Anna Louise Bates, Church Historian
The Halmshaw Fellowship Club was an organization formed by women students at the New Paltz Normal School who worshiped and socialized at the New Paltz Methodist Episcopal Church. Named for a beloved pastor of the church, the purpose of the club was twofold: educational and social. Club membership ranged from 12 to 40 young women during the years 1934-1938.
One of the most active members of this club was Miss Arylene DePew of Mamaronack, New York. She graduated from the Normal School with honors in 1936. During her time in New Paltz, she regularly attended Halmshaw Fellowship club meetings and facilitated the invitations of several remarkable speakers for the club’s events. The club routinely invited speakers who were provocative and nontraditional for their day (this was the 1930s), covering topics such as “Mohametism” and evolution, all topics of interest to sincere future teachers at the Normal School. (Halmshaw Fellowship Club Minutes, NPUMC archive).
After graduation, Arylene taught grades one through eight in a one-room school called Bell Top in North Greenbush, 1936-1940. When all the one and two-room schools in the area became East Greenbush Central Schools, Arylene taught sixth grade at Genet School (now Genet Elementary).
In 1944, she married Paul W. McDonough. They lived on the family farm and raised eight children including two sets of twins. Arylene then made a career of being a wife, mother and caregiver.
Arylene DePew’s story stands out as an example of the close connection of the New Paltz Methodist Episcopal Church and the local college. She often noted in the Halmshaw Club’s minutes how she believed education could change the world. And change it she did – first with her teaching in public schools and then as a mother to eight children. The imprint of her spiritual connection to our church came across in her teachings every step of the way, and she is a tribute to our legacy.