State: Texas

City: Gladwater

Chapters: 1,661

Members: 143,427

Convention: Long Beach, CA - June 11-14, 1947

Income: $297,500

Attorney, 32 year old, John Ben Shepard elected president for a full term.

Vice President: Paul D. Bagwell
East Lansing, MI Extension & Personnel
Vice President: George O. Baird, Jr.
Shreveport, LA State Officers and National Directors
Vice President: Robert J. Bishop
Orlando, FL Public Affairs and International Relations
Vice President: Clifford D. Cooper
Covina, CA Public Relations and War Memorial
Vice President: W. Gwynn Edmonds
Huntington, WV Committees
Vice President: Hunter Gehlbach
Chicago, IL Awards & Supplies
Vice President: Robert W. Graham
Seattle, WA Special Events
Treasurer:* Carl F. Belkofer Cleveland, OH

Executive Vice President:*

Frank Fister


National Office - Chicago
Moved to Tulsa, OK- July 7, 1947
Into the Akdar Shrine Building until completion of construction of War Memorial Headquarters in 1951.

* Appointed position.

Philadelphia, PA to host 1948 convention.

“The greatest publicity-getter in the history of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.” That is the way many people describe the Jaycee president during 1947-48, John Ben Shepperd of Gladewater, Texas.

As far as securing publicity is concerned, the only man who could possibly rival Shepperd was one of the real old-timers, Bob Condon of New York City. Condon was the president during 1926-27, and was famed for his many airplane jaunts during aviation’s pioneering days.

In some ways, Shepperd and Condon were similar, for John Ben Sheppard was made famous by the “Fifth Freedom Flight,” This flight, which took him to 63 cities across the nation, saw Shepperd make 133 speeches on the Fifth Freedom, the freedom of opportunity. On the long 14,179 mile trip, he presented western hats to the governors of over twenty states, was photographed with many movie stars and other celebrities, and concluded his trip at the office of President Harry Truman in the nation’s capital.

Shepperd's Jaycee background is typical, for he was a local president, state director, state president, and national vice president before assuming the top job, His term as Texas state president in 1942-43 is a good indication of his tremendous energy for he traveled 23,000 miles under extremely difficult wartime conditions. Shepperd actually had to conclude his record-breaking state president's visitation schedule by hitchhiking after he had use-a up all of his gasoline rationing coupons.

By profession, Shepperd was an attorney, having been graduated from the University of Texas with his L.L.B. degree in 1941. Since his Jaycee years, he has had an impressive career, including service as Secretary of State for Texas from 1950-52, and Attorney General from 1953-57. He served as General Counsel, Director and Secretary-Treasurer of Odessa Natural Gasoline Company.

The administration of John Ben Shepperd, like the term of his, predecessor, Seldon Waldo, was marked by a number of major developments. Foremost among these were the beginning of operations from headquarters in Tulsa, the new two dollar dues, the adoption of the Jaycee Creed and official use of the word "Jaycee" and the beginning of the important new “I Speak for Democracy” program which was later to be known as the “Voice of Democracy.”

The two dollars per member dues which went into effect under Shepperd brought about a remarkable growth in the income of the organization. Income during 1946-47 was $152,400, while this jumped to $297,500, or nearly doubled. Charter fees had also been raised from $10.00 to $25.00.

Membership also rose during the year, but growth was not comparable to that of the previous administration when veterans had stormed back into Jayceeism in great hordes. The number of affiliated chapters increased to 1,661, or a boost of 175. Individual members totaled 143,427 compared with 138,437 the year before.

The continually-swelling membership meant that more and more of a burden was being put on national headquarters, as it attempted to furnish an adequate supply of new and varied “How-to-do-it” materials to locals. Fortunately, the national office had the services of new Executive Vice President Frank Fister. A former state president in Utah, Fister was well versed in the needs of Junior Chamber chapters.

Operations during the year were carried on in the Akdar Shrine Building in Tulsa, which was the headquarters site for the USJCC until offices were moved to the new War Memorial Building in 1951.

Funds for the War Memorial continued to come in rather slowly during 1947-48, and it was not until the following year under Bagwell that the big push was made to secure funds through the “Buck or Better” drive. Actually, the plan for such a drive was originally formulated during June of 1946 and final quotas established were based on the membership figures in March of 1948. It was expected that every state organization would contribute a $100.00 series F Savings bond (costing $74.00) and $5.00 expenses, and that each local chapter should do the same. Individual members were asked to contribute a buck-or-better, which led to the name of the drive, “Buck-or-Better.”

The biggest step taken in regard to the Memorial under Shepperd was the purchase of the lot on which the building was situated until 2004. The lot was bought in the fall of 1947 for about $19,000 and dedication ceremonies held on December 7, 1947, the sixth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Fifth Freedom Flight for which Shepperd is famed came about after Sheppard went to Europe and observed the alarming loss of business freedom as a result of the influence of communism, socialism, and other subversive doctrines. The trip to Europe infused Shepperd with the desire to revitalize Jaycee interest in the Fifth Freedom, freedom of opportunity.

Therefore, on September 30, 1947, a twin-engine Beechcraft was loaded with brief cases, luggage, pamphlets, and other materials. Boarding the plane which began its trip in Tulsa, were Shepperd; Fister; Bill Mandie, Associate Editor of FUTURE; Jack Morris, United press Correspondent; Jack Brown, LIFE magazine photographer; and Currey Sanders and Clay Porter, the pilots.

Christened the “Sacred Calf,” the plane was to carry the Jaycee team on its 33-day flight and, all across the nation, Jaycee chapters made elaborate preparations to meet the Fifth Freedom party. Themes sage of the Junior Chamber was forcibly brought home to huge audiences by Sheppard and Frank Fister in personal appearances and radio addresses.

Honors of all kinds were heaped on the salesmen of democracy, and members of the crew were given honorary titles ranging from mayor to Indian chief.

Governors of the states (24) visited were presented with honorary memberships in the Junior Chamber, and also presented ten-gallon hats by Shepperd. Governors, senators, and many high ranking government and business officials endorsed the principles of the Fifth Freedom flight and some were so enthusiastic that they proclaimed statewide Jaycee Day when the “Sacred Calf” arrived.

Publicity all along the way was tremendous, with one of the highlights being a broadcast over the Mutual Network by Shepperd and Justin Miller, President of the National Association of Broadcasters, which commemorated National Radio Week.

The Fifth Freedom Flight was not the first major use of airplane transportation by a Jaycee president, but helped to encourage future presidents to range far and wide by airplane.

Shepperd's travels were not confined to the Fifth Freedom Flight, and during the year he visited all 48 states, Alaska, Hawaii, and South America. During all of his visits, Shepperd emphasized the importance of preserving the free enterprise system.

The battler from Gladewater also lashed out against communism in an article entitled, “Let the Eagles Scream” which appeared in the Christian Science Monitor and was extensively reprinted. A few years later, Shepperd was to be named one, of America's Ten Outstanding Young Men for his "Gladewater Plan to Fight Communism."

The trip which Shepperd took to South America came in March of 1948, when he attended the Junior Chamber International meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At this meeting, Victor C. Boucas of Rio was chosen as the JCI president.

It was during 1947-48 that the use of the word “Jaycee” became officially sanctioned. Actually, the term “Jaycee” as such was seldom used until the late 1930’s. Almost from the time of Henry Giessenbier, abbreviations had been employed, but these were usually written as J. C., JayCees, or in some other way.

Even today, variations on the word Jaycee are-still seen, but under Shepperd, the term became not only standardized but approved, and its use encouraged as a sort of trademark. Unfortunately, it is impossible to copyright the phrase because it is also used by Junior Colleges, etc.

Another standby of the current organization was also adopted in 1947, when the Jaycee Creed became officially recognized as the statement of principle of the organization. The Jaycee Creed was written by Bill Brownfield of Columbus, Ohio, following his attendance at the Milwaukee convention in 1946. In the fall of that year, it was adopted by the Ohio Jaycees and, then, in September of 1947, it was ratified by the USJCC.

The creed as we know it today is slightly different than the original creed, since the “Faith in God” clause was not added by Brownfield until 1951.

Brownfield’s Jaycee career is an interesting one, for the thing for which he is best known - the Jaycee Creed - was his earliest achievement. After writing the creed, he went on to become state president of Ohio in 1948-49, and a national vice president in 1949-50. Most people, however, do not even know that Brownfield was a national officer, associating him exclusively with the creed. He is an honorary member of the USJCC, the title having been conferred in 1955.

The “Speak for Democracy” contest which later become Voice of Democracy came into being in August of 1947 when the executive committee voted to cooperate with the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Radio Manufacturers Association in promoting National Radio Week in October, 1947.

As originally setup, the contest called for oratorical competition among teenagers. Operation and promotion of the contest at local level was left primarily to the Junior Chamber of Commerce, but the NAB encouraged radio stations to cooperate in both publicity and helping the Jaycees to have tape recordings made of contestant’s speeches. During the first year, boys and girls .from 38 states entered the contest with individual entries totaling 20,000 and “I Speak for Democracy” was culminated with an awards luncheon in Washington in January of 1948. At this luncheon, the top four winners received $500 scholarships.

Endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, the contest was to grow rapidly in popularity and, when it was renamed “Voice of Democracy” in 1950, entries exceeded 1,000,000.The Voice of Democracy contest continued through 1957, when it was terminated by the USJCC and replaced by another program under different sponsor ship.
Another national program which was growing in popularity was the National Junior Golf championships. The first tournament, held in the summer of 1946 at Spokane, Washington, included entries from only five states, but, in August of 1947 at Peoria, Illinois, 87 players represented 26 states. Al Mengert of Spokane won the first two national Jaycee Golf meets.

The entire slate of Jaycee activities during 1947-48 was extensive. Promotional literature from national headquarters at the Akdar Shrine Building in Tulsa was available on projects in agriculture, aviation, Americanism, civic improvement, fire prevention, international relations, public health, religious activities, classroom activities, youth activities, and many other subjects.

As in previous years, the naming of the Ten Outstanding Young Men was a major public relations venture, and was carried in a nationwide radio broadcast on “Vox Pop.” The TOYM banquet, held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in January of 1948, saw the following receive the coveted recognition as the TOYM for 1947:

  • Glen R. Davis, Congressman from Wisconsin;
  • Adrian Sanford Fisher, General Counsel for the Atomic Energy Commission;
  • Dr. Robert A. Hingson, Professor and Director of Anesthesia at Western Missouri University;
  • Cord Meyer, Jr., President of the United World Federation;
  • de Lesseps S. Morrison, Mayor of New Orleans;
  • Jame s Quigg Newton, Jr., Mayor of Denver;
  • Richard M. Nixon, Congressman from California;
  • LaVon P. Peterson, founder of the Radio Engineering Institute for training the blind;
  • Thomas R. Reid, Vice President in charge of Human Relations at McCormick and Company and former Executive Vice President of the USJCC;
  • Glenn Theodore Seaborg, nuclear chemist

John Ben Shepperd’s administration closed with the convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the highlights of this convention came as Nevada became the first state to meet its goal in the drive for funds to build a national headquarters in Tulsa. The Nevada Jaycees delivered $500.00 in silver to the convention floor to dramatically meet their goal.

Representatives from 46 of the 48 states, as well as Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Belgium, Mexico and South America were among the 3,500 Jaycees on hand to approve a key resolution calling for a compromise plan between Selective Service and Universal Military Training, designed to keep young men at home.

A new organization was also formed at Philadelphia, the National Association of Jaycee Executives. This group was created to enable paid Jaycee executives to have a clearing house for their ideas. Unfortunately, this organization was to have a rather short existence.

Two very important by-law changes were approved at the convention. The first upped the number of national vice presidents from seven to ten, while the other stated that the executive committee could pick the site of the convention city, upon approval of the board of directors.

This latter change put an end to the terrific fights from the floor to secure the honor of hosting the Jaycee convention. The change was necessary, as Shepperd pointed out, because conventions were becoming such large scale ventures that only cities completely capable of handling such big meetings should be eligible. The executive committee was the logical group to closely screen all bids. The first convention site so chosen was Colorado Springs in 1949.

Elected president for the coming year was Paul D. Bagwell of East Lansing, Michigan. Under Bagwell, during, 1948-49, the USJCC was to initiate an all-out push for the War Memorial.



close window