By R.G. Wilson, F21025
When I decided to run for the office of FMCA national president, I knew it had a lot of responsibility attached and would require a great deal of hard work and dedication if I were to accomplish my goals and make a difference.
I was correct. It seems I hit the ground running and didn’t have a chance to look back. I guess the part of this job I underestimated was the time required for communications. Our good staff in Cincinnati is very efficient and very helpful in assisting and doing whatever I ask of them. But a certain amount of daily communication with other officers and members must be done personally. I am thankful I have a laptop computer with a wireless modem card that enables me to communicate with others, whether we are at home or on the road. With my weak secretarial skills, it does take time for me to read my many e-mails each day and reply to the ones that I feel require an answer.
I am writing this article in mid-February for the April issue of our magazine. During the past seven short weeks of this year, my wife, Jeri, and I have traveled from our home in Clinton, Oklahoma, to the Western Area Rally in Indio, California; returned home; and traveled to Brooksville, Florida, to the Southeast Area Rally. As I mentioned in my article last month, from Indio I flew to Redmond, Oregon, with national senior vice president Don Moore, F154921; Northwest Area vice president Jim Phillips, F158824; and chief of parking Charlie Painter, F23514, to complete final plans for our convention this August.
The Southeast Area’s “Seafari 2004” rally was held at the Hernando County Airport, as it is each year. Southeast Area vice president George Schipper, F17603, and his wife, Ann, did a marvelous job with all the many willing volunteers in hosting an outstanding rally with 2,400 coaches attending. They had a beautiful parade expressing the safari theme of their rally. It amazes me how they improvise and turn an operating airport into a great rally site with the use of tents.
Considering that Jeri and I travel so much, an accident at some point was probably to be expected. On Interstate 10 in Florida en route to Brooksville, with my cruise control set on 68 mph, in light traffic, beautiful weather, and on a good road, I suddenly felt a hard crash from behind. I slowly drove the coach off to the side of the highway and stopped. At that time a car pulled around in front of me; stopped; and an elderly lady got out. She was very shaken and started apologizing that she did not know what had happened. I came to the conclusion she must have fallen asleep, and her foot had become heavy on the gas pedal. Looking at the damage done to the rear of my towed car and the way the impact crunched the tow bar into my motorhome, I estimate she had to have been traveling about 85 mph, since I was traveling almost 70 in the same direction. The damage to the front of her car made it impossible to drive, but we were thankful that there were no serious injuries. Her husband, who was a passenger, received minor cuts and bruises.
After attending the Brooksville rally, Jeri and I joined Don Moore and Charlie Painter and their wives in traveling to Perry, Georgia, where we met Convention Department director Jerry Yeatts and other staff from that department. We spent two very busy days there making preparations for FMCA’s 73rd International Convention in March 2005. The Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agri-Center is a great facility. Since our convention there in 2002, they have added a beautiful new building with more than 50,000 square feet of space. Our indoor exhibitors are going to love their display areas when we return there next March.
Last fall I asked my state representative, James Covey, to introduce a bill in the Oklahoma legislature that would change our state laws to permit FMCA to bring out-of-state motorhome dealers and manufacturers to our rallies and conventions in Oklahoma. Our International Area vice president and chairman of our Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee, Max Durbin, F76454, did a great job drafting the bill for submission. Upon my return from Florida, I was notified that the bill would be considered in committee on the following Monday. I contacted Mr. Covey and told him I wanted to meet with the committee and make a presentation. Jeri and I joined Royce Bishop, F62577, chairman of the President’s Council, and Oklahoma residents Gale Turney, F85878, and Al Lowery, F20479, in meeting with the committee. We got the committee’s unanimous decision to bring the matter to the floor, and it then passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives floor and is being sent to the Senate. Max and his FMCA committee are now hard at work to get it passed by the Senate. If we are successful, this will certainly be precedence that we can use to get similar legislation passed in other states that currently are “closed” to our conventions.
Many of our other committees also are hard at work on projects at this time. Don Moore has spent countless hours developing a new organizational structure for our convention member staff, which has been badly needed. I feel very fortunate to have such a good Executive Board to work with.
Even though the job gets a little stressful at times, I am appreciative of the opportunity to serve our association. Jeri and I are enjoying the joy of the journey.
Happy and safe travels to each of you.
Notice Of Annual Membership Meeting
The Family Motor Coach Association’s annual membership meeting will be held during FMCA’s 72nd International Convention at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo in Redmond, Oregon, on August 19, 2004.