It was 1945 and World War II was drawing to a close. While Portugal had remained neutral during the war, Lisbon in the first months of 1945 was still rife with the espionage activity of Axis and Allied forces alike. In anticipation of an imminent Allied victory, a group of American businessmen resident in Portugal began to get together for lunch to discuss business opportunities that would open up in post-war Portugal.
For the first three decades of its existence, the American Club had no address it could call home. Each president worked out of his own corporate office and lunch reservations were mailed directly to the hotel holding the event. When Miss Ellen Broom was hired as Corresponding Secretary in 1976, she generously contributed her office space for the centralization of all Club correspondence and records. Upon Ellen's retirement in 1995, the Sheraton Hotel gave the Club a room for its new headquarters and a modern office was fully equipped as the result of a very successful fund raising appeal to the membership.
Although even today the Club is erroneously referred to as "The American Men's Club", gender has never been a criteria for membership; nor did the subject arise, since the Club has long had a cooperative agreement with its "sister" club, the American Women of Lisbon. When in 1975, Marcia Myers, then Executive Assistant to Amb. Carlucci, requested membership, her application was accepted with enthusiasm, thus paving the way for other female members. Today women represent nearly 15% of total membership and the Club elected its first woman president in 1994.
The membership can be proud of the role the American Club of Lisbon has played in the international community in Portugal. It is important to recognize, however, that while the people who have been the driving forces behind the Club have been predominantly business and professional people, the overriding theme of Club activity has been the human sphere of international relations, goodwill and understanding between people and cultures.
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