State: Kentucky

City: Owensboro

Chapters: 3,499

Members: 194,020 (180,362 regular - 13,658 associate)
(1954/55 first year that associate members were also counted)

Convention: Kansas City, MO- June 26-28, 1956

Income: $470,000

Insurance Executive, 31 Wendell Ford elected president for a full term.

Vice President: Richard S. Fitzgerald Redondo Beach, CA Youth & Sports
Vice President:

John D. Holland

Vicksburg, MS International Relations
Vice President: C. Robert Jones
Cedar Rapids, IA Public Relations
Vice President: Ralph E. Peters
Camp Hill, PA Public Safety & Health
Vice President: George C. Pagonis
Paterson, NJ Awards
Vice President: Robert C. Poe
Salt Lake City, UT Leadership Training
Vice President:

William R. Risher

Bamberg, SC Public Affairs
Vice President: Wallace N. Springer, Jr.
Springfield, MO External Programming
Vice President: Charles E. Shearer, Jr.
Shelbyville, IN Organization Policy
Vice President: Larry Woodworth
Kent, WA Personnel
Treasurer:* Ben D. Sisson
Milwaukee, WI  
General Legal Counsel: * Phillip Knox, Jr. Los Angeles CA  
Executive Vice President:*

Roland T. Tibbetts

Hartford, CT National Office
Tulsa, OK

* Appointed position - only treasurer has a vote.

Milwaukee, WI to host 1957 convention.

Certain Jaycee administrations stand out because of terrific problems faced by the organization, while others will be remembered because of some particular accomplishment. Certainly no one could ever think of the World War II years without recalling the gallant struggles of the Junior Chamber movement to stay alive with drastically reduced membership. Nor, on the other hand, is it possible to view the administrations immediately following the war without thinking of those years of mushrooming growth, and monumental decisions such as the move to Tulsa,

With the completion of War Memorial Headquarters in 1951, however, the USJCC entered a more stable period. Growth was continuing, but could not rival that of a few years before. Accomplishments were plentiful but they were not as singularly memorable as the construction of national headquarters.

The Jaycee movement was in a healthy condition and constantly improving its position in America, much as a large corporation might boost its dividends to stockholders through continually improving management rather than any drastic innovations.

The Jaycee administration of Wendell Ford could be classified as a highly effective one, but nevertheless characterized by its stability as the USJCC developed into a more mature organization.

President Ford himself was a genial southerner from Owensboro, Kentucky, who was in the insurance business with his father prior to moving to Tulsa for his year in office, and has since returned to his hometown and insurance career. He attended the University of Kentucky, served in the army during World War II, and held an active reserve captaincy in the Kentucky National Guard.

Like most national presidents, Ford's Jaycee background included stints in almost every position at local, state and national level. The 1956-57 president first joined the organization in 1947, and major steps along the way to the top included the local presidency, state presidency, and a term as national vice president in 1955-56. Since 'his term as president, he has served as treasurer and vice president of JCI from North America.

In addition to his Jaycee work, Ford was active in other civic organizations, including the American Legion, Boy Scouts of America, Kentucky Council of Education and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. In 1954, he had been selected as the outstanding young man of his community, and, in 1955, was named one of the Three Outstanding Young Men of Kentucky.

The number one program for the year under Ford was the Civic Service Award, which was essentially the same as the previous year's Operation Civic Service. Locals were strongly encouraged to choose projects which best fulfilled community needs while fulfilling requirements for the Civic Service Awards conferred by the national organization. The project was a highly successful one in 1955-56, showing participation by 2,695 chapters, or 821 more than the year before.

The concept of a broad number one program was proving its merit. As recently as 1954-55 a more limited number one program (Starting America's Leaders) had seen only about 400 chapters qualify for awards. With the Civic Service program, the USJCC was in essence returning project initiative to local level, where Jaycees could best determine the needs of the community.

Actually, the strength of the Junior Chamber movement has always depended on the activity of its local organizations, with national existing primarily to assist the chapters in the field and sell the Jaycee cause as a whole. Despite the variety of project material it has available. National could never hope to catalog the sum total of Jaycee activity and the USJCC recognized this fact with the Civic Service Award program.

The concept of service to locals was even undergoing a revolution, this having begun with the classification of projects under Hugh McKenna in 1955-56. Under Ford, the classification was further simplified, with Class One projects being those currently emphasized by national and service projects, all of those which were of proven merit, but possibly not so significant or generally adaptable to all chapters as the Class One offerings.

Under Ford, the Class One programs included such standbys as the Teenager Safe Driving Road-e-o, Junior Tennis and Golf, Youth Fitness, Christmas Shopping Tour, Voice of Democracy, and membership and extension campaigns. These were adaptable to almost all Jaycee communities, and more or less continuing in interest.

Some other Class One programs such as “Our Stake in Better Government” backing of the Second Hoover Report and Atoms for Peace were of top interest during 1956-57, but not necessarily suitable for all chapters or destined for continued promotion through the years. Some would eventually be dropped altogether, and others relegated to service project status.

Service projects were of less general interest. Materials were available from USJCC headquarters, but there was no particular emphasis on encouraging chapters to adopt these activities since the organization realized it could only stress a few activities each year.

From the standpoint of providing service to locals, another change included the combining of ACTION and ACTIVITY, ACTION was a monthly newspaper for officers which dated back to 1949, while ACTIVITY was a monthly publication “advertising” material available from national which had been inaugurated in 1955. The combining of these two publications made it possible to cut down on the amount of material sent officers, while at the same time keeping them informed of the latest developments and project materials.

During 1956-57, the USJCC was offering a broad range of programs to its member organizations, many of them aimed at strengthening chapters internally as well as helping them operate in the community. An innovation was the “Outstanding New Jaycee” program which encouraged new members to become active, and has since evolved into one of the organization's most important promotions.

Particularly interesting among new external programs was Jaycee participation in Religion in American Life, or RIAL as it is usually called, During the month of November for the most part, project material was made available through the cooperation of the USJCC and RlAL headquarters, and many chapters stressed the importance of religion in the community. Ford believed RIAL to be an outstanding first-year project, since it further explored the field of religious activities.

Focusing the national spotlight on the USJCC during 1956-57 were the projects with heavily publicized national competitions or awards programs such as Junior Golf and Tennis, the Safe Driving Road-e-o, Voice of Democracy, honoring of the Ten Outstanding Young Men, and recognition of the Outstanding Young Farmers.

The Junior Golf Championships, for example, were held in August at Fargo, North Dakota, with contestants on hand from all 48 states, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, the Canal Zone and Canada. Snaring the title in this classy field was Jack Rule, Jr., of Waterloo, Iowa who later went on to become a professional golfer. Junior Golf's prestige was enhanced by the addition of Coca Cola as a sponsor and the backing of Bobby Jones, immortal golfer of "Grand Slam" fame.

The Jaycee Tennis Championships were staged in August of 1956 in Oak Park, Illinois, where Eddie Sledge of Dallas defeated St. Louis, Missouri's Earl Buchholz to win the Junior Boys crown. Paul Palmer of Phoenix copped the Boys title by besting Bill Buckley of Oklahoma City.

Following the conclusion of the Jaycee Tennis tournament, Sledge, Buchholz, Chris Crawford of Peidmont, California, and Don Dell of Bethesda, Maryland, were selected to join the ranks of the Junior Davis Cup team, Under the tutelage of professional Don Budge, the four players joined other top netters for intensive training as possible U. S. Davis Cup players. Buchholz, in particular, has fared well since that time, and was America's hottest young tennis prospect.

Another highlight of the packed August Jaycee agenda was the Safe Driving Road-e-o in Washington, D. C. Chris Bayley of Seattle, Washington, was picked as America's safest young driver.

The naming of the Ten Outstanding Young Men for 1956 took place in Dallas, Texas, in January of 1957, in the year's most publicized event. The TOYM Congress was featured by the unveiling of a new trophy which was to be given to the winners in place of Distinguished Service Award medals. The so-called “Hands Trophy” was designed by Arthur Kraft, internationally known sculptor who was himself one of the TOYM for 1954, and gave the USJCC a highly distinctive trophy to award to its TOYM. The “Hands” trophy was given the title of the “JAYSON” the following year.

Named the TOYM at Dallas in impressive ceremonies at which famous radio broadcaster Gordon McLemdon was emcee were:

  • John Paterson, Attorney General of Alabama;
  • Hugh E. Stephenson, Jr., head of surgery at the University of Missouri School Of Medicine;
  • Millard Harmon, classroom teacher from Newton, Massachusetts;
  • Richard T. Whitcomb, aeronautical research engineer;
  • Rev. Robert E. Richards, minister and Olympic champion pole-vaulter;
  • Richard Foote Pederson, Department: of State officia1;
  • Carl D. Erskine, pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team;
  • Frank W. C. Loo of Honolulu, an outstanding lawyer in the territory;
  • Robert C. Liebenow, President of the Chicago Board of Trade, and
  • Dr. Thomas A. Dooley, medical missionary.

The Voice of Democracy winners converged on Washington D.C. in January for the annual VOD recognition program. For the first time in the contests ten-year history, all state winners were sent to Washington to enjoy a tour to the nation’s capital.

A national recognition program of growing stature came in April of 1957 at Durham North Carolina at the third annual Outstanding Young Farmer banquet. Farmers from all 48 states, Alaska and Hawaii were on hand for the program featured by the speech of Governor Frank Clements of Tennessee.

Named the Four Outstanding Young Farmer were:

  • John Tufts of Dallas, Texas;
  • Alex Curtis of Manila, Arkansas;
  • Russel Mayer of Milford, Utah and
  • Takeshi Kudo of Hawaii

From the standpoint of international relations the administration was marked by the JCI World Congress held in Wellington, New Zealand, in November. Ira Kaye of San Pedro California, was named President of JCI at this meeting, this becoming the third man from the United States to hold the top international Jaycee post. Elected the Vice President for North America was James S. Kelly of Canada

The 23 member U. S. delegation for the congress headed by President and Mrs. Ford, took advantage of the opportunity to visit nearby Australia and see portion of the Olympic Games. Jaycee fundraising drives the two previous years had been instrumental in securing money to send the U.S. team to Melbourne for the big international athletic competition.

At the conclusion of Ford’s administration, the number of local chapters afflicted with the USJCC had jumped from 3,181 to 3,499 and individual membership increased from 184,523 to 194,020. The organization was nearly at the 200,000 mark, one of the goals toward which it had long been striving.

Financially, the Junior Chamber continued on a healthy plane, as income rose from $546,100 to almost $606,600.

It was during 1956-57 that the last of the states turned in their quotas towards the original construction of the War Memorial Headquarters. Quotas had been established in 1948 and the big push towards raising money for building had been during the 1948-49 “Buck or Better.” The fulfilling of quota also resulted in the last of the Memorial Plaques going up in the lobby of the ultra-modern Jaycee headquarters.

The year-ending June convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, saw Charles E. Shearer, Jr., of Shelbyville, Indiana, elected as national president as he posted a second ballot victory over William R. Risher of Bamberg, South Carolina, and Larry Woodworth of. Kent, Washington.

Keynoting the convention was Vice President of the United States Richard M. Nixon, who asked 7, 000 Jaycees and their wives to support President Eisenhower in his foreign aid program.

The most important single action taken at the convention was the raising of national dues from a base of $2.00 to $2.50 per member. This was the first dues increase since 1947. It was to affect only the first fifty members of each local. 



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