In the summer of 1915, when the YMCA camp on Lake Michigan set aside two weeks for the Girls Scouts to enjoy the camping experience. The newspaper reporter noted that it was Edith Dykema who was appointed director of this two week camp. A few people then wondered, who was this Edith Dykema?
In 1883, Edith Dykema was born into the family of Kryn and Mary Dykema, and grew up in what could be considered an upper middle class family, her father owning the Dykema Grain and Fuel Company, and later working as an insurance agent.
She attended Central High School as it entered the 20th Century. Her name is mentioned in the social columns periodically, once reporting on a party that was also attended by none other than Viva Flaherty! The 1903 high school yearbook notes that Edith, in the list of the graduates, participated in the Literary Society, as well as the basketball team and as the class secretary in her senior year.
After high school, Edith attended Prince College in Boston. Upon returning to Grand Rapids, she lived in her parents’ home at 245 Paris SE and began her career working in social welfare. In the 1918 Polk City directory, she lists her employment with the Social Welfare Association. By 1922, when the Michigan Conference of Social Work met in Saginaw, Miss Dykema was secretary of that organization. And when the Conference met in Grand Rapids in October, 1934, she was serving as the general chairman.
The 1930 census records show Edith and her mother living at 1409 Fisk Road, just a few doors away from the fairly new Ottawa Hills High School. Her occupation then was “Treasurer of Magazine Publication.”
In 1933, at age 50, she married William K. Clute and lived with him in East Grand Rapids, on Ogden Avenue. Edith Dykema Clute died on October 9, 1935. The article in the Grand Rapids Herald about her death states that she was “instrumental in the establishment of the Women’s City Club” and served on the board for several years. At one time, she was secretary of the “Hospital council” and at the time of her death was president of the League of Women Voters.
This biography can also be found in the Winter 2016 GGRWHC Newsletter.