Even as the St. Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce continued to grow, both in terms of membership and importance in the community, some members had bigger plans in mind. By October 23, 1919, Henry Giessenbier was leading a committee to call a caucus for the formation of a national Junior Chamber.
Having thus chosen our course, without guile and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear and with manly hearts.
St. Louis members had enthusiastically spread the news of their organization while off to war and, as a result, questions began pouring in from all over the country about how to form similar groups. A pamphlet describing the “St. Louis Plan” was sent in response and caucus invitations were issued to all existing young men’s groups. When the proceedings opened in St. Louis on January 21, 1920, 30 cities were represented. With the adopting of a provisional constitution until a convention could be held in June, and the election of officers, the national Junior Chamber movement was born.
The caucus-adopted constitution permitted wide latitude for member groups in regard to age of members and the name of their organizations. Names varied greatly from the Strollers Club and the Young Men’s Business Club of New Orleans to the Under Forty Division of the Detroit Board of Commerce. Some clubs accepted men in their 40s, while others welcomed teenagers. These points would cause controversy and debate for years to come.
Giessenbier won election as provisional president of The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce (USJCC) by acclamation, and was joined by other officers from St. Louis; El Paso and Dallas, Texas; Terre Haute, Indiana; and Springfield, Massachusetts.
From its spacious new headquarters, arranged through the efforts of Clarence Howard, the fledgling USJCC began testing its wings with Giessenbier traveling to other cities to gain additional support before the convention in June. Howard and Giessenbier garnered a big boost in April with the endorsement of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States. Even U.S. President William Howard Taft weighed in, saying, “I think every movement of young men organized effectively to promote training in good citizenship and the study of all civic, commercial and industrial problems is to be encouraged. I hope you will succeed.”
The First Convention of The USJCC had more influence on Junior Chamber history than any until, arguably, the May 1938 Ohio Plan restructuring the organization of the 1984 Special Meeting on the issue of female membership. The host city, St. Louis, had excellent railroad connections which made it an accessible convention site for representatives from 41 cities.
Giessenbier’s long convention address clearly outlined the ideal Junior Chamber program and listed specific areas of involvement. On the community level, he suggested programs to deal with the promotion of safety in all phases of life, the development of park and recreational facilities, the improvement of housing conditions, the Americanization of foreign immigrants, the promotion of all kinds of educational programs, and the study of public markets. National problems he thought deserved attention were the improvement of conditions for the farmer and better rural-urban relations in general, as well as the backing of government expenditure for the development of America’s inland waterways.
The first constitution, adopted with little bickering, called for a weak federation of Junior Chambers to increase interchapter cooperation and add to the efficiency, growth and expansion of the movement. The founders also expressed hope that as the organization grew, it would become “the voice of young men in America.”
The delegates chose the provisional officers from the January caucus to serve full one-year terms, including first president Giessenbier; added vice presidents from Arkansas City, Kansas, and Belleville, Illinois; and named 12 directors to staggered terms from one to three years. A $25 charter fee was established which was not exceeded for decades. Annual dues for an individual were set at 25 cents, with each chapter paying a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $250 regardless of the number of members. Each chapter would designate one man as national counselor to stay in touch with other national counselors and exchange ideas.
The biggest debate at that first convention erupted over a battle between Springfield and Dallas to host the 1921 convention, setting the stage for similar battles in years to come. Dallas prevailed after 12 ballots, probably because the movement’s development in the New England area was slower than in the Southwest and Midwest.
Also setting a pattern for subsequent conventions, recreational attractions were not ignored. An opening night dance featured “an artificial moon and plenty of liquid refreshments to keep your whistle wet.” Delegates also attended a baseball game, toured industrial facilities and enjoyed a banquet at the Hotel Statler with the entire St. Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce.
By conventions end, 12 Chapters had paid their dues: Arkansas City, Kansas; Chicago; Elyria, Ohio; Kansas city, Missouri; St. Louis; Little Rock, Arkansas; Des Moines, Iowa; Dallas; New Orleans; Terre Haute, Indiana; Springfield, Massachusetts; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. As Former USJCC Historian Tom Campbell once noted, “The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce was officially on its way, with a bank balance of $48.21 and a million dollars worth of dreams.”
The meager funds belied the true health of the organization. Then, as today, the strength of the national organization was a reflection of the vitality of its member groups. The history of the movement shows that a bad year for national did not mean the chapters themselves were not having a banner year.
There were, however, significant challenges to be met by Giessenbier and the new USJCC. Since his elected secretary lived in Indiana, he naturally relied on his friend Andy Mungenast, the paid secretary for the St. Louis Junior Chamber, for much of the work to secure more member chapters. Mungenast is credited as a key figure in holding the national group together during its first five years.
With no travel budget, Giessenbier’s administration added 14 chapters to the original dozen. He borrowed $1,400 – a major sum for him in those days – and then loaned it all to help the movement progress. There is no record that he ever was repaid.
It is surprising, decades after the fact, that despite Giessenbier’s vision and obvious dedication, he failed to secure re-election at the at the second national convention. But those in attendance had sound reasons to reject the recommendation of the nominating committee and elect George Wilson of the host city, Dallas, as president. They felt it was important not to set a precedent for customary re-election. Also, Wilson was an accomplished speaker and had led the strong Dallas Junior Chamber to enthusiastically back the national organization.
Wilson was gracious in victory, saying, “There is no town or hamlet in the United States that knows patriotism or Americanism but which has heard of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and of Henry Giessenbier, the man who has done more for the progress of the organization.”
A torrid 26-ballot fight to choose Indianapolis as the 1922 convention city resulted in yet another loss for Springfield. The conclave also voted to endorse citizens military training camps, closer cooperation between “junior” and “senior” chambers, and assistance to disabled veterans.
In the flush of excitement over the growing national organization, delegates pledged to raise $16,000 to cover an ambitious 1921-22 budget. Unfortunately, only one chapter, Arkansas City, paid its pledge in the following year and Wilson’s plans and accomplishments fell well short as a result. He did the best he could under trying conditions, even spending $1,000 of his own money, but the number of chapters dropped from 36 to between 18 and 25 by the end of his term.
Perhaps because of the adversity, the 1922 convention in Indianapolis was greeted with enthusiasm. “J.C.s,” ever optimistic, believed their fervent oratory could still bring about a strong and workable organization despite the fact it almost had died aborning. The continued urging and financial support of Clarence Howard earned him the title of first honorary president. With Raymond T. Wilber, pioneer of the Springfield club, elected as the third president, and Milwaukee selected as the next convention site, the Junior Chamber movement was itching to move forward once again.
The road would not be an easy one to travel. Saddled with a substantial inherited debt of an estimated $3,000, Wilber’s best efforts would staunch the outflow of funds, clear up the bookkeeping, and leave the organization no worse off financially by year’s end. Instead of the normal shift of the headquarters to the president’s city, he was convinced by Howard to move to St. Louis where he could work more closely with active such as Mungenast and his assistant, Harry Krusz.
The Junior Chamber concept was slowly gaining footholds in many sections of the country, with half of the chapters having been organized in cooperation with senior chamber locals. One of Wilber’s goals was to improve relationships with the senior chambers and he came nearer to working out a close alliance than any administration for many years. Members balked, however, over senior chamber recommendations that it would make the determination if a Junior Chamber group was desirable in a given city and that programs would be subject to its review. Although “J.C.s” were willing to make compromises to gain the full backing of the older body, no formal agreement ever materialized.
By the end of 1923, the organization had 22 affiliated Junior Chambers of Commerce and 23 other non-affiliated chapters. The first big nationally endorsed program was a Get Out the Vote campaign modeled after a successful plan by the Milwaukee Junior Chamber. Mimeographed news bulletins, which also discussed fundamental questions of policy, management problems and new ideas, were sent out frequently by Harry Krusz in the first regular attempt to “service” locals.
By the time the 1923 convention opened in Milwaukee, the organization’s debt of more than $2,000 still was a primary concern. With a $441 assist from Clarence Howard, the money was raised from the convention floor and the new administration of Harry B. Mortimer of Milwaukee was able to start with $225 in the bank.
Mortimer had a hard-working cabinet that included two other Milwaukee members. Along with collecting dues and answering questions from the locals, they focused on expansion and added eight new chapters to the fold, including the New York City Young Men’s Board of Trade, led by Bob Condon.
Local projects showed both imagination and vitality. American Elms were planted along a mile of the Dallas-Fort Worth highway by the Dallas chapter. While the Atlanta group established a psychopathic ward in the city hospital, Chicago members ran a campaign they hoped would put a flower box in every local window. In San Antonio, the Junior Chamber ran the Texas Open Golf Tournament, the San Diego organization sponsored a $30,000 project, and Americanization was the chief concern in Indianapolis. Everywhere, young men were demonstrating their abilities to accomplish worthwhile and necessary undertakings.
When delegates gathered in Cincinnati for the fifth convention in 1924, the mood was decidedly improved over that of a year earlier. The books were in good order and the organization was “on the grow” again. The father of the Junior Chamber movement in California, Lou Arland of San Diego, was elected president, but poor health and other personal problems sidelined “the greatest orator of his day” early in his term.
He asked First Vice President Andy Mungenast to take over the presidency, but Mungenast refused to let Arland officially leave his post. Instead, as an impressive favor, Mungenast assumed almost all the duties of running the organization from St. Louis without the honor of the presidential title. Arland was to die before the “Roaring Twenties” whimpered into ruin with the stock market crash of 1929.
Mungenast and Harry Krusz set their sights in 1925 on establishing state organizations that could efficiently form new locals in their states. Missouri, Florida and, possibly, Oklahoma responded by banding their locals together while Michigan prepared to take the step in 1926.
Noteworthy among the many prestigious chapter achievements was a campaign led by Milwaukee members that led to a $1.5 million federal hospital being located in the city. Good work, on a grassroots level, was enhancing the strength and reputation of the movement nationwide.
Tulsa played host to the 1925 convention after members innovatively raised funds by raffling a $9,500 home. For the fourth time in six years, a host city nominee earned the presidential post. E. Fred Johnson beat Andy Mungenast despite Mungenast support from St. Louis, Chicago and the nominating committee. Johnson took over an organization that was finally out of debt, boasted a membership of 8,541 and had 45 affiliated chapters as well as another 30 Junior Chambers that did not belong to the national organization.
He addressed the challenge of converting these independent groups by stepping up services and communications, making USJCC affiliation too valuable to pass up. Immediately after his election, he called a meeting in St. Louis to initiate a first-class national magazine. Nearly 5,000 subscriptions, at $1 a year, were sold before the first issue appeared in September 1925.
Johnson had a flair for public relations and introduced the slogan, “Where the Young Man Steps In,” for his term in office, although it was used into the 1930’s. National publicity boomed with sponsored radio programs on the Junior Chamber, articles about The USJCC in the Civilian and Kiwanis magazines, and speeches by various officers to influential groups.
The first mass get-together of the board of directors, executive committee and national councilors outside of the convention took place at a mid-winter meeting in Indianapolis. The conference, like those in following years, was a serious affair with “fun and fellowship” relegated to secondary roles. It was here that the first nationally initiated USJCC program, Know America First, was established.
Johnson viewed Know America First as a “more all-inclusive proposition” to the travel-stimulating See America First program. He charged that Americans, and Junior Chamber members in particular, should learn “the privileges and opportunities accorded them by citizenship” in order to prepare “ to discharge intelligently the commensurate obligations.”
With dues raised a dime to 35 cents a member, more $25 charter fees flowing in, and a monthly stipend of $200 from the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, he was able to hire a secretary and cover basic office expenses. Bob Condon, who would be elected to succeed Johnson, further fattened the coffers by developing and selling $25 sustaining memberships. Through the years, high expectations periodically were placed in such donations, but success never was dramatic.
Since it was felt at the time that only cities with a population over 10,000 were ideal for chapters, Johnson sent out survey letters to 700 of them and learned that many were planning to join the Junior Chamber soon. A prolific communicator, he also issued another 4,000 letters in general correspondence.
The Junior Chamber idea now was being communicated in England and Canada, marking the beginnings of what would grow into a worldwide movement.
Meanwhile, on the local level, chapters were continuing to amass an impressive array of accomplishments. In East St. Louis, Illinois, the Junior Chamber managed to ensure that a national highway would not be detoured from the city by bringing about the construction of a $500,000 subway tunnel to eliminate a dangerous rail crossing. In Flint, Michigan, members conducted a clean-up campaign that collected 7 million pounds of trash in just one week. And the Los Angeles chapter began its Los Angeles Open Golf tournament, which remained a major stop on the golf circuit for decades.
By the time the annual convention began in Jacksonville, Florida, there were 28 new Junior Chamber chapters and more than 9,000 individual members. About 1,000 were present in Jacksonville to enjoy entertainment that ranged from swimming and boat rides to a golf tournament and dances. Condon, the smooth-talking aviation advocate from New York, easily won election as president. The organization was set to soar, in more ways than one.
The sense of adventure and newness that surrounded the field of aviation in 1926 made it a natural national project for the USJCC to tackle under Condon’s enthusiastic direction. With the endorsement of governmental and private aeronautical societies, Junior Chamber chapter quickly began working toward the establishment of airports. They also endeavored to properly mark airports with city names in 50-foot-high gravel letters, often adding the letters “J.C.” to call attention to the organization’s role.
The nation’s first marked airport was at Dayton, Ohio, where the chapter quickly earned the nickname “Flying Junior Chamber” for its contributions to aviation and its formation of a flying club.
Two additional national programs launched under Condon’s watch were reforestation and Get Out The Vote. Committees also were established for publicity and radio, foreign affairs, and legal aid to fight loan sharks and establish legal aid clinics. The practice of coordinating these committees fell increasingly into the hands of national vice presidents, while policy committees reported directly to the president.
Innovative chapter programs continued to attract attention throughout the country, including providing hurricane disaster relief efforts in Florida, combating the industrial “smoke menace” in Greenville, South Carolina, and serving as probation guardians for wayward boys in Pontiac, Michigan.
The movement also was being elevated by famous men who were members, but even baseball great Roger Hornsby of the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Governor-elect Dan Moody couldn’t overshadow the most famous member of all, Charles A. Lindbergh. His historic New York-to-Paris solo flight in the spring of 1927 earned him the admiration of the world and helped to usher in the age of commercial aviation fellow Junior Chamber members were working so hard to establish. In December, he was selected as Time magazine’s inaugural Man of the Year.
It was Condon who signed up Lindbergh as a Jaycee in 1925. They shared a wooden airport bench in Chicago while Lindbergh was waiting for the weather to change before taking off on his mail run to St. Louis. A national vice president at the time, Condon began telling the aviator about the Junior Chamber, how it was forming an aeronautical commission and that Lindbergh would be an asset to the organization. Lindbergh agreed and became a Jaycee.
When Condon relinquished his presidential gavel to H. Grady Vien of East St. Louis, Illinois, at the June 1927 Annual Meeting, he left behind 60 to 65 affiliated chapters and an organization proudly boasting several national programs. Vien’s adminstration got a big boost when the convention voted to increase dues from 30 cents to $1, a move that created a short-term opportunity as well as a bitter fight just a year later.
A good friend of Henry Giessenbier who had been with the movement since its first days, Vien knew the organization needed the services of a full-time executive secretary who could prepare many more “how-to” pamphlets and lend continuity to the headquarters operation. The first man he hired left after a few months and was replaced “temporarily” by Harry Krusz. Krusz, who probably knew more about the early history of the movement than any other man, stayed on for six years and had a significant impact for many years following.
The national programs started under the administrations of Johnson and Condon fully blossomed in 1927-28. Local projects continued to branch into new areas such as the Omaha, Nebraska, sponsorship of the National AAU Track and Field Meet, a prestigious sporting event. Atlanta members announced they would raise $200,000 for a golf course to honor the famed golfer Bobby Jones, a Junior Chamber member himself. The Birmingham, Alabama, chapter made possible the construction of Municipal Stadium by selling more than $100,000 worth of bonds. Detroit members promoted the use of air- mail, then in its infancy.
Meanwhile, several of the larger chapters were upset over the 70-cent increase in dues, believing members were not getting their money’s worth. Despite the hiring of a national executive secretary and a gradual increase in services from The USJCC, they took their fight in June to the floor of the 1928 annual convention, held in San Antonio. They were voted down and the chapters in Los Angeles, Chicago and Des Moines officially left the fold. Within a year, thanks to a dues cut to 50 cents and intense courting by new President Ernest Baetz and Executive Secretary Krusz, all three rejoined.
Ninth USJCC President Baetz, a banker from San Antonio, started his term in 1928 with a small deficit and ended it with a small surplus and all bills paid. He and Krusz traveled approximately 40,000 miles during the year, the most of any executives to that date. Krusz accompanied Baetz so the vital contacts made would not be lost when the president’s term of office was over. It is believed that this practice laid the groundwork for growth in succeeding years.
Because 1928 was a presidential election year, special emphasis was given to the two-year-old Get-Out-The-Vote campaign. The USJCC effort was an unqualified success. More than 36 million voters cast presidential ballots in 1928, an increase of 12 million over 1924’s turnout. Baetz reported in the December issue of Expansion, “The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce is the only national organization that conducted a systematic and planned campaign to educate the people of this country in their duty to vote.”
Aviation interest around the country continued to benefit from extensive Junior Chamber involvement. The St. Louis chapter was the first group to lend its support to a proposed $2 million airport and was cited as one of the keys to success of that bond issue’s passage. Along with promoting airport construction, many chapters formed flying clubs, promoted airmail usage and marked towns for easy identification from the air.
A strong believer in the importance of aviation to the wealth and stability of the nation was famed pilot and Junior Chamber member Walter Hinton. In 1919, as a member of the U.S. Navy, he and a crew of five piloted the first flying machine to cross the Atlantic Ocean. A few years later, he made the first air voyage between the Americas, going from New York to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was Hinton who, in May 1929, addressed approximately 2 million Americans over the NBC Blue (radio) Network as part of the first-ever National Junior Chamber Week.
The USJCC had regrown to about 60 chapters by the end of Baetz’ term and was rapidly maturing into a well-structured organization, capable of supplying an array of important services to its member groups. Almost $600 remained from an $8,000 budget and another fine year of expansion would come in the year ahead.
So would an event that would rock financial markets around the world and force the Junior Chamber to tighten its belt for several years – even as it continued to generate a profound influence.
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
Nor for another six years would income be as high for The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce as it was by the end of the 1929-30 term of Nebraska native Herbert F. McCulla. The events of October 29,1929, on Wall Street and the ensuing Great Depression, would make McCulla’s days of $16,000 in annual receipts seem like a taunting dream. But while most of the country stagnated in the 1930’s, The USJCC kept growing and providing solutions for the nation’s problems.
It would prove fortunate that McCulla’s administration left the national organization in its healthiest state ever. Along with a $2,400 head start for the next programming year, The USJCC grew to 86 chapters under McCulla by adding 24 new chapters, marking its greatest expansion to that date. National programs and services to locals also reached a new peak with committees operating in aeronautics, political education, reforestation, national radio week, foreign relations, Canadian relations, publications, clean-up and paint-up, loan shark protection, city beautification, athletics and sports programs, music and drama, among other fields. Even 65 years later, the array of programs offered then could be considered extensive.
The organization officially changed from a voluntary association to a corporation on September 16, 1929 for the protection of its officers and other business purposes. In connection with this, new bylaws were drawn up and the number of directors was increased from 12 to 20.
Voluntary subscriptions to Expansion magazine weren’t sufficient to keep it from losing money, so it was discontinued and replaced by Young Executive, which was distributed to all dues paying members. The new publication had more of a “general interest” slant and not as much news as its predecessor. It would last only until 1931 when it was replaced by monthly news bulletins.
The long quest for official cooperation between the Chamber of Commerce of the United States and The USJCC was finally realized in the spring of 1930. The agreement reached between the two said The USJCC could not accept or retain any local chapter that, in the judgment of the local senior chamber, was not “in harmonious relation” with the elder body. It also required that the national Junior Chamber not have any major policies inconsistent with those of the senior group. In return for this cooperation, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States was to give strong backing to the Junior Chamber in cities across the nation.
Although the 1930 agreement was considered a major accomplishment in its day, it would lapse a few years later as a victim of lack of continuity. It brought little to The USJCC other than a temporary boost of pride and confidence.
The next elected leader of The USJCC, Durward Howes of Los Angeles, would become more famous for what he accomplished after his term than advances made during his term. The man who was to make great strides for international expansion and establish one of the nation’s top individual recognition programs, did make important contributions, however, as president,
Howes, a jeweler by trade, designed the official seal for The USJCC that was turned into a pin a year later. He also established seven regional meetings to take the place of the mid-winter conferences. This innovation allowed national officers to contact several organizations at once, saving the time and costs of individual chapter visits. Despite this, Howes and Executive Secretary Harry Krusz logged 50,000 miles during just three months on the road. On his tours, Howes borrowed from the founders and emphasized that The USJCC should be the “voice of young men in America.”
As a way of addressing the problems of the nation’s worst depression, a business development committee was created to advance a spirit of optimism. Among other activities, each chapter was urged to conduct a campaign to help create employment. The results were overshadowed by the enormity of the Depression, but business leaders lauded the Junior Chamber efforts.
Howes’ administration closed with a net gain of two chapters, but the dues-paying ability of existing chapters was so crimped that The USJCC reported a deficit of about $1,500 on expenses of $8,000.
Delegates to the 1931 convention passed a resolution that called for greater use of young men on national committees pondering major national problems. The resolution to utilize “the young man’s point of view” was forwarded to the president of the United States and to Congress. George Olmsted, from the convention host city of Des Moines, Iowa, was elected the 12th president of The USJCC and the organization was ready to give birth to another program that would have a lasting impact, the Distinguished Service Award (DSA).
The DSA recognized outstanding contributions of one man, under the age of 35, in each Junior Chamber community. Honorees were presented with a gold key provided by the national organization, usually on January 20, to commemorate the founding of The USJCC. A few years later, national DSA winners were named in an effort that foreshadowed the eventual Ten Outstanding Young Men/Americans programs.
Many of the now-extensive number of programs were receiving special emphasis during specific times of the year. In the fall, chapters were encouraged to conduct membership drives and the 13 state organizations were asked to plan and coordinate their activities with national. Various Christmas projects occupied December, while the DSA program was highlighted in January. April’s spotlight was on beautification projects, May activities focused on aviation, and June saw the launch of a campaign to get 50 million citizens to vote that fall.
Throughout 1931-32, however, the overriding concern for the nation was unemployment relief and Jaycees often were at the forefront. As President Olmsted summarized, “Much of our activity was in the phase of repairing, reconditioning and modernizing. However, several of our organizations assumed the entire responsibility for unemployment relief work in their cities.”
A major philosophical change provided the basis for record setting expansion under Olmsted’s watch. Previously, it was thought a city had to have at least 10.000 people to support a chapter. This belief was permanently buried by 1931, as evidenced by Olmsted’s explanation, “We rather take the position that to be effective (a city) must have at least 25 members. Consequently, if there are 25 men under 35 years of age in your city that have the city’s interest and their own at heart, you have material for a succ3essful Junior Chamber.”
Thirty-three new chapters were established and – for the first time in its 11-year history – no chapters left the fold during his term. Progress also was made on the international front with 26 nations indicating an interest in forming Junior Chambers. Although past president Howes thought it was premature to form an international group, he led the newly formed International Executive Council on Junior Chambers (IECJC).
A year later, the IECJC consisted of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, England and Mexico, but debate swirled over whether it was an official committee of The USJCC or a separate entity. The USJCC Board of Directors finally decided it was a separate body that could not bind The USJCC without permission of the board. While the IECJC never developed into a group of importance, it did represent the first international Junior Chamber group and was a forerunner of today’s Junior Chamber International body.
President Herbert Hoover once invited Olmsted to the White House to ask advice on how to interest more young men in the Republican Party. The 30-year old USJCC president suggested forming Young Republican Clubs, now a major institution. In four months Olmsted signed up 4 million young Republicans, about a fourth of the total number of voters in the nation. Olmsted went on the be a U.S. Army major general, originating the operations that freed 35,000 Americans from the Japanese prison camps, as well as one of the major financial leaders in the world, overseeing a multi-billion dollar corporate family. At the present, he is the oldest living former president of The USJCC.
He passed the presidential gavel on to Courtlandt Otis of New York City at the Annual Meeting in 1932 and Otis promptly turned his attention to the “get out the vote” efforts, which he dubbed the Fifty Million Vote Campaign. The presidential race between Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt did not have the popular appeal of the 1928 contest, and the Junior Chamber campaign fell about 13 million voters short of its goal.
The publicity and prestige values of the effort, however, were immeasurable. The year- end issue of The New Yorker magazine carried a four-page feature story and NCB radio network carried a national broadcast to encourage new voters to go to the polls. The featured speakers on the show included USJCC President Otis, Chamber of Commerce of the United States President Silas H. Straw, and Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd. During the campaign, Otis was honored by being invited by both presidential candidates to visit and discuss the major campaign issues.
The organizational structure of The USJCC still was evolving in 1932. Now, instead of seven vice president, there were 10, each in charge of a region, and the number of directors had increased from 20 to 25. These Changes aided the administration of the consistently growing number of chapters, which, by the end of Otis’ term, totaled 122.
Among the most significant developments in this period were the creation of the Farm Youth Committee, the first Junior Chamber group to address rural problems and city-farm relations; a Minnesota Junior Chamber campaign for a massive national forest on the Minnesota-Ontario, Canada, border that helped lead to the creation of Quetico Provincial Park I Canada and Superior National Forest I Minnesota: and the inauguration of a USJCC newspaper, Vision.
The Depression years were taking their financial toll on The USJCC by the time Leslie B. Farrington took the office of president in 1933. He instituted strict economies, reducing travel to a minimum and axing Vision just a year after its birth. These and other measures were so successful that The USJCC actually had more than $2,000 on hand for the next president to begin his term. Putting the organization into solid financial condition had been accomplished in a Depression year that had seen The USJCC permit $25 charter fees to be paid with $10 down and the rest in quarterly payments.
Despite the economic pinch, Farrington’s term was noted for continued strong expansion of the movement. In addition to about 40 new chapters being added to the rolls, another 75 Junior Chamber groups were started that came into The USJCC fold later.
Committee reports also reflect a great deal of thoughtful activity. The report on juvenile crime prevention in 1934 placed much of the blame for delinquency on parents, and the Aviation Committee discouraged local promotional stunts like air circuses in favor of more practical endeavors.
The precursor of today’s voluminous Products department was the sale of 600 USJCC pins, producing about $200 in revenues for the national body. Another revenue source that was to grow in years ahead was created in 1934 with the first appearance of sponsored exhibits at the Annual Meeting. That conclave, in Miami, also staged the first of what was to become a long tradition of conventions parades, and the delegates passed a resolution denouncing the methods and objectives of the Communist Party.
Farrington’s term also contained a disappointment. The resignation of Executive Secretary Harry Krusz, the man responsible for giving the organization much needed continuity since 1928, caused the St. Louis chapter to withdraw its offer to help defray expenses of establishing a permanent national headquarters there. In the wake of the resignation in early 1934, it was decided that national officers temporarily would take over Krusz’s duties as a further economy measure.
The first major step taken by 1934-35 President E. Richard West was to hire Sherman Humason of St. Paul, Minnesota, as the successor to Krusz. Humason churned out more than 115 complete mailings to member organizations and 14,500 individually typed letters in his first year, impressive by any standard in the days before computers and photocopiers.
From its temporary headquarters in Los Angeles, The USJCC pondered an offer for permanent offices with the Chamber of Commerce of the United States in Washington, D.C., but this would not be settled for another year. Ultimately, the Junior Chamber would decide not to rush coming under the domination of the senior chamber and, in November 1935, The USJCC headquarters was established in the city where the movement began – St. Louis.
The threat of Communism to the American way of life was on the rise in 1934-35, so the year’s most important program was Americanism. A manual on the topic was published and 150 local chapters conducted programs such as essay contest in the schools.
The International Executive Council of Junior Chambers faded away after corresponding with Junior Chambers throughout the world, but a committee on South and Central American relations reported progress. Also, West became the first USJCC chief executive to make an official appearance in Canada when he accepted an invitation to address the Winnipeg and Vancouver Junior Chambers.
As the 1935 Annual Meeting approached, Henry Giessenbier, founder of the movement, confirmed he would attend, along with his friend Andy Mungenast. Sickness and personal troubles had kept Giessenbier away from the meetings for several years. It was to be the last great Junior Chamber event for him because he died a few months later.
As the organization entered the 1935-36 program year, it had 258 affiliated groups and some 40,000 individual members. The budget still was small and the headquarters continued to move each year with the new chief executive. Ahead, however, lay six years of such rapid growth and changes that only another World War could – and would – slow it down.
The “permanent” move of the headquarters to St. Louis’ Mayfair Hotel in the fall made possible a vastly improved office operation, less vulnerable to annual turnover in personnel. Although the organization was to move to Chicago four years later and to Tulsa in 1947, it finally had its first lasting home.
With the realization that the Junior Chamber had earned the right to call itself the “Voice of Young Men in America,” a part-time representative in Washington, D.C., was hired to present the principles held by the organization. Giving additional volume to the “Voice” was the reborn Young Executive magazine that subsisted on paid subscriptions and advertising revenues.
Among the new programs, a national Distinguished Service Award was established and quickly became the nation’s greatest honor that could be conferred on a young man. The program that had the most significant and lasting impact, however, was a wildlife conservation effort, which directly led to the formation of the National Wildlife Federation just a few months later.
By providing $500 in prize monies for a new program encouraging chapters to make contributions in the area of public safety, Portland Cement Association earned the distinction as the first national sponsor of a USJCC program.1935-36 USJCC President Allen Whitfield quickly realized the future success of the organization would depend upon sponsored programs and laid the foundations that would make them a major part of the annual budgets in the years following World War II.
Another first, a tragic one, occurred in March 1936 when a plane crash claimed the life of National Director Harold A. Marks and three other Jaycees. It was the first time members had died in the course of serving the organization. A year later, the Harold Marks Memorial Award was created to be presented annually to the most efficient chapter president, but it soon was changed to honor the top chapter in the nation.
There were a growing number of chapters to consider in the mid-1930’s. The Junior Chamber had expanded from about 90 member groups in 1931 to 317 in 1936. Just three years later, the number of affiliated chapters would rise to 656, representing almost 60,000 members.
The rapid expansion also brought problems. Some chapters were joining their state organization, but refusing to affiliate with the national federation. Others would join national, but not the state. Meanwhile, the growth of state organizations (in 19 of the 48 states by 1936) had taken away the power of the 10 regions. Reorganization was needed, putting states in the position of prime importance. The answer would be called the “Ohio Plan” and would, by the time it went into effect in 1938, enact a number of important constitutional changes that made The USJCC a unified organization for the first time in its history. The relationships between national, state and local groups finally were defined and cemented.
The 1936-37 administration, operating with dues still at only 50 cents per member, had a budget of $21,000, about the same as the preceding year’s. A $2,400 grant from the Brooking Foundation led to a new economic education project designed to tell Americans how they could readjust to obtain full and complete recovery from the Depression. Another $800 was received from Jaycees who ordered lapel buttons, plaques, windshield stickers, highway markers, membership application forms and other items from the growing inventory of USJCC supply items.
The decade was to reach its end only after another tow years of furious activity and accomplishment. The new constitution was approved by the board of directors as well as by referendum in 1937, with legislation going into effect in 1938. A new magazine, Future, was launched in 1938 with 30,000 $1 subscriptions sold. It was a first-class publication, with 10 of its articles reprinted in Reader’s Digest during Future’s first few years.
In January 1939, Future helped launch what quickly became the showcase public relations program of The USJCC for decades to come, the Ten Outstanding Young Men, as selected by Durward Howes, former USJCC president and the editor of America’s Young Men since 1934. Services of The USJCC skyrocketed with nearly 200,000 pieces of literature distributed on program topics such as venereal disease, clean up and fix-up, and safety. The Fire Prevention Committee produced a motion picture with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, demonstrating the need for regulation in the sale and use of fireworks. Chapter committees helped to pass legislation in this regard in several states.
Award competitions grew from 18 to 41 by 1939 and sponsors provided a total of $1,500 in cash prizes. The headquarters operation was revamped and modern equipment, such as an electric addressograph, was added. Attendance at the Annual Meeting in Tulsa was a record 1,500 delegates who heard keynote speeches from J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Harold Stasen, governor of Minnesota and future contender for the U.S. presidency.
The boom years soon were to be suspended by a foreign act of war on a territorial island in the Pacific Ocean. The onset of World War II meant the decade ahead would offer both the greatest challenges ever faced by the 20-year-old U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce as well as the beginning of its period of greatest growth. Jaycees would prove worthy of the severe tests they would face in the 1940s.
What America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Hawaii would become a source of good news for the 20-year old U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce and horrifying news for the nation in the first two years of the new decade. In 1940, the territory became the 40th state organization established in the movement. It was, of course, also home to a major naval base in Pearl Harbor, target of a surprise air attack from the Japanese on December 7,1941, prodding the United States to enter World War II.
The attack itself was a surprise, but awareness that the nation was about to enter the conflict was not. Six months earlier at the 21st Annual Meeting, The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce became the first young men’s group to back the principle of the draft. Since Jaycees were in the age bracket, which would be hit hardest in the war, this was a courageous and historic position to adopt.
Programs dealing with Americanism and physical fitness were receiving increased emphasis as other domestic issues were fading in the face of the impending war. Many projects were put on a “service level,” meaning the national headquarters would continue issuing information about them, but would provide no other promotional structure. Nonetheless, programs on venereal disease, aviation development, city beautification, street and highway lighting, fire prevention and civil identification – the emerging technique of fingerprinting – continued to be carried our by the still growing number of chapters.
In the 1939-41 period, The USJCC added 420 Chapters with individual memberships shooting up to a total of nearly 67,000. Income for those tow years produced a total surplus of $11,500. With more than 1,000 active chapters by the end of the 1940-41 year, the movement had never been so vigorous of financially sound.
Already, The USJCC was planning ahead for the war and post-war years. A 1941 Annual Meeting resolution called for curtailment of non-essential non-defense expenditures, better recreation facilities for soldiers, and a competent board to study and make the inevitable adjustments that would be necessary at the end of the war.
The USJCC’s thorough cooperation with the Selective Service System and the resolution favoring the draft may have contributed to the commissioning of many top USJCC leaders in the armed forces; men destined to compile brilliant military records.
The organization got just what it would need when it elected Walter W. Finke of Minneapolis as its 22nd president a half-year before the Pearl Harbor attack. Finke, the director of Social Welfare in Minnesota at the time of his election, already was known for his superb administrative and organizational skills. Preparing for conversion from peacetime to wartime operations, he immediately revamped the way the headquarters office was run, making it more efficient and economical. Local chapters began receiving an expanded and improved array of services and publications.
Following America’s entry into the war, a special board meeting was called in early 1942 to “develop further ways and means of throwing the full force and vigor of the Junior Chamber men behind America’s war effort,” according to Finke. Delegates from 40 states attended and heard presentations from almost every appropriate government agency. The meeting helped to shape what became a brilliant USJCC effort in scrap drives, sale of defense bonds, entertainment of soldiers, bold drives and many other home front activities.
Not forgotten, of course, was the most important duty, described by USJCC Executive Vice President Doug Timmerman: “Service with the armed forces is absolutely number one on any young man’s list today. Service on the home front by those men, who for valid reasons remain there, is an essential activity to aid in the war effort and maintain civilian morale.”
By the end of World War II, 85 percent of all Jaycees had served in the military, but actual membership only dropped by one-third. The dedicated work of Jaycee leaders who stayed behind and a concerted effort to bring in new blood, not only keep the organization from disintegrating, but also left it with an enhanced stature. For the first time, the Junior Chamber movement worked on getting farmers to join, since many of these men were deferred from the armed forces.
In April 1942, dues were increased for the first time in 14 years, doubling to $1. This enabled a revitalized Future magazine to be issued to every Jaycee on a monthly basis. Future became a great unifying force in the movement, appearing regularly for 49 years until it was renamed Jaycees Magazine in 1987.
The Annual Meeting that June was dubbed the “War Conference” and would be the last large-scale convention for four years. Jaycees, wanting to attend a final Junior Chamber get-together before going off to war, attended the Dallas meeting in record numbers. The resolutions they adopted reflected many phases of the war effort, including endorsement of selective service, voting privileges for soldiers, and a call for all members to invest 10 percent of their earnings in defense bonds. They also eloquently resolved to “repledge our full and continued support and willingly offer our service and lives, if need be, to the accomplishment of that desired victory and peace.”
Another key resolution in 1942 called for investigation on extending the Junior Chamber movement into the Latin American Countries. This would bear fruit the next spring when, armed with just $500 and four manuals translated into Spanish, a U.S.-led delegation formed Junior Chambers in Mexico City, Mexico; Guatemala City, Guatemala; San Salvador, El Salvador; Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Managua, Nicaragua; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Balboa, Panama.
There was also much to do on the home front, as 1942-43 USJCC President William M.Shepherd realized. He continually stressed that Jaycees still in the United States were “trustees” of the organization while many members were away, serving with the armed forces. Without any wartime travel priority, he battled his way onto airplanes, trains and buses to carry the Junior Chamber message to 43 states during his term.
Even in the war’s most crucial period, Jaycees weren’t overlooking the fact the war would eventually end and peacetime adjustments would be needed. They organized a meeting with the executives of several planning agencies to cooperate in the publication of a handbook to be issued by The USJCC. Nearly completed in a half year, the handbook included articles on the adjustment of veterans to civilian life and many other subjects.
While Jaycees were responding to a call from the Office of Price Administration to educate Americans about price ceiling programs, they were making a number of additional major contributions to the war effort. Oklahoma City Jaycees brought actress Bette Davis to town and sold $1 million worth of war bonds in just four hours. Cincinnati Jaycees provided invaluable recruiting help by sponsoring Naval Aviation Nights. In Appleton, Wisconsin, Jaycees initiated a pre-induction training course to make it easier for civilians to adjust to service life.
Jaycees also faced up to the struggle to maintain their own existence. Membership turnover was so rapid that one chapter had seven different presidents in the course of one year. State officers worked unbelievably hard, led by Texas President John Ben Shepperd who journeyed 23,000 miles, hitchhiking when he had exhausted his gasoline ration tickets.
Nationally, the number of active chapters dropped from 958 to 759 by the end of the 1942-43 term. It would never drop any lower, more than holding its own in the year ahead against the hardships of war. Travel restrictions made a real convention impractical as well as unpatriotic, so a war conference meeting was held in Chicago, attended by 400 Jaycees, and H. Bruce Palmer of Flint, Michigan, was elected 24th USJCC president.
Under Palmer, The USJCC further expanded existing programs while making advances in the areas of membership, leadership training and public relations. Programs to aid the war effort were the most important ones conducted by the Jaycees, as reflected in Palmer’s annual report message: “Because Jaycees are ‘Young Men of Action,’ it is happenstance to learn that this organization collectively has gathered more scrap, sold more war bonds and stamps, obtained more blood plasma, and generated more servicemen services than any other national organization.”
With the cooperation of Westinghouse Corporation, the Junior Chamber issued a manual on the “Rehabilitation of Disable Servicemen.” The corporation today known as Mutual of Omaha joined The USJCC to sponsor a 26-week national radio program called “The freedom of Opportunity,” which featured the Ten Outstanding Young Men of 1943 on its initial airings, Mutual of Omaha also made possible new “how-to” manuals for use by various USJCC committees.
Locals received assistance in the newly organized area of executive training and an emphasis was placed on selling “firm memberships” in the Junior Chamber, so promising young men in various businesses could receive the valuable training.
When the 1943-44 administration came to a close, membership had climbed by 7,000 additional Jaycees for a total of nearly 49,000 and a $2,300 surplus was created on income of $47,500. Even greater growth was just around the corner as many servicemen, having fought through the rugged early year of the war, already were returning.
At the war conference in June, USJCC President Palmer mentioned that if every Jaycee put up one dollar, a sizeable fund would be created to help make a headquarters possi8ble instead of spending rent monies in Chicago. By the end of the meeting, $1,013.25 had been raised to begin the War Memorial Fund, which would be a living memorial to Jaycees who had given their lives in service to the country. Thomas Wood Baldridge of Virginia was named chairman of the fund, a position he held for the next 50 years.
International expansion quickly moved to center stage. Ray Wolff, USJCC international relations chairman, had recommended an organizational meeting to cement relations between the North and Central American groups. The Inter-American Congress began on December 7, 1944 and four days later representatives from the United States and eight Central American countries formed Junior Chamber International with Raul Garcia Vidal of Mexico City elected as its first president.
Nelson Rockefeller again provided invaluable assistance in getting the necessary clearances for USJCC representatives to attend the Mexico City meeting. A month after the Inter-American Congress, he was named Young Man of the Year, the “top” of the Ten Outstanding Young men. This honor replaced the naming of a national Distinguished Service Award winner.
Meanwhile, returning veterans were receiving increased attention and the Junior Chamber implemented a four-point program: help returning veterans get jobs; help them become assimilated in their communities through civic project participation, made easier with a free six month Junior Chamber membership; encourage both large and small businesses to conduct personnel training programs; and help disabled veterans acquire occupational skills. The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce was the first organization to promote the idea of serving all veterans on a community level. The Veterans Administration liked what they saw and quickly adopted the plan through regional training clinics.
The returning veterans continued to swell the membership ranks and The USJCC once again was on the growth pace it enjoyed before the Pearl Harbor attack. In 1944-45, 14,000 members were added, but this was tripled the next year with a still record 42,000 new Jaycees joining, bringing total U.S. membership to 105,000 in 1,143 chapters. Now every member was listed in a membership card file that also served as a Future magazine circulation roster.
Services continued to grow as well. An elaborate manual on traffic safety was issued with the cooperation of Liberty Mutual Life Insurance Company, while Aetna Life Companies helped local chapters combat juvenile delinquency by providing a film and free manuals.
With the war still being fought in the Pacific, holding a regular convention in 1945 was not possible and the Office of Defense Transportation denied a request to hold a board of directors meeting, citing a prohibition on meetings attracting more than 50 out-of-town delegates. In the only time the election of a USJCC president has been conducted by mail, Henry Kearns of Pasadena, California, was selected. His budget would nearly double that of any previous administration.
Japan’s surrender in August 1945 meant The USJCC would celebrate most of its 25th anniversary year in peacetime, instead of war. Naturally, service to veterans remained a primary objective of the organization. General Motors Corporation underwrote the entire USJCC veterans program which included providing housing and job assistance, aid to disabled and hospitalized veterans and a “Manual of Ideas.”
Sponsors also provided help in several general programming areas. American Airlines made possible an instruction manual in the development of aviation, Liberty Mutual Insurance provided material for safety programs, Minneapolis-Honeywell helped with a public health manual and A.G. Spalding and Sons sponsored sports-related activities.
The Chamber of Commerce of the United States helped TUSJCC produce a manual of ideas and procedure for a Speak Up Jaycees program to provide a practical method for studying government problems. Referenda subjects were submitted to the membership for consideration.
Many Junior Chamber chapters presented tax education programs and a community leadership-training program was prepared. Valuable leadership training for local and state officers was provided through eight regional institutes.
Publicity reached an all-time high with frequent national radio broadcasts and movie newsreel coverage. The first banquet for the Ten Outstanding Young Men was held in January 1946 and was broadcast live on ABC radio, covered by all the wire services and recorded on film by MGM and 20th Century Fox News. Henry Ford II, president of Ford Motors, was named the Outstanding Young Man of the Year for 1945 at the Chicago affair.
A month later, the first congress of Junior Chamber International (JCI) took place in Panama City, Panama, and a provisional constitution was adopted. Soon after, The USJCC officially affiliated with JCI.
Tom Baldridge continued campaigning for the War Memorial Fund to build a permanent headquarter. A major step forward had been taken at an executive committee meeting in September 1945 when Junior Chamber communities were asked to submit a bid to have the headquarters relocate to their cities. By the time the 1946 convention was staged, Tulsa had offered $100,000 in financing, but had to wait until the fall board meeting to receive formal approval.
The man elected 27th USJCC president won with a most unlikely proposal. Seldon Waldo of Florida wanted to double the national dues to $2 per member. Money was needed to hire more people and provide them better equipment to serve the burgeoning membership, he argued, adding, “We want to make this great body of young men, with its loyalty, its ideas, and devotion to our country, a great force for justice and peace.”
Waldo’s dues increase went into effect in January 1947, but not until after he had traveled the country to convince the big city chapters to stay in the fold despite their displeasure over the increase. Half of the new dues income was set aside to directly publish and properly finance Future magazine while member services benefited from the remainder.
Sports received a lot of attention in the 1946-47 administration, led by the nation’s first Junior Golf championship in Spokane, Washington. Ray Rice, who as a Jaycee in East St. Louis, Illinois, had developed a Jaycee baseball league for boys that later developed into a national program, was named to lead the sports and recreation affairs for The USJCC.
Texans stayed o the minds of many members during Waldo’s term. In November, former Texas State President Clint Dunagan of Midland died in an airplane crash. Wile state president in 1944, he had visited every chapter in his state within tow months of his election, traveling 12,000 miles to do so. Today he is honored with the Clint Dunagan Memorial Award, presented each year to the ten outstanding national directors.
In February 1947, the Dallas Junior Chamber played host to the first Junior Chamber International Congress held in the United States. They raised $60,000 for the meeting and paid meal and hotel expenses for all 210 delegates. Taylor Cole, a former USJCC vice president from Dunagan’s hometown of Midland, was elected JCI president.
Completing the Texas trilogy, John Ben Shepperd, another former Texas state president, was elected USJCC president for 1947-48. He became known as “the greatest publicity-getter in the history of The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce,” primarily by virtue of a 63-city airplane tour he took to speak out on the “Fifth Freedom” – the freedom of opportunity.
He was inspired to take the 14,000-mile trip after he visited Europe and observed the alarming loss of business freedom as a result of communism, socialism and other doctrines. For 33 days, Shepperd and a party of six others, including a Life magazine photographer, garnered tremendous publicity and brought home the Junior Chamber message to huge audiences.
It was during his term that the use of the word “Jaycee” finally became officially sanctioned after popular usage since the late 1930’s. Abbreviations had been used since the inception of the Junior Chamber, but these usually were written as “J.C.,” or some other way.
Another major standby of the Junior Chamber also was adopted by The USJCC in September 1947 with the official recognition of the Jaycee Creed as the statement of principle of the organization. It was written by Bill Brownfield of Columbus, Ohio, following his attendance at the 1946 Annual Meeting in Milwaukee. The creed, as originally written, did not include the phrase, “That faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life.” Brownfield added the phrase in 1950, however, and gave it a place of honor preceding all other sections of the creed.
After serving as national vice president in 1949-50, Brownfield was made an honorary lifetime member of both The USJCC and Junior Chamber International. He was named an honorary president of The USJCC in 1965.
What would grow to be a 10-year oratorical competition among teenagers was started in 1947, drawing 20,000 entries. Originally called I Speak for Democracy, it was renamed Voice of Democracy three years later as annual entries began exceeding 1 million. Promotional literature available from the temporary national headquarters in the Akdar Shrine building in Tulsa, one block east of the present national service center, included projects in agriculture, aviation, Americanism, civic improvement, fire prevention, international relations, public health, religious activities, classroom activities and youth activities.
For about $19,000, the lot was purchased on which the War Memorial Building now is situated, with dedication ceremonies held on the sixth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Funds for constructing the building came in rather slowly, highlighted by the Nevada Junior Chamber’s dramatic delivery of $500 in silver to the floor of the 1948 Annual Meeting as the first state to meet its goal. Despite this, the fund totaled less than $40,000 by the time Paul D. Bagwell of East Lansing, Michigan, was elected president for 1948-49.
Delegates to the convention also approved bylaw changes which increased the number of national vice presidents from seven to 10 and empowered the executive committee to select future convention sites upon approval of the board of directors.
The War Memorial Fund drive chairman under Bagwell was Cliff Cooper, a national vice president in the preceding year. Cooper lit the fire under the drive by initiating the Buck of Better program, asking each individual member to contribute at least a dollar to the cause. Each state and local organization was asked to contribute a $100 government bond (costing $74) and $5 in handling charges. These measures, plus hearty competition among several states in reaching their assigned goals, boosted the War Memorial Fund to $160,000 by June 1949. Meanwhile, an architectural contest to pick a design for the new headquarters building was conducted and the winners received $10,000 to draw up complete plans.
Interest in Junior Chamber International was growing, evidenced by the delegation of 26 national officers who attended the Mexican Jaycee convention in October 1948. But even that delegation was small compared to the 136 Jaycees who attended the JCI World Congress in Brussels, Belgium, in what was called Operation Democracy Overseas.
In return for a U.S. vote to stage the 1950 JCI convention in Manila, Philippine Jaycees agreed to return home from Brussels by way of the United States. Divided into five groups, the Philippinos fanned out across the country, living in the homes of American Jaycees, giving speeches, appearing on radio programs and generating interest in JCI. It was during this time that the JCI secretariat was established at national headquarters in Tulsa.
Program participation continued improving, helped along by a growing list of outside sponsors such as Sherwin-Williams Paint (for Fly Free America, an aviation project) and the Decorative Lighting Guild of America (for Christmas lighting projects). Organizational expansion hit a standstill with a decrease of about 1,000 individual members in 1948-49, but income soared from less than $300,000 the year before to $365,000.
Despite the financial growth, The USJCC was unable to put any funds into a contingency reserve, as had been hoped. The organization had been spending money on providing services to chapters as fast as the money had come in. Foreshadowing more drastic measures in the years to come, The USJCC instituted several new financial controls and issued the first real policy manual in its history.
In 30 years, The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce had grown into a sizeable business operation and administrative overhaul was overdue. It would come during the administration of Clifford D. Cooper and his successor, Dick Kemler. First, however, there was a building to be built and, once again as the Junior Chamber faced a new decade, the war drums were beating overseas.
O’ America, because you build for mankind I build for you.
As Clifford D. Cooper from Pasadena, California, assumed the reins of leadership for the 1949-50 administrative year, it was becoming abundantly apparent that reorganization of The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce was necessary. The organization had grown so rapidly in recent years that it had outstripped its administrative methods and controls.
Cooper’s board of directors quickly set up a reorganization committee, which ultimately logged some 3,200 man-hours studying “the internal problems pertinent to policy, budget and finance, checks and balances, bylaws, and operational structure of this organization… “ The group called for a thorough revamping, including: a controller to sign all checks; a board of directors with real power, and not one used as a rubber stamp of executive committee and staff decisions; stricter travel curbs on vice presidents and staff; and clearly prescribed duties an powers for the executive vice president.
President cooper was the driving force and inspiration behind the reorganization plans that were carried out by his successor. He didn’t wait, however, to take action on several fronts. His administration left a remarkable $35,000 surplus, part of which was established as a contingency reserve that would grow in the years ahead.
His top program was the promotion of the objectives of the Hoover Commission, a major public affairs involvement that brought maturity and respect to The USJCC. The Hoover Commission had recommended many changes to bring efficiency and cost savings to the federal government. Cooper visited all 48 states, averaging two speeches a day, collecting thousands of Jaycees’ petitions of support along the way.
Former President Herbert Hoover showed his personal appreciation by keynoting Cooper’s outgoing convention in 1950. Hoover received a 10-minute standing ovation from the Jaycees, including many teary-eyed members who rushed to the podium in an attempt to carry Hoover around the convention hall.
Several months before the convention, Cooper and a group of Jaycees chartered a new Pan American Boeing Stratocruiser to fly to 27 countries as a way of boosting Junior Chamber International and winning friendships for the United States. Richard W. Kemler would have the difficult task of following Cooper’s legacy, implementing the reorganization acts ser forth during the 1949-50 administration, and dealing with problems associated with the Korean War, but the new bachelor president proved more than capable.
Kemler was one of the first USJCC presidents to sever all hometown ties and move to Tulsa during his term in office, setting the precedent followed by all subsequent presidents. One of his first acts was to conduct the official groundbreaking for the new headquarters on July 10,1950.
Even with the Korean War causing building costs to rise and membership to drop from 133,000 to 124,000, the reforms that changed the way business was conducted helped to produce a surplus of more that $45,000 by his term’s conclusion in 1951. Kemler still considers the strides made in financial accountability to be among the greatest accomplishments of his year, but ranks the building of the national headquarters in Tulsa as the top achievement in the history of the organization.
Like Cooper before him, Kemler traveled extensively, logging 150,000 miles and visiting every state, as well as Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and Canada. It was while he was in Canada at the JCI Congress in May 1951 that the words, “Faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life,” were added to the JCI Creed.
With the headquarters building nearly ready to be occupied and reorganization almost completed, The USJCC was ready to begin a new and more settled era. Lee Price Jr., a former FBI and OSS agent from Swainsboro, Georgia, was elected to lead the way into the 1951-52 year. He had the honor of being the first president to operate from The USJCC’s new headquarters.
Nestled in a tree-canopied hillside near the banks of the Arkansas River with a clear view of Tulsa’s central business district skyline a mile to the north, the two-story building was a striking, modernistic structure in 1951. Equipped with $15,000 of modern office furniture, the building was ready for operations in July and formally dedicated in early August.
With the Korean War still draining experienced as well as potential members, Price’s administration managed to post modest gains in membership (to 128,749, an increase of 4,500) and finances ($325,000, up $18,000). Youth activities took the spotlight under the Junior Citizens Crusade, a program to curb delinquency through projects such as Voice of Democracy, the Junior Golf program, midget baseball, 4-H club activities, and the work of the Boy and Girl Scouts. Another phase of the program dealt with the rehabilitation of those who had strayed.
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company provided a sizeable $18,000 grant to develop a safe driving “Road-e-o” for teenagers, which was implemented a year later and became an enduring program. A project to ensure under-privileged children had Christmas presents, the Christmas Shopping Tour, had originated in Mobile, Alabama, and was adopted nationally in 1951. In 1995, although no longer a national project, the Christmas Shopping Tour remains a programming staple of many chapters.
Among the resolutions approved at the 1952 Annual Meeting was one calling for Hawaii’s statehood. The young men’s organization again was poised for a lengthy period of significant growth, starting under the administration of 33rd President Horace E. “Hunk” Henderson from Williamsburg, Virginia. Dain Domich, a vice president that year, led the year’s top project, an all-out promotion to boost membership and develop leadership training at the local level. Called “LEM” for Leadership, Extension and Membership, the program established state quotas and an attractive incentive package to sustain active interest.
LEM helped to add more than 15,000 Jaycees to the rolls, bringing membership to a new record high level. Many became intensely involved in the area of safety. The first “Road-e-o” for safe driving attracted teenage contestants from 34 states and Canada, earning special recognition from the National Committee for Traffic Safety. Liberty Mutual was so impressed with the first year accomplishments, it provide an additional grant of $46,000. More than 1,400 of the 2,235 USJCC chapters marked automobile bumpers with Scotch-Lite tape, a new luminous product by 3M. Charging $1 each for the service, the project quickly became a great profit-maker until the exclusive Jaycee rights to Scotch-Lite expired in December 1953.
The most significant achievement of Henderson’s term was the initiation of a campaign for mandatory individual membership dues for Junior Chamber International. Henderson recently said that this eventually “enabled JCI to become an important and effective international organization in the development of democratic leadership in many nations.”
The 1952-53 administration came to an unprecedented climax with the president of the United States keynoting the Annual Meeting. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was high in his praise of The USJCC: “Yours is one of our nation’s most distinguished and enterprising organizations… Because you are both young and responsible, you know what is your greatest responsibility of all – tomorrow – the whole future of freedom.”
Delegates approved a resolution calling for the controlled fluoridation of water and then elected LEM Leader Dain J. Domich of Sacramento, California, as their new president. Domich would rename his membership and internal development program “ELMER,” for Enthusiasm, Leadership training, Membership, Extension and Retention. What the acronym lacked in grace, it made up for in results. Membership, affiliated chapters and income all shot up to record levels during his term.
Domich quickly changed USJCC public relations from a section to a full department. Among other things, the department sold a 13-part series of “Freedom Forum” radio programs to local chapters at $5 per program or $65 for the whole series. “March to the Mike” was created in 1953 by The USJCC in the area of international relations as a key element of the American Heritage Foundation’s crusade for freedom. Chapters recruited prominent citizens to record speeches, the best of which were aired on Radio Free Europe.
Additional projects during 1953-54 included: selling lawn markers through Lite-a-Lawn to benefit all levels of USJCC operations, as well as the Damun Runyan Cancer fund; creating a national Junior Tennis tournament with the help of Holiday magazine, Mars Candy Company and the Athletic Institute; sponsoring the Rookie League Baseball locally in conjunction with the National Baseball Congress for the second year; conducting the second Teenage Safe Driving Road-e-o; staging the eighth annual Jaycee Junior Golf program, attracting nearly 26,000 participants; running the seventh annual Voice of Democracy contest; and honoring the 16th annual group of Ten Outstanding Young Men.
At the 1954 Annual Meeting, Arkansas Jaycees gained enthusiastic backing of their idea to build a White House for subsequent presidents of The USJCC. They secured numerous pledges for furniture, construction materials, services, and accessories from other state and local Junior Chamber organizations. The newly elected president, E.LaMar Buckner of Ogden, Utah, would still have to rent a home while the White House was being built near the Tulsa headquarters, but it would be ready in time for his successor.
Buckner, considered on of the best speakers of the national presidents, followed the acronym theme trend of Domich with “SAL”, for Starting America’s Leaders. SAL emphasized various sports and youth activities designed to develop leadership among those too young to join The U.S. Junior Chamber. The sports activities got off to a fast start with the first Jaycee Junior Tennis tournament attracting 141 contestants to Springfield, Ohio, in early August 1954. Just one month later, the first Jaycee rookie league baseball tourney was held in Salina, Kansas.
The constantly improving Junior Golf program had its successful tournament in Santa Barbara, California, pulling in competitors from all 48 states. Jaycees also were looking ahead to the 1956 Olympic Games in Australia, Raising a stunning $183,000 that fall to help finance the U.S. team. The Detroit Junior Chamber was responsible for $100,000 of that total. The next year, The USJCC raised an additional $217,000 for U.S. Olympic team expenses.
Two major new programs were started under President Buckner, one of which has continued to the present day – the honoring of the nation’s Outstanding Young Farmers with a special awards banquet, first conducted in June 1955. It now is the oldest farmer recognition program in the nation. The other project, Operation Brotherhood, was sparked by Junior Chamber International and rapidly adopted by The USJCC Board of Directors. Operation Brotherhood consisted of massive international fund-raising and help for refugees fleeing the communists in Vietnam. Buckner personally inspected the operation in Vietnam, which eventually raised in excess of $1 million and created 350 special villages for the refugees.
Just after the 1955 Annual Meeting, Junior Chamber International opened its own world headquarters in Miami Beach, Florida, moving from the War Memorial Headquarters in Tulsa. Led by new USJCC President Hugh F. McKenna of Omaha, Nebraska, about 1,000 Jaycees attended the JCI opening banquet after adjourning their 35th Annual Meeting in Atlanta.
When McKenna moved into the newly completed White House, the national organization still was growing. He kept it on that path while efficiently reorganizing the myriad of USJCC projects and overseeing construction of an addition to the War Memorial Headquarters.
During his 1955-56 term, membership jumped from 172,000 to 185,000 and the number of chapters rose to nearly 3,200. Income soared from $470,000 to $546,000. While steady growth would continue for many more years, a natural leveling out soon would replace the post-war boom.
To more intelligently handle services relating to national projects, all were sorted into three categories. Class I projects were the most widely accepted and would receive a continued annual emphasis with project kits regularly mailed to all chapters. Class II projects received less emphasis and promotion, while Class III programs were considered supplementary and material was available on a request basis.
Under a program called Operation Civic Service, participating chapters could qualify for a civic service award by conducting a given number of Class I and locally devised projects, depending on their population division. The result was a 365 percent increase in participation over the SAL program a year earlier, with 1,874 chapters involved.
Activity was the name of a new monthly magazine sent to all Junior Chamber officers to promote available program materials. The following year it would be combined in Action, an existing monthly news magazine for the same audience.
“I am my brother’s keeper” became the theme of a new human relations project entitled Building A Better Community. Sponsored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews with the help of the Junior Chamber, its goal was to improve communities through fostering brotherhood.
Ever increasing printing needs and orders for supplies brought about a decision to build an addition to the lower floor of the national headquarters. Construction, which included the laying of footings to facilitate later construction of a third floor, was completed in July 1956, just as Wendell Ford of Owensboro, Kentucky, arrived in Tulsa as 37th president of The USJCC.
An additional 821 chapters vied for civic service awards in 1956-57, evidence that The USJCC successfully was returning project initiative to the local level where Jaycees could best determine the needs of the community. While several projects were adaptable to most communities and included such standbys as the Teenage Safe Driving Road-e-o, Voice of Democracy and Christmas Shopping Tour, others seemed more appropriate for temporary usage by fewer chapters. In this regard, Our Stake in Better Government, a program backing the second Hoover Report, and the Atoms for Peace program were popular.
Among the innovations was an Outstanding New Jaycee program to encourage activation of new members and Religion In American Life, commonly called RIAL. Usually featured in the month of November for many years, RIAL stressed the importance of religion in the community.
The Junior Golf Championship was enhanced by the addition of Coca-Cola as a sponsor and the backing of the immortal “Grand Slam” golfer Bobby Jones. Eddie Sledge defeated Earl “Butch” Buchholz for the Junior Boys crown at the Jaycee Tennis Championships, but Buchholz eventually became on of the top players in the world.
Farmers from all 48 States, as well as Alaska and Hawaii, were on hand for the third annual Outstanding Young Farmer banquet which, by 1957, had grown in national stature. The Ten Outstanding Young Men event featured the unveiling of the so-called “Hands” trophy, designed by internationally known sculptor and 1954 honoree, Arthur Kraft.
Vice President Richard M. Nixon, celebrating his 10th anniversary as a Ten Outstanding Young Men honoree, delivered the keynote address at the 1957 Annual Meeting that June in Milwaukee. For the first time in 10 years, national dues were raised, climbing from $2 to $2.50 per member.
Charles E. Shearer Jr., a Shelbyville, Indiana, attorney who now practices in Washington, D.C., was elected to lead The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce for the next year. He says his most important accomplishment in 1957-58 was “the inauguration of the Community Development concept. Instead of all programs coming down from Tulsa, we emphasized the importance of communities doing a survey to find the most important need in the community and then developing a program to address that need. (Chapters) were judged on the basis of this process.” The USJCC had realized that local program planning often led to the most important work for a chapter.
Under Shearer’s leadership, the fledgling Outstanding New Jaycee program was refined, renamed SPOKE and administered by Virgil Lebow of Kansas City, Missouri. State SPOKE winners were organized into a national HUB group and recognized at the Annual Meeting. Operation Library gained momentum in its second year with Junior Chamber chapters establishing or improving libraries in many communities. The first 100 percent participation project in Arkansas was Operation Library, sparked by Cecil Edmonds of West Memphis.
He not only succeeded in a three-year battle to build a new library in his city, but also helped make Operation Library a project of Junior Chamber International. During this period, Jaycees contributed more time and money to America’s libraries than the federal government.
Along with the initiation of projects such as Speak-Up for Government Economy related to supporting the Hoover Report, and Decisions ’57, a program where discussion groups considered international relations questions, one long standing project came to an end in 1958. After 10 years, the Voice of Democracy program closed on a high note with a record number of high school participants. President Shearer, however, felt The USJCC had not been getting full cooperation or appropriate credit from the other sponsors. An improved program, My True Security, took its place in 1959, sponsored by Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company.
Hometown boy Jack Nicklaus took the Junior Golf title in Columbus, Ohio, and the Wheaties Sports Federation sponsored a new Junior Chamber youth fitness program that would develop dramatically in the year ahead. Sponsors such as Wheaties were playing an increasingly important role each year in the financial health of The USJCC. In 1957-58, they contributed more than $176,000 to the organization out of a total income of $707,000.
Membership finally swelled just past the 200,000 threshold during Shearer’s year, a long anticipated goal. This brought about an awareness that more preplanning was needed to serve the membership, so delegates to the 1958 Annual Meeting approved a bylaws change calling for budgets and programs to be approved in advance, starting with the March 1959 board meeting for the 1959-60 Junior Chamber year.
Robert V. Cox of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was elected 39th president of The USJCC after a tense, 15-ballot marathon of an election well chronicled in Booton Herndon’s Young Men Can Change the World, presently out or print. Space was getting cramped for the growing national headquarters staff, so construction began in October for a 9,300 square foot third floor at the War Memorial building. It was occupied by the end of Cox’s tern and formally dedicated in July 1959 by his successor.
Community development programming, sponsored by American Motors Corporation, was augmented with chapter development activities in 1958-59. The community development phase called for a survey of community needs, a program addressing some of the needs, and a summary report of results and progress. A chapter in Ketchikan, Alaska, came up with a 64-page report detailing 34 needed projects. It’s no wonder that a Community Development department and Professional Advisory Council on Community Development were organized by The USJCC after the March 1959 board meeting.
In the area of chapter development, fundamentals of operation were stressed – having a planned year’s program and budget, adequate membership, activation of all members, issuing a regular member publication, etc. – ensuring that internal areas were not overlooked while external projects were being carried out.
On the national level, Pepsi helped sponsor the Jaycee Junior Tennis Championships while rival Coca-Cola was behind the Jaycee Junior Golf Championships. About 300,000 took part in the annual Teenage Safe Driving Road-e-o backed by Pure Oil Company, Chrysler Corporation, Liberty Mutual Insurance and the American Trucking Association. The Ten Outstanding Young Men for 1958 included 24-year-old entertainer Pat Boone and 35-year-old national affairs specialist Dr. Henry Kissinger.
Sports Illustrated magazine and the Wheaties Sports Federation helped The USJCC honor the best leaders of Youth Fitness Week programs with a trip to New York while the American Petroleum Institute helped with the annual honoring of four Outstanding Young Farmers. The National Association of Manufacturers provided financial help to Project Tax Reform, a national petition-signing effort to outline the need for certain tax reductions.
Looking back 35 years, Robert Cox now says the greatest accomplishment during his term in office was helping The USJCC become “more precise about the worth of various programs.” How many people were being helped? What kind of exposure did Jaycees receive? These and other questions were required to produce positive answers or a program’s status would be reduced.
Minneapolis played host to the Junior Chamber International World Congress and The USJCC managed to convince 18 states and many local chapters to require members to pay $1 annual dues for JCI. JCI dues would not become a national requirement until 1966, some 13 years after Horace Henderson’s administration had initiated a campaign for it. Also on the international front, the Junior Chamber had a representative at a NATO briefing in Paris. A. Park Shaw Jr., he was the only person from the United States present, as well as the only civic organization representative attending from any of the 15 NATO countries.
At the 1959 Annual Meeting in Buffalo, an estimated 100,000 people turned out to see the Jaycees march in the colorful Parade of States and delegates elected Bob Clark of Des Moines, Iowa, to lead them into their 40 anniversary year. The Tennessee delegation served their famous strawberry shortcake at the convention and even stopped city buses to serve it.
The “Fabulous Fifties” were almost gone. The decade had brought exciting growth and much-needed administrative stability to The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce. Just ahead were some of the most significant programming developments in Junior Chamber history, as well as yet another surge in growth.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing that couldn’t be done, and he did it.
Edgar A. Guest
Robert H. Clark began his term on an auspicious note with the July 1959 dedication of the $200,000 third floor addition to the War Memorial Headquarters. Among the many dignitaries present was Thomas W. Baldridge, the man who, in 1944, first proposed the headquarters as a living memorial to Jaycees who died in service with America’s military.
The expanded space was vital to a growing staff now servicing 22 active community service and chapter development programs. With the sponsorship help of American Motors Corporation, the first Community Development Seminar was conducted in July, highlighted by awards presented to Canton, Ohio; Centerville, Iowa; and Stinnet, Texas, for outstanding achievements in their communities. Hugh Pomeroy, then considered the dean of American planners, commented after his luncheon address, “This was the most impressive civic event I have attended.”
The Community Service Information Center was organized at USJCC Headquarters, with much of the initial material coming from the American Planning and Civic Association, which gave up its own information center. President Dwight D. Eisenhower greeted 49 outstanding high school seniors in Washington, D.C., as a highlight of the first My True Security program, the replacement for the former Voice of Democracy program.
Another replacement was strenuously debated at the March 1960 board of directors meeting – changing the organization’s name to The U.S. Jaycees. The change was recommended by the board, but rejected by delegates at the 40th Annual Meeting in June.
Jaycees returned to their St. Louis birthplace to celebrate the past and plan the future. Vice President Richard M. Nixon again delivered the keynote address, this time receiving national attention for explaining his own economic theory of “growthmanship.” Among those listening in the convention hall were founder Henry Giessenbier’s family, 17 past USJCC presidents, Jaycee Creed author Bill Brownfield, and Honorary President Andrew Mungenast. Elected as 1960-61 President was Pennsylvanian Morgan J. Doughton, an imaginative 33-year-old who would challenge Jaycees to examine the basic purposes of their movement and plan for the future.
Doughton believed Jaycees should seek the most demanding community challenges rather than be unduly concerned with leadership training. “Challenges ‘bigger than men’ lead to responses ‘that make men bigger,” was his philosophy. Toward that vision, he led Jaycees in a $25,000 fund-raising project to support a refugee camp in India for Tibetans fleeing Chinese repression in their homeland. Junior Champ, an outgrowth of the Youth Fitness program, was created to encourage chapters to conduct Olympic-type track and field competitions for youngsters. This Wheaties Sports Federation sponsored program would eventually include state and national competitions.
A policy change allowed Doughton to be the first president to have the option of visiting only half of the states, freeing him to devote more time to administrative and development matters. He provided a great deal of special assistance to the new Committee on Future Directions, a bold attempt to face ongoing challenges of the movement that even now Doughton calls one of the best achievements of his administration.
All of the major national programs were again successfully conducted in 1960-61 with the exception of the Four Outstanding Young Farmers awards program, which had lost its sponsorship from the American Petroleum Institute. The LP-Gas Council sponsored the program the following year.
The Junior Chamber in Wichita, Kansas, conducted a girls’ invitational tennis tournament, which attracted participants from six states and led to a full-scale competition the following year. Raymond Floyd, still active on the pro golf tour in the mid-1990’s, snared the International Jaycee Golf Tournament title from a field of 203 boys.
New program materials were introduced or developed by 1961 including “The Young Man Steps In,” a pamphlet to sell employers and civic leaders on the values of Jaycee participation for young men. A comprehensive Chapter and Individual Development Manual served as a complete guide to internal programs and were used, with additions and modifications, through most of the decade.
Almost 7,000 delegates and wives registered for the 1961 Annual Meeting in Atlanta and few missed the Get Acquainted party sponsored by Coca-Cola, featuring the trumpet artistry of Al Hirt. Key resolutions adopted at the convention, included opposition to health care of the aged under Social Security (Medicare), encouragement of Jaycees to build and promote fallout shelters in their communities, and a continuing policy of firm resistance to communist encroachment.
Before delegates elected Bob Conger as 42nd president of The USJCC, national honors were doled out, including one to the Jaycees in Ashland, Kentucky, for their work in organizing a Junior Chamber group within the city’s federal reformatory.
Conger, a partner in a Jackson, Tennessee, lumber and supply company as well as a director of a meat-canning firm, advocated bringing more “blue collar” workers into the organization. Membership jumped almost 7 percent during his administration to 25,099, with Vermont and New Mexico more than doubling the number of Jaycees in their states. The number of chapters climbed in 1961-62 by 266 to a total of 4,407. This was the beginning of a significant growth trend for The USJCC.
State presidents and executive committee members traveled in fine style during Conger’s term and the next two years, each driving new Buick Skylarks provided by General Motors. Minute Maid Company supplied sponsorship for a new program in the civic activity portfolio, Scholastic Achievement Recognition. The program encouraged scholastic excellence by awarding certificates to straight A an honor roll students.
The Jaycee Junior Tennis Championships was expanded in 1951 to include a national girl’s competition after a year in which 22,000 youngsters competed in 1,500 communities. At the awards banquet, the President of the United States Lawn Tennis Association paid high tribute to the organization, saying, “ No organization is doing as much as the Junior Chamber of Commerce to help develop young tennis players in this country . . . and that includes the USLTA.” Among the young players was Arthur Ashe Jr., destine for greatness, but defeated in the 1961 semifinals.
Reader’s Digest provided the financial backing for Junior Chamber chapters to secure jobs and living accommodations for young journalists from a dozen countries during a two month stretch in 1962. In April, the first Governmental Affairs Seminar was held in Washington, D.C., with workshops on legislative issues such as federal aid to education, Medicare and tax reform.
President John F. Kennedy’s Council on Physical Fitness asked The USJCC to distribute 25,000 copies of its recording, “Chicken Fat,” to promote vigorous calisthenics in school gym classes. Within two years, Jaycees had given away and sold many times the original goal.
At the Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Jaycees again gambled – and lost – on a proposal to change the organization’s name to The U.S. Jaycees. The vote count was 1,692 against the change and 1,187 in favor. It would be another three years before the “pro” name change forces would win.
Doug Blankenship, a highly successful agent for Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company in College Park, Georgia, was elected 1962-63 president after 11 rounds of balloting that lasted until 4 a.m. Whereas his predecessor had stressed community service, Blankenship’s administration focused on the fields of membership, chapter development and leadership training.
Among the dozens of programming aids introduced in 1962-63 was a special section in Future magazine called “You and the Jaycees.” This 32-page guide to personal growth and Junior Chamber orientation was reprinted and provided to each new member. A kit was developed to serve as a local chairman’s guide and a booklet on parliamentary procedure was distributed.
In the area of membership, President Blankenship cast a creative net and pulled in a lot of fish with the Return the Favor Sweepstakes conducted during February 1963. With prize incentives ranging from Junior Chamber rings and pen and pencil sets to watches, Jaycees signed up 16,272 new members in February, helping to put overall membership at an all-time high of 217,137 by the end of Blankenship’s administration.
Jaycees began tackling the very complex job of working for national uniformity in traffic ordinances and highway signs. The USJCC program to develop the Uniform Vehicle Code was sponsored by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and emphasized well-coordinated state programs rather than local chapter work alone. By year’s end, hundreds of chapter were surveying local traffic ordinances, signage and traffic problems.
Another new program, Operation Free Enterprise, encouraged Jaycees to educate students and others about the value of the free enterprise system. America Welcomes You, a one time special project, had Jaycees helping to find homes and jobs for Cuban families fleeing the dictatorial rule of Fidel Castro.
On the local level, New York Junior Chamber chapters in Schenectady, Utica, Canajoharie, Groversville, Johnstown, Rome and others along the Mohawk River, combined forces to take action on the river’s pollution. They earned the endorsement of President Kennedy, Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Secretary of State Stewart Udall. In Oklahoma, The Cushing Junior Chamber rose from virtual ashes the year before to extend five chapters in nearby communities in one day on December 14,1962.
Ending a year successful o all fronts, Blankenship handed the gavel to Richard H. Headlee of Bountiful, Utah, for the 1963-64 term. Headlee added to the bulging portfolio of programs with a broad range of projects concerned with mental health and retardation, backed by Sears-Roebuck Company and the Joseph Kennedy Foundation. Daisy Manufacturing stepped in to sponsor Jaycee Shooting Education, a role the company has retained ever since. A Physical Fitness Leadership Awards program was initiated, co-sponsored by Standard Packaging Corporation.
Additional new programs included: Honesty, Today and Tomorrow, promoting honesty among students; Operation Airpark, sponsored by Piper Aircraft, encouraging the building of inexpensive landing strips for light planes; Clean Water, a Clay Pipe Institute program involving Jaycees with air pollution problems; and Radio Moscow, studying communist propaganda techniques.
President Headlee took time during his term to meet with Attorney General Robert Kennedy to tell him Jaycees had rejected President Kennedy’s idea of a domestic Peace Corps by a 2-1 margin, and to suggest a joint effort whereby the administration would work through the Junior Chamber and other civic groups. Headlee also testified to the Senate Finance Committee against the proposed Kennedy tax bill and to the House Ways and Means Committee voicing The USJCC opposition to Medicare.
The U.S. Junior Chamber was soon to be a million-dollar organization. At the March board of directors meeting, a record budget of nearly $1.2 million was approved for 1964-65. The 1963-64 year income ended just six dollars short of the $1 million mark, with almost a quarter of it coming from sponsors.
Stan Ladley, a 33-year-old Jaycee who had never been a local president, was elected to lead the national organization at the 1964 Annual Meeting in Dallas. He didn’t have far to relocate. Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is only about 40 miles north of the Tulsa headquarters.
Ladley’s year round accent on growth led the organization past the milestone figure of 250,000 for the first time, closing the 1964-65 year with 257,013. His year also saw a further expansion in programs, including “What’s Your Verdict?” a one-act drama for secondary school students emphasizing the tragic consequences of car accidents. The publishers of the World Book Encylopedia sponsored an Outstanding Young Educator awards program while the Independence Hall Association of Chicago funded a national essay contest for seventh and eighth grade students on “Americanism.”
The most ambitious sports event in Junior Chamber history was held in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in early August a The USJCC combined the 11th Annual Jaycee Tennis Championships, the 19th annual Jaycee International Golf Championships and the first national Junior Champ program into one giant spectacular. Junior Champ was a track and field competition for boys 14 and 15 year old, featuring an instructional clinic run by prestigious names in the sports. NBC Sports ran a half-hour segment of the event on national television a few weeks later.
Jaycees across the country raised several hundred thousand dollars to finance the U.S. Olympic team’s trip to the Olympic Games in Tokyo by coordinating a run with the Olympic torch from New York to California. Called Run for the Money, the giant promotional program was co-sponsored by the Thom McAn Shoe Company.
In October 1964, the Oklahoma City Junior Chamber welcomed 1,200 delegates from 58 countries to the XIX World Congress of Junior Chamber International. A month later, the first national Jaycee Leadership Orientation Workshop for Mental Health and Retardation was held in Omaha, Nebraska. Excellent program materials were developed and direct financial help was provided to state programs.
Look magazine was on hand in January to cover the Ten Outstanding Young Men ceremonies, held for the second consecutive year in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, home of the annual Oscar presentation.
On the operations front, The USJCC faced the challenges of a fire at Headquarters in September and major decisions at the March meeting of the board of directors. “Spontaneous combustion’ was cited as the cause of the fire which originated in a second floor cleaning supplies closet. The $50,000 in damage was covered by insurance and all damage was repaired within a few months.
The 325 members at the national board of directors meeting in March again proposed a bylaw change to convert the name of the organization to The United States Jaycees. Similar proposals had been voted down at the 1956, 1960 and 1962 Annual Meetings but the vote in June 1965 was almost unanimously in favor. The Junior Chamber of Commerce name would be restored 25 years later.
The board of directors also recommended raising national dues from $2.50 to $3 per member (approved at the 1965 Annual Meeting), adopted a new program to raise $1 million to construct a Freedom Hall at the Freedoms Foundation headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and approved a $1.3 million budget for 1965-66 USJCC operations. After raising more than $100,000 to build Freedom Hall, that program’s emphasis was shifted a year later to educational activities.
Along with approving the actions of the board, delegates to the Annual Meeting in Buffalo, New York, voted to do away with resolutions as the method of adopting external policy. Instead, all external policy matters would be decided by referenda to chapters. James A. Skidmore Jr. was elected 46th national president of the newly named U.S. Jaycees as dawn was about to break over the city.
A 33-year-old from Brick Township, New Jersey, Skidmore quickly put an emphasis on public relations and governmental affairs programming, helping to build national stature for the organization in 1965-66. He personally presented President Lyndon B. Johnson a book outlining the scope of Jaycee support of the nation’s efforts in Vietnam.
Through a referendum vote, Jaycees backed the Vietnam policies of the administration by an impressive 12-1 margin. Jaycees also worked with the Young Democrats and Young Republicans to collect food, drugs, clothing and other goods valued at $100 million for the people of Vietnam in what was called America’s Christmas Train and Truck program.
Jaycees covered domestic needs as well, providing major relief efforts to the southern Louisiana victims of Hurricane Betsy in September. Along with relocating and caring for thousands for suddenly homeless people, within two weeks chapters were shipping some 150,000 pounds of food, clothing and other materials.
New programs developed during the year included: Venereal Disease Education; Junior Ski, sponsored by Hart Ski Manufacturing Company to teach snow skiing fundamentals to youngsters; Pre-Naturalization Classes for Future Citizens; and Free enterprise System Seminars.
Among the large volume of ongoing programs in 1965-66 were: Outstanding Young Educators, Sponsored by World Book Encyclopedia; Community Development Seminar, sponsored by American Motors Corporation; Teenage Safe Driving Road-e-o, sponsored by the Lincoln-Mercury Division of Ford Motor Company; and the fifth annual Governmental Affairs Seminar in Washington, D.C., with Ford Motor Company providing the first-ever sponsorship of the event.
The Shooting Education program to teach gun safety through the use of BB rifles, sponsored by Daisy Manufacturing Company, received a go-ahead to conduct a full-scale national competition in July 1966. About one-third of the nearly 6,000 chapter participated in a reinvigorated Prayer Breakfast program, and 678 chapters were sponsoring Boy Scout troops with a total enrollment of more than 18,000 boys.
Ed Merdes of Fairbanks, Alaska, was the first U.S. Jaycee in eight years to be elected president of Junior Chamber International at its 20th World Congress. JCI also conferred an honorary life membership upon Andrew Mungenast, a leader in the Junior Chamber movement from its earliest days, and named the Greensboro, North Carolina chapter as the best in the world.
Long-needed conference room space was added at The U.S. Jaycees Headquarters in Tulsa with the construction of a 200-seat room in a second floor area that had been a patio. It was named the Bill Brownfield Room to honor the author of the Jaycee Creed.
The 1966 Annual Meeting in Detroit saw the organization increase its Junior Chamber International dues to $1.30 per member and require 100 percent individual JCI membership for the first time. Thirty-two-year-old Bill Suttle of Greensboro, North Carolina, was elected on the first ballot to lead the young men’s organization in the year ahead.
His year started off with a repeated “bang” at the first BB Gun Championships, which attracted youngsters from 32 states to the early July finals in Vandalia, Ohio. More than 300,000 boys and girls, ages 7 to 14, had participated during the previous year in a 13-hour course on gun handling, marksmanship, safety and competitive shooting.
Environmental concerns received increased emphasis, almost four years before the ecology movement captured broad national attention with the first Earth Day celebration. Clean Air was a new U.S. Jaycees program in 1966, designed to stop the nation’s growing air pollution problems. Sponsored with the Industrial Gas Cleaning Institute, Clear Air provided community action programs. The third year of the Clean Water program stressed similar purposes and honored the Danville, Virginia, chapter for its success in motivating local voters to pass a $3 million bond issue to build a pollution control plant on the river near Danville.
Many programs had reached full maturity by 1966-67. >From a base of 650,000 original competitors, more than 500 pre-Olympic age athletes converged on Denver for the fourth annual Junior Champ Track and Field Meet. President Lyndon Johnson surprised everyone with a visit, personally talking with and congratulating many athletes. The Junior Tennis and the Junior Golf programs completed their popular 13th and 21st annual championships, respectively, during the year.
Among the honorees at the 29th annual Congress of America’s Ten Outstanding Young Men for 1966 was Army Captain William S. Carpenter who was noted for his gallantry in action during the Vietnam War and consumer advocate Ralph Nader. President Johnson addressed the 180 delegates at the sixth annual Governmental Affairs Seminar as well as those assembled for the 4th annual Physical Fitness Leadership Awards Conference.
More than 600,000 seventh and eighth grade students entered essays on the subject, “What Americanism Means to Me,” in the third year of the Independence Hall Essay Contest. Michigan Jaycees started an effort for Project Concern called Pennies for Vietnam.
Its goal was to raise $185,000 to build a hospital and orphanage for South Vietnamese children. Indiana Jaycees worked hard to secure a four-wheel International Scout for use by Project Concern in Vietnam.
Among the many outstanding projects conducted on a local level each year by chapters, one by the Atlanta Jaycees deserves special mention. After racial rioting in the summer of 1966 had left a slum area of the city called Summerhill in tatters, the Jaycees formed a study group to find out what could be done to improve conditions. By spring, they were ready for action.
First, they organized 1,000 Summerhill residents in a massive three-day clean-up effort. Then they created a recreation program for the young people of Summerhill, equipped playgrounds and started several softball leagues. Boy and Girl Scout troops, sponsored by the Jaycees, were formed. For two hours each weekday, and all day on Saturdays, Atlanta Jaycees provided area residents with free advice on legal, financial, health and personal problems. Finally, they turned a dilapidated home into a community center to provide an ongoing base for all Jaycee-related activities. And the Atlanta Jaycees wasn’t even the top chapter in its population division in 1966-67.
Houston took that honor in 1967, growing from 651 to 1,623 members to become the world’s largest Jaycee chapter. Houston Jaycees conducted 325 projects on a budget of $565,000. On another scale, the Bartlesville Jaycees in the Oklahoma town of 30,000 started an average of three new projects every week of the year and boasted 351 members.
President Johnson made his fourth appearance in a year at a major U.S. Jaycees function by keynoting the 1967 Annual Meeting in Baltimore marking the second time the nation’s chief executive had visited the convention. He addressed an audience of 10,000, representing a movement that rapidly was approaching 300,000 members and already could count more than 6,000 chapters.
James B. Antell of Burlington, Vermont, was elected to lead the 48th U.S. Jaycees administration. He activated a program introduced in the spring to ring new promise for the people of Appalachia. Operation Alternative (later called Operation Opportunity) was the Jaycees’ response to the Great Society programs of President Johnson, competing with the federal monies being wastefully poured into the area. Projects by Jaycees from 12 states in Appalachia successfully created jobs, trained unskilled employees, improved housing, encouraged high school education, involved teenagers and prevented crime during the next few years.
Continuing his emphasis on human resource development, Antell promoted the Big Brothers of America efforts through a One Jaycee – One Boy program targeted at chapters in larger cities. In a year when national racial tensions were high and poverty issues were in the spotlight, seminars, news articles, kits and program ideas stressed the social obligation of The U.S. Jaycees to all people of the United States.
In Chandler, Arizona, Jaycees designed and implemented a program to train welfare recipients in job skills. In its first three years, chapter members placed 68 percent of those on welfare into jobs by chapter members.
Antell joined 21 governors and mayors on an official inspection trip to Vietnam shortly after his term began. They visited about a dozen villages as election observers and then met with President Johnson at the White House on the return trip.
Future magazine in 1968 postulated that in 1984, “Dad would be seeing much more of his family, since he will be working a 27-hour week.” While that prediction subsequently proved wrong, various predictions about desktop computer usage 16 years hence were nearly perfect.
Helping The U.S. Jaycees stay up with the emerging computer age was a new UNIVAC 9300 computer, installed in early 1968. It provided 40 percent faster service and more information than the system it replaced. One of the areas of information the computer tracked was membership, which by then included several institutional chapters. A brochure on extending a Jaycee chapter in a prison or other institution was created in 1968.
Several administrative moves were approved by the 1967-68 board of directors to simplify programming categories and to remove program responsibilities from the vice presidents. Instead, the headquarters staff would manage each approved program and the vice presidents were free to travel more and concentrate on membership and sponsorship concerns.
The U.S. Jaycees also was busy raising money toward a national $100,000 goal to build a new Junior Chamber International secretariat in Coral Gables, Florida. By the 1968 Annual Meeting, more than $56,000 had been collected by U.S. Jaycees and construction had begun.
The Annual Meeting in Phoenix was hot in more ways than one. The Parade of States was conducted under extreme heat, requiring 32 marchers to be hospitalized and dozens more to be treated by the American Red Cross. Balloting for national president was just as torrid. It began shortly after 4 p.m., Thursday, and didn’t finish until 22 ballots and 18 hours later. Wendell Smith, of Plymouth, Michigan, was elected 49th president after 10 a.m. on Friday.
Smith inherited an organization 297,000 strong and still growing, as well as nearly $178,000 in new sponsorship monies acquired during the year before. During his term, sponsorship monies would rise to $365,000 and membership would reach more than 311,000.
Several familiar programs were canceled by sponsors following the 1968-69 term, including the Teenage Safe Driving Road-e-o, Junior Champ and Junior Bowling. New sponsors provided nearly $200,000 in funding, however, for programs in crime prevention and law enforcement, called Citizens for Justice with Order, leadership training (Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company); internal affairs (Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company); Outstanding Young Farmer (Central Soya); and general health (Sears Roebuck Foundation and Smith Kline & French Laboratories).
At the beginning of his term, Smith told his executive committee, “Our biggest challenge is to get all Jaycees involved in all programs, whether they are controversial or not. We can’t just work on the non-controversial projects.” To help Jaycees set the pace, a new six-hour course, Leadership in Action, was offered to members for an average cost of $5.
Television comedian Pat Paulsen, a perennial “candidate” for the president, helped The U.S. Jaycees raise funds for the U.S. Olympic team in 1968 by making coast-to-coast “campaign stops” in six cities in just one day. A new Veterans Assistance program was introduced to encourage chapters to make their communities aware of the veterans return and to inform the veterans of jobs and educational opportunities open to them.
Operation Opportunity, The Jaycees’ voluntary alternative to the federal government’s War on Poverty, showed great progress during the year. Several thousand chapters devoted major efforts toward helping the disadvantaged learn job skills and find jobs, gain an education, understand the governmental systems, brighten the environment and improve their dwellings.
Jaycee President Smith spent three weeks touring many of the nation’s most notorious poverty pockets, evaluating the role voluntary organizations should take. Following his trip, Smith urged Jaycees to immediately conduct their own awareness tours, provide control for the efforts of government, industry and organization, and make a commitment to make a difference.
By early May, Smith w raveling in style in a newly purchased 1961 Queenaire plane. In its first month of operation, the corporate airplane logged more than 14,000 miles, including a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, for the 49th Annual Meeting. Delegates adopted an official Jaycee flag and elected Wausau, Wisconsin’s Adnre’ LeTendre to lead The U.S. Jaycees into its sixth decade – and 50th anniversary – of action.
The nation was reeling under a volatile war protest movement, racial tensions and the challenges of feminists. There was a growing disrespect for American institutions including so-called “big business,” the traditional family structure and social/civic organizations. A great deal of self-examination was ahead for the Jaycee movement.
There’s a destiny that makes us brothers, none goes his way alone;
all that we send into the life of others comes back into our own.
Waiting for 1969-70 U.S. Jaycees President Andre’ LeTendre’s arrival in Tulsa was a new $70,000 “White House” in a fashionable neighborhood on the far south side of town. Another building project was frequently discussed during his term, but didn’t come about for several more years. The original plans called for expanding the Jaycee War Memorial Building to include either six or ten floors of offices and two levels of parking to create an “association center” for several national trade associations. This eventually shrunk to a two story, split-level addition, doubling floor space to 50,000 square feet and creating a new main entrance on the west side by the time ground was broken in 1972.
At the July 1969 executive committee meeting, a resolution was passed to change the age of entry for Jaycee membership from 21 to 18. The matter was ultimately deferred to the 1970-71 year where it was voted down at the 1971 Annual Meeting, but approved a year later.
Jaycees celebrated their golden anniversary year with a $250,000 budget and several special activities including a float in the Rose Bowl Parade and 50 million Burger Chef bags bearing the 50th anniversary logo.
The Metropolitan Conference of The U.S. Jaycees grappled with declining membership in some large-city chapters, a vote by the San Francisco Jaycees to “disaffiliate” from the state and national organizations, and a problem the Houston chapter was having with its state organization, which led Houston to experience severe financial difficulties.
The Houston situation was considered by the executive committee to be particularly embarrassing because it had nearly 2,000 members and was honored as the nation’s outstanding chapter at the 1969 Annual Meeting. The existence of the Metro Conference itself was a form of acknowledgement that chapters with large annual dues checks needed more service and attention.
Almost immediately after Hurricane Camille struck the Gulfport, Mississippi, area in August 1969, killing 221 people, Jaycees launched Operation Comeback. Soon, Jaycee chapters from every part of the country had collected almost more food and clothing than officials could distribute. Planes loaded with provisions sent by Jaycees circled the airport waiting for their turn to land, while on the ground trucks lined up for blocks to unload Jaycee-collected items.
LeTendre, bothered by a study showing that eight out of ten Americans were not involved in any civic activity, created a stellar new project called Do Something. Citizens in communities across the nation were sent cards giving them the opportunity to volunteer services in an area of their choice. President Richard Nixon endorsed the idea, saying he felt Do Something was the first concrete step he had seen to really get people involved in their communities.
Pepsi Cola jumped in with more sponsorship money than requested and Do Something was changing the course of volunteerism by early 1970. The meshing of private enterprise and concerned volunteers to solve community needs affected nearly 16,000 agencies and 509,000 volunteers during its first 10 months in 1969-70.
The big social question of the time, “How could a volunteer organization remain relevant in 1970?” was answered loudly by Do Something and Operation Opportunity, both large-scale social action programs. The president of the Sears-Roebuck Foundation said, “We are profoundly convinced of our good judgment in co-sponsoring Operation Opportunity. In all honesty, however, the impact of the program was not anticipated from almost every point of view.”
A federal Stop Rubella program to immunize Americans against the measles epidemic got a great boost from the involvement of Jaycees. One-third of the immunization clinics nationally had Jaycee assistance and participation; more than any other organization. This program would receive even more emphasis in the year ahead.
A manual was printed to help extend the Jaycee movement to institutional centers. Jaycees were unique among civic groups to establish chapters behind prison walls, with 74 of them in place by the end of the 1969-70 year.
Jaycees convened their Annual Meeting facing a budget shortfall. A slight decline in membership, combined with disappointing sales of 50th anniversary items, caused the Jaycees to consider – and pass – a dues increase of $1 to a new annual rate of $3 for each individual member.
The 1970 Annual Meeting also was a time of celebration, of course, for the 11,147 delegates in St. Louis, the city that gave birth to the movement 50 years earlier. The golden anniversary Parade of States was led by Alabama, based not on its place in the alphabet, but on its performance over the past year. Just as he had 10 years earlier, Richard M. Nixon delivered the convention’s keynote address, this time as president of the United States.
The delegates were in for another marathon election process to name The U.S. Jaycees president for 1970-71. Fifteen hours and a record-breaking 24 ballots were needed to elect Gordon B. Thomas from Toledo, Ohio. He would lead the organization back to financial and membership growth by the end of his term.
Seminars on human development (covering Operation Opportunity, Recreation & Sports and Crime Prevention/Law Enforcement programs), environmental control, and safety were held early in Thomas’ term to set the state presidents and program chairmen on the right course. At the International BB Gun Championships, a new wrinkle was added. For the first time, all competitors had to take a 100-question exam on gun safety and handling.
In early January, Thomas was the only civic organization representative invited to attend a high level briefing on the war in Southeast Asia. Among those making presentations or meeting with the group were Ross Perot, Dr. Henry Kissinger and Vice President Spiro Agnew.
Despite the recommendation from the hired public relations representatives of N.W. Ayer & Sons to expand the Ten Outstanding Young Men program to include women as a way of increasing publicity, the event remained all male in 1971. NBC’s “Today” show aired a live report on the event in Memphis, Tennessee, where a very emotional Elvis Presley was among the honorees. Fifteen years later women were added to the lists, and the event name changed to the Ten Outstanding Young Americans.
A myriad of state and chapter level activities brought visibility to the good works of Jaycees throughout the country. In Kansas, Jaycees sold peanut butter to generate capital improvement funds for their Cerebral Palsy Camp. An award from the governor was presented to the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine, Jaycees for their nine weekends of work grooming the banks of the Androscoggin River. Members of the chapter in Wenatchee, Washington, attracted national media attention, risking their lives by serving as undercover agents to expose their local drug problem.
Florida Jaycees effectively demonstrated that “the brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations” by collecting and sending more than eight tons of food, clothing and medical supplies to the Lima, Peru, Jaycees to help 100,000 refugees after a devastating earthquake. The Greater Dayton, Ohio, Jaycees organized a daylong clean up of Wolf Creek, removing 55 truckloads of trash, including a “No Dumping” sign. In Mobile, Alabama, Jaycees raised $15,000 to take 1,500 orphans and underprivileged children Christmas shopping.
Along with the joy in accomplishments, there was sadness throughout the Jaycee movement after learning of the death of Jaycee Creed author Bill Brownfield on February 5, 1971, at age 56, from multiple sclerosis. President Richard Nixon said, “By his death I have lost a good friend and the nation has been deprived of a staunch patriot and splendid human being.” Jaycees President Thomas said, “A bright light has gone out, the victim of mortal limitations; but that light, so unselfishly given by Bill Brownfield, continues to shine in the lives of those who learned and lived the Jaycee Creed.”
More than 23 years after he penned those remarks, Thomas commented that the full establishment of the national Do Something program was the most important accomplishment in 1970-71. “Success was evidenced by the heightened activity and the great number of programs and projects that occurred in all of the 4,800 chapters throughout the country,” the 51st president said.
Thomas passed on his office in the same way he received it – with a lengthy election process. Ronald G.S. Au, of Honolulu, Hawaii, endured 14 hours and 21 ballots to be elected the 1971-72 President. The keynote speaker at the Annual Meeting was Sen. Ted Kennedy, a choice that attracted several negative letters to Future magazine because of his actions surrounding the drowning death of a young woman in 1969.
Early in Au’s term the question of whether or not women could become members of the Jaycees was raised for the first time by The U.S. Jaycees Executive Committee. It was called a “passing problem” and the national legal counsel simply said, “The answer is no.”
Despite this, the Rochester, New York, Jaycees changed its bylaws to allow any young person (rather than young man) to become a member, earning its suspension from the national body. In March 1972, the executive committee recommended establishing a pilot program in certain chapters to accept women as associate members. The board of directors voted this down immediately prior to the 1972 Annual Meeting.
Among the new programs launched during the year was Let’s Keep It Clean, a campaign addressing litter and pollution, featuring comedic actor Don Knotts. The Greater Dayton, Ohio, Jaycees established a full scale-recycling center, which successfully recovered tons of materials and generated funds for their handicapped children program. Nearly 700 chapters emphasized health as their priority program and they committed an estimated 3.2 million volunteer hours toward health-related projects, generating $8.8 million in support.
On the international front, the Connecticut Jaycees built a 12-room school in Paraiba, Brazil. A hospital and orphanage in Cartagena, Columbia, received $150,000 worth of medical equipment, clothes and toys, courtesy of the Coral Gables Jaycees in Florida. Jaycees in Minnesota provided a bus, an ambulance and educational supplies for Jaycees in Uruguay to distribute.
Jaycees also were taking a hard look at their own organization and its future in 1971-72. They didn’t always like what they found. A Commission on Development exhaustively questioned people both inside and outside the movement to come up with nearly 30 recommendations for change. The suggestions ranged from active solicitation of minorities and “blue collar” members to establishing an office in Washington, D.C.
The commission was a bold response to perceived “danger signals on the horizon” and its report was adopted at the 1972 Annual Meeting.
Under U.S. Jaycees President Au, the organization experienced tremendous growth in sponsorships and government grants. What had been a fairly impressive $300,000 in this area during his term, turned into $1.6 million for use in the 1972-73 year.
At the 52nd Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Jaycees gave a resounding vote of approval to lowering the minimum age for membership from 21 to 18 – the first change made in the basic membership requirements I the history of the organization. Without formal recognition from The U.S. Jaycees, A U.S. Junior Chamber International Senate group was formed during the convention. It was officially recognized as an unaffiliated organization in 1974. The delegates also heard from an impressive array of speakers including Vice President Spiro Agnew, Sen. Hubert Humphrey, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter and evangelist Billy Graham.
Elected to lead the way for 1972-73 was Samuel D. Winer form New Martinsville, West Virginia. He would face mounting challenges on the issue of female membership with lawsuits threatened from Philadelphia, Rochester, New York, and Washington, D.C., and an inkling that future government grants could be affected by the male-only membership policy.
For the first time, government grants were being used by The U.S. Jaycees for programming in the areas of alcohol awareness and treatment, environmental improvement, the corrections system and socioeconomic development. The grant monies in these areas totaled $960,000 for the year.
Venereal disease education received top priority among national programs. Many readers of Future magazine were shocked in October to read not only a highly detailed story on the subject, but also a related story on prostitution that featured the earthy (and largely uncensored) language of a streetwalker. Although the magazine switched from a monthly to a bimonthly publication early in 1973, it earned several honors including two from the International Association of Business Communicators for the best designed and most improved publication.
The U.S. Jaycees earned additional national awards by the end of the 1972-73 year. The corporation received the highest award of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for being the organization that had contributed the most effort toward eradication the disease in the past year. The American Society of Association Executives gave an award of merit for The U.S. Jaycees’ extensive environmental efforts.
The first Jaycee Chapter for the mentally challenged was put together by the chapter in Laurel, Mississippi, at the rehabilitation center of Ellisville State School. Chapters across America were getting involved with the Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation, to inspire youngsters who have just completed their sophomore year of high school to explore leadership and various aspects of the American way of life. In three months of fundraising, the Greater Barre Jaycees in Vermont raised $28,000 of the $36,000 in local funding needed to construct a multipurpose recreation shelter for athletics, concerts and exhibitions.
President Winer, a strong proponent of female membership, led his board of directors through months of examination of the issue before they temporarily closed the door in February by voting down a proposal to make the choice of admitting women a local chapter option.
The 1972-73 year saw Junior Chamber International become Jaycees International in a name change that followed the United States move in that direction seven years before. The nation was able to watch the 90-minute awards ceremony of the Ten Outstanding Young Men live on 225 Public Broadcasting System affiliates, helped by a grant form Ryder System, Inc. Lock it and pocket the Key, an auto theft prevention program, celebrated its third year as a notional project by passing along an FBI report that the number of stolen vehicles was reduced 4 percent in 1972, the first drop in 20 years.
American Red Ball Transit Company provided funding for Operation Red Ball and Jaycees distributed 5 million stickers for the home windows of children to guide rescuers in case of fire. An estimated 2.5 million hours were spent by members on environmental improvement projects in 1972-73.
The year ended with nearly 316,000 members and 6,680 chapters, both new records for The U.S. Jaycees. At the Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, delegates passed a resolution calling for the construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Another resolution approved asked the government not to change the status of those missing in action in Southeast Asia to that of killed in action for at least five more years.
It was after 5:30a.m. on June 29 when Rick Clayton from El Paso, Texas was elected U.S. Jaycees president for 1973-74. Among the issues facing him was the five-year decline in urban membership. Overall membership retention also was causing serious concern. Only half the men in the average chapter stayed for more than one year. Some postulated that Jaycees had become so serious in serving the needs of their communities and the nation that the fun had stopped.
To help ensure that Jaycees enjoyed a healthy home life, thousands took the Family Life Development program, increasing their skills in relating with family members. Jaycee chapters also were highly involved in the nation’s first all-volunteer, private sector endeavor in alcohol abuse and alcoholism prevention. Operation Threshold emphasized sensible drinking habits, attitudes and behavior.
Environmental efforts continued strong in 1973-74. Washington Jaycees organized 3,000 volunteers to rid 100 miles of Pacific Coast beaches of litter, collecting more than 12 tons of trash in the process. The National Wildlife Federation named The U.S. Jaycees as its Conservation Organization of the Year for its programs of environmental education and resource recovery.
Project Mainstream, operated with demonstration grant funding from the national Office of Economic Opportunity, was in its second full year of operations to help Americans living in poverty. More than $850,000 in grants were provided in its first two years for Jaycee chapters to address local anti-poverty projects. A chapter in Dayton, Tennessee, parlayed a $300 Project Mainstream grant into a $30,000 community mobile speech and hearing clinic. Adams County Jaycees of Colorado used a $3,600 grant to create a free mini-bus system for the elderly poor.
Major national events continued to attract favorable attention to the organization. The Ten Outstanding Young Men of America were honored in Mobile, Alabama, as a national audience again watched live on the Public Broadcasting System. For the third straight year, the Chevrolet and Frigidaire divisions of General Motors sponsored the Outstanding Young Farmer program, with the four national winners receiving the use of a Chevrolet truck for a year. The annual Governmental Affairs Leadership Seminar was highlighted by a 30-minute Oval Office visit with President Richard Nixon.
As the 1973-74 year wound to a close, Executive Vice President Ray Roper reflected, “ the future is a little clouded. There is no doubt that this nation needs our organization an its contributions more than any time in our history . . . we must be willing to make even greater sacrifices.
“It is time for our generation to lead,” he continued, “not only for our chapters, and in some cases, our communities, but it is time for us to lead this nation. Not many other people appear willing to accept the challenge.”
Jaycees attending the 1974 Annual Meeting in San Diego met the challenge of imposing a new, $5 administrative fee for each new member of a chapter along with an increase in annual dues from $3 to $4. With those items adopted, it was time to elect the 55th president of The U.S. Jaycees. David Hale of Little Rock, Arkansas, had a relatively easy march to the podium, winning in just four ballots.
Hale quickly set up a commission to study the ongoing issue of female membership. At an executive committee meeting in September it was reported that the Minneapolis Jaycees had amended its bylaws to admit women as full voting members. While no action was immediately taken against the chapter, it was later to develop into the case that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 1984. The legal counsel said that with the increasing number of chapters taking action on the issue “the urgency of bringing the matter to a resolution at the (1975) Miami convention becomes increasingly great.”
Eventually, the executive board of directors provided 1975 Annual Meeting delegates with three options on the issue and no recommendations. The first alternative called for complete open membership by all Jaycee chapters, the second was for a state option, and the third would have provided local option. All three alternatives were voted down, with a roll call vote on the local option for female membership failing by and 8-1 margin.
The U.S. Jaycees won all legal decisions handed down during the year regarding female membership, but at a great cost to the organization’s budget and image. Throughout the controversies, however, chapter continued to provide their members with improving programs of individual development, community action and chapter management in what was called the “Total Jaycee Concept.”
Twenty-five young men joined a new chapter in Mantador, North Dakota, a farming community with a total population of just 95. In their first six weeks, the members built a softball diamond in the town park, spearheaded a cleanup week and held a softball tournament. The programs of the Greater Hartford Jaycees in Connecticut got a big boost from the 1974 winner of its Greater Hartford Open Golf Tournament. Golfer Dave Stockton not only gave $5,000 of his $40,000 winnings to the chapter, he also pledged to return the remainder at $1,000 a year for the next 35 years.
Baltimore Jaycees marked their 42nd year of the Santa Claus Anonymous program by raising well over $200,000 to provide 54,000 needy children with certificates worth $4 each for toys or clothing. A similar cause was served in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1974 as Jaycees there staged their 44th Rodeo of Rodeos, the oldest continuous Jaycee project in the country.
Jaycees in Alaska raised $135,000 in a little over a month to aid refugees from Vietnam. Nationally, Project Mainstream activity by Jaycees reached 2.5 million poor and disadvantaged people in 71 communities. The venereal disease educational program developed by The U.S. Jaycees was the first national plan to be endorsed by the VD division of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Membership in Jaycees hit a new peak in the 1974-75 year at 323,000, with 25,000 joining in January, designated as Pride in America Membership Month. A new 16-minute orientation film, “Jaycees Help People Become,” got many off to an inspired start.
After the tumult surrounding the vetoing of female membership alternatives, the 6,000 delegates attending the 1975 Annual Meeting in Miami Beach gave Dick Robinson of Rochester, Michigan, an unusual four-candidate, twelve-hour first ballot victory in his quest for the 56th presidency of The U.S. Jaycees. He would bring the organization its third consecutive year of membership growth with 40 state organizations increasing their numbers and he would help to preserve Jaycee history by taking the initial steps toward establishing an archives and exhibition hall at the national headquarters.
Robinson shocked the incoming state presidents on the day after his election by presenting them a fast start kit and training session. Similarly, Robinson provided the organization with a new program, Springboard, geared toward early activation of new members. Under the expert guidance of Executive President Al Simensen, a number of administrative changes were made at the national headquarters during Robinson’s year, which markedly improved efficiency and lowered costs of services. Budgeted operating expenses were reduced by $163,000 and income rose by $166,000 while services and resources were expanded. Repeatedly, the executive board of directors complimented Simensen and his staff of 85 employees for their professional and tireless contributions.
Robinson earned the endorsement of President Gerald R. Ford for his “Get Involved With U.S.” theme and grass roots programming which prepared more than 25,000 citizens for increased governmental participation and involvement. The organization also mapped our plans for a number of local and national programs honoring the nation’s upcoming bicentennial.
An Open Membership Committee implemented a program to address the problem of female membership. It entailed a national educational effort, a pilot program in a few states to allow women to join, and allowing chapters with female membership to remain in The U.S. Jaycees by agreeing to a series of sanctions, such as loss of voting rights. Massachusetts and Minnesota were approved for the first two state pilot programs. Otherwise, the 1975-76 year was remarkably quiet on the controversial issue.
Another controversial issue, venereal disease, was successfully attacked by Jaycees in Elyria, Ohio. In September, their VD education bill was signed into state law, mandating it for all public schools. A 1953 law in Ohio had provided imprisonment for anyone giving VD treatment information to anyone under the age of 16.
More than 165 Jaycee Clubs and auxiliaries in Florida raised $115,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in just six months. A year later, the sum would grow to $140,000, inspiring The U.S. Jaycees to adopt the cause as a national effort in 1977.
Another new development was the creation of the Ambassador Honors Program, recognizing Jaycees who have served the organization with the highest distinction and who have made the greatest contributions. Ambassador No. 1 was presented to a grateful Dick Robinson.
Nearly 8,000 Jaycees converged on Indianapolis for the 56th Annual Meeting, which featured a keynote address by President Gerald R. Ford and the appearance of a Jaycee delegation from the National Republic of China. They elected Frank Ziebell of Plano, Texas, and the Richardson Jaycees to lead the organization in 1976-77.
Under Ziebell, membership retention took a decided rise to nearly 85 percent, the best in many years. That helped The U.S. Jaycees set new records for membership, at 348,000, and chapters, with 8,600 by his term’s end. In 20 years, the organization had doubled its size.
For the first time, al 51 state organizations were represented at the International BB Gun Championship Match in 1976. Daisy Manufacturing Company was in its 15th year of sponsorship of the event ranked only behind the Olympics and the Grand American Trap Shoot as the largest competition in the world, involving almost 750,000 youngsters annually.
A July 1977 flood in Colorado’s Big Thompson Canyon destroyed the town of Drake and killed more than 100 people. The Longmont Jaycees directed 10 other chapters in coordinating rescue operations and aid for the area that included tons of food and clothing. Similarly, a month earlier Jaycees in Idaho jumped into action after the Teton Dam broke and flooded the town of Rexburg. After just one day of work, approximately eight city blocks were cleaned of debris, buildings up-righted and mud removed from basements.
The Roxbury-Dorcester Jaycees of Massachusetts cosponsored the nation’s first conference on teenage alcoholism in Boston, providing more than 200 youths a full day of workshops, films and group discussions. In Lowell, Massachusetts, a multi-story senior citizens residence opened with the name Fifteen Jaycee Place. Local Jaycees developed the proposal for $3.5 million in federal funding, utilizing skills in planning, real estate, law, banking, and public service. In Virginia, four chapters combined to raise more that $200,000 in three months to provide the Petersburg area with an emergency coronary care system and paramedic equipment.
During the year, John Deere Company began a long-term relationship as sponsor of the Outstanding Young Farmer program while Cities Service agreed to sponsor most of the 1977-78 Governmental Affairs programming, with Shell Oil Company funding a special Get Out The Vote campaign.
A relatively calm year, with steady gains in membership and retention, was climaxed in Seattle with the election of Bob Rushton, Marietta, Georgia, as the 58th president. Rushton’s strong personality and opinions would ruffle some feathers, but his term was distinguished with yet another year of record growth, a successful launch of The U.S. Jaycees’ involvement with Muscular Dystrophy Association and the opening of the organization’s first archives. It would also be the last year of calm on the issue of women’s membership.
In the summer, Jaycees in Birmingham, Alabama, opened a 1.5 mile exercise trail covering what had been a 12-acre, overgrown golf course. This outdoor gymnasium was considered a national model by the Jaycees and co-sponsors JC Penny Company and U.S. Department of Interior. In a year with the theme “Rushton’s Railroad,” Akron, Ohio, Jaycees appropriately put an innovative twist on the reliable haunted house fundraiser by creating the “Eerie Express,” a haunted train. The project made more than 10,000 people “tremble in the tracks” and grossed nearly $15,000.
The booking of recording artist Kenny Rogers by Jaycees in Sikeston, Missouri, for their 25th annual Bootheel Rodeo proved to be a success beyond anyone’s expectations. Rogers was so impressed with that community, he donated his Arabian stallion for the Jaycees to auction to help create a cerebral palsy treatment center. A few months later, Rogers returned to Sikeston and gave a benefit concert for the cause, generating more than $74,000. A national Cerebral Palsy Association officer said, “no group or organization anywhere in the United States has ever done what Kenny Rogers and the Sikeston Jaycees have for one C.P. affiliate.”
Jaycees in Summit County, Colorado, raised $30,000 to stage the 1978 Western Winter Special Olympics at Copper Mountain for hundreds of handicapped athletes. Chapters in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, combined resources to stage their fifth Westmoreland County Special Olympics, attracting 658 entries.
Nationally, a new cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training program was launched with the sponsorship assistance of the American Medical Association, Allstate Life Insurance Company and Johnson & Johnson. Cities Service Company worked with The U.S. Jaycees to develop an energy conservation program and the Junior Athletics Championships Program was approved for the summer of 1979 by co-sponsors Post Cereals and Premier Athletic Products.
In its first year of national fund raisin g for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Jaycees collected more than $700,000 and pledged to double that amount in the following year. This project quickly rivaled the annual selection of America’s Ten Outstanding Young Men as a dependable generator of positive exposure for the organization.
The federally funded Project Mainstream reached the end of its run after six years by earning recognition from Jaycees International as the finest civic involvement project in the world.
The U.S. Jaycees Foundation named 1937-38 national president Roz Rosengren to lead the fund raising efforts to implement a national Jaycees archives. He put the project past its $100,000 goal only two months after he took over as chairman. A ribbon cutting ceremony in January 1978 was attended by movement pioneer John Armbruster (only a month before his death) and nine past national presidents.
The 1978 Annual Meeting was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Jaycees were the first conventioneers to enjoy the city’s new code legalizing gambling. A proposed bylaws change to allow each state Jaycee organization to set its own policies regarding women membership was resoundingly defeated by more than a 3-1 margin.
The delegates gave a first ballot victory to Barry Kennedy from Pawnee City, Nebraska, in a two-man race for the 1978-79 presidency. He started the year with nearly 376,000 members in almost 9,000 chapters, and ended it with slightly improved figures of 380,000 Jaycees in 9,200 chapters. It was the organization’s sixth consecutive year of growth and stands today as the largest membership numbers in the organization’s 75-year history. As he looks back on his administration, the 59th president believes his most important accomplishment was to involve more young people in Leadership Training Through Community Service, the organization’s motto for a long period. Today, Kennedy says, “we need to re-empower the member. Some of the greatest projects and programs have started as what somebody thought was a ‘dumb’ idea.
“Change will always be necessary to meet the needs of a changing society, but . . . giving the members the power to run the organization will make it relevant to the times,” he concludes.
Kennedy felt the winds of change during his term, but even the re-emerging storm over female membership was not enough to convince the membership to share its shelter. In July, he issued an official policy statement announcing the end of the three-year pilot program, which had allowed certain states to give women full membership on a temporary basis. He then served notice that chapters admitting women as regular members had four months to comply with the bylaw limiting membership to males of be subject to charter revocation.
The law firm representing the Jaycees in Massachusetts gained a restraining order prohibiting The U.S. Jaycees from acting on chapters within their state and successfully encouraged Alaska and the District of Columbia to take similar action. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Human Rights Commission filed suit against the Jaycees on the issue of public accommodation. The U.S. Jaycees counter sued the commission on the basis of the Jaycees’ right to freedom of association. This case ultimately would be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
With notable exceptions, however, most chapters stayed out of the fray and kept their focus on making an impact on their communities. Jaycees from Hooper, Nebraska, staged a series of bizarre races over a two-day period. Politicians, media personalities, ministers and other community leaders competed on camels and ostriches to the delight of 10,000 spectators who crowded into the small town.
The Easton Area Jaycees in Pennsylvania treated their hometown to a Labor Day Weekend Community Spirit Day with live music, contest, exhibits and a large fireworks display. Jaycees and Jayceettes of Southeastern Wisconsin teamed up with McDonald’s restaurants and 27 bowling centers for a Bowl for Breath fundraiser that netted $65,000 to fight cystic fibrosis.
Jaycee Chapters across the nation helped the organization keep its word to Jerry Lewis and the Muscular Dystrophy Association by doubling its previous year’s contribution, presenting checks totaling $1.5 million on Labor Day 1978. More than 2,000 chapters trained 4,000 instructors in the basic life support technique of CPR. It was estimated that 24 lives were saved and 80,000 to 100,000 people learned CPR during the year because of Jaycee efforts.
Athletic concerns also were attended to in 1978-79. The inaugural Junior Athletic Championships National Finals had 29 teams of children, ages 8-16, competing in Tulsa. During the year, the track and field program attracted more than 140,000 youths in 1,200 Jaycee communities. When the U.S. Olympic Committee approached The U.S. Jaycees in the spring about raising funds to support Olympic athletes, 60 chapters responded and secured more than $30,000 within two weeks of the request.
The 9,500 Jaycees who gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, for the 1979 Annual Meeting in June were, of course, happily unaware that their organization had reached its peak in terms of size and tranquility. They knew, however, that The U.S. Jaycees had lost financial ground during an inflationary era, which had dramatically increased the costs of providing services. As the delegates voted in a $3 increase in individual dues, they envisioned swollen coffers and more than 400,000 members in the year ahead.
We now know how innocently wrong they were. These were the delegates who didn’t let stormy weather and the official cancellation of the popular Parade of State stop them. Instead, they took to the streets with as many as six separate parades combing through Nashville’s downtown district, proudly sporting the costumes, bands and floats of each state delegation.
It would continue raining hard on the Jaycees’ parade in the decade ahead. But while social upheavals would test the resolve of the organization, Jaycees would continue doing what they did best – adjusting to change and improving America.
History knows no resting places and no plateaus.
Often described as one of the most sought-after speakers on the Jaycee motivational speaking circuit, J. Terryl Bechtol from Pensacola, Florida, campaigned hard for the 60th presidency of The U.S. Jaycees. His investment of nearly $30,000 while spending 304 days on the road and visiting 46 states during 1978-79, paid off with a fifth-ballot victory in Nashville.
Fifteen years later, “Bubba” Bechtol still is giving motivational speeches and has added comic entertainment for national television audiences. He remains grateful for the movement he served. “All that I am today,” he writes, “I owe not to a good education, not to a brilliant mind, not to grasping a unique opportunity, but the simple fact that I spent 15 year in an organization that made me believe that a poor child from Southern Mississippi . . . could dream of being more. The Jaycees, my God and my sons showed me how to do it, not just dream about it.”
Bechtol couldn’t have known it back in 1979, but social tides shifting in the United States would have unfortunate effects on The U.S. Jaycees for the next decade and beyond. As more women started gaining meaningful positions in the workplace, their male partners found themselves with increasing responsibilities for household duties and child rearing. That meant less time for extracurricular organizations and activities. As a time-intensive organization, Jaycees was not well positioned.
Another change of the times was the attitude of employers toward the organization. As mergers and acquisiti8ons forced lean economies on businesses, employee perks such as payment for organizational memberships gradually evaporated. Also, more companies and professional associations were focusing on providing employees with improved training programs and seminars to develop management and leadership skills – the very heart of the Jaycee appeal to many.
Finally, a small but growing number of businesses had started to refuse to support, in any way, an organization tarred in the media as “sexist” for its male-only membership policy. Although this issue would be resolved before the mid-80’s, Jaycees would find it difficult to reestablish the ties to businesses that had been broken.
These factors, and others, all would steadily contribute to declining membership for the next 15 years, but at the start of the 1979-80 year the prospects for continued growth still seemed bright to Bechtol and the 380,495 Jaycees in 9,213 chapters he led.
Many of those chapters were busy raising a total of more than $1.5 million to find cures for muscular dystrophy, doubling the 1978 donation. A pledge to collect $2 million for the 1980 Labor Day Telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association was highlighted by Louisville Jaycee Joe Bowen’s grueling six-month walk for the cause from California to Kentucky on stilts.
Another a national fund-raising effort – to collect $200,000 for improved and expanded training facilities for American Olympic athletes – garnered only about $70,000 despite excellent promotional efforts. A decision by the United States to boycott the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow created too large an obstacle to overcome in stirring interest for any type of Olympic fund raising.
There was no boycott at the Albany (Oregon) Jaycees 34th World Championship Timber Carnival, the second oldest and second largest timber competition in the world. More than 40,000 spectators witnessed contestants from six countries compete in events such as skidder races, axe throwing, speed climbing, power sawing, block chopping and log rolling. Over the years, proceeds from admissions helped build a park containing tennis courts, baseball diamonds, soccer fields and three man-made lakes.
Jaycees in Alabama and Florida saved countless lives in August 1979 with evacuation and preparation efforts before Hurricane Frederic struck the Gulf Coast causing $1.5 billion in damage. Post-storm help provided by Jaycees included using chain saws to cut people out of their homes, collection and delivery of relief supplies, and conducting morale-building activities such as the Mobile (Alabama) Jaycees’ Greater Gulf State Fair.
In Iola, Kansas, the 2,700 residents were excited about the items up for grabs at the Jaycees Celebrity Auction. They paid a total of $3,500 for items such as a signed tennis shoe from champion Jimmy Connors, an autographed “Happy Days” television script, and an autographed line drawing of film director Alfred Hitchcock’s famous profile.
Jaycee Park was dedicated in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, after a 15-year effort by the Jaycees there. The chapter developed the master plan for the project in 1964 and, over the years, built a bathhouse and beach development, paved a parking lot, planted trees, installed an exercise trail and playground equipment, and erected a picnic shelter.
In Hoopeston, Illinois, the Jaycees conducted their National Sweetcorn Festival, drawing 100,000 people over a five-day period. Held annually since 1937, the festival featured tons of hot buttered corn, a pageant to select a queen, merchant displays, a flea market, art show, antique auto show, midway, demolition derby, tractor-pulling contests, music and dancing.
The opening of a Jaycees historical exhibition hall in Tulsa led a variety of national accomplishments and programs during the 1979-80 year. Also, there was A Million-Dollar Campaign initiated to bolster The U.S. Jaycees Foundation, an energy conservation program sponsored by Cities Service Company, and a home energy awareness audit program sponsored by the Johns-Mansville Corporation. Jaycees passed a resolution calling for voluntary prayer in schools and told a Future magazine poll that national health insurance was a bad idea.
The 1980 Annual Meeting in Cleveland brought an end to what had been a difficult year. More than $150,000 in legal fees had been spent protecting the organization’s trademarks and fighting off challenges to the males-only membership policy. A “shoo-in” candidate for the 1980-81 Jaycees presidency withdrew his name shortly before the Annual Meeting when allegations of fraudulent fund raising and membership recording activities in his home state came to light. National membership had dropped by 32,000, partly as a result of the elimination of dual memberships – individuals with memberships in more than one chapter.
Elected as 61st president of The U.S. Jaycees on the first ballot was Gib Garrow of Wilburton, Oklahoma. Despite the prestigious honor of the national position, 25 years later Garrow would say his year as a local president provided his greatest Jaycee memories. “That year we purchased two ambulances for the community and also increased our membership from 20-56,” he recently recalled.
Garrow’s 1980-81 term was highlighted by The U.S. Jaycees winning several top awards at the Jaycees International World Congress in Osaka, Japan. The muscular dystrophy program, which resulted in a $2 million check presentation to Jerry Lewis on Labor Day, was named the best humanitarian service program in the world. The top community activities program was The U.S. Jaycees’ CPR program, and the 1980 Ten Outstanding Young Men event earned top public relations honors. First place in the major theme emphasis competition went to the energy program, while Shooting Education earned the youth activities honor at the World Congress.
Garrow’s executive committee and board of directors spent a great deal of time focused on the mounting lawsuits filed against and by The U.S. Jaycees over trademark usage issues and the organization’s right to remain all male. At a board meeting in March 1981, a proposal to change the bylaws to allow for a chapter option on allowing female members, as well as another proposed bylaw change calling for open membership nationally, were soundly defeated. Legal fees now were costing the corporation more than $200,000 annually.
The Outstanding Young Farmer program marked its 25th anniversary in 1981, attracting 46 state winners and 400 registrants to the awards program in Waterloo, Iowa. Millions of Americans saw the Ten Outstanding Young Men ceremonies for the first time when a one-hour special, sponsored by Texaco, was broadcast via satellite to PBS and a national cable television network.
Future magazine grew to 78 pages bimonthly with the incorporation of the JCI World publication. Under editor Stephen Coury and managing editor Terry Misfeldt, Future was considered a national leader in the field of association publishing. Articles in just one issue included advice on parenting, buying a home, dressing for success, the national educational system, the Equal Rights Amendment, handgun control, voluntary prayer in schools, veterans benefits and the history of the Jaycees movement.
The magazine also reported, of course, on the achievements of Jaycees across the nation throughout the year, including several stories about help to the handicapped. Readers learned about Camp New Hope, operated by the Illinois Jaycees near the town of Mattoon, which provided 400 mentally and physically handicapped campers six-day encounters with life away from home, minus the protective shield often erected by parents.
The Sioux Falls Jaycees in South Dakota staged a successful road rally to benefit their Jaycees Camp for the Handicapped, which provided an annual retreat for some 400 handicapped children. In Texas, handicapped citizens were provided an opportunity to obtain a junior College education at the Texas Jaycees Campus of Victoria College. When classes began in 1973, it was the only college for the handicapped in the world.
Among the 198/0-81 Clarence A. Howard Memorial Award winners as the outstanding chapters in their population divisions were several with past Howard Awards to their credit. The 114 Jaycees in Albers, Illinois (population 650), took their third Howard Award by sponsoring 101 projects, which raised a total of $80,000. In North Carolina, The Pfafftown Jaycees earned its fifth Howard Award, using a three to five year planning program and pulling in more than $175,000 for the 1980-81 year. And in Virginia, the Charlottesville-Albermarle Jaycees initiated a multiple sclerosis telethon that raised $16,000 and 75 civic projects that pulled in another $70,000 to earn its second Howard Award. All but the Virginia chapter would pick up Howard Awards again the following year.
In April, President Ronald Reagan asked The U.S. Jaycees to back his economic recovery program, considered by many economists and public policy pundits to be “the biggest shift in public policy since the New Deal.” The Jaycees’ immediate response to the bipartisan tax legislation proposal was called Enough Is Enough, and it represented the organization’s biggest commitment to a political issue since backing the Hoover Report in the 1950s. A mobilization kit sent to each chapter president had information on conducting petition drives, letter-writing campaigns, public forums and other methods of public education.
Reagan showed his appreciation for the Jaycees’ successful efforts by addressing 10,000 of them at the 61st Annual Meeting in San Antonio, his first appearance at a notional Jaycees’ convention since 1974. “I believe your Jaycee spirit has become the American spirit,” Reagan said. “When your entire membership decided for the first time in 30 years to rally around a single issue, support of our economic recovery program, million of Americans followed your lead and sent out a loud, clear message to Washington . . . ‘Enough Is Enough!’ I think Congress heard you.”
Gene A. Honn of Watseka, Illinois, was elected by acclamation to lead the 292,000 member U.S. Jaycees in 1981-82. He quickly set his sights on a modest increase to 300,000 members and an improvement in membership retention from 48 percent to at least 60 percent. The organization was unable to achieve either goal during his year – membership fell to 276,000, but the retention rate climbed 5 percent.
History was made at Honn’s first board of directors meeting on June 25 when The U.S. Jaycees officially welcomed the president of The U.S. Jayceettes, Linda Hood, to its proceeding. Several issues regarding the use of the Jaycee trademarks and bylaw considerations had to be negotiated over the previous two years before the joint meeting could take place.
The 1981-82 year was one in which the lawsuits filed against The U.S. Jaycees concerning barring females from full membership mounted. While the District of Columbia Court of Appeals found that The U.S. Jaycees was not a place of public accommodation, the Supreme Court of Minnesota and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination said it was. Additional cases concerning the issue were pending in California, Alaska and Pennsylvania.
The issue sprang to life early in Honn’s term when two women from Massachusetts attempted to register at the annual July Officers Training School in Tulsa. By decision of the executive committee, the women were not allowed to attend the classes, but The U.S. Jaycees promised to bring trainers into Massachusetts to provide training for those officers.
Meanwhile, a referendum ballot was being prepared to give chapters the opportunity to decide if they wanted a bylaw change to let female membership to be a “local option” decision. The results of the referendum, announced in October, signaled the membership still wasn’t ready for a change. The local chapter option failed by a 2-1 margin and Executive Vice President Arthur “Frenchie” Boutiette said it was time to get on with the business of being Jaycees.
A few weeks earlier, President Honn was in Las Vegas presenting the Muscular Dystrophy Association a $2.1 million check from The U.S. Jaycees and promising to raise even more in 1982. MDA Telethon host Jerry Lewis taped a public service announcement for the Jaycees, adding to a growing library of television promotions that included President Reagan, actor Hugh O’Brian and baseball star Steve Garvey.
Two new items were introduced in an attempt to stem the erosion of members. The first was a program entitled Degrees of Jaycees, aimed at securing the experience of older Jaycees to teach and involve newer Jaycees in the leadership process. Also, each new member was provided a 32-page guide, in the format of Future magazine, to prepare for his Jaycee career and involve him as soon as possible.
A new recognition program, the Healthy American Fitness Leaders (HAFL), was introduced with three years of funding provided by Allstate Life Insurance. Plans were made to honor the first group of 10 individuals in September 1982 for their contributions to the health and fitness of Americans. This program has been ongoing since then, with the steady sponsorship of Allstate Life Insurance.
Barry L. Kennedy, 1978-79 president of The U.S. Jaycees, earned election in November as Jaycees International’s 37th president, becoming the sixth Jaycee from the United States to be elected to the highest JCI office. Gib Garrow was named Outstanding Current Member of Jaycees International.
As Jaycees prepared for the 1982 Annual Meeting in Phoenix, some old-timers were hoping there would not be a repeat of the last convention held there 14 years earlier when the election for president ran 22 ballots and 18 hours. It was not a repeat. The 1982 election doubled it, smashing all records.
After more than 40 hours of balloting that spanned 42 rounds, Don E. Jones of Bossier City, Louisiana, survived the ordeal and was elevated to the podium to address the delegates as their 63rd president. The only break during the voting was one hour devoted to closing entertainer Ricky Nelson.
Like other presidents before him, Jones would take to the road often during his term. Unlike his predecessors, however, three of his trips would be by bus. He covered 24 states in a bus emblazoned “U.S. Jaycees Touring America,” earning a welcomed interval of positive media exposure.
Jones’ classy confidence helped make the 1982-83 year one of relative calmness and stability for the organization. Despite a drop of 4,300 members during the year, there was reason for optimism on the membership front because the year ended with six consecutive months of growth. Total membership stood at nearly 272,000 in slightly less than 7,000 chapters by June 1983.
Even the female membership issue seemed to be turning in the Jaycees’ favor. The Alaska Supreme Court found the Jaycees was not a place of public accommodation, while a circuit court of appeals found the Minnesota state statute on public accommodation to be unconstitutional as applied to The U.S. Jaycees. Rehearings in both cases were expected, however.
Meanwhile, The U.S. Jayceettes, after nine years of having chapters operate under as many as 17 different organizational names, changed its name to The U.S. Jaycee Women in 1983. They continued to support the stand of The U.S. Jaycees against allowing women to join the all-male group.
Jones and his family were the last to occupy the “White House” in south Tulsa and the first to live in “The Founders Home,” making the move early in 1983 to the stately residence just one block east of the War Memorial Headquarters. This property still serves as the home for the president and his family during the one-year term.
At about the same time, The U.S. Jaycees Foundation held its first induction ceremonies for the Hall of Leadership, recognizing former Jaycees who displayed leadership abilities during their Jaycee career and continued this tradition outside Jaycees. Living nominees were selected from the Foundation Associate program aimed at preserving Jaycee history, telling the “Jaycee story” and bridging the gap between generations of Jaycees.
The current generation of Jaycees was active, of course, during the 1982-83 year improving their communities and nation. The Knob Noster Jaycees in Missouri were installing free smoke alarms in the homes of senior citizens. The Jaycees of New Bern, North Carolina, raised nearly $91,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by running the only CF telethon in the United States. One of four national American Library Trustee Association Honor Awards was presented to the Cape Girardeau Jaycees in Missouri for providing the leadership to raise $166,000 for the children’s department of the new Cape Girardeau Public Library. In a successful effort to restore its good public image, Jaycees through North Carolina were conducting a variety of projects to pay back the money originally intended for the Jaycee Burn Center at Chapel Hill. A few years earlier, the money raised for the facility through a traditional jelly sale had been misused, prompting the Clemmons Jaycees to dub their refunding effort the “Jam Scam Car Rally.”
In Yuma, Arizona, Jaycees sponsored the 38th Annual Silver Spur Rodeo, attracting 75,000 to the four-hour parade preceding the rodeo. It took less than two weeks for Big Island Jaycee chapters in Hawaii to overload collection points for the victims of Hurricane Iwa that devastated the island of Kauai. In addition to 22 tons of food and supplies, “Operation Kokua Kauai” raised $48,500.
Ohio’s Hudson Jaycees grossed $100,000 at their 12th annual haunted house project, assisting the local Emergency Medical Service they established several years earlier. In Irvington, Indiana, the Jaycees were honored by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the best community celebration after they planted 4,500 trees and conducted a number of special events.
It was not easy for Don Jones to earn election as 1982-83 president of The U.S. Jaycees. Nor would it be easy for him to relinquish his post. At the 1983 Annual Meeting in Hartford, Connecticut, delegates established yet another voting record, taking 47 ballots over a continuous 32-hour span to elect Thomas F. Bussa of the LaSalle-Peru Jaycees in Illinois as the 64th president.
Bussa’s year could be considered the calm before the storm. By early fall, it was apparent that the State of Minnesota would appeal the circuit court of appeals ruling favorable to The U.S. Jaycees on the issue of public accommodation. The U.S. Supreme Court accepted the case, Rotary International and a group representing non-profit membership organizations filed amicus curiae briefs on behalf of the Jaycees, arguments were made before the court in spring, and by the end of Bussa’s term a decision was imminent.
Most Jaycee leaders were ready for the issue of full membership for women to be settled. The fight had been long, expensive and damaging to the public perception of the organization. While the public stance was one of unity for the right of Jaycees to determine their own membership policies, many on the board of directors and national staff secretly hoped the Supreme Court would rule that The U.S. Jaycees could no longer deny women full membership privileges.
Despite critical coverage by the media, both membership and the number of chapters grew during 1983-84, marking the first increases in several years. A net gain of slightly more than 7,000 new members pushed total membership beyond 264,000 in 6,600 chapters.
With less than 45 percent of first-year Jaycees renewing, however, changes were instituted to get members almost immediately involved in long-range programs. Effective the beginning of the 1984-85 Jaycee year, the long-standing SPOKE and SPARK Plug activation programs would be shelved. In their place would be the 10-phase Degrees of Jaycees program, with strengthened requirements for the first two degrees, and a Green Chip program designed for new chapter activation. Springboard, a 60-day program for the new Jaycee, would be retained.
Almost $524,000 in corporate donations provided seven national programs with full or partial funding. Along with Governmental Affairs, Healthy American Fitness Leaders, Muscular Dystrophy, Outstanding Young Farmer, Shooting Education and Ten Outstanding Young Men, the Mars candy company stepped in to sponsor Sign Up America. During the course of a few months, Jaycees involved with Sign Up America collected 1.4 million signatures of support on one giant scroll for the U.S. Olympic Team prior to the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
President Bussa continued a tradition of taking the organization to the street by spending 55 days on a campaign-style bus trip to 29 states. At least 75 meetings were held with Jaycees during the trip and the “Spirit of America” bus established an unofficial land speed record for a vehicle its size after it raced around the famed speedway in Talladega, Alabama.
Future magazine celebrated its 45th year of publishing in 1983, providing Jaycees with timely stories and practical information on personal growth, while detailing the accomplishments of Jaycee activities across the country. One of the most respected competitions in deep-sea fishing, the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo was sponsored for the 51st time by the Mobile Jaycees, attracting 3,000 anglers and 100,000 spectators.
The Wisconsin Jaycees and Jaycee Women sponsored a unique Individual Development College offering 26 workshops with such topics as self-assessment, creative thinking, wellness, today’s women and parenting. The 1,200 participants could enroll in two classes for just $10. Jaycees in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, celebrated their 25th anniversary by staging their Safety Town program for the 13th year. Safety Town educates children, ages four to six, in pedestrian, traffic, school and playground safety.
At a one-day blood drive, the High Point Jaycees in North Carolina averaged 100 donors an hour and collected 1,042 pints of blood. In California, the Carpinteria Jaycees turned their charter night activities into a Monte Carlo fundraiser, netting $1,000 to establish a Little League baseball organization. A two-day Entrepreneurs Fair sponsored by the Seattle Jaycees and Seafirst Bank attracted 2,000 visitors and 20 new members for the chapter.
The Opp Jaycees in Alabama cleared more than $30,000 with its trademark Rattlesnake Rodeo, featuring a parade, a display of 275 snakes, a gospel concert and a stock car race. The two-year-old chapter in Burlington, Vermont, used a truck raffle to raise nearly $18,000 for the Ronald McDonald House in its community. At the 1984 Annual Meeting, the coconut Grove Jaycees, just outside of Miami, Florida, won its third consecutive Howard Award as one of the nation’s top chapters, while Maryland’s Greater Waldorf Jaycees earned it fifth Howard Award in a six-year period. Both chapters would again be honored in 1985.
Elected as 65th president on the first ballot at the Atlanta convention was Tommy Todd of Byron, Georgia. Thirteen days after his election, on July 3rd, 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a 7-0 decision forcing The U.S. Jaycees to accept women as full status members in the State of Minnesota. At that time 31 states had public accommodation laws that would directly relate to the ruling.
*Late that night, Todd convened his executive committee via a telephone conference call. He told them that it was finally time to make some hard decisions about the organization. We have four realistic options, he said. The U.S. Jaycees could: disband; defy the court order; change the bylaws to allow women to join in Minnesota or other states that file an injunction; or open the membership to all young men and women 18 through 36 years of age.
After each member expressed his opinion, a clear consensus emerged. The only acceptable option, they unanimously decided, was to recommend amending the bylaws, opening the national membership to both genders. After agreeing to call a Special Meeting for August 16 in Tulsa to vote on bylaw changes, the executive committee then considered the fate of The U.S. Jaycee Women. This time, two options were considered: disband or disaffiliate with The U.S. Jaycees, or merge with the hitherto all-male organization. Another unanimous vote settled the issue in favor of recommending bylaw changes to accomplish a merger. Initial reaction from the U.S. Jaycee Women, strongly favoring continuation as an auxiliary organization, later prodded the executive committee to withdraw this issue from the Special Meeting agenda.
The conference call ended after midnight in Tulsa. The future of two national organizations was all but sealed after more than a decade of turmoil. As Jaycees Magazine reported 10 years later, “It was a shotgun wedding, of sorts. The U.S. Supreme Court had loaded the weapon, and delegates at a Special Meeting . . . performed the ceremony.”
It took just 55 minutes for the nearly 600 delegates to the Special Meeting to be called to order, receive an invocation, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and Jaycee Creed, sit through a roll call, honor July award winners, approve the minutes of the 1984 Annual Meeting, approve the report of the Credentials Committee, listen to the proposed changes in three existing bylaws as well as one new proposed bylaw, vote on the bylaws, change history and adjourn.
By a vote of 5,372 in favor and only 386 in opposition, three bylaws dealing with purpose and membership were amended to change all gender references from “men” to “persons.” The new bylaw called for changing gender references in the remainder of the organization’s bylaws. With no discussion, it passed with a voice vote.
Following the votes, President Todd addressed the delegates: “Years from now, when your children’s children are involved in developing their leadership potential through Jaycees, whether they are grandsons or granddaughters, today’s action will be celebrated as a landmark . . . in the opportunities provided for young people all across America. We must unite once again as young citizens in action, working to serve humanity and to build a greater America.”
By early 1985, The U.S. Jaycee Women Executive Committee had voted to recommend dissolving its organization. In April, the board of directors echoed the plan and recommended The U.S. Jaycees be prepared to take appropriate action at the upcoming Annual Meeting. On June 17,1985, The U.S. Jaycee Women voted 122 to 26 to suggest to The U.S. Jaycees the dissolution of the women’s organization. Two days later, the national bylaws were amended and the 60,000-member U.S. Jaycee Women was abolished.
Although the organization already had lost about a third of its members to The U.S. Jaycees, the passing did not go unlamented. “We were very successful as we were,” said Joan Harrison, 1983-84 Jaycee Women national president. Among the many notable accomplishments compiled by The U.S. Jaycee Women since its inception as The U.S. Jayceettes in 1974 was a contribution of several million dollars to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital helping to ensure that no child was turned away from the hospital for lack of funds for treatment.
The 1984-85 year was – for a change – not consumed with concern about female memberships despite how it started and ended. It was also a year that saw Jaycees on national television during Labor Day, again presenting the Muscular Dystrophy Association with a $2 million check, bringing its total contribution to $14 million in eight years.
A few weeks later, Jaycee leaders gathered in the nation’s capital for the 24th annual Governmental Affairs Leadership Seminar, sponsored by General Motors Corporation and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America. Along with a White House Rose Garden meeting with President Ronald Reagan, Jaycees studied topics ranging from the budget deficit and national defense to energy alternatives and automobile safety. At the end of the three-day event, they honored the 10 Healthy American Fitness Leaders for 1984, at an awards program sponsored for the third year by Allstate Life Insurance.
The oldest chapter in New Hampshire, the Claremont Jaycees, was busily raising money for a local boy who needed a $100,000 liver transplant operation by Christmas. Residents of Bay City, Michigan, were convinced by a local Jaycees campaign to fund a 911 emergency telephone system, eliminating the need to sift through 25 different police and fire department numbers.
Children in Bluffton, Indiana; Pasadena, California; and Fort Worth, Texas, were more secure because Jaycee chapters in those areas conducted massive fingerprinting projects. Youngsters treated at hospitals in Lima, Ohio, received an estimated 12,000 teddy bears in the 33rd year of the Lima Jaycees’ Teddy Bear Drive.
While 6,500 chapters quietly and proudly went about the business of improving the world around them, the national staff and officers decided it was time to stop being alarmed at the drop of 122,000 members during the previous five years and start repairing what they perceived to be the problems: weak programming and inefficient management.
A Certified Trainers Program was launched, providing 700 District Directors and Regional Directors with the enhanced training process during a three-year period. The Highway to Success system was developed and instituted to provide every level of the Jaycee organization, from local through national, with minimum standards of performance. The May/June 1985 issue of Future devoted 13 pages to Highway to Success guidelines and plans.
All Jaycee highways in June led to Indianapolis for the 65th Annual Meeting where delegates welcomed high-profile guests including President Ronald Reagan, Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca and entertainer Robert Goulet. Nine years after Ken Zimmerman strolled into a Jaycee meeting and signed up without being asked, the western Montana man was ascending the stage as 1985-86 national president.
Despite the fanfare heralding the Highway to Success system, it quickly fell into disfavor and little mention of it was made during Zimmerman’s term. The new president did hit the highways, however, several times during the year in a 31-foot motor home as part of The U.S. Jaycees Liberty Tour. A $500,000 fundraising goal was set to help restore the Statue of Liberty.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association received a $2.1 million check from the nation’s Jaycees on Labor Day and projects began anew with hopes of at least duplication that total in 1986. The American Cancer Society in North Carolina benefited from an annual jail-a-thon conducted by the Rocky Mount Jaycees that raised $38,000. A bike-a-thon staged by first-year chapter Bulls Gap Jaycees in Tennessee pulled in nearly $1,800 for research programs at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
In Oklahoma, the Caddo Jaycees raised $17,000 in four weeks and then donated labor to provide a complete face-lift to their downtown, prompting six new businesses to open. Jaycees in 16 states across a New York-to-Los Angeles route helped organize millions of people who were part of a human chain in the Hands Across America effort on May 25 to raise money and awareness about hunger and homelessness. In contrast, no one left hungry from the annual National Apple Harvest Festival in Biglerville, Pennsylvania. About 70,000 people attended the event sponsored by the Upper Adams Jaycees that grossed $234,000. Profits were shared by 85 community charities and an ongoing chapter project, the 53-acre OakSide Community Park.
A 1986 national awareness program and petition drive, Wake Up, America! Focused public attention on wasteful government spending and the growing national deficit. A U.S. Jaycees resolution called for approving a presidential line-item veto as a major step in reducing government waste.
A move by the executive committee to change the upper age limit of Jaycee membership from 36 to 40 was defeated by a 2-1 margin in committee, but would become a bylaw change the following year. The Long Range Planning Committee in 1986 not only endorsed the age change, but also recommended the formal name of the organization return to The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Among the other ideas suggested by the planning committee were: eliminating the past chairman of the board from the executive committee and replacing that person with a new position of president-elect; eliminating the chaplain and the metro national vice president from the executive committee; removing institutional and associate memberships; conducting an ongoing campaign to promote certain issues; and contracting out work to professionals instead of hiring staff officers in particular fields.
It was in this unsteady environment that Mike Alcorn, owner of an industrial supply company in Zionsville, Ohio, was elected 67th national president at the 1986 Annual Meeting in Milwaukee. Armed with the newly passed dues increase, Alcorn enjoyed a year with improved cash equity and liquidity.
An unbudgeted $30,000 was added early in 1987 when the trademark for Future magazine was sold to another publisher and the publication was renamed Jaycees Magazine. A three-year contract with an outside publisher removed most of the responsibility from the headquarters staff for writing, printing and distributing the magazine.
Jaycee leaders again met in Washington, D.C., to discuss crucial issues with legislators. During the two-day seminar, Jaycees met with President Ronald Reagan, four senators, one representative and the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
While the Wake Up, America! Drive for a presidential line-item veto continued collecting signatures on petitions throughout the 1986-87 year, Jaycees also endorsed the “Just Say No” movement against drug abuse started by President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan.
Two months after hosting the Annual Meeting, the Milwaukee Jaycees were able to donate nearly $17,000 to the Leukemia Society after staging their annual Jell-O Jump, involving 190 participants leaping into 500 gallons of gelatin. I North Dakota, participants were caked in mud after the You Bet Mud Run hosted by the Devils Lake Jaycees. Fifty, four-wheel drive vehicles from Minnesota, Canada and North Dakota attempted to drive across a muddy 200-foot pit in a project that netted more than $1,500 and 15 additional Jaycees. Several new members were added to the rolls of the Logan Jaycees in Utah after the chapter conducted a demolition derby to the delight of 1,000 spectators.
A member of Michigan’s Monroe Jaycees made her whole state take notice in June 1987 when she was crowned Miss Michigan and earned the right to vie for the Miss America title a few months later. The nation took notice of the registered nurse, Kay Lani Rae Rafko, when she was named Miss America. A little more than five years later, America took notice of her again when Kaye Lani Rae Rafko-Wilson was named in the 55th class of honorees as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans for 1993.
At about the same time she was being named Miss Michigan, 5,000 delegates were converging on Reno, Nevada, for the 67th Annual Meeting of The U.S. Jaycees. For the second year in a row, they elected a president by acclamation, Gary Wilkinson from Meridian, Mississippi. The convention featured stirring speeches by entertainers-cum-charitable fundraisers Danny Thomas and Jerry Lewis, as well as music by Larry Gatlin and Wayne Newton, who was backed by a 30-piece band and special staging effects.
Major changes in the membership policy were enacted when delegates unanimously voted to set the age limit for Jaycees at 21 to 39 inclusive, and associate members under 40 were changed in status to regular members.
Shortly after the 1987 Annual Meeting, on July 23, Leona Giessenbier Soell died at the age of 89. Her first husband was the founder of the Jaycee Movement, Henry Giessenbier. Three years earlier, she had appeared at the July Officer’s Training School in Tulsa and was honored with a 15-minute standing ovation. Meanwhile, 86-year-old Charlotte Mungenast, wife of late Jaycee pioneer Andrew Mungenast was typically enthusiastic in a Jaycees Magazine interview. “My title, ‘First Lady of Jaycees,’ I feel is quite undeserved,” she said, “but makes me the proudest Jaycee in the world.” She continued: “I have tried to attend as many Annual Meetings as I can . . . I hope to be able to attend a few more.”
A few weeks later, students of the New York School for the Blind attended the opening of a new “sensory park” in Batavia, New York. The community effort to build the park involved 36 Jaycees who built structures to offer opportunities for children to test their senses and experience new sensations. Jaycees in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, completed the first phase of a park, constructing several picnic pavilions, a floating boat dock and a sidewalk.
New Jersey’s Somerville Jaycees completed the 44th year of hosting the Tour of Somerville, a nationally sanctioned bicycle race, attracting 50,000 cyclists and spectators. The chapter also was instrumental in the founding of the U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame in the city. The sole survivor of a tragic airliner crash in Detroit was the recipient of a 50 pound get-well card that measured 96 feet long and 4 feet high, created by the Southeast Tulsa Jaycees in Oklahoma. Chapter member Patty Helm recruited 12,000 Tulsans to fill the card with their messages of love and encouragement.
The oldest chapter in town, the Tulsa Jaycees, also went “big time” by creating the world’s largest pot of competition style chili: 8 ½ feet tall, 5 feet wide and weighing nearly 4 ½ tons. Public donations for samplings of the “Titanic Bowl of Red” went to the ABCs for Life Children’s Fund, assisting children requiring liver transplants.
In Kansas, the Liberal Jaycees marked their 38th year of operating the International Pancake Race in 1988, a perennial feature story favorite of media around the world. Just one part of a three-day festival, the race pits 15 Liberal housewives with counterparts in Olney, England, flipping pancakes in a skillet over a quarter-mile run. Results are broadcast to the two cities through a trans-Atlantic phone call.
Jaycees in Rochester, New Hampshire, paid $98 each for a three-day cruise to Nova Scotia, Canada, and back. Along the way, they danced, played slot machines and established a new chapter in Canada. Their renewed spirit of camaraderie following the trip helped them quickly grow from 89to 150 members. In March, the Hawaiian Jaycees helped the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Hawaii net almost $18,500 with the Great Hawaiian Rubber Duckie Race. The “adoption” of numbered ducks also garnered strong media coverage, their reports sprinkled with pus and “wisequacks.”
The Lewiston-Auburn Jaycees in Maine claimed a net profit of $6,800 on its annual Car Club Dinner. A $200 dinner ticket entitled the holder to dinner for two, drinks and a 1-in-10 chance to win a prize ranging from a new car to $2,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Atlantic City.
The 21-year-old U.S. Jaycees Foundation kicked off a program to build its endowment fund to $500,000 by the 1989 Annual Meeting, with a goal of $5 million within five years. All Jaycees contributing $1,000 to the fund could be named a Henry Giessenbier Fellow.
The dues increase passed in 1986 let Wilkinson end his term with a surplus of approximately $259,000, despite the slowly eroding membership base. The financial soundness of the organization was further demonstrated by a $1 million reserve fund that had been sitting untouched for several years.
Delegates to the 1988 Annual Meeting in Richmond, Virginia, gave a first ballot victory to Andy Tobin of Phoenix, Arizona, for the 1988-89 president. He would preside over an organization of almost 245,000 members in 5,054 chapters; a fall in membership of approximately 36 percent from the start of the decade. National respect for the Jaycees had not faltered, however, as evidenced by President Ronald Reagan’s praise at the Governmental Affairs Leadership Seminar in September. “Young, enthusiastic, excited by the promise of America. You brim with optimism for the future,” Reagan told The U.S. Jaycees Executive Board of Directors. After encouraging the organization to “keep plugging away” with promotion of a constitutional amendment to require Congress to balance the budget, he added: “Your understanding of the need for genuine fiscal responsibility is the main reason why the Jaycees have led the fight.”
Another fiscal concern faced by Jaycees during the 1988-89 year was the financial exposure of chapters and their members operating without liability insurance. A chapter in Missouri had been named in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit that, if successfully prosecuted, would put liability insurance costs out of reach for most chapters. A proposed bylaw change requiring local chapters to carry a minimum of $500,000 in liability coverage was defeated in committee, however, before the issue could reach the Annual Meeting.
In September, the board of directors passed a resolution to provide relief to the victims of Hurricane Gilbert in Jamaica and Mexico. Help also was provided to earthquake victims in Armenia. A few months later, the board established a Distinguished Young Mayor Program and formally endorsed the Citizenship and National Service Act calling for domestic voluntary service in return for a $10,000 home or education voucher.
In a move to bolster regional and district director training, the six-step TEAM (Together Effectively Achieving Management) Success program was developed. Also started was the Show Pride in America! Program to encourage respect for the flag and offer scholarships to the nation’s patriotic youth.
Athletic youth were in the spotlight as Jaycees in Salem, Oregon, involved 3,500 children from 40 elementary schools in a track event featuring several races and up to 12,000 spectators. A year after earning Jaycees International Fundraiser of the Year honors, the 36-year-old Greater Hartford Open enabled the Greater Hartford Jaycees to generate more than $700,000 in grants and projects for the area. The Professional Golfers’ Association Tour stop required the daily work of 250 Jaycees and served as the chapter’s only fundraiser.
In Wisconsin, the Eau Claire Jaycees grossed more than $450,000 as they thrilled 75,000 spectators with an air show featuring the Blue Angels. Camp Callahan, a summer camp in Quincy, Illinois, for severely disabled children, was the beneficiary of $6,400, donated by the Quincy Jaycees after managing the 13th annual World Freefall Convention for skydivers. For three days before Christmas, the Far North Jaycee in Alaska played Santa Claus to more than 300 young telephone callers in 25 states and Canada.
In Nevada, the Las Vegas Jaycees produced its 34th annual fair, netting 20 new members and $100,000 for more than 100 community projects. The largest winter festival in South Dakota, named one of the top 10 winter festivals by the International Festival Association, celebrated its 43rd year as a production of the Aberdeen Jaycees. The festival generated an estimated $700,000 for the community. The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, a yearlong endeavor of the Downtown Jaycees of the District of Columbia, attracted a crowd of 250,000 spectators in 1989 for the two-hour event.
An estimated 500 people, about a third of the population of Springer, New Mexico, turned up in May for a benefit barbecue put on by the Springer Jaycees. More than $3,000 was raised by the month-old chapter for two young people – one on a waiting list for a kidney, the other a leukemia victim. Meanwhile, the Greater Manchester Jaycees in New Hampshire were spending two Fridays each month preparing and serving about 100 dinners to the city’s homeless at the New Horizons Soup Kitchen.
Delegates to the 1989 Annual Meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, granted the status of honorary president of The U.S. Jaycees to President Ronald Reagan for his service and stature in the world community as well s his support of the Jaycees. Robby Dawkins from Florence, South Carolina, was elected 1989-90 president of the 237,000-member organization by acclamation, leading the movement into its seventh decade.
Fortunately for us, and our world, youth is not easily discouraged.
The hopes of the world rest on the flexibility, vigor, capacity for new thought, and the fresh outlook of the young.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Observers of the Jaycee scene in 1989-90 recall a sense of acceptance that the organization was unlikely to grow. Too many years of decreasing membership had created a climate of relatively low expectations in this regard. There was a further drop of 3,600 members by year’s end, but that drop was not as bad as the years preceding or following it.
Seventieth President Robby Dawkins would be the last to preside over an organization calling itself The U.S. Jaycees. After 24 years of operations under that name, delegates to the 1990 Annual Meeting would vote to officially restore the name of The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce, partly in hopes the traditional name might attract more white-collar members. As Dawkins recently noted, it was a courageous decision for the membership to make. “Our discussions leading up to the Annual Meeting were very interesting and the general thought was that we had lost our way and gotten away from what our founder wished us to be,” he said.
Interestingly, prior to the re-adoption of the old name, much of the nation’s media had finally stopped incorrectly referring to the organization as The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce. The 1994 edition of The Associated Press Style and Libel Manual still hadn’t caught up, however, stating the Junior Chamber of Commerce “no longer exists,” and referring editors to the listing “Jaycees.”
One of the first major acts taken by Dawkins’ officers was to approve a $335,000 loan to the Jaycee War Memorial Fund to purchase the house and property directly east of the headquarters and directly west of the Founders Home. This house, today called Keystone Place, has since served as the home of the executive vice president and frequently has housed special guest of the corporation.
Upon the suggestion of 59th President Barry Kennedy, the executive board of directors also approved a recognition area for Vietnam War veterans near the archives. Jaycees in Nebraska, Ohio, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia made the initial cash contributions for the project.
Along with approving plans for The U.S. Jaycees to raise $10 million for a permanent endowment, the executive committee also recommended the organization focus its next three years on the areas of environmental concerns, the homeless, governmental affairs and issues, and matters relating to drug and alcohol abuse. Non-Jaycee fundraising programs would be eliminated, the committee decreed, at the end of the current contracts.
About his executive committee, Dawkins said in 1994, “I have never met a more talented group of individuals, before or since . . . They were a wonderful team.” His comment has been echoed by other past presidents about their executive committees.
At the Governmental Affairs Leadership Seminar, President George Bush was presented with a resolution supporting a constitutional amendment that would prohibit knowingly casting contempt on the American flag. “The Jaycees have promoted patriotism since our founding,” said Dawkins. “Desecration of the flag is an insult to volunteers and to all Americans.” Following the annual trek to Washington, D.C., the executive committee granted three year extensions to external policies that called for a balanced budget amendment; a presidential line item veto; endorsement of the “Just Say No’ fight against substance abuse; chapter awareness campaigns urging compliance with Selective Service System registration; and support for an American Institute of Architects program to develop shelter for the nation’s homeless.
Some of these topics were discussed on the “Question of the Week” television show broadcast by the chapter in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Marking its 35th year on the air in 1989, the show was thought to hold the record for the longest continuous run of any television program in the country, with the possible exception of network evening newscast. The Little Rock, Arkansas, chapter was nearing 10 years of televising six half-hour programs a year called “Facing the Issues.”_The Spokane Valley and Lake City Jaycee chapters, in Washington and Idaho, respectively, used the radio airwaves to raise $21,000 in a radiothon for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The Delaware Jaycees, led by State President Karen Gregson, launched an AIDS awareness program, raising $1,000 toward housing and educational projects.
Early in the 1990, the production of Jaycees Magazine was returned entirely to the national headquarters staff, with the exception of final printing. Immediately, Jaycees enjoyed a boost in news about the organization, an area that had suffered while it was being published by an outside company.
Readers found out about the 500,000 toys provided to children at Christmas by the Arkansas Jaycees, the 22 events conducted by the Howell Jaycees in Michigan as part of their 30th annual Howell Melon Festival, and the disaster relief fundraising efforts of the Jaycees in Bristol, Rhode Island, a week before the chapter was officially chartered.
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Capital City Jaycees turned an Individual Development project, Theater Appreciation Night, into a Community Development fundraiser. Jaycees attended a New Mexico Repertory Theater production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” hosted a reception following the performance and used the proceeds to help the Bright Hopes Foundation, a vocational/rehabilitative ranch for handicapped adults.
The La Place Jaycees in southeastern Louisiana staged its 17th annual Krewe deMonde Parade and Royal Court Ball in February, raising $20,000 for a variety of community projects. South Carolina Jaycees completed extraordinary fundraising efforts, meeting their $75,000 commitment for Jaycee Camp Hope and an additional $100,000 in the March of Dimes Walk America. Camp Virginia Jaycee, a 90-acre facility for the mentally retarded, improved its operations and appearance after 150 Jaycees spent a weekend repairing a septic tank, pulling weeds, building a playground and painting the kitchen. “There ain’t no glory in fixing a septic tank,” commented Tom Kittler, camp fundraising director.
The Nebraska Jaycees and the Wilmington Jaycees from North Carolina found glory at the 70th Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. Nebraska topped the Parade of States listings for the year while Wilmington Jaycees toted the Harold A. Marks Memorial Award home as the outstanding chapter. A marathon runner, attorney and Phi Beta Kappa member from Sturgis, South Dakota, Rusty Molstad, was elected unopposed as 1990-91 president of the newly renamed U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Molstad’s year was overshadowed by budgetary concerns and the war in the Persian Gulf. In March 1991, when the executive board of directors was deciding the following year’s budget, the organization was struggling with an income drop of $166,000 compared to the previous year and increased expenses of $17,000. Despite an impassioned plea from Molstad that a 10 percent cut in the personnel budget would “destroy the headquarters,” his executive committee decided to make that reduction in the 1991-92 budget.
Project Home Front was launched at about the same time, encouraging chapters to help the families of servicemen and women who were involved in the Persian Gulf War. Warmly supported by President George Busch, Project Home Front activities conducted by Junior Chamber chapters included running food drives, delivering meals, doing yard work and “providing a shoulder to cry on.”
Also put into motion during the 1990-91 year was the leadership Academy, designed to improve new member development and activation by linking them with more experienced members. Gaining experience on the firing line in Tulsa were 37 teams at the 25th annual International BB Gun Championship Match, sponsored by Daisy Manufacturing Company, Inc.
On July 19, a new recognition area at War Memorial Headquarters honoring Vietnam veterans was unveiled. Tulsa artists Philip Johnson, John Gaskill and Kurt Stenstrom combined talents to create an 8-by-11-foot mural representing all branches of the armed services, flanked by stained glass windows with the colors of the service ribbons awarded to Vietnam veterans.
The U.S. Junior Chamber ended 14 years of national fundraising support for the Muscular Dystrophy Association on Labor Day with the presentation of a $1.3 million check on the annual telethon. Total contributions to the cause since 1976 reached $20 million.
Another milestone was reached in September with the 30th annual Governmental Affairs Leadership Seminar. Among those meeting with the Junior Chamber leaders were Vice President Dan Quayle and three U.S. senators, including former Jaycee Wendell Ford of Kentucky.
Less than a month later, President Molstad was in Eastern Europe, advancing the Junior Chamber philosophy in areas that were not only starting up Jaycee organizations, but also newly structured countries in the case of Estonia and Poland, formerly under strict Communist rule.
Back on the home front, a new 46-minute videotape entitled “Three Ways To Keep Your Kids Off Drugs” offered Jaycees a three step, common sense approach to effective parenting. Individual Development programs underwent major changes in 1990-91, with several in the 15-year-old Dynamics series put on reserve status. Among the new materials introduced in self-study, workbook-style formats were: The Business of Listening; Attitude: Your Most Priceless Possession; Developing Positive Assertiveness; Finding Your Purpose: A Guide to personal Fulfillment; and Influencing Others.
Jaycees across America were putting their newly gained skills to inventive use for others throughout the year. The chapter in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, raised $20,000 for community projects through a community carnival. The unusual combination of a demolition derby and a pig-wrestling contest put $2,000 into the coffers of the Riverton Jaycees in Wyoming.
Even more unusual was the Cow Chip Bingo fundraiser of the Marlow Jaycees in Oklahoma. Numbered squares on a tennis court were sold for $5, a cow was released onto the court and an anxious crowd waited for the “chips to fall.” The purchaser of the winning square received 5 percent of the money collected in each round and the chapter raised $6,000 through the project.
More traditional entertainment was offered in Missouri as the Hannibal Jaycees staged the 35th annual Tom Sawyer Days festival, keeping the spirit of Mark Twain’s legends alive. The pure Americana events included a baby show, stupid human tricks contest, a pet show, mud volleyball, fence painting and Tom and Becky look-alike contests.
Down the river in Mississippi, the Gulfport Jaycees served fee boiled, fried and steamed crawfish at the chapter’s annual Crawfish Festival and Carnival. In Colfax, Washington the Jaycees raised more than $3,000 for a youth center with the annual Crab Fee, while across the state the Bellevue Jaycees were shipping 8,000 cookies to soldiers in the Persian Gulf. The Berkeley Springs Jaycees in West Virginia netted $1,400 from sales at the chapter’s annual Apple Butter Festival.
Jaycee spirits were nourished at the 71st Annual Meeting in Minneapolis. Along with pin trading, “politicking,” and partying, the delegates voted to double the chapter charter fee to $100 and then elected Greg Thomes by acclamation as 1991-92 president of the 227,000 organization. The man from Maple Lake, Minnesota, would face an uphill battle in maintaining members. By the 1992 Annual Meeting, there would be 15,000 fewer Junior Chamber members.
The mounting concern over falling membership was reflected in some of the topics at the 1992 Hours of Power motivational training sessions held during the Congress of Ten Outstanding Young Americans: Legacy and Commitment; Produce or Step Aside; and Grow or Die! More than the usual amount of attention was paid to formulating a budget for the following year. The executive board of directors finally decided to base the upcoming budget on the “conservative” figure of 216,000 members and proposed a budget just short of $5 million. The conservative estimate proved to be not conservative enough when Thomes’ successor started with only 12,000 members.
The 1991-92 board also showed a renewed enthusiasm for positioning The U.S. Junior Chamber in the national spotlight by taking stands on various issues of public interest. Although they rejected a motion to endorse Clarence Thomas as a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, resolutions were passed encouraging adoption of the Volunteer Service Act to remove liability from individuals acting in good faith as volunteers, removing manufacturing and information services restrictions on local telephone companies, and supporting a 12-year term limitation for members of both houses of Congress.
In March, the board encouraged all states to participate in funding a living memorial to Andrew And Charlotte Mungenast (the “First Lady of the Jaycees” who died in November) by renaming the headquarters’ resource library in their honor. The board also started its search for a new executive vice president to replace Bill Brimmer, a national staff officer since the mid-1970s who announced his intention to resign following the Annual Meeting. Selected as the 27th executive vice president of The USJCC from a field of 234 applicants was Stephen P. Lawson, formerly the president and senior executive of several major state associations in Florida.
In Lawson’s home state, the Fort Lauderdale Jaycees were busily planning the chapter’s annual New River Raft Race. Attracting more than 130,000 spectators, the event raises money for Cerebral Palsy through concessions, amusement rides and entry fees for each raft. The Ala Moana Jaycees in Hawaii, helped by Jaycees from other Honolulu-area chapters, procured auction items and provided vital assistance to generate $200,000 through the Hawaii Family Stress Center’s Celebrity Auction.
Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, made a special appearance at the 10th anniversary events of the Healthy American Fitness Leaders program in Washington, D.C. Nearly 800 people were present, including former Olympian Mary Lou Retton and representatives of sponsor Allstate Life Insurance Company.
In anticipation of the World Cup Soccer Championship scheduled in the United States for 1994, Mobil Chemical Company teamed up with Jaycee chapters in 1991 to run the Hefty Pass, Kick and Score competition in Minneapolis as well as the new York cities of Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse. The one-day contest tested the soccer skills of boys and girls against others in their age group. After three years of lamenting their closed movie theater, the 2,200 residents of Glenrock, Wyoming, were happy to see the Jaycees rent it and begin showing movies again on weekends.
The 2,300 Jaycees who met in Portland, Oregon, for the 1992 Annual Meeting were happy about a first time convention event: Day of ID, a high-quality national Individual Development college that featured the renowned motivator and author Zig Ziglar, among others.
Once again, balloting for the president did not advance beyond one round. W.E. “Bill” Russell Jr., a second generation Jaycee from Rock Hill, South Carolina, defeated two other candidates to inherit the gavel for the 1992-93 year. He immediately told his executive board of directors that it was important that The USJCC get back to what it used to do, which was to represent young people of action.
By July, every chapter had received information on the Wake Up, America! Program. Designed to boost voter registration, air public issues, and foster candidate debates and forums. The program would position Jaycees to lead the way for young people to get involved with political issues. Russell considers Wake Up, America! One of the most significant advances of his administration.
In December, Executive Vice President Lawson outlined plans to create a Blue Ribbon Commission of current and former Jaycee officers to “redefine where we were, where we want to go, and how we are going to get there.” The commission would make and implement recommendations based on survey data as well as discussions with Jaycees and business leaders.
A month later, the board approved using the working capital reserve fund to cover a projected deficit of $300,000 for the 1992-93 fiscal year. Approximately $700,000 would remain in the excess cash reserves. As Lawson pointed out in Jaycees Magazine that spring, membership had dropped nearly 48 percent since 1978, while operating costs rose 57 percent in the same 15-year period. Meanwhile, dues income as measured in constant dollars had decreased nearly $1 million.
A 1993-94 budget was prepared based on a $9 dues increase and other anticipated revenues, but was later amended to reflect a hoped-for increase of $5 in dues at the Annual Meeting. Even then, The USJCC annual dues retained by national headquarters would be far less than all other major community service and civic organizations.
A further cost-cutting step was recommended in March when the executive committee suggested running future Governmental Affairs Leadership Seminars and the Ten Outstanding Young Americans events consecutively or concurrently in Washington, D.C. Also discussed and not carried further, was a recommendation to combine the Jaycees Officers Training School with the Annual Meeting. These proposals were made to reduce travel expenses for officers, staff and members wanting to attend the events.
A new Issues, Positions and Resolutions Committee generated resolutions calling for health care reform, anti-stalker legislation in each state, and transferring public lands to affordable housing. Discussion included the need for The USJCC to have a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., to increase the organization’s clout.
The Houston Junior Chamber of Commerce flexed its international muscles with its 41st annual Consular Ball, honoring Mexico and the Houston Consular Corps. The event offered an avenue for business interchange and personal networking. In Illinois, the Quincy Jaycees fell from above during their annual skydiving exhibition and then dove right into a raft race they had organized in conjunction with the city’s Riverfest.
Teachers in Greensboro, North Carolina, got an extra boost from the Jaycees there with the help of Project Teacher Aid. Awards of $500 were given to 20 teachers who had submitted ideas for educational projects schools could not afford to implement. This was one of scores of projects managed by the 1,100 member Greensboro Jaycees during the year, but far from the most sizable. Along with producing the prestigious Greensboro Open golf tournament, the world’s largest chapter also served as host to the 1993 Annual Meeting.
Delegates did not shirk from the difficult decisions placed before them, passing the $5 increase in annual dues, approving the creation of the Blue Ribbon Commission long-range planning committee, and defeating an effort to lower the required member age from 21 to 18 years old. They also established an alumni membership category, allowing former members over 40 years of age to become alumni members. More than 100 Jaycees participated in the first-ever alumni graduation ceremony.
Matt Shapiro, a business owner from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, was elected by acclamation as 74th president of The USJCC. Shapiro had joined the Jaycees 12 years earlier after being impressed by a Monte Carlo gambling night sponsored by the Phoenixville chapter. Within a month of joining, he was portraying the Creature form the Black Lagoon at a haunted house, eventually landing in the hospital with pneumonia.
As he prepared to lead the 193,000 member national organization, he shared his belief that: “We must restructure ourselves to accommodate healthy growth while delivering a consistently good product. This will entail listening to many divergent opinions and leading a team that will be faced with many tough decisions.”
In a Jaycees Magazine commentary to what he called the “shareholders” of The USJCC, Executive Vice President Steve Lawson provided the member a partial preview of the year ahead. Along with an assurance of expanding member and field services, Lawson told of a membership survey about to be conducted to identify member needs and to obtain input and guidance for designing the future. He also pointed to the upcoming role of the Blue Ribbon Commission in identifying strengths and weaknesses in order to make recommendations for comprehensive changes.
One of the changes he was recommending to the Strategic Planning Committee in July was permanently relocating the showcase Ten Outstanding Young Americans event to Washington, D.C., in the future for improved corporate support and media exposure.
A more subtle, but ultimately more significant new direction was taken by the board of directors when it approved a resolution for The USJCC to “deliberately and decisively assume the mantle of principle advocate and ombudsman for young Americans, ages 21 through 39.” The declaration further resolved The USJCC would “seek and adopt an aggressive position, and take action on issues of concern to today’s young Americans.” Echoes of the organization’s founders in 1920, to become “ the voice of young men in America,” resounded. Now, however, young women were added to the renewed vision.
It wasn’t so much the voice, but the compassion and muscles of Jaycees that were evident after some of the worst flooding in the nation’s history struck the Midwest in the summer of 1993. Jaycee manpower, supplies and funds poured into Iowa, Illinois and Missouri from as far away as Hawaii. The Florida Junior Chamfer dubbed its flood-relief efforts “Returning the Favor,” remembering how Jaycees in Iowa delivered a 22-truck convoy of supplies to Florida following Hurricane Andrew a year earlier.
A $75,000 flood relief check was presented by the Florida Junior Chamber to the affected states at the 33rd Annual Governmental Affairs Leadership seminar in September. Among those meeting with the delegates was Vice President Al Gore, a 1980 Ten Outstanding Young Men honoree. “I have personally seen this organization make a tremendous difference in the lives of young men and women throughout our country,” Gore said. “People who have not been in the Jaycees and who have not been part of the enthusiasm and spirit of the Jaycees don’t really fully understand what a difference it does make.”
Fulfilling one of Executive Vice President Lawson’s personal priorities for the organization, corporate America was starting to rediscover and invest in The USJCC in 1993-94. Phillips Petroleum Company made a three-year $350,000 commitment to fund GreenWorks! And the American Forest Foundation’s Project Learning Tree was added to the program. R.J. Reynolds provided an unrestricted $150,000 to sponsor a Jaycees Against Youth Smoking program, focused on encouraging retailers to reduce youth access to tobacco products and supporting community age restriction laws.
Chrysler began providing VIP vehicles for national Junior Chamber events as well as funding to be a major sponsor of the Congress of Ten Outstanding Young Americans. In another Chrysler program, the company began making donations to chapters for generating test drives of its new Neon car.
Chrysler also donated a support vehicle to the Jaycees World Ride Against Cancer, a three-man bicycling team led by Massachusetts Jaycee Richard Drorbaugh, that pedaled through 32 countries to raise funds for cancer research. Junior Chamber members across America coordinated fundraising drives for the cause and welcomed the bicyclists into their homes during the U.S. leg of the team’s transcontinental journey.
Jaycees Magazine reported on several Junior Chamber chapter success stories, such as the Parada del sol sponsored for 41 years by the Jaycees in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s the world’s largest horse-drawn parade and is rated one of the top 100 events in the nation by the American Business Association. Proceeds from the festivities went to a number of charities.
Another success story recounted was the 14-year of hard work and determination put in by the Las Vegas Jaycees to open a senior citizens’ mobile home park. Starting in 1979 with an 80-acre donation of land from the Bureau of Land Management, the Jaycees had to overcome many private and government sector obstacles before opening the first 157-unit phase of the park in 1993. Valued at $6.2 million, the project was realized at no cost to taxpayers.
At the headquarters, several advancements were noted by Executive Vice President Lawson as the year drew to a close. Among them: a toll-free member help line had been installed; more than $100,000 in non dues revenue had been generated through a new telephone sales office; a travel services office with a toll-free line had been established; and an alumni membership program had been successfully launched.
Soon it was time for Jaycees to reunite in Orlando, Florida, for the 74th Annual Meeting. The movement had decreased to 162,000 members, but there was a sense of expectancy in the air unlike recent years. New programs, new planning and new directions were being explored and 4,000 delegates made the trek to Orlando to be a part of it.
Chapters from Austin, Grimes County, Brownwood and Garland in Texas took four of the 17 awards for Project of the year, with Brownwood also recognized with the Harold A Marks Memorial Award as the outstanding chapter. The West End Jaycees in Virginia received the Dr. Jerry Bruce Memorial Award for best chapter project in recognition of its flood relief drive.
For the first time in more than a decade, balloting for the presidency went beyond one round. More than five hours and 10 ballots were needed to elect Gary Tompkins president of The USJCC, completing a 75-year link in the legacy of leadership. Not since Henry Giessenbier accepted the first gavel of national command of the movement in 1920 had a man from Missouri reached the top elected post.
Tompkins quickly outlined his goals for the 1994-95 year: stop the membership decline; become the “organization of voice” for young Americans; break ground on a national focus project; develop a five-year plan with training modules that teach members at every level how to do their job; and make the public aware of The USJCC and its purpose. Within weeks of his election, action was being taken to solidify the opportunity for success of each goal.
The slippage in membership slowed considerably in the early months of his administration, suggesting a turnaround finally could be in the offing after nine consecutive years of decline. At the 34th Global and Government Affairs Leadership Seminar, funding was approved to develop a national advocacy program as a separate arm of The USJCC.
Tentatively titled The Jaycee Alliance, the program aimed to be a free value-added benefit to Junior Chamber members while opening the doors for non-Jaycees to join as well. Its mission, as defined by the Blue Ribbon Commission for long-range planning, would be to provide opportunities for the development of young people through their participation in the issues affecting their community, state and nation. The developers of The Jaycee Alliance said they expected it to become as potent and well known as the American Association of Retired People, again thrusting The USJCC into the forefront of national policy decisions.
Tompkins’ desire for a national focus project also was moved forward in September with the approval of the Junior Chamber Mission Inn program. Fundraising efforts began immediately to establish in St. Louis the first of what is planned to be a network of pediatric and adolescent AIDS facilities, each with the Junior Chamber Mission Inn name. “As the program expands and grows through chapter support and publicity,” Tompkins said, “people will recognize the Junior Chamber as the founder of pediatric AIDS facilities throughout the country.”
The Blue Ribbon Commission began preparing its long-range plan for the improvement of the Junior Chamber organization. Tompkins, a member of the commission, praised the openness of the process: “Thousands of Jaycees had input through hearings and surveys.”
Seemingly undeterred by the dramatic changes and newly created opportunities on the national scene, Junior Chamber chapters across America continued their traditions of community service. Within hours of hearing a request from former Jaycee and new Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, Hawaii Jaycees had rounded up more than 1,000 volunteers to clean up a monumental accumulation of graffiti.
Several Delaware chapters also teamed up to do a massive GreenWorks! Cleanup of various locations along the Atlantic coast. A Lincoln Youth Sports and Safety Day was conducted by the Lincoln chapter in Nebraska. The day included baseball, softball and soccer competitions, a fingerprinting project and safety presentations. Youth in the Waterfield area of Maine were recognized for their special art skills with the chapter’s annual Children’s Art Fest.
As 1994 moved into 1995, bold moves were made to “rightsize” the national staff in Tulsa. Accounting and data processing functions were outsourced while other departments were significantly reduced or combined. The moves were among several dramatic but necessary steps taken to keep the organization’s $5.2 million budget in line.
Meanwhile, a record $1.2 million in new corporate funding was lined up with 3-M Media, R.J. Reynolds, Chrysler, First USA Banks, Prudential, Kimberly-Clark and Kmart. “Corporate America believes in this organization and is investing in us like never before,” said Executive Vice President Lawson.
Planning was entering the final stages for the 75th Annual Meeting to be held in St. Louis. Anheuser-Busch promised to provide malt beverages for The Great Jaycee Reunion, as the meeting was being called, and provided $125,000 in new funding to underwrite the historic event as well as other special activities associated with the 75th anniversary.
National Junior Chamber Week activities were kicked off with the movement’s leaders and registrants from across the country gathered in Tulsa for the 57th Congress of Ten Outstanding Young Americans. Chapters were encouraged to recognize their former members in various ways during the week, drawing inspiration from the deeds of alumni to propel the current members forward.
The week ended January 21, 75 years to the day since a young man called Hy had stood before a caucus of other young men from various cities and shared his incredible vision.
A destiny beyond even their most imaginative dreams had been realized. An incredible legacy of leaders and leadership for a great nation had been forged.
It was a time for reflection, pride and gratitude.
And, as they had done for three-quarters of a century, it was time for Jaycees to press forward, each creating a personal legacy to ripple across the decades to come.