they dedicated it to me. I was overwhelmed.

    MBY: What happened to spread the idea to other Red Hat chapters?

    MW: The year after we first planted the Red Hat Garden, we went to Austin for the state
    convention. There were people there from the national office and a number of other states, as
    well. People had already started hearing about the garden, so we decided to take clippings from
    our flower garden and handed them out to women at the convention, encouraging them to start
    their own gardens.

    MBY: Did you hear back from them?

    MW: Yes. We heard from others in California and other states, as well as throughout Texas, from
    ladies who planted the clippings and how they truly liked the idea.

    Speaking of nice things coming from California, Margaret shares the
    heartwarming letter that she received from Sue Ellen when she entered a major

    Encouraging Others
    MBY: After all you have seen, what would you recommend to a lady in an area where
    either the chapters are full or where there is no chapter?

    MW: Start her own!

    MBY: How?

    MW: Go to There are great instructions on how to start your own chapter.
    The information is invaluable.

    MBY: After the decade of Red Hatting that you have experienced, what excites you today and
    keeps you doing it?

    MW: When you see the new members coming in and their excitement as they discover for the first
    time what the whole idea of Red Hatters is about, that’s what continues to make it all worthwhile.

    MBY: Describe what you mean about the excitement of new members?

    MW: I see them, just like I was when I first got started (and continue to be), they can’t wait to go to
    the next get-together and get more involved.

    MBY: What makes it so different and exciting? It has to be more than the red hats, purple clothes
    and bling.

    MW: It’s because you are allowed to be you. Your personality can show. You get to bond with
    others who are as excited about having fun and friendship. And I think that the new people
    coming in keeps those of us who have been around for awhile to stay motivated and thrilled to be
    part of this wonderful movement.

    MBY: You never get tired of it?

    MW: Oh, just like anything in life, there are ebbs and flows for everyone, but I try to get my ladies
    out in the community whenever there is any kind of new exhibit that’s coming in or anything of
    interest—health issues, civic affairs, nostalgia, exciting things happening—that can allow us more
    knowledge and the opportunity to experience the camaraderie of being with the other ladies. And,
    of course, there’s always the fun of going to new venues together—restaurants, get-togethers,
    events—in the city and region. It is still very exciting to me, and I am so proud to be part of what
    the Red Hat Society is doing all over the world!

    A Spreading Circle of Smiles
    MBY: Speaking of fun and get-togethers, what’s with the kazoos?

    MW: The fun thing is that when we are out in public, we are often celebrating some lady’s
    birthday. You’ve got all these women dressed to the nines. It’s all elegant, then all of a sudden we
    all pull out these crazy kazoos, which sounds like a hive of bees, and start buzzing “Happy
    Birthday.” There’s just no way the people all around us can keep from having a good time, too! It
    totally destroys them, and they are laughing so hard.

    MBY: One final question that builds on that thought: What generally happens when people see a
    big group of Red Hatters all dressed up in the red, purple, and tons of bling-bling?

    MW: When you are in a restaurant or parade or whatever, the colors pull people toward you. It
    can’t help but draw attention. People around hear the laughter that always seems to be wherever
    Red Hat ladies are. People always ask questions. Now, of course, most people know who the Red
    Hatters are, but they don’t always know what all we do. What they do see is that not only do we
    have a great time with it, but others around us can’t help but have a good time, too! It’s too
    contagious. They all have smiles on their faces. If we can do that and bring happiness wherever
    we go, that’s what it’s all about!

    The great nineteenth century American author and essayist Washington Irving
    once wrote, "A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its
    vicinity freshen into smiles." He could have been writing about Lubbock's
    Founding Queen Mother. Her "fountain of gladness" continues to spread
    happiness and joy around the world!
(Above) Red Hat Society's
Founding Queen Mother
Sue Ellen Cooper
(Below) The Original
Six...Sue Ellen and her
Founding Royal Court
Texas Royalty...
San Antonio's Scarlet
Chapeau Chapter Queen
Mother Debbie Herring
and Queen Mother
Margaret Webb share a
laugh at a recent
Queen Mother Margaret Webb and the
Lubbock Red Hats Royal Court
Some things
never change:
"I was a cheerleader.
I did some acting.
I loved doing plays
and costumes."
The Queen Mother
and her Royal Court
Gorgeous Gertie,
the Lubbock Red Hats
Diva Doll
"It was the first I
had ever heard about
the Red Hatters.
I thought, 'This is it!'”
Queen Margaret and Lubbock Red Hats (and up-and-coming Pink Hatters)...bringing pizzazz and bling to a new product unveiling!
"You are allowed
to be you! Your
personality can
Another hit in the community,
The Red Hats Cookbook
Dear Queen Margaret,

Greetings and felicitations to you upon your current representation of the Red Hat Society
in the Ms. Senior America Pageant! You have been an invaluable asset to our
"disorganization" from the moment you joined forces with us one year ago. Your wit, your
beauty, and your creativity, all of which you have shared freely, have helped us to grow
and flourish in the Lone Star State far beyond our wildest dreams! You have a wonderful
way about you and you draw others to yourself. You know how to have fun and
demonstrate that knowledge. This draws other around you to follow you and to learn how
to play and make the most of life.

I am very proud to have you as an illustrious Queen of the Red Hat Society. Best wishes in
this competition from all of us here in California. We are 100% behind you!

                                                                                Sue Ellen Cooper
                                                                                Exalted Queen Mother
                                                                                Red Hat Society
ESPECIALLY FOR RED HATTERS is a feature of While we support and encourage participation
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