As Recorded by Mrs. Anne L. Davis for the 60th Anniversary Program Booklet, December 9, 2006
The Kiwanis Club of Chincoteague started with a group of business men talking up interest in starting a club. Johnny McGee, a big name band director who was married to a Chincoteague girl, Katie Bowden, had returned to Chincoteague as he was recuperating from dental extractions and was unable to play his trumpet. He was the main one to get the interest started in organizing a club. Johnny was under contract with the radio networks doing the Chesterfield Hour on the nightly radio show. We should be proud that he had the interest to encourage our fellows to get started.
At that time Daryl Watson had returned from service in WWII and was living here on the island. He was asked by the group to accept President and they became organized on December 5, 1946 and chartered on December 11, 1946. Mr. Clark Gardner, City Engineer for City of Salisbury, came with a group from the Salisbury club and presided over the Charter Ceremony. The first meeting was held at the clubhouse at what is now called Tom’s Cove Campground. It was too small for the big organizational meeting, so it was moved to the American Legion Hall for the meeting. There were 49 members. As records have been lost, I can only give you the names of some of the original members: Lee Savage, Robert Mears, Jack Tarr, Henry Leonard, John Winder, Eba Jones, Arthur Watson, Ralph Laws, Robert Reed, Darrell Watson, Chester Daisey, and LT M. Hansen.
Some projects sponsored were a Boy Scout Group which raised $250 for the Delmarva Council; invited one member of the troop to lunch each week, until the whole troop had been entertained. Sent the boys to camp. Brought 15 New York Tribune “Fresh Air Kids” to the island for month of July. Sponsored a Halloween parade for school children, Wishing Wells (proceeds used to set up signs reading “Attend Our Churches”) and spent $200 to buy toys for the needy at Christmas.
In 1948 Charles A. Sheward became president, with Secretary Jack Tarr. The club spent $350 for improving playgrounds and playing fields at the school and raised $1,000 to organize and equip the first school football team in the community since 1924. The Key Club in the high school staged a musical show netting $300. Equipped 4 families with necessities. Sponsored the annual cancer drive, raising $440. Organized a community-wide Easter sunrise service at a cost of $100. Membership was now 35, and attendance was 89%.
In 1949 Mr. Chester A. Daisey became president, and Jack Tarr was secretary. Membership was up to 46, with attendance 85%. This year the club sponsored the Boy Scout troop and sent them to Camp Rodney. Sponsored the football team and purchased 22 uniforms. Placed bleachers on the field and secured efficient coaches. Purchased some new instruments for the high school band and helped them enter the Chicken Festival Parade. Sponsored a party for teenagers and entertained one member of Key Club at each meeting until all were covered. Sent Key Club delegates to the national convention. Sponsored a toy drive to give to the needy at Christmas. Financed hospitalization for four people. Paid for the medical expenses of an 11 year boy and worked for a town park.
In 1950 Newman Conant became president with Secretary Jack Tarr. Membership on January 1 was 42, attendance 85%. Sponsored the Boy Scout Troop and Scout Master and donated $150 to the District Council. Sponsored 2 football teams in our school, one senior and one junior team. Had two programs presented by the Key Club and sent 4 delegates to the International Key Club convention. Entertained the Boy Scouts at a regular Kiwanis Meeting. Sponsored a bathing beach project by meeting with state and county officials and having them build a new road and the promise of a new bridge to the bathing beach. Held meeting with railroad officials and had them repair and remodel our local passenger station. Purchased and held option on $30,000 site until purchased by County School Board. Sponsored four “Go To Church” campaigns. Adopted one orphan boy and kept him in school by supplying clothing and physical needs. Purchased several pairs of eye glasses for children. Hospitalized a Key Club boy and an infant, premature baby. Purchased hot lunches for nine children. Bought and donated gifts of food, clothing, and toys for needy families. Replaced burned roof on a widow’s home. Supplied clothing to another burned out family. Fuel for a sick man with family and food to a deserted wife with several small children. Participated in all fund drives.
Meetings were held at the Methodist Church Community House during this year and continued for 15 to 20 years. Donated 340 quarts of milk to underprivileged children. Provided clothing to needy families.
In 1954 President James Moore, Manager of the Island Theater, was elected with Secretary James S. Folk. Membership was 52 with 78% attendance. Inducted six new members. Organized a group to fight the destruction of the oyster industry by the screw bores. Host to high school football team and active in the Boy Scout program. Members assisted the local Naval Air Station to maintain its civilian employee toll. Raised $1,000 for underprivileged child work. Provided milk, clothing, eye glasses, dental work and medication.
For 1955 and 1956 there are no records available.
In 1977 the Kiwanis Club started a project to bring a physician to the island. At this time, the closest doctor was in Pocomoke, Maryland. Through the efforts of the club and supporting citizens, a building was purchased and remodeled to accommodate a modern medical clinic of eight rooms. Eastern Shore Rural Health agreed to furnish the clinic, lease it, and supply medical doctors to staff it. It was in operation for ten years.
During the 1980’s one of the big money makers was the horse show held each year and enjoyed by hundreds. Anne L. Davis became the first lady member of Chincoteague Kiwanis.
In 1987 the county hospital purchased a building and opened a clinic. The public was alarmed at the impending shortage of medical services. Again, the Kiwanis Club stepped forward. Using the money from the sale of the first building as a starter, the club negotiated the purchase of the clinic from the hospital. They had a fundraiser to assist in the purchase that was successful beyond belief. They purchased the building with only a small mortgage. Again, Eastern Shore Rural Health became the tenant. The clinic is prospering and the island has reliable medical services once more thanks to the Kiwanis Club.
During the 1990’s the club gave many scholarships to graduating seniors ($500). The yard sales and chances on a tractor at the annual carnival and the annual pancake supper at Bill’s Restaurant were major money makers. The owners of the restaurant provided all the food, the waitress service, and the chefs free to the Kiwanis. What a great community spirit!!
2001-2002 – President Edward L. Black, Secretary Robert H. Smith. Membership October 1st – 41; attendance 57%. Year-end statistics: 91 projects completed, 1548 service hours, $3,300 spent, attended 10 inter-clubs.
2002-2003 – President Bill L. Fallon, Secretary Robert C. Weaver. Membership October 1st- 40; attendance 54% . Year-end statistics: 92 projects completed, 1,350 service hours, $22,205 spent, 14 inter-clubs.
2003-2004 – President Bill Fallon, Secretary Robert Weaver. Membership October 1st- 46, attendance 35%. Robert H. Weaver elected Lieutenant Governor. Year-end statistics: 65 projects completed, 913 service hours, $16,915 spent, 15 inter-clubs.
2004-2005 – President Bill Fallon, Secretary Joseph Mento. Membership October 1st- 43; attendance 45 % . Contributed $1000 to Tsunami Relief Effort. Year end statistics: 220 projects completed, 1,344 service hours, $24,044 spent, 25 inter-clubs.
2005-2006 – President Mrs. Betty Mullins, Secretary Eva Walsh. Took in 12 new members; TBall field dedicated; 7 life savings rings were posted at several boat ramps; published and delivered Chincoteague and area phone books to all citizens, sent packages to our troops in Iraq, posted Kiwanis sign at entrance to town. Quarterly, Terrific Kids awards were presented to Chincoteague elementary School children in recognition of efforts to be responsible citizens and students.
2006-2007 – President Tom Lust, and Secretary Susie Besecker. Membership – 44. This will be the year of our 60th Anniversary of the Kiwanis. Our anniversary celebration will be held on December 9, 2006
As there are very few records left of the past years of our Kiwanis Club, I have copied from a history report dated 8/8/2006 and received some facts from former members and notes. As we enter our 61st year, I hope our club will continue to grow and have another successful year.