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The concept of a tall club was developed by a taller-than-average Southern California gal named Kae Sumner, who ironically was the artist who drew the Seven Dwarves for Walt Disney Studios. In 1938, Kae approached a Los Angeles Times columnist with an idea for an article about the problems associated with being tall. In the context of the article, Kae invited other tall folks to contact her to discuss the problems that faced their small percentage of society.

On May 1, 1938, the first meeting of the first tall club ever known to exist was held in Kae's home. This group became known as the California Tip Toppers, and their first tall awareness success story was the development of the king sized bed.

Publicity was no stranger to this organization. As the club grew, its existence became known throughout the U.S., and in February 1941, Arthur Miller caught the "Tall Club" fever and founded the St. Louis Tip Toppers. The first meeting was held at the home of Frances Smentowski and was attended by six tall folks interested in forming a tall club. Ads were run in many neighborhood newspapers and by their second meeting, they had a total of nineteen charter members:

Jack Battles, 6' 9-1/2"
Lillian Betz, 6' 0"
Leonard Cole, 6' 4"
Mary Catherine (Kunkel) Deuthmann, 6' 1/2"
Marie (Kobermann) Hahn, 6' 1/2"
Bernard Harte, 6' 6"
Robert Heinson, 6' 5-3/4"
Mildred Jedick, 6' 1/4"
Art Kaune, 6' 6-3/4"
Arthur Miller, 6' 7"
Hildegard Richter, 6' 1/4"
Frances (Smentowski) Blase, 6' 0"
Dalton Trout, 6' 6-3/8"
Al Tyrey, 6' 4-1/4"
Rosemary (Boedeker) Tyrey, 6' 0"
Francis Weiss, 6' 4-3/4"
Lois (Bryan) Weiss, 6' 1/4"
Marguerite Wenck, 6' 1/2"
Doris (Hill) Wilson, 6' 0"

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As the St. Louis Tip Toppers grew older and stronger, several notable events took place. They began producing a Club newsletter entitled "Tips On Toppers," which remains the title of the newsletter today. The Club chose gold and black as the official colors and "Stardust" as the official song. The first marriage between two members was on April 25, 1942, between Fran Weiss and Lois Bryan. Since this date, hundreds of marriages have taken place among St. Louis members. Our club's T-shirt slogan, "Kiss Someone TALL, It's Worth The Climb", was designed by Mark Rethemeyer in 1980, and is the best selling T-shirt in our club's history, as well as being one of the most widely recognized T-shirts in Tall Clubs International (TCI) today.

In July 1947, the St. Louis Tip Toppers attended the first National Convention of Tall Clubs. It was at this convention that the American Affiliation of Tall Clubs (AATC) was formed, with the St. Louis Tip Toppers as one of the organization's 15 charter members. In 1966, the AATC voted to change its name to Tall Clubs International (TCI), which is the name of the organization today.

During the years 1941-2001, the St. Louis Tip Toppers have held eleven national offices, sponsored three national conventions and our individual members have won a total of 45 national awards!

The St. Louis Tip Toppers held the following AATC/TCI offices:

1952 Executive Committee
Term of office: September 1951 - August 1952
Marie (Kobermann) Hahn/Jeanette Stratton President
Joan Siemer/Irene Kunnemann Vice President
Evelyn (Scott) Harding Corresponding Secretary
Joan Siemer Recording Secretary
Jeanette Stratton/Geraldine Sudholt Finance Officer
Alternate Executive Club
1982 Ruth (Hermann) Urbantke President
1983 Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer President
1985 Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer President
1987 Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer President
1988 Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer President
1994 Nancy Whitener President
1995 Nancy Whitener President
1998 Nancy Whitener President
1999 Nancy Whitener President
1989 Executive Board
Term of office: September 1989 - August 1990
Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer President
Mark Rethemeyer Vice President, Membership
Rita Maddock Vice President, Publicity
Ruth (Hermann) Urbantke Finance Officer
Nancy Whitener

Miss Tall International® Coordinator

Paul Herche Foreign Correspondent
Susan (Chase) Ivey Secretary
Dan O'Neal Editor

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In addition to holding an annual "weekend" celebration with party themes ranging from "Discover America St. Louis Style" to "Send In The Clowns" and "Saturday Night Live," the St. Louis Tip Toppers have sponsored the following AATC/TCI Conventions:

1951 Convention: "St. Louis For Fun In '51"
Held at the Statler Hotel in St. Louis, MO, the convention took place July 12-15 with approximately 300 people in attendance. Marie (Kobermann) Hahn chaired this convention.

1973 Convention: "St. Louis Spree In '73"
Held at the Marriott Hotel in St. Louis, MO, the convention took place July 9-14 with approximately 200 people in attendance. Don Harris chaired this convention.

1986 Convention: "Missouri Magic"
Held at the Henry VIII Inn and Lodge in St. Louis, MO, the convention took place July 4-13 with 408 full and part-time attendees. Mark Rethemeyer chaired this convention.

At these and other conventions over the years, the St. Louis Tip Toppers have been proud to accept several awards and distinctions. At the national Queen's Pageant, the following St. Louis Tip Toppers queens were named Miss Congeniality:


Terri (Tarr) Schweitzer, 6' 0"

1976 Ruth (Ruxlow) Green, 5' 11-1/2"
1981 Suzette (Rust) Allinger, 6' 0"
1985 Nancy Whitener, 6' 1-1/4"
1995 Edy (Little) Puers, 5'10-1/2"

Also at the national Queen's Pageant, the following St. Louis Tip Toppers Queens advanced to the "top five" of the competition:

1948 Mary Ellen (Kurland) Schroeder, 6' 0" 2nd Runner Up
1951 Claire (Froehlich) Purdy, 6' 0" 4th Runner Up
1952 Rose Marie Kellenberger, 6' 0" 3rd Runner Up
1968 Chris Finlay, 5' 11-1/2" 1st Runner Up
1973 Mary Lou (Lawler) Farrow, 5' 11" 1st Runner Up
1981 Suzette (Rust) Allinger, 6' 0" 3rd Runner Up
1983 Mariellen (Parker) Jacob, 6' 1/2" 2nd Runner Up
1990 Roberta (Holler) Mueller, 6' 1" Miss Tall International®
1992 Margaret (Ryan) DeBonis, 5' 10" 2nd Runner Up
1993 Carolyn (Ponciroli) Wolf, 5' 11-1/4" 2nd Runner Up
1995 Edy (Little) Puers, 5' 10-1/2" 1st Runner Up
1997 Jaynie (Cheney) Tatro, 5' 11-1/2" 1st Runner Up
1998 Laura Shaw, 6' 2" 3rd Runner Up
2004 Bethany Boogerd, 6' 1" 1st Runner Up

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The St. Louis Tip Toppers received the following club convention awards:

1985 Publicity Award Rita Maddock
1986 TCI Volleyball Champions:

Mark Rethemeyer, Co-Captain; Ken Koehn, Co-Captain; Paul Fichtinger; Rick Gillette; Eric Hamilton; Ruth (Hermann) Urbantke; Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer; Nancy Whitener

1987 Publicity Award Rita Maddock
1988 Publicity Award Rita Maddock
1990 Publicity Award Roy Ivey
1994 Publicity Award Kathy (Montgomery) Woltman
1998 Publicity Award Don Schuh
1999 Publicity Award Sue (Stewart) Schutz

Individual members of the St. Louis Tip Toppers received the following Tall Clubs International awards:

1986 TCI Man Of The Year: Mark Rethemeyer
Mark has the double honor of being the first St. Louisan to receive this award as well as, to date, being the youngest TCI recipient.

1988 TCI Woman Of The Year: Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer
Debbie has the double honor of being the first St. Louisan to receive this award as well as, to date, being the youngest TCI recipient.

1989 TCI Woman Of The Year: Rita Maddock
Rita has the honor of being the second St. Louisan to receive this award.

1994 TCI Man Of The Year: John Ott
John has the honor of being the second St. Louisan to receive this award.

1987 TCI Certificate of Recognition: Rita Maddock
Rita received this award in recognition of her contribution to publicity as it pertained to advertising the TCI toll-free number.

1993 TCI Special Merit Award: Pat (Hofer) Ott
Pat was presented this honor for her many years of outstanding server as the official Miss Tall International® travel agent.

2000 TCI Woman Of The Year: Nancy Whitener
Nancy has the honor of being the third St. Louisan to receive this award.

TCI Merit Awards:

1974 Don Harris   1990 Rebecca (Grups) Pelton
1974 Kathy (Fogler) Sorrell   1991 Patricia Hughes
1976 Ken Koehn   1991 Roberta (Holler) Mueller
1978 Vern Sandeen   1992 Roy Ivey
1979 Rita Maddock   1992 Margaret (Ryan) DeBonis
1980 Mark Rethemeyer   1996 Kathy (Montgomery) Woltman
1981 Ruth (Hermann) Urbantke   1997 Leigh (Spanberger) Schuh
1982 Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer   1997 Sue (Stewart) Schutz
1984 Dan O'Neal   1998 Carl Eisterhold
1984 Kelly (Fett) Smith   1998 Dean Braun
1985 Jill (Emmons) Gansmann   1999 Laura Shaw
1985 John Ott   2000 Roberta (Holler) Mueller
1986 Rita Maddock   2001 P.J. Link
1986 Nancy Whitener   2002 Liz Danter
1987 Bill Hansen   2002 Geralyn (Tonnies) Oldham
1988 Susan (Chase) Ivey      
1988 Patricia (Hofer) Ott      

TCI Scholarship Winners:

These bright young students were not members at the time of their TCI Scholarship awards, but we look forward to welcoming them into the Tip Toppers when they meet the age requirements!

1994    John K. Tsai, 6'4"   Parkway Central High   School   Northwest University Honors Program for Medical Education
2001    Nick Werner, 6'4"   Oakville High School   University of Notre Dame (Aerospace Engineering)
2002    Andrew W. Rhodes,  6'4" *   Lindbergh High School   University of Missouri-Columbia (Engineering undergraduate; law   graduate)

 * Secondary scholarship awarded in 2002 with funds donated by Fred Heater in memory of his spouse, Sharon Heater.

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The St. Louis Tip Toppers have received the following Proclamations over the years:

April 7, 1984 Tall Day, St. Louis City and County
July 4-13, 1986 Tall Awareness Days, St. Louis City and County
July 6-13, 1986 Tall Awareness Week in the State of Missouri
May 13-15, 1988 Tall Awareness Days, St. Louis City and County
May 5-7, 1989 Tall Awareness Days, St. Louis City and County
May 4-6, 1990 Tall Awareness Days, St. Louis County
May 5, 1990 Miss Tall International® Day, St. Louis County
February 1991 Tall Awareness Month in the State of Missouri
February 23, 1991 Letter of congratulation from President George Bush on our 50th Anniversary celebration
May 1991 Tall Awareness Month, St. Louis County
May 4, 1991 Miss Tall International® Day, St. Louis County
February 24, 2001 St. Louis Tip Toppers Day, City of St. Louis
February 18-24, 2001 Tall Awareness Week, St. Louis County

The St. Louis Tip Toppers created an "Outstanding New Member" award in 1992 to recognize new members who go beyond the call of duty to make a difference:

1992 Sue (Stewart) Schutz
1993 Dan Venverloh, Jr.
1994 Carmen & Steve Compas
1995 Dean Braun
1996 Jaynie (Cheney) Tatro
1998 Deb Neubauer
2001 Simone Williams

The St. Louis Tip Toppers amended the Constitution and Bylaws to include an "Outstanding Member" award in 2001 to recognize members in good standing for over 18 months who go beyond the call of duty to make a difference:

2001 Rich Raiskin
2003 Monica Vogel

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The members of the St. Louis Tip Toppers, past and present, are very proud of those persons who have won national acclaim. They are also proud of those persons who have stepped in and have volunteered their time, energy and creativity to this organization. In particular, we would like to say a special thank you to the following club presidents:

1941 Arthur Miller   1974 Don Harris
1942 Bernard Kramer   1975 Vern Sandeen
1943 John Rohde   1976 Vern Sandeen
1944 Rosemary (Buffa) Birner   1977 Ken Koehn
1945 John Roberts   1978 Barb Oligschlaeger
1946 Jeanette Stratton   1978 Joan Graves
1947 Bill Randolph   1979 Vern Sandeen
1948 Arthur Miller   1980 Mark Rethemeyer
1949 Hermann Siener   1981 Mark Rethemeyer
1950 Ed Bolte   1982 Ruth (Hermann) Urbantke
1951 Bill Kaintz   1983 Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer
1952 John Combest   1984 Dan O'Neal
1953 Fran Weiss   1985 Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer
1954 Norval Harding   1986 Jill (Emmons) Gansmann
1955 George Barton   1987 Nancy Whitener
1956 Rosalie (Droppelman) Heuing   1988 John Ott
1957 Roy Gleiforst   1989 Nancy Whitener
1958 Jim Nation   1990 Dan O'Neal
1959 Bill Ahrens   1991 Nancy Whitener
1960 Bob Johnson   1992 Jerry DeBonis
1961 Leo Parker   1993 Nancy Whitener
1962 Dick Macy   1994 Leigh (Spanberger) Schuh
1963 Joe Yokly   1995 Nancy Whitener
1964 George Zonnis   1996 Sue (Stewart) Schutz
1965 Vern Sandeen   1997 Steve Compas
1966 Vern Sandeen   1998 Nancy Whitener
1967 Fred Burk   1999 Dean Braun
1968 John Gay   2000 Liz Danter
1969 John Gay   2001 Liz Danter
1970 Fred Burk   2002 Jerry DeBonis
1971 Jerry Bentrup   2003 Jerry DeBonis
1972 Bob Sorrell   2004 Nancy Whitener
1973 Rich Bentrup   2005 Steve Lubbes

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We would also like to recognize those women who have served as Miss Tall St. Louis:

1947 Mary (Froehlich) Powers   1977 Kate Christman
1948 Mary Ellen (Kurland) Schroeder   1978 Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer
1949 Doris (Abernathy) McDermott   1979 Barb (Tuley) Taliana
1950 Lucille Poderski   1980 Ruth (Hermann) Urbantke
1951 Clara (Froehlich) Purdy   1981 Suzette (Rust) Allinger
1951 Vera (Irwin) Gregory   1982 Barb Meyer
1952 Rose Marie Kellenberger   1983 Mariellen (Parker) Jacob
1953 No Queen   1984 Rita Maddock
1954 Rosalie (Droppelman) Heuing   1985 Nancy Whitener
1955 Virginia (Franke) Barton   1986 Carla (Sokol) Gettemeier
1956 Delores (Waters) Bender   1987 Mary (Guelker) Brewer
1957 Jean Wildermuth   1988 Patricia Hughes
1958 Helen Dierkes   1989 Rebecca (Grups) Pelton
1959 Jane Willenkamp   1990 Roberta (Holler) Mueller*
1960 June (Ruth) Wise   1990 Linda (Hill) Horgan
1961 Kathy (Hannibal) Garamella   1991 Gloria (Eigelberger, Smith) Monroe
1962 Dottie (Goodson) Baker   1992 Margaret (Ryan) DeBonis
1963 Mary Ellen (Boenninghausen) Morrison   1993 Carolyn (Ponciroli) Wolf
1964 Kathy (Boehm) Ringe   1994 Kathy Hempel
1965 Rita (Schlitt) Ploeger   1995 Edy (Little) Puers
1966 Sue (Whipple) McMullin   1996 Lynn (Frank) Kalkbrenner
1967 Susan (Young) Burk   1997 Jaynie (Cheney) Tatro
1968 Chris Finlay   1998 Laura Shaw
1969 Barb (Wunderle) Lienhart   1999 Amy Romich
1970 Nancy Seibel   2000 Jeannie Harty
1971 Linda Carpenter   2000 Deb Neubauer
1972 Karen (White) Wiesemann   2001 Andrea Sudbrock
1973 Mary Lou (Lawler) Farrow   2001 Kelly Smith
1974 Mary Jean Murdock   2002 No Queen
1975 Terri (Tarr) Schweitzer   2003 Stacey L. Hood
1976 Ruth (Ruxlow) Green   2004 Bethany Boogerd

*(Crowned Miss Tall International®)

Compiled by Debbie (Herzog) Rethemeyer
Latest revision: December 2004, Tip Toppers Webmasters

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