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Queen Mum
Janie Rausch-
    Queen Mother of
    Arizona's First
    Red Hat Chapter!
There is no perfect definition of a Red Hat woman. Lots of people have tried. Go to any of the thousands of
chapters around the world and you are likely to hear a wide variety of those definitions:

    “Dressing up in red hats and purple clothes and going out to play!”
    “Openness to new things—that’s what Red Hatting is.”
    “Laughing a lot!”
    “Being around positive gals.”
    “Nurturing yourself…and others.”
    “Lots of celebrations.”
    “Finding a new zest for life.”
    “Kazoos and doing the Red Hat wave!”
    “Caring for each other but not caring so much what other people think.”

Or, for a better definition, one could simply sit down for an intriguing conversation with Janie Rausch
DeAngelis, Founding Queen Mother of The Decadent Dames, the very first Arizona Red Hat chapter, as in this
exclusive and QUEEN OF HEARTS interview.


    MBY: Rumor has it that you just got married!

    JR: I did. His name is Al DeAngelis. So I’m officially an angel now!

    MBY: Al’s true angel! Well, everyone connected with and Especially for Red Hatters offers
    our congratulations! Tell us about your marriage to Al and what led to this wonderful event.

    JR: Six years ago a mutual friend introduced us. We dated on and off for a few months, then we sort of lost
    contact with each other until a couple of years ago. We reconnected and started dating again. Then last
    summer, he asked me to marry him.

    MBY: Tell about the proposal.

JR: We were going on a cruise to the Mediterranean. He had the ring with him, but he wanted to make sure he didn’t lose
it on the trip, so he gave it to me right before we got on the airplane.

MBY: And the actual proposal?

JR: He ended up proposing in every country we went to.

MBY: How romantic!

JR: He was…and is.

MBY: For all the Red Hatters who have known you as Queen Mum Janie Rausch, tell a little about Al.

    JR: Currently he works in the Economic Department for the for the city of Surprise, Arizona, a Phoenix
    suburb. Before that he owned a deli business in the Phoenix area for a number years. Before that he was a
    New York City guy.

    MBY: He sounds like a great guy.

    JR: He is a precious man.

    MBY: How have all the Arizona Red Hatters responded?

    JR: There were a number of them who told him at the wedding that he’d better treat me right or he would
    have to answer to them!

    MBY: They are always going to be protective of the Queen Mum. And how about your family?

    JR: I inherited three wonderful kids (twin boys Anthony and Michael, and a daughter Vicki) and three
    wonderful grandkids, so I’m on top of the world.

MBY: How many children did you already have?

JR: Two, a boy (Eddie) and a girl (Amy) and one granddaughter, Shandiin.

    MBY: Practically a Brady Bunch…

    JR: They are all very happy for us.

    MBY: What a nice added bonus.

    MBY: We understand that in the midst of all the wedding plans and the Arizona Red Hats
    State Convention, you had something tragic happen.

    JR: The convention was on March 13, and the night before I was rushing around the hotel
    making sure everything was okay with all the vendors and guests, and I tripped and fell in
    the lobby. In order to keep from hitting this large marble pillar, I put my hand out to catch
    my fall and broke my wrist in eight places, as well as dislocated the finger that had my
    engagement ring on it. That was my biggest concern when it happened. My ring finger
    was pointing in the wrong direction and starting to swell, and I wanted to make sure they
    didn’t cut the ring off or damage it.

MBY: What a way to get ready for a big convention and wedding!

JR: Truthfully, I hardly remember anything from the convention.

MBY: You went to the convention anyway?

JR: Oh, I came home from the emergency room at 2:30 AM. I didn’t have to be back at the convention center until 6, so I
actually got a few winks.

MBY: Your right arm was broken in eight places and your ring finger was badly dislocated, and you went to the

JR: They couldn’t have kept me away. I was there, but was in a lot of pain and taking medication. Somehow I got through
it. They operated on the arm a few days later, and I’ve got a plate in my wrist now with seven screws. I’m sure I’ll set off the
alarms at the airports from now on!

MBY: Amazing!

MBY: Let’s go back and talk about your background that led to the Red Hats.

JR: I was a Hoosier gal, born and lived many years in Indiana.

MBY: What town?

JR: Winamac.

MBY: How many people lived there?

JR: Probably a little over 2,000. I spent my childhood there, school years, got married there.

MBY: During your school years, what activities were you involved with?

JR: I was pretty involved. I was cheerleader, played softball, and other things. The 4-H Club was big there and I did that for
several years.

MBY: What about your parents?

JR: Mom kept the home fires burning and Dad was a farmer. My family grew up learning to pitch in and do whatever was
needed. We even worked with the big steam engine thrashers and sawmill that Dad built. It was an interesting childhood,
but we definitely learned how to work hard.

MBY: Let’s talk about after you got married.

JR: My husband Chuck was a United States Marine, so we moved 16 times in ten years. That’s when we moved to Arizona
in 1977. That was where we decided to put down some roots with our family.

MBY: During those years traveling around and after you moved to Arizona, did you keep a career going, in addition to
taking care of your family.

JR: Yes. I worked in the banking business for about 25 years. In each of our moves, I always went to work in a bank. My
kids were born 12 months and three weeks apart, so I took off two weeks’ vacation each time, then back to work.
Companies didn’t provide maternity leave back then.

MBY: After banking, what did you do?

JR: I got into the airline industry. I worked for America West, which is now US Air. I worked for them almost eight years,
then went to work for Mayo Clinic. I’ve been working with Mayo for 14 years now.

MBY: Those are pretty big jumps from banking to the airlines to the medical industry.

JR: Well, today I’ve heard that a large percentage of people have three different careers in their lifetime. So I hope that
holds true, and I plan to retire from Mayo in a few years still enjoying my third career.

MBY: During all those busy years, even with your family, careers and moving around, were you involved in civic and
school activities?

JR: Like most military families, we got it down to a science to pack up, move, unpack quickly, and get involved in things. As
soon as possible it always seemed that I would be involved in things like being a school class room mother, and there
were a couple of years when we were stationed in South Carolina when I wasn’t working at a bank, but I did lots of
babysitting for my children’s teachers. There was always something going on.

MBY: Something always going on…sounds like a good preparation for Red Hatting and all the balls in the air that you are

JR: There were a number of things that eventually led me to Red Hatting. My marriage ended after 28 years. My family
was grown and pursuing their own lives. I had my own home and was working. Things were coasting along. Then one day I
picked up my favorite magazine.

MBY: Could it be the issue of
Romantic Homes that first publicized the Red Hat Society to the world?

JR: Absolutely!

MBY: Every Queen Mother, it seems, got that issue of
Romantic Homes!

JR: After church every Sunday morning I would take time for myself. I had a favorite chair. I would get caught up on my
reading. And when I opened that magazine and began reading about the Founding Queen Mother Sue Ellen Cooper, I
actually got goose-bumps! I said to myself, “This is something I have to do!”

MBY: What made you react that strongly?

JR: I had gone through a lot of changes. I had lost both of my parents. Going through the divorce. Changing jobs. I had
developed such a great group of wonderful supporting friends, so when I read the magazine article, I said, “I need to thank
them for being such a blessing in my life.” I decided that on my birthday I would invite all of them to my friend’s tea room. I
called each of the eleven gals and said, “Come to lunch on January 27, 2001. Wear purple clothes, and don’t ask any

MBY: What fun!

JR: None of them knew anything about what I was going to do. They just knew that I was crazy and loved to have fun, so
they went along with it. All eleven showed up in their purple clothes.

MBY: And the red hats to go along with the purple clothes?

JR: I had shopped every store I could think of buying every red hat I could find. Back then you couldn’t find red hats very
easily, but I had a lot of fun with it getting ready and thinking about what I’d read in
Romantic Homes.

MBY: What was it like when you finally got together?

JR: I had set up a beautiful table arrangement and a red hat was at every one’s place, along with a copy for each of the
Romantic Homes article and a copy of the poem. And during the meeting, I said, “I’m going to start a chapter here in
Arizona. It will be the first one!” They all wanted to do it, so each of the ladies got a certificate as a charter member, and
an agenda, which consisted of selecting our chapter name and voting on officers for our small group. We hooted and
laughed and had a great time.

MBY: And the name you selected?

JR: The Decadent Dames!

MBY: Who knew where that urge to start one chapter would lead…

JR: That’s truly all I wanted to do. One chapter so we could get together once a month, wear our purple clothes and red
hats, and have a good time together with my little group of friends.

MBY: Little did you know…

JR: Absolutely. Shortly afterward I had a newspaper reporter contact me and wanted to do an article for the Arizona
Republic. He came and had lunch. I said to him, “Don’t ask me what this means to the women. Ask the women.” By that
time there were 30 to 40 women coming to the meetings. They told him how much Red Hatting meant to them, and he
wrote a nice article. And the phone never stopped ringing for the next two years. Within five years there were over 1200
Arizona chapters who were enjoying coming together in fun and friendship. Not only did we get to play with our old, tried-
and-true friends, but also we have the opportunity to meet new and very interesting, intellectual women who enjoy all the
camaraderie the Sisterhood of Purple has to offer.

MBY: You just thought you were busy before…

JR: Yes, it got a little crazy. Still is. Women called asking how to start a chapter and what they should do. I went around
giving little talks and sharing what I had learned.

MBY: Why was there such an interest happening so quickly?

JR: Every woman seemed to have a different reason for getting involved in Red Hatting. For me, I had something missing
from my life, and being with other Red Hat women fulfilled that need. For some, the reason was the loss of a parent or
spouse. Others wanted to belong to something that was bigger than themselves. Others simply wanted a bunch of gals to
have fun with. There were so many reasons!

MBY: Undoubtedly you have seen some wonderful relationships develop with Red Hatters during the past decade.

JR: Oh yes. I hear of them all the time from other groups, but I can especially talk about The Decadent Dames. So many
times I have women come up to me and thank me for starting our chapter. Even the husbands and friends have told me
so many times how much Red Hatting means. There have been so many great friendships that have formed.

MBY: Since you started the first chapter in Arizona, how much were you able to plug into the “Hatquarters” in California?

JR: Oh, yes. I asked lots of questions, and they were always so helpful. I invited our Founding Queen Mother Sue Ellen
Cooper to our first Arizona State Red Hats Convention. In fact, I believe ours was the first state convention held.

MBY: How did the convention come about? That seems like a major leap of faith.

JR: Not long after getting started, I went over to a big Red Hat Society get-together in San Juan Capistrano, California. At
that point we probably had 30 or 40 women involved in our chapter, but there were 300-400 women coming off the train at
the meeting, all colorful in their red and purple. Immediately I thought, “Wow, we’ve got to do something like this in
Arizona!” As the chapters continued to grow, I began asking around to see if all the gals wanted to get together for a big
statewide convention.

MBY: When did you have your first state convention?

JR: It was January 27, 2002—a year to the day after starting The Decadent Dames.

MBY: Quite an undertaking…

JR: It was exciting. Over 350 ladies came—37 chapters from around Arizona—all dressed in red and purple and lots of
bling-bling! Sue Ellen Cooper and Linda Murphy came. We had a group of dancers there. During the music the women
spontaneously got up and formed a big conga line around the room. We had so much fun!

    MBY: That was even before the first national convention, right?

    JR: The first Red Hat Society National Convention was three
    months later. It was held in Chicago. I definitely went to that. It
    was another big highlight for me and for all the ladies who

    MBY: There have to be many highlights. If you had to pick one
    or two that you cherish most, what would they be?

    JR: There are so many. During the first five years or so, I put my
    whole heart into it. I’d be up until the wee hours answering
    emails or setting up events. Sometimes I’d be so exhausted and I
    remember asking, “Lord, why am I doing this?” Then, invariably, I
    would get a phone call, an email or a note from someone I didn’t
    even know, saying, “Thank you! This has changed my life!”

    MBY: That had to be gratifying.

JR: Each time I’d say, “Okay, Lord, I know why I am doing this!” I even had a woman from my chapter who came up to me
and said, “I was so unhappy that I was ready to take my life. I was desperate and lonely. There didn’t seem to be anything
left to live for. But I heard about The Decadent Dames, and these friends have helped make my life worth living. They
have helped me to see how much I have to live for!”

MBY: Amazing!

JR: It’s why I keep doing it.

MBY: It sure seems like Red Hatting give an opportunity to rediscover the reasons for living.

JR: It does!

MBY: And it obviously keeps you going…

JR: Things change, of course. Ladies come and go. Some move away. Others find new interests. But I think it’s important
for women to have this outlet, the meaningful circle of friends, that Red Hatting offers.

MBY: Being in Arizona, you seem to have a different vantage point that you probably share with only a few states like
California, Texas and Florida. You have a lot of “snow birds” that come for the winter months, then return to northern
states and Canada. How has that helped spread the word about Red Hatting?

JR: It is fun. In the beginning, we had a lot of women visiting here and getting involved, then taking it back to start their
own chapters. The biggest time for “snow birds,” as people call them, is October through March each year.

MBY: It’s almost like “snow bird” grandchildren all over the place.

JR: Children! Sisters! But not grandchildren… (laughs)

MBY: Right!

JR: From my own chapter, there have been a number of chapters started in other places. They come and see how we are
doing it, then return and start their own. I encourage it. In fact, there are a number of women that are Queen Mothers and
members in other chapters that still maintain membership in The Decadent Dames. I think that’s great!

MBY: You’ve answered this so many times, but for the sake of this interview, when a woman calls and asks, “How do I start
a new Red Hat chapter?” what do you say? And how has that changed through the years?

JR: I give them I encourage them to attend meetings of other chapters to see how it’s done. And
I point them to, where they can see everything that’s going on in the state. As with so many things in
life, women get involved for their own reasons. Some get more involved than others. Thankfully, there’s a place for all of

MBY: Do you still get those incredulous looks when people see the ladies in red and purple?

JR: Oh, yes. Often it’s more that they see the Red Hattitude, as we call it. I’ve got to tell you about our wedding dinner. My
hair dresser came. She knew nobody but Al and me. I ended up putting her at a table with some of my craziest Red Hatter
friends were. These gals were dressed in “regular” clothes, not red and purple. When my hairdresser got ready to leave
after the dinner, she came up to Al and me and said, “You could not have put me at a better table! I only have three years
to go, but when I grow up, I want to be a Red Hatter, too!”

MBY: It really is the Red Hattitude, isn’t it?

JR: She said, “I want to play like you gals play!”

MBY: Which leads us to the calendar The Decadent Dames did for a few years…

    JR: (laughs) Oh, the calendar! This is how it happened. I had this one girl and I who just connected
    when she joined our chapter. She had just written a book, and the audience was senior women. She
    learned about the Red Hatters and called me, wanting to know more about the chapter. I told her. Then
    I mentioned that most of our activities were on the weekends since I worked full-time at Mayo. She said,
    “So do I.” Our friendship grew. Her dream was to start a place where teachers could come and pick up
    school supplies absolutely free. She helped me through some challenging times, so I wanted to repay
    her sometime. When the movie, The Calendar Girls, came out, a light-bulb went on in my mind. I
    rushed over to her house and said, “We’re going to do a nude calendar of Red Hatters and the
    proceeds are going to go toward starting your free school supplies place.”

    MBY: A nude calendar?

    JR: Okay, we called it “nearly nude,” but it was very tasteful. Everything was covered nicely. I said,
    “Since the proceeds are going to kids, we have to do it tastefully.” It ended up being such much fun. I
    even got some people involved at Mayo.

    MBY: You’ve done a lot, haven’t you? What will people remember most about you?

    JR: Oh, they’ll probably said, “That crazy woman!” My kids never know what I’m up to.

MBY: What did they think of the “nearly nude” calendar?

JR: I told them. They rolled their eyes and said, “I’m not surprised.”

MBY: What is your philosophy in a nutshell?

JR: Live every day to the fullest. I believe in doing absolutely anything and everything I want to right then and there. I don’t
put things off.

MBY: Except clothes for those calendars, right?

JR: You’ve got it.

MBY: Isn’t not putting things off sort of like the real-life definition of existentialism: Always eating dessert first!

JR: Well, for several years now I’ve always made sure that we had dessert on the table waiting for the Red Hat gals when
we get together. It’s their choice whether they want to wait or eat dessert first.

MBY: It’s having a choice that matters, right?

JR: And that’s one of the things I really like about Red Hatting. We have lots of choices about friendship, activities,
attitudes, and so much more. I’m just so grateful that we have the opportunity to take advantage of all these choices as we
make lasting memories together!

For more information, see

You can also contact Queen Mum Janie at
(Above) Red Hat Society's
Founding Queen Mother
Sue Ellen Cooper
(Below) The Original
Six...Sue Ellen and her
Founding Royal Court

"I'm officially an
angel now!"
"I’ve heard that a large
percentage of people
have three different
careers in their lifetime.
So I hope that holds true,
and I plan to retire from
Mayo in a few years still
enjoying my third career.”
"Red Hatting is
fun, and that's
no bull!"
ESPECIALLY FOR RED HATTERS is a feature of While we support and encourage participation
in local, state, national, and international activities that we seek to publicize as a free service, is not affiliated with the Red Hat Society.
It all started with a birthday
gift. Californian Sue Ellen
Cooper presented her friend
Linda Murphy with a red hat
and a framed copy of Jenny
Joseph’s poem that begins,
“When I am fifty, I shall wear
purple, With a red hat which
doesn‘t go, and doesn‘t suit

During April 1998, Sue Ellen,
Linda and a small group of
friends decided to meet in a
tearoom, dressed like the
poem in purple and red hats.
It was the very first Red Hat
Society meeting, and they
decided to elect
unconventionally named
officers such as Queen
Mother, Vice Mother,
Sergeant in Gloves and

Eventually the daughter of
one of the chapter’s member
shared the story of Red
Hatters with a friend who was
the editor of
Romantic Homes
Magazine. The story,
“Growing Old Playfully,”
featured the fledgling
phenomenon of The Red Hat
Society in the magazine’s July
2000 issue. That was literally
“the issue of
Romantic Homes
heard `round the world.” The
Red Hat women continued to
receive more and more
publicity. Florence
Henderson went on location
to cover a Red Hatter
shopping and lunch trip for
Today Show. Red Hat
Societies were increasingly
formed throughout the United
States and worldwide. The
first national convention was
held in 2002, and today
upwards to two million ladies
are excited to be part of the
wild and wonderful world of
red, purple, and bling!
"Honest, Santa, I've
been good!"