Kay Sumner Einfeldt; Founded Tip Toppers Clubs

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Kay Sumner Einfeldt, who at 6 feet, 2 inches tall founded the Tip Toppers organization more than half a century ago, has died. She was 80.

Einfeldt, who began the social clubs for tall people, died Sept. 28 in Capitola, Calif., of complications from a stroke, Joe Durrenberger announced this week.

The tall woman's idea has developed into Tall Clubs International, with about 65 clubs across the United States and 44 more in other countries, with a total of more than 8,000 members. To qualify, women must be at least 5 feet, 10 inches tall and men must be at least 6 feet, 4 inches.

It all began with an article that she wrote for the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine in 1938 about the joys and sorrows of being so tall. Ironically, at that time she was working at Disney Studios, drawing dwarfs for the "Snow White and Seven Dwarfs."

When half a dozen unusually tall men and women responded, she invited them to meet at her home and the club was born. By 1945, the Los Angeles club had 160 members, and Einfeldt had inspired similar groups to form in New Jersey, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado. The first national convention was held in Los Angeles in 1947.

Her accomplishment was even touted in the syndicated feature "Ripley's Believe It or Not!"

The clubs organized social events, including bowling, dancing, roller-skating and hiking parties. Many tall people met tall spouses at the get-togethers. Early rules provided that anyone who married "beneath them"--to a mate not tall enough for membership--was dropped from the organization.

Perhaps more influentially, the clubs also became consumer advocates, persuading manufacturers to supply size 10 shoes for women and size 16 for men, tall-size clothing for women and shirts and jackets with longer sleeves for men, and seven-foot-long beds.

Born in Oakland, Einfeldt was educated in Southern California, attending Pasadena Junior College, San Diego State and the Art Center College of Los Angeles.

She is survived by a daughter, Sheri, and three grandchildren.

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