These ladies have fun in living color



They’re colorful, they’re loud, they’re the GLAD Hatters.

Federal Way’s chapter of the Red Hat Society might be one of the brightest-attired and fun-loving club in town. Just when some people their age are slipping quietly into or toward the golden years, this all-women group is whooping it up.

The approximately 80,000 Red Hat members in the U.S. and Canada are “the matriarchs of the world,” said Donna Welch, head of the Federal Way contingent. “We’ve had our careers and kids, and now we’re doing something fun for ourselves.”

For their get-togethers, like the one Feb. 13 at Tony Roma’s restaurant in celebration of the GLAD (Girls, Ladies and Dames) Hatters’ first anniversary, Red Hat members over 50 years old wear red hats of various designs and periods, along with a purple outfit. For the under-50 set, the look is pink hats and lavender clothes.

The strongly suggested apparel, the closest thing to a mandate for the no-official-rules organization, “adds an element of fun to aging, which we think is invaluable to women in our society who have learned to dread aging and avoid it at all costs,” states the Society’s official Web site. “We believe that aging should be something anticipated with excitement, not something to dread.”

The 35 GLAD Hatters serenade each other on special occasions with kazoos, another of the fun touches, said Welch, who started the local group and thus has the title of Founding Queen Mother (“I go by FQM”).

The oldest of the bunch are in their 70s, the youngest 40-somethings.

While visiting a friend in Tucson, Ariz., Cooper impulsively bought a bright red fedora at a thrift shop because it was cheap and dashing. A year or two later she discovered a poem titled “Warning,” by Jenny Joseph. It read, in part:

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

“With a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.

“And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

“And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.”

The words gave Cooper the idea that her birthday gift to her friend would be a vintage red hat and a copy of the poem. Cooper kept giving the same gifts to other friends until they realized that they were becoming a “Red Hat Society” and that they should go out to tea together in their bright finery.

Their ranks grew to the point that now the organization is planning an eventual national convention. That’s right –– a hotel commandeered by women in red and purple.

“We’re quite the bunch,” said Welch, who can be reached by prospective new members through

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

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