K for Kiwanis Logoiwanis Club of Tri-Cities Industry 25 year History September 2005

Carol Roberts, TCI Bulliten Editor


By Carol Roberts, Kiwanis Club of Tri-Cities Industry, Richland, Washington, Bulletin Editor

ON JULY 6, 1981 The Kiwanis Club of Tri-Cities Industry was born or should I say chartered?  The Kiwanis Club of Richland was TCI’s sponsored and Milt Lewis, a past president of the Richland club and Lt Gov of Division 54 monitored TCI’s growth to charter strength.  “Uncle Milty” as Milt Lewis was fondly referred helped TCI recruit members, write by-laws, gave advice and admonitions when there was foot dragging—finally Uncle Milty delivered a full-fledged 24 member charter to TCI.  That was not the end of the stress TCI would endure.  Not by a long shot!  Meeting were set and located to appeal to people working in the North Richland area.  “That very focus,” said Jim Hagan, TCI’s 3rd president , “was also one reason we probably had a higher than average turnover in membership.  Although, with many transfers to other areas and locations, I was able to complete my term as president  with much help from Charlie Lindenmeier, president elect, and there was also a change in meeting time.”  Jim also said the key attraction to the newly chartered club was a fantastic menu catered by Leo’s and served in the Supply System Board room, but like all good things it became evident  to the TCI board that this lunch arrangement was no longer feasible because of variations in attendance.  It was then decided that attendees would buy their own lunch in the Supply System cafeteria and bring it to the meeting.  Well TCI members were not exactly lazy they didn’t like to be responsible for their own lunch.  It was then decided that perhaps a breakfast meeting would make time available to more people in the 300 area.  The meeting was scheduled at 6:00-6:30 AM to insure the meeting would finish before regular work schedules for most people in the North Richland Area.  This didn’t really work either.  Jim recalled that one man joined TCI and never attended a meeting. 

1st TCI President1st TCI Lt. Governor1st Governor for TCI
John Yegge, 6th TCI president, recalls his first TCI meeting as president being crammed into a small windowless, meeting room.  “There was no speaker and the survival of TCI was in question,” said John, “should TCI disband or merge with another club or try to go forward?  We met in various restaurants, Red Robin, Las Margaritas only it had another name,  we were kicked out of every good place in town because of low attendance it was not profitable to the restaurants. “ It was then that Gov Chuck Wheaton gave an impassioned plea,” states John, “declaring that members were looking at the glass as half empty when in reality the glass was half full.  That speech seemed to be the turning point for TCI.”  Chuck had resurrected TCI not by his eloquence but by the sheer force of his imposing physical presence and sincerity.  Chuck, whose first gift  to TCI was the red and blue hatchet we still use, and his last gift—and best, was a new lease on life and TCI never looked back.  Norm recalls Chuck looking at 5 TCI members saying something to the effect, quote, “All it takes for a successful club is vision and leadership.  I don’t see any lack of leadership here.”  Norm said those words have always stuck with him.  “All we lacked was vision—we came to the meeting depressed and came away pumped up about strengthening TCI.  Work on Vision!  And we did!”  Yes, we are still working on vision and we have made some of our visions come true with our service.

Norm Olson was TCI’s 8th president and he stated that the club was always struggling to gain critical mass—how’s that for a description of a nuclear based club.  “One of the highlights of my term as president was gaining critical mass.  Actually we doubled our membership from something like 12 members to 25,” stated Norm.  Norm said that TCI was the first club in the area to recruit female members, they were to be installed at the start of the 1988-89 term.  Norm said 2 women were inducted at his first meeting as president.  The Richland club met on Wednesday and they did install the first female members in the area—(TCI meets on Friday).  Kitty Bridges was TCI’s very first female member.  Norm commented,  “Women have been the key to building our club into a really effective service organization.  We also focused on getting the right members—people who placed priority on community service.”  Norm said one of the highlights of his presidency was getting a permanent home for TCI after quote “being tossed out of every place in town.”   The Hanford House is TCI’s permanent home although different hotel chains have owned it.  It is now the Red Lion.

The first service project in which TCI was involved occurred shortly after John Yegge resigned his presidency.  John was approached by the manager of the Jadwin House, a group home for the mentally- challenged and asked, “ Will TCI paint the A house?”  John said it was clear there was no money for paint, but somehow, as if by the wave of a magic wand, $300 was to fund the project.  John said it was all hands on deck effort –every single TCI member showed up in painting togs early on Saturday morning in the fall of 1987, amateurs to a man.  “We risked life and limb climbing on borrowed scaffolding an in 3 weekends the Jadwin House was renewed,” said John proudly.  Our service to those residents did not stop there, for several years we put on a holiday pizza party and a summer barbeque for them.

Jerry Finnigan, TCI’s 10th president, recalled the major event of his term was chartering the Kiwanis Club of the Urals, the only Kiwanis club in the Soviet Union.  Galina Babich, who is an honorary member of TCI, was visiting in the community and took the idea of Kiwanis home with her.  There was much discussion as to whether TCI should sponsor a club in The Soviet Union but TCI would not take no for an answer.  The Russian club came into being.  The Russian club came into being in 1991.  The Urals club was steeped in culture—Russians had no concept of community service—they looked to the state to provide their needs.  During Nancy Adams term as president and TCI’s first female president, 1992-93, she took all the honors for TCI’s service program among nearly 9,000 clubs in the 85 nation Kiwanis world.  One of the honors involved collaborating with the Urals Club sponsored 9 Russian children ages 8-14 to serve as Russian representatives to the world Children’s Day at the United Nations, April, 1992.  These youngsters were provided with on-site help by the New York District Kiwanis. They helped sponsor a Russian foreign exchange student, a 16- year old girl, a musical prodigy and linguist conversant in 8 languages. Jerry recalled TCI’s9th president, Ken Cross for inspiring TCI members to recruit new members.  Ken felt membership was the only way to serve the community.  Without members service projects cannot be done.

TCI sponsored the Kiwanis Club of Chiliwack, BC in 1995 I think.  It was the first time this speaker has seen a gathering of RED Coats—there were so many red jackets and red formals—what an awesome sight.

Most of us look forward to meeting programs—and this speaker recalls quite a few really awesome programs—my favorites were the two visits we had with Abraham Lincoln and the puppet show by ARC to name a couple.  Jim Hagan recalls a program given by a very dowdy looking woman  with messy looking hair, ill-fitting false teeth, and very shy—her clothes were ill fitting with a wrap around skirt that nearly reached the floor, she would not eat lunch with them and she sat out in the hall until she was called to speak. Jim worried how this woman could possibly talk to a group of people as shy as she was.  Talk she did about trash—she gave statistics as to how much trash each person generated and other facts to generate an interest in saving the environment with better trash disposing efforts.  When she finished speaking she asked everyone to sing with her “Little Brown Jug”  I think there were trashy words because she gave copies of the lyrics to everyone in the audience.  During the singing and to the amazement of the audience this woman took off her wig, took out her false teeth and dowdy looking clothes—she had on a fashionable suit underneath.   “Appearances are not  always what they seem,” said the speaker.*  “This woman had held the attention of the group talking trash,” said Jim. Charlie Lindenmeier shared that he was the program chairman who had recruited the ”dowdy”  woman to speak—well life and programs move in strange ways—this woman is our present Washington State Governor, Christine Gregiore.  Thanks Charlie for sharing that memory of our club. 

Norm recalled a fourth of July meeting it was to be a round table anticipating a low attendance.  When he got to the hotel imagine his surprise to see a room full of people.  There were guests from all over the Northwest who were visiting for the weekend.  Laurel Piippo did an improvised program, Norm thought it was a travel presentation.  As luck would have it they forgot to cancel the food so there was plenty.

As mentioned before Kitty Bridges  was TCI’s first female member and Nancy Adams was TCI’s first female president, Paula Glenn was our second.  WE have hosted Dr. Wil Bleichman, past Kiwanis International President who helped us promote the admonition to Never, Never, Never Shake a baby!  Mitch Cunningham started his term as president with frogs hopping everywhere indicating that service has kept TCI hopping. And who can forget Jill Monley, TCI’s18th president accepting Rotary’s challenge to enter our horse TEECEE in their horse race.  What a filly she was with her long eyelashes, her pony tail tied in a large pink bow and her pink tutu covering her flanks.  She sashayed up to the starting gate but near disaster struck.  She spied Rotary’s horse—a big muscled handsome hunk of a horse!  What was a filly to do?  She started flirting and lost the race—however she did win $100 for her efforts.  During the breaks in the heats of the race there was a speech contest—our own Norm Olson won that $100 hands down or should we say mouth open.  His subject “Light Sucks Dark.”  --Think about I, it really does.  Yes the topic as presented made sense.

Paula  Glenn presented two Hixsons at one of her meetings with the help of Lt. Gov. Robert Ramirez.  TCI was the 5th highest contributor to IDD in the PNW district and 26th highest in KI.  So many TCI members earned Hixsons they became the 11th honor club in the PNW District and were presented with their banner during Mark Blotz term as president.  We have provided funds for a SIGN hospital in Vietnam.  We have collected money for the Food Bank for baby food and other baby items.  Christmas by the River, the brain child of our Secretary Paula Glenn, serving cocoa and cookies for donations to the food bank.  We have made donations to Skip-A-Meal, we sell parking tickets at the Fair, and Fourth of July.  We raised funds for the Golf Ball Frenzy with the help of other K clubs in the 3 cities.  We helped raise Family-A-Fair to adulthood and like all adults has left the nest for awhile anyway.  We have written pen pal letters, collected school supplies with SHAKE,  we gave support for the Journey of Hope, and we help raise funds for a 3-year old eye surgery, we outfitted a van with wheelchair access so a family could take their son who is in a wheel chair on outings and appointments.  We helped with the Salmon Bake to raise funds for the Edith House, a model house to help children learn how to safely exit a house when there is a fire, that project started in Norm’s term I think. We have helped pass the children’s car seat law and helped to e sure they are installed in cars properly.  We have purchased bike helmets for the Safe Kids Coalition.  We contributed a park bench in memory of one of our deceased members and with a bequest from one of our members and the Richland club we purchased a piano for the Senior Center.  We nominated Dr. Lew Zirkle for the Worldwide Service medal which he won in 1996.  He was awarded $10,000 and he gave it to TCI which resulted in the formation fo the TCI Foundation.  We volunteer and give books to the Juvenile Justice Center Library.  We helped create a video –DDAD –Don’t Drink and Drive.  We collect books for the Mid-Columbia Reading Foundation and we purchased a video camera For a Washington State patrol car. And we volunteered last fall to help with flu shots Norm Holliday spear-headed that mammoth Chore, 

We sponsor 2 Builders clubs, one Key Club and are joint sponsors of the CBC Circle K club.

WE give scholarships to Rivers Edge and Liberty Christian High school seniors.  A few years ago Bob Ellis was our interclub chairman—he teased and tormented TCI members until 100% of our  members had attended at least one interclub.  During T. Gov. Robert Ramirez term at Lt. Gov.  we surpassed all other clubs in Division 54   with Round Robins.  TCI was given a special Round Robin Patch, however, according to Robert, the Robin had trouble settling or roosting, finally after many trips around the world different cities and the wide open spaces the Robin settled in.  You may see it here on one of our banners.  This is the only patch of its kind.

The list goes on but there really isn’t time—but if any of you have a favorite memory please get it to me.  I hope by our 25th birthday we will have a booklet like “Kiwanis is a Verb” I will close with what Paula Glenn, our second female president, said at the annual meeting when she gave the President’s pin to John Sturdevant:  “I want to take a few minutes to reflect on some of the wonderful people it has been my pleasure to work with.  As TCI members you should also recognize that this club is what it is today because of members like you.  Each of you contributes to the good name of this club and Kiwanis in this community.  It takes all of us to do the many projects and activities and I want to say thanks for all your hard work and dedication to the principles of Kiwanis not just during my year as President but for so many more years.

This speaker wants to thank Norm Olson, Jim Hagan, Jerry Finnigan, and John Yegge for responding to my letter to pat presidents for their favorite memories of TCI.  Although I sent out 18 letters only these four responded and without their memories this would not have been much of a history.  Congratulations TCI and a very happy birthday.