History of Cheyenne Kiwanis Club 1

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In the great depression of the 1930s, members assisted the mayor of the city in raising relief funds for the unemployed, donating food baskets for distribution to needy families by the Salvation Army, and by forming teams of members for house-to-house visitations on behalf of publicity for the federal government's National Recovery Act ("N.R.A.- We do our part!"). In recent years, Kiwanis has participated with the Salvation Army in its Christmastime appeals with special fundraisers and by ringing bells at the collection kettles.

Club membership slipped to its lowest point early in the thirties. In 1936, under the dynamic leadership of president Jerry Duggan, this trend was reversed. Duggan was "reelected president in recognition of his leadership in bringing the membership up to the highest point in its history", and he remains the only president of the Kiwanis Club of Cheyenne to serve two terms.

The Cheyenne Kiwanis Club hosted the Rocky Mountain District Convention in 1937. Cheyenne was then the major Rocky Mountain hub on the transcontinental air route. United Airlines offered the more adventurous convention visitors free airplane rides over the Cheyenne vicinity in Boeing's new Sky Lounge Mainliner, their big, sleek, twenty-one seat, dual motored, streamlined, low wing monoplane passenger ship. Most of the guests had never before ridden in an airplane, and many chose to keep it that way! A tour of Fort Warren was also offered to the conventioneers, after which, the army served lunch on the parade grounds from "rolling kitchens".


In his term as Kiwanis President in 1939, Dr. Joe Bunten formed and chaired a Committee for Fatherless Boys. About twenty orphaned boys or boys with widowed mothers participated, attending monthly meetings or other activities arranged by the committee. A few of the boys were selected, in turns, to attend each weekly Kiwanis luncheon meeting. The boys were seated at different tables to get acquainted with the Kiwanians. Some of the boys became well known in business and in city politics. It was as one of these boys that current Legion of Honor member, Dick Patterson, first came to know about Kiwanis.


During World War II, the organization remained active in the community, as the emphasis turned from relief to efforts on behalf of national defense. A special wartime bulletin, mailed periodically by the club secretary to members in the armed services, reported: "many of our members are on the Civil Defense setup, including the Fire Department, Police Department and Air Raid Wardens." At the end of the year 1943: "The Cheyenne Kiwanis Club has twenty-six members on active service in the armed forces of the United States . This is a national record for clubs of our size."


Two great Kiwanis social functions of the 1940s became annual affairs. The summer Family Picnic, usually held in July or August, and the Wild Game Barbecue, normally held after the close of hunting season in November or December, were combined in 1951. The new annual event would be the Kiwanis Clambake, which, for a time, became one of the leading social functions in the state. Each year, more than one thousand persons were served generous portions of chicken and lobster prepared over a great portable barbecue pit. Gourmet delights are still served before the meal at the annual event, and entertainment follows late into the night. In recent years, the Clambake has become more of a fundraising event than a social event for Kiwanis members and their guests.


Other social functions, which endured for many years, were the Annual Installation Dinner Dance and the Ladies Night or Sweetheart Ball. After the opening of the Interstate Highway system, interclub trips involving busloads of Cheyenne Kiwanians and their guests became increasingly popular. Groups from the Cheyenne club visited other Kiwanis Clubs in Laramie or the Denver area for dinner, after which, the entire party would attend a theatrical or athletic event.


Kiwanis members participated in community efforts to raise $300,000 to assure construction of the $1,000,000 DePaul Hospital in 1947.


The current series of the Kiwanis bulletin was founded in 1951. Titled variously over the years as the Kiwanis Bull or the Kiwanis Missile, it soon became a regular part of the organizational identity of the Kiwanis Club. In 1959, the name of the bulletin was permanently changed to the Kiwanis Telstar in recognition of the pioneering earth-orbiting communications satellite then being prepared for launch. Copies of many of the back issues of these bulletins were gathered and bound into hard covers in 1972 by the Telstar editor. Hardbound sets of the bulletins are placed in the Wyoming State Archives regularly, and a bound set of current issues is maintained to become a part of the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club's archives. There are now seven volumes in each of the bound sets containing more that fifty years of the Telstar.


Bill DeVere, an earlier chronicler of Kiwanis Club activities, served as the secretary for many of the years between 1928 and 1953. His snappy correspondence with Kiwanis International and the Rocky Mountain District office constitutes a long running critique by DeVere, for the benefit of Kiwanis officials, on matters relating to the autonomy of the local clubs versus the authority of the parent organization. As the perennial Secretary for the club, DeVere had kept old correspondence, records and memorabilia intact from year to year. Later, in the absence of a permanent Kiwanis office, Don Stanfield offered cabinet space at his stationery store for the preservation of the club records. During the 1970s, these old files were consolidated and organized.


All of the old records were moved to the newly established permanent headquarters office for the Kiwanis Club at 1317 Parsley Blvd in the early part of 1970's. Past President and Past Lt. Governor, Leonard Treber was engaged as Administrative Secretary to set up and maintain a regularly manned office, providing convenience and continuity in management of the affairs of the Kiwanis Club and in the maintenance of the files and archives.


In 1952, The Key Club at Cheyenne High School was organized. By 1972, when St Mary's High School was still in existence, there were three Key Clubs in the community, as well as a Circle K Club at the new Laramie County Community College . Cheyenne 's first Builder's Club for junior high school students was chartered on February 19, 1988 at a banquet at St Mary's school. The first local Kiwanis Kids Club for elementary grade students was established in the year 2001 at Pioneer Park School .


The Cheyenne Kiwanis Club sponsored its first Stars of Tomorrow talent contest and show in 1954. As it approaches its fiftieth anniversary, Stars of Tomorrow is one of the largest and most anticipated annual theatrical functions in the city. A student television crew from East High School televised the performances locally for the first time in 1977. The local cable channel has recorded the show for rebroadcast in more recent years.


Kiwanis has continued to be active in boys' and girls' work. A special committee for underprivileged children was active through 1958. Until 1974, a major activity was the Vocational Guidance Committee, which worked closely with the schools to provide vocational guidance materials and school assembly programs, as well as conducting trade shows to help students learn about and evaluate careers available to them. As the schools became better equipped to handle the need themselves, the Kiwanis Club withdrew from this activity.


Among the various fund raising efforts tried by the club was the Annual Kiwanis Auction, started in 1961. Kiwanians solicited donations of items of all descriptions to be sold at auction. Proceeds from the auction were used primarily for the club's community service projects. Kiwanis, in effect, deferred to the local Meals on Wheels organization when that group adopted the idea of the auction as their major public fund raising device.


The club inaugurated the local presentation of the Travel and Adventure Movies in 1981. This came to be regarded as a community service for a small but loyal following, but the series was abandoned in 2002 because of duplication of the effort by cable Television and VCR tapes. The first Annual Spring Tree Sale fundraiser for the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club Foundation was conducted in 1986. The sale of nursery stock, mostly to members, each planting season continues to produce income for the Foundation.


In 1982, the club agreed with the Laramie County Fair that volunteers from the club would erect and retrieve, store and maintain the Fair Board's tents from year to year in return for the right to use the tents for the Kiwanis Clambake, emergency mass feeding efforts, and other club activities. The Kiwanis Club could also rent the tents and their tent handling services to other users as a fund raising activity for Kiwanis. The labor intensive fund raising aspect of the arrangement was eventually abandoned due to weathering of the tents and increasing insurance costs; but the Kiwanis Tent Committee still serves the tenting needs of the County Fair and the Kiwanis Club.


The Kiwanis mobile mass feeding equipment, originally acquired for the annual Clambake, includes grills, field ranges, refrigerators, generators, tents and tables and the other necessities, most of which are mounted on or stored in mobile trailers. The equipment has been used successfully for Kiwanis fund raising projects, as Kiwanis catered cookouts have become highly desired events for large gatherings including some conventions meeting in Cheyenne . Leasing the field kitchen equipment, and the services of a skeleton crew from the Cheyenne club, to other area Kiwanis clubs for big food service events in their cities offers additional income.


The Civil Defense Committee of the Kiwanis Club, an outgrowth of the Clambake, was organized in 1963. It is a mass feeding unit, originally organized and led by Dick Hutchison, to supplement other functions and capabilities of the Laramie County Civil Defense Unit. The ability of this committee to serve large numbers has been tested and demonstrated many times.


In 1968, when the preparation and serving of the traditional free downtown Chuckwagon Breakfasts by the Frontier Days Committee had become too large for volunteers to handle, the Kiwanis Civil Defense mass feeding unit stepped in. More than six thousand guests were served in the two days during the 1968 observance. Frontier Days breakfasts became a three day event in 1971. The Kiwanians served more than 26,000 guests in 1976. The greatest turnout yet experienced for the Frontier Days breakfasts was in 1996, when 39,109 plates were served at the three day, two hours per day event.


Finding protected storage for the many food service vehicles and equipment was a constantly recurring problem, as the fleet was moved from place to place for many years. The club was able to acquire and renovate the Kiwanis Building and warehouse at 1717 Pacific Avenue (now 1317 Parsley Boulevard ) in 1972, providing inside storage for the some of mobile units.


Continued on History on Cheyenne Kiwanis Club 2