Club History

The History of the Kiwanis Club of Charlevoix

(The Club history was compiled and written by the late Marvin Molasky. The history and this page are still in the process of being edited.)


Kiwanis Origins in Detroit

The First Kiwanis Club was chartered in Detroit, Michigan on January 15,1915. However, the formation Early Club Slay Rideof the first club began In the summer of 1914. An enterprising and aggressive businessman Allen S. Browne met with a young tailor Joseph 0. Prince and they began forming plans to form a club for the mutual benefit of the members.

It took some time to gather enough people interested in joining such a club. In November, there were enough members that a committee was formed to select a name for the new club The committee decided on Kee-wan-is an expression of the Otchipew tribe of native Americans which meant “I make noise” The spelling Kiwanis was adopted as it was an Easier name to identify and to spell. Detroit in 1915 was a booming and rapidly growing city of about 500,000. The Detroit Tigers were a major interest of its citizens, and their center fielder Ty Cobb was considered by the fans as the greatest baseball player of all time. In 1914 he won the American League batting title for the seventh time.

Woodrow Wilson (a democrat) was the President of the United Statesand worked with the Congress to institute a number of reforms to the banking system and new anti-trust legislation. War broke out in Europe in August 1914. Germany and Austria-Hungry was on one side and Russia, France, England, and Serbia on the other. German troops invaded Belgium and caught the French army by surprise. They were about 40 mile from Paris when they were stopped. and a long stalemate developed. During the early part of the War, our government tried to remain neutral.

After a short time, the Detroit Kiwanis Club decided to become a service club rather than a social club with emphasis on children and began chartering other clubs in Michigan and throughout the United States. Sometime before the Charlevoix Club was organized the national organization was called Kiwanis International.

Petoskey Kiwanis Club Sponsors the New Club in Charlevoix

In the fall of 1934 the Petoskey Club decided to sponsor a club in Charlevoix. An organizational meeting was held on Tuesday evening December 5. 1934 at Hotel Charlevoix. Dr. Frank Wilkinson was elected President. However, he and his wife were killed in an auto accident on U.S. 12 near Paw Paw Michigan on December 17th. They were on their way to California. Dr. Wilkinson was a prominent member of the community, and instrumental in getting the club started.

Oscar B. North was elected President as Dr. Wilkinson died before the Club was chartered. Oscar North is considered the club’s first president. There were 26 charter member at the meeting and officers and directors were elected. King Gillett a field representative of Kiwanis International supervised the organization and announced that first meeting would be held at Monte’s Café on Thursday December 6th. (See appendix #2 for the names of the charter members.) At the first meeting, Kiwanians from Petoskey and Traverse City as well as the Charlevoix members were present. The speaker was R. Phillip Sheets of Traverse City, the district’s lieutenant governor. Regular meetings began on December 11, and were held in the evening from 6:15 PM to 7:15.
Charter Members and Early Club PresidentsThe Charter meeting was held on March 9th, 1935 at the Masonic Temple in Charlevoix. Nearly 200 people attended the affair., which included dinner, and some musical performances, including an orchestra from Traverse City which added to the meeting.

Dr. C. I. Winder was chairman of the meeting, and welcome the members and the many guests. Mr. H Carl Spitler Lieutenant Governor of the district acted as toastmaster. Mr. Joe Prance of Detroit, the Michigan District governor, presented the charter to the club. Kiwanis Club members from Cheboygan, Gaylord, Grayling, Rodgers City, East Jordan, Traverse City, and Petoskey, our sponsoring club were there, as well as Rotarians from East Jordan and Petoskey to celebrate the formation of the new club.


In 1935 Franklin D Roosevelt was the President. of the United Sates. He as elected by a landslide in November of 1932. He took office in March of 1933, and immediately declared at bank holiday so that the banking system could be reorganized and function properly. The Congress created a number of new organizations and reformed many of the ones in existence. That seemed to be the turning point in the depression, and a slow recovery began.

In Europe, Adolph Hitler attained power in Germany in 1932, and began rearming the country. He began an extensive campaign to expand German territory beginning with the occupation of the Rhineland in 1935.

The Club begins Sponsorship of Youth Organizations

The club sponsored a Boys and Girls Club in the early years, including sending two boys to camp each year. They also worked with the courts to help children. In March of 1939.the Charlevoix Kiwanis Club sponsored the formation of Boy Scout Troop #11 It is still active, and in fact had 7 Scouts certified as Eagle Scouts1 in 2007. Troop 1l is the second oldest Boy Scout Troop in Northern Michigan.

During those early years the Club sponsored “Camp Charlevoix.” It was a popular and well run Camp. The Club sponsored several scholarships as well as supplying other funds and volunteers. The Club was the only Service Club in Charlevoix until the Lions Club as formed in the early 70’s. As a result many prominent citizens belonged to the Charlevoix Kiwanis Club.

The Charlevoix Kiwanis Club hosted the Michigan District 22nd annual convention on August 31, and September 11, 1939 at the Belvedere Country Club early 1930'sBelvedere Club, The Michigan Builder called it a great convention and an outstanding success.

To fund its many activities, the Club in its early history, held white elephant sales, waste paper drives, peanut sale sales, and Bingo games among other efforts. In addition to the monthly club dues, a 50-50 raffle and “happy Dollars”, were contributed by members at each weekly meeting.

In August of 1939 Hitler and Joseph Stalin the dictator of the Soviet Union agreed to a non-aggression treaty, and on September 1, 1939 Hitler’s Army invaded Poland. On September 3rd, England and France declared that a “state of war” existed between them and the Third Reich, Thus World War 11 began. The Nazi Armies quickly overcame the Polish Army, and as they approached Warsaw The Russian Army moved in from the East and Poland was divided in half.

The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941, and Germany and Italy announced that a state of war with the U.S. existed as of Dec. 10th. 1942 was a very difficult year for the Allies, but the War began to turn around at mid-year.

However the war was not over until 1945. Meetings were held on a regular basis during the War. During December of ‘42 meetings were held at Monte’s Café. On Dec 1st, 1942 an election of Officer for ‘43 took place. At the final meeting of the year Lt. Commander Edward Shanahan of the US Navy gave a “very interesting talk“.

The club continued to function during the war. It generally had 28 to 33 members and usually 24 to 26 members attended the meetings. One important committee was the “defense committee.” Some of the members belonged to the “Home Guard”. They sometimes held “tin pail” dinners rather than the usual dinners, but the meetings and friendship continued. During the post WWII years meeting were held in the evenings at the Charlevoix High School. Dinners were buffet style and excellently presented. Board of Directors meetings were held at board members homes, and the host member’s family provided dinner.

North Korea attacked South Korea, in 1950 and we entered a “police action” with United Nations Approval. We halted the North Korea advance, and advance drove to the Chinese boarder, when The Chinese Army entered the war, and a stalemate developed near the 38th parallel. Dwight Eisenhower was elected President of the United States in November 1952, and was able to negotiate a truce between North and South Korea along the 38th parallel in 1953, which has held to this day.

The Kiwanis Club of Charlevoix was incorporated on October 17, 1952.

Sometime in 1955 the Club began publishing a bi-weekly newsletter with advertisers . It functioned over thirty years.. During the late forties and the fifties a major fund-raiser was an annual “white elephant” sale. It was extremely popular, and the Club was able to rent space in one of the cities building to store items for sale. The club also sold soft drinks, and provided parking at The Venetian festival to raise funds.

1957 was an interesting and successful year. The clubs membership remained steady at 33 members. Attendance at meetings ranged from 28-31 at most weeks. Meyer Levinson (a charter member of the club and a past president) was in charge of keeping attendance records and reminding members of ways to make up missed meeting, Monthly membership attendance at meetings was mostly over 90%, and a number of meetings had 100% attendance.

On June 15th of 1957, The Club sponsored the first annual Kiwanis International Golf Tournament and dinner at the Belvedere Golf Club. It was a successful event, and the Club sponsored the tournament for more than 12 years. It was called an International because Canadian Members from the Sault came down every year.

Bob Martin and his committee worked hard to raise funds for the Camp Daggett Improvement Fund. They convinced the club to sponsor a cabin at the camp. The Club members built a cabin at a cost of $1500, which the club paid for. It was called the Crow cabin. It was originally painted red but, was later changed to brown like the other cabins. We undertook furnishing and upkeep of the cabin and do so to this day.

In the Spring of ‘58 the club bought several aluminum canoes for the use of the participants of the camp. That year the club began a program to award an honors plaque for the outstanding student in Mathematics and science. This award was later converted to a $500 scholarship.

The Maple Syurp Fund Raising Project Begins in 1958

In the Spring of 1958 Edward K Shanahan, a club president a couple of years later, convinced the Club that taping Charlevoix ‘s Sugar Maples for sap, and converting it into pure maple syrup would make an excellent fund raiser. He and six other members of the club advanced $650 to get the project under way. Those members were soon repaid. They got the City’s permission to tap the trees and Recruited the Sea Scout Troop 211 to collect the sap after school and on weekends. They also helped with the processing of the Sap. Girl Scouts from Troop 13 also helped bottle and label the syrup. They were credited for the hours worked and their organizations, were paid an hourly sum foe their efforts.

As a matter of fact, in 1961, the Sea Scouts were able to buy a 40 foot Coast Guard survey craft. The Girl Scouts used the funds to build a permanent building for a candy kitchen and meeting facility.

In 1959 650 5 quart buckets were filled and processed. The club was able to put up a temporary kitchen in downtown Charlevoix to process the sap. The City of Charlevoix held the first Maple Syrup Festival. The next year they were able to add another 1,000 new buckets.

After the 1961 season, the Club decided they needed a larger evaporator and a permanent Factory. Kit Carson donated land off of Carson Road, and had a syrup plant built. The cost of the factory was only $6,000, as Club members spent much time and effort to complete the building, and install the equipment. A number of members loaned the club $500 each to finance the building. They were all paid back within two years. Ed Shanahan estimated that the new facility would have cost about $4,000 more with out the members efforts.

The Club continued to tap the trees for many years but, by the mid-1990s this program was running into difficulties. Too many of the club members were no longer physically able to do the strenuous work necessary to tap the trees, and process the sap. Many of the maple trees were dying and were being replaced by the city by other varieties.

Early in the presidency of John Lachman, (1994-1995) he appointed a committee headed by Ed Buday as chairman to analyze the situation and make recommendations. They recommended that the Club purchase Maple Syrup from local processors in bulk, reheat it, strain the syrup, and bottle it in containers of various sizes. Jim Mielke agreed to the marketing and sales of the syrup . He has done it successfully for many years, and is still doing it as this is written.

The Club Heads First Effort to Build Swimming Pool in Charlevoix

By 1962, the club had raised and set aside $15,000 for a new community swimming pool. However, the community was unable to gather enough support for the pool. A new library was being built. And the club decided to give the new Charlevoix Library $10,000 for a youth meeting room and set aside $5,000 for a new Community Pool. This was quite controversial, and Ralph Hamilton, the club’s long-time secretary, resigned from the club. His resignation was not accepted, and he was given a leave of absence . After about six months he returned to an active role in the Club

The Charlevoix Kiwanis Youth Foundation’s By-Laws were adopted on March 12, 1962.

In early 1958 The Soviet Union launched the first satellite Sputnik, and the U.S. launched Explorer I a few moths later. Hawaii and Alaska were admitted to the Union in 1959. In November of 1960, John F Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon for the Presidency of the U.S. In a very close race. In April of ‘61, the U.S. sponsored an invasion of Cuba by Cuban Nationals at the Bay of Pigs to remove Fidel Castor from power, which he acquired in 1959. The attempt failed. In early May Commander Alan Shephard flew a sub-orbital flight in a Mercury Space capsule. In early August, The Soviets began building the Berlin Wall. About the same time, President Kennedy created the Peace Corps to help in “third world’ countries. . In May of 1962 Lt. Col. John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth. In October, A nuclear war was averted when the Soviet Union backed down when challenged when they tried to place nuclear missiles in Cuba. John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22nd of ’63 and Lyndon Johnson became President. President Johnson got through the Congress most of Kennedy’s programs, including a Civil Rights Act, and the Medicare Program. Following an incident in the Bay of Tokin in ‘64, he greatly expanded the war in Viet Nam. He was reelected by a landslide in November ‘64, defeating Senator Barry Goldwater . During Johnson’s second term the War in Viet Nam become a major drain on the resources of the U.S. , was very unpopular, and caused President Johnson not to run for reelection in 1968. Richard M. Nixon defeated Vice President Hubert Humphrey for the Presidency in 1968. And We landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in Apollo XI on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

It was in the late 60’s or 70’s that meetings were moved to the Grey Gables Restaurant and moved to luncheon meetings a few years later. Sometime in the early 70’s The club began supporting and working together with the Bergman Center. The Bergman Center is a non-profit center that supports adults with disabilities. Their members helped our club tapping maple trees, and gathering sap for our maple syrup product in the 70’s and 80’s. The Center arranges for jobs and activities for it clients. The club provides funds and volunteers for the Center to this day. Ken Brill was executive director of the Center, from 1979 to 1998. He joined Kiwanis in 1984 and became President of the club in 1987-88.

Sometime in the early 70’s The club began supporting and working together with the Bergman Center. The Bergman Center is a non-profit center that supports adults with disabilities. Their members helped our club tapping maple trees, and gathering sap for our maple syrup product in the 70’s and 80’s. The Center arranges for jobs and activities for it clients. The club provides funds and volunteers for the Center to this day. Ken Brill was executive director of the Center, from 1979 to 1998. He joined Kiwanis in 1984 and became President of the club in 1987-88.

In the spring of 1979, the Club arranged to sell Kielbasas and soft drinks at the Venetian Festival. The merchandise was sold from a colored tent that was either borrowed or rented. It was not a very satisfactory situation as the Kielbasa had to be cooked outside of the tent , and the soft drink situation did not work very well. Cliff Biddick and Dick Meyers obtained a trailer platform and built a new wagon. It took them almost a year, most of the work was done in Meyers garage and backyard, but was ready for the 1980 Venetian Festival, and has been in use until 2008..Fritz Puffpath became the chairman of the Kielbasa team and took charge of the operation. He did so for many years but, had to give it up in 2004. He wrote a notebook describing the necessary activities and regulations to operate the Booth. We use it every year, and it makes the use of the Trailer and its operation much easier, and more profitable.

During 1979 the radical Moslem Clergy began gaining control of Iran. The Shah of Iran fled the country and came to the U.S. for medical treatment. Radical students stormed the U.S. Embassy, And took most of the employees as hostages. They demanded the return of the Shah to Iran. President Carter refused the demand. He sent 7 helicopters to attempt a rescue, but they became grounded in a sand storm. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in an attempt to restore the Communist government there. The 1980 Olympic Games were scheduled to be held in Moscow, and President Carter ordered a boycott of the games. They proceed without the United States. 1980 was an election year, and Ronald Reagan was chosen as the Republican Party candidate. Clif Inflation was strong, interest rates at all time record highs, and Governor Reagan won handily.. As soon as he was inaugurated the hostages in Iran were released.

During the 1980’s the club held paper drives as a fund raiser. The paper was stored in a garage building in downtown Charlevoix. The paper was sold to the Newall insulation Company, and their trucks would pick up the paper as a backhaul from their shipping of insulation In 1984 the club celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The Club published a 50th anniversary newspaper and held A celebration dinner at the Grey Gables restaurant. Two Charter members were still alive Harry Bingham (who was living in Sterling Heights) and Charles Heise who lived in Charlevoix. It was estimated that the club Contributed over $150,000 in a variety of projects and causes for the community. It is estimated that the club has contributed an additional $300,000 since that time.

Women were first accepted into Club membership in the 1986/87 year. This change was quite controversial and two members resigned as a result. Ralph Hamilton sponsored the first lady member, Jackie Merta. Gale Gannett was the first lady president, and our female members have made great contributions to the club.

In 1988 Vice President George Bush was elected President of the United States. Om August 2, 1990 Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Kuwait, the U.S. mobilizes and insisted that he withdraw. When he failed to do so, we began Operation Desert Storm. The Iraqi Armed Forced were completely defeated. In November 1992 Governor of Arkansas William Clinton defeated President Bush, and became the 42nd President of the United States.

In 1994 the club celebrated its 60th anniversary by entering a float in the Venetian Parade, and holding a dinner at the Grey Gables Inn.

Early in Ed Buday’s term of office as Lt. Governor the new Michigan Kiwanis Governor began campaigning for our club to sponsor a new club in Boyne City. Ed and a number of other members quickly organized a committee, and got 35 people to form a new club, and a charter meeting was held. Thus the Charlevoix Kiwanis Club became the sponsor of the Boyne City Kiwanis club.

In 1999 Merle Vandenberg approached Suzanne Muma, the Director of the Bergman Center with the idea of starting an Aktion Club at the Center. The first Aktion Club was started in Florida , and the idea was that disabled adults could join a Kiwanis type Club and participate in activities to help others, primarily children. The club was formed, became active in 2000, and it is a rewarding and important activity of both organizations. The funds that the Club gave to the Bergman Center are now going to the Aktion Club. Ed Buday had become an active and important supporter of the Aktion Club. He has promoted the idea to many Clubs in Michigan.

That has led to a number of Aktion Clubs for disabled citizens Being established. That is an important contribution of our Club.

In the early Fall of 2002 Club President Terry Edger proposed to the Club that we sell quality mixed nuts with no peanuts as a fund raiser for the holiday season. Terry had arranged with a supplier for the nuts, and the club voted to try selling the nuts. It worked out very well, and it has become a valuable and steady source of funds.

Late in 2004 we were contacted with the idea of the Club selling long- stem roses between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day 2005. It has required a substantial number of hours for the Club to prepare the flowers, but has also been a nice source of funds.

On September 11,2001 a group of radical Muslims high-jacked 4 passenger planes. Two were crashed into the New York trade Center. Both Towers collapsed and over 3,000 people died. Another Plane was crashed into the Pentagon, but into an empty portion, and the loss of life there was small. Of course all the passengers on the plane died. The 4th plane crashed in Pennsylvania and all aboard died. Bin Loudon was believed to have been the mastermind of the assault and our Government requested the Afghan government turned him over to the U.S. for justice. They refused and Nato sent troops in to locate himand remove the Taliban Government. As of 2008 he has not been captured, the Taliban are still engaged in suicide bombing attacks, and other military actions, but there is a more responsible government in Afghanistan. In the Fall of 2001, our intelligence services thought is had sound information that Iraq was Building a nuclear weapon and President Bush requested that the Congress approve A military force to prevent it. While many nations joined the effort, many others were totally opposed it. It. It turned out that there was no nuclear threat and as early 2008 we are involved with over 140,000 troops in Iraq.

John Lachman agreed to accept a second term as president of the club in 2005-06, as he was determined to get the “sugar shack” (also know as the syrup plant) remodeled. The club had several proposals, but the job was completed in the Spring of ‘05 at a cost of about $12.000, about 1/2 of one of the estimates. The building is now officially the Carson Building. During his administration, the Board Of Directors meetings were moved to the first Tuesday of the month and were held immediately after the regular meeting.

Since 1990 a program called Young Children Priority One is a major focus from Kiwanis International. In 2004 Bill Lovett was chairman of the committee. They approached the local Head Start program offering Kiwanis volunteers to read to the children for thirty minutes each week. The accepted the idea. Val Meyerson, the director of the Charlevoix library selected a quantity of appropriate books. The library bought them and the Club reimbursed them. Every Monday morning at 10 A.M. four to eight people assemble at the Head Start Building and read to the children.

In 2006 Bill was looking for another program that the Club After much discussion it was decided that a parenting workshop for young parents and those who were expecting children would fill an important need. Bill determined that J. J. Miller, past International Kiwanis chairperson for YCPO had moved to Gaylord, and she joined ud in planning the program. She arranged for Wil Bleckman, MD, a past International President of Kiwanis ,who created the YCPO program to come to come to Charlevoix and be the keynote speaker. The workshop was held in March of 2008 at the Christian Reformed Church in Charlevoix. 65 parents and grandparents attended the workshop and 25 children were cared for in a nursery and preschool classroom during the workshop. It worked very well, and is an example of Young Children Priority One programs.

In September 2006, The Charlevoix library moved into new quarters one block from the old library. The Kiwanis chapter donated a large kaleidoscope for the children’s garden outside of the children’s section of the new library. Because of her greatly expanded Responsibilities Val Meyerson., the director of the library, resigned from the Club,. However, another member of her staff joined the club.

Early in the presidency of Dave Garland, 2006-7 he proposed that the club provide dictionaries to all third graders in Charlevoix in both public and private schools. The idea was accepted by the board of directors and the entire membership. That was to be an ongoing project for the club. We discovered that another service club had been providing the dictionaries. Somehow the program got mixed up. We provided them for one year, and now we replaced that program by providing “thesaurus’ to 7th graders.

In April of 2007 the club started a Quarterly Recognition Program to deserving local citizens for outstanding services or activities, primarily for the youth of the area. In December of that year, as we have done for many years and expect to do so for may more, our club members rang the bell to raise funds for the Salvation Army. They were stationed at the entrance of the Charlevoix Kmart for two weekends. We collected the most funds for the Salvation Army of any organization in Northern Michigan that year.

The year 2008 proved to be an interesting, challenging and difficult year. It was an election year. and the junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama defeated Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination and then defeated Republican Party’s nominee Senator John McCain of Arizona.

During the February 3. 2008 Board of Directors of the club meeting the board approved the sponsoring of a Sea scout troop with Dave Smith as coordinator. The board also approved the Clubs joining the Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce, with its attended costs and benefits.

In the late summer of ‘08 President Ted Dumbolt appointed a committee to created a volunteer program for fifth grade children in the Charlevoix area. each to write an essay on their favorite charity and why it should be supported. It is called the Merle Vandenberg essay contest. Seventy-five essays were submitted. Four were chosen as the best. One received first prize, and the others honorable mention. The club gave the first prize winner, Gracie Smith $100 to give to her charity. The other three, Arianna Houghton, Skylar Herriman, Lexie Miller, and were given $50 to be given to their charity. The awards were presented at a ceremony at the Charlevoix middle school on December 2nd. The club expects this to be an ongoing annual event.

He also appointed a committee to plan a celebration for the 75th anniversary of the club in 2009.. The committee decided on a dinner dance to be held at Castle Farms on September 10, 2009. He also appointed a committee to compose a history of the club, hopefully to be completed by The Anniversary very party.

Early in the Fall the club received a request for us to help the Harbor Health and Fitness Club’s Second annual Turkey Trot. It s function was primarily to raise funds for cancer research. The event was held on Thanksgiving Morning, and consisted of either a mile run or a five K run . Dave and Ann Burzych, as well as President Carolyn and her son Jeff Navvarre Laid out the course and did other duties. This is expected to be an annual event.