The New Canaan League of Women Voters celebrated a double birthday on Jan. 19: the 90th birthday of the group's doyenne, Karin Naill, as well as the 90th birthday of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

The Lamb Room at the New Canaan Library was transformed into party central as Naill was joined by family members (daughter Judy Rowett, her husband Hank and their daughter Monica; and son Roger and his wife Carol) as well as some 50 New Canaan League members and friends for a festive luncheon.

Local League president Jane Himmel noted in her remarks that Naill was inspired by the success of the suffragette movement that gave women the vote in 1920 and provided the foundation to establish the national League in 1921.

"This new organization would help women make the most of their new power as informed and active participants in civic life," she said.

Himmel then shared Naill's history.

"She has always been passionate about educating herself and those around her. As a young mother in the then village of New Canaan, Karin channeled her interests through the League, serving as voter services chair, vice president and president, and by taking a teaching job in the New Canaan Public Schools. After teaching for 24 years, Karin and her husband Gene retired to Sun City, Fla., where she reinvented herself as a golfer and art teacher. When she returned to New Canaan 10 years ago, she left her golf clubs behind but did bring her paintbrushes and League membership. She slipped right back in for a long run as program chair."

New Canaan League member Anne Ward presented Naill with a truly exceptional gift: a framed copy of the front page of The New York Times, dated Aug. 19, 1920, with large banner headlines hailing Tennessee's ratification of women's suffrage. Ward found the original among a collection of her grandparents' family papers and knew Naill would appreciate it greatly.

The cake shown in the accompanying photo was inscribed "Happy 90th Birthday to Karin & to the League of Women Voters" and showed four early photos of Karin and her family.

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