Family & Friends
By Ann Schipper, F17603 and Betty Kowalik, F94563
Florida truly lived up to its nickname as the “Sunshine State” for the Southeast Area’s “SEAFARI 2004” rally, which took place February 4, 5, 6, and 7 at the Hernando County Airport in Brooksville. The many Northerners who attended were very appreciative of the warm temperatures the first few days of the event, and the occasional rain at the end didn’t dampen their spirits.
Our many volunteer parkers, under the direction of Wiley Chandler, F142032, did a fantastic job getting the coaches parked in the right areas. Al and Phyllis Thorpe, F51315, headed up the handicapped parking and transportation services during the rally with the help of many volunteers.
Approximately 2,400 motorhomes were in attendance “” including more than 2,000 family member coaches. You could find nearly any item imaginable from the 200-plus vendors who brought their wares to the vendor tent. Rally-goers kept the food vendors very busy, too. Captains Jack and Kay Rivers, F201884, and their many great volunteers made sure the vendors were ready to open their exhibits on Wednesday morning. Paul and Betty Bochiardy, F193514, and their group of volunteers were in charge of keeping tent vendors happy, while George Larmon, F170254, and his crew set up the coach display area. He found ample space for the 300 display coaches, as well as the Roadway Express “No Zone” demonstration area and the chassis displays.
Coffee and doughnuts were available each morning by 7:00 thanks to the efforts of Gene and Joyce Martin, F45385, and volunteers from The Challengers chapter. The Frustrated Maestros-Southeast chapter, under the direction of Al Roscoe, F70884, put everyone in good spirits with their toe-tapping performance during coffee hour. Devotions, led by the Coaches for Christ chapter, followed coffee hour.
We had a large variety of seminars that included something for everyone. Ed and Fran Hanrahan, F179253, and their volunteers saw to it that the seminars ran smoothly. Don and Beth Osterhout, F229123, and their volunteers kept things going in the entertainment tent. Not only that, they made sure the evening entertainers were taken care of. The New Dawn Singers, the Hot Lips Variety Show, Mandy Barnett, and the New Port Richey Band each performed to packed houses. Our opening ceremonies on Wednesday evening were even more moving as the Frustrated Maestros, 65 members strong, performed a special rendition of “God Bless America,” as well as patriotic songs and marches. Members of the Central High School ROTC (Navy) Honor Guard presented the colors, which was very impressive.
Rally photographers Joe and Betty Kowalik, F94563, tried to capture all the activities, snapping more than 700 pictures. Carl and Sue Seale, F129709, were just as busy chronicling the schedule changes and writing articles for the daily newsletter. The information area was always busy and managed well by Norm and Barb Holley, F21819, and their volunteers. Charlie and Shirley Brown, F132938, and their cadre were in charge of door prizes and also made sure our Thursday parade was lots of fun for everyone. Of course, you can’t have a rally without goody bags, and Bob and Ginny Shafer, F107925, and their volunteers made sure the packets were ready for our many rally-goers to pick up.
Several chapters were recognized with 10-, 15-, 20-, and 25-year anniversary awards, as were four chapters that are celebrating 30th anniversaries this year. One new chapter, the Lake Ashton Travelers, was welcomed, and two new chapters “” Coaches for Christ Southeast and Roamin’ Catholics Southeast “” are in the process of being formed.
How do you feed the more than 600 people who attended the volunteer dinner on the Sunday before the rally? You give that task to two great ladies, Janet Anderson, F146868, and Betty Murray, F256653, whose group of volunteers got the job done. We put the national officers present to work serving a very delicious meal. Since it was Super Bowl Sunday, we even had a big-screen TV in the hall so fans could watch the football game; for those who didn’t want to watch football, we had the “Flatlanders” for their enjoyment.
Nearly 800 women attended the Red Hat Tea & Fashion Show on Friday afternoon. This was a first for the Southeast Area Rally, and all the ladies were invited. It was amazing to see how many were dressed up in their red hats and purple dress finery as well as the “younger” set in their pink hats and lavender outfits. Thanks to members of the Central Alabama Travelers and the Magnolia Ramblers chapters, who worked to make this event possible.
We all know that putting on a rally requires the efforts of many volunteers and we are most grateful to all the volunteer captains and their spouses who brought together their fellow FMCA members to help make the “SEAFARI 2004” rally one of the best ever. This includes officers of the Southeast Area Motor Coach Association, led by Southeast Area national vice president George Schipper, F17603; area vice president and rally coordinator Doug Anderson, F146868; secretary Beverly Festa, F121569; treasurer Myrtle Florence, F127570; regional vice presidents Bewick Murray Jr., F256653, Charles Rock, F230266, Betty Hisaw, F203802, and Don Osterhout, F229123; and immediate past president Mary Lawler, F119890.
As anyone who has ever worked at an area rally knows, the rally doesn’t end on the last day. We greatly appreciate the help of volunteers who stayed on to help put away equipment and clean up. It was truly a rally of fun, fellowship, and more!
A Broken Promise Leads To Happy Motorhoming
By Pamela Selbert
Wearing a broad grin, Dennis Aney, F263771, offered some counsel on never saying never. His advice: “Don’t do it “” never is a long time.” And he should know.
“Back in 1975, on one of our first trips together, my wife, Sharon, and I were staying at a campground in Clark County (Wisconsin),” he said. “We were in our tent by a lake when we saw a fancy motorhome from Detroit pull in, as fancy as you could buy at the time, and I was a little contemptuous. I used to think that when you were out you should be roughing it, and I vowed I’d never go camping like that.”
But times change. Today the Aneys are enjoying their 2003 40-foot Newmar Dutch Star, the most recent in a string of coaches they’ve owned. It’s an elegant motorhome in which the couple is by no stretch roughing it.
It would be difficult to find anyone more enamored with motorhoming than Dennis. He said that he would happily live full-time in his coach, and that motorhomes are one of his passions in life.
The Aneys bought their first RV, which he described as an “old 14-foot Fairchild travel trailer with an ice box,” in the late 1970s, and followed it with a 24-foot type C Tioga in 1985. They later traded the Tioga for a fifth-wheel, but Dennis said that he didn’t like towing the heavy trailer with a vehicle that was lighter. He admitted that it was hard for them to find just the right match, noting that they had purchased three new motorhomes within 11 months several years ago.
“We went from a 35-foot-long Hitchhiker fifth-wheel with triple slides to a 29-foot Winnebago Minnie Winnie type C coach with no slides,” he said. “Two months later, in 1999, we traded for a Winnebago Adventurer, which we kept for only five months.” Next in line was a 36-foot Itasca Sunflyer with a single slideout, which they used until two years ago when they discovered their first Dutch Star.
Dennis joked that he chose the colors for their current coach “” long sweeps of silver-gray and charcoal-gray; their gray Jeep Grand Cherokee towed vehicle; and a pair of Trek bicycles to coordinate with the colors of their FMCA “goose egg” membership plate. The couple, early retirees who now call Fort Myers, Florida, home, joined the association in 1999.
Dennis said they considered full-timing after selling their business in Cumberland, Wisconsin, in 2000, and in fact did live in a previous motorhome for two years. But a year ago, after Sharon decided she needed a home base to keep things, the Aneys built a 1,700-square-foot house in Fort Myers and purchased a site for the motorhome less than a half-hour away.
Their current plan is to live in the new house during the winter months and travel the rest of the year in their “second home.” The northeastern United States is on their travel schedule for 2004, and a trip through the Northwest is planned for the following year.
The Aneys don’t travel alone; their companions are a pair of 6-year-old Yorkshire terriers, Bogie and Freddie. The two cuties share the copilot seat with “Mom” when the coach is on the move, and lounge on either a quilt spread out on the grass or on their own tiny patio chairs when it is parked.
The Aneys are only too happy to show visitors through their immaculate coach. When I met them they were back in Wisconsin for Dennis’ 40th high school reunion, but they soon would be on their way to Newmar’s facility in Nappanee, Indiana, to have the motorhome serviced. But true to Dennis’ love of being on the road, they were not taking a direct route to Indiana. Instead, they planned to devote three weeks to the trek, going from western Wisconsin by way of Pipestone, Minnesota; Sioux City, South Dakota; Omaha, Nebraska; and Davenport, Iowa. Dennis is so at home in their Dutch Star, he said, that he considers the house in Florida simply an “investment.”
Dennis’ goal since age 43 was to retire at 55, which he said he missed by just one month. He originally is from Sparta, Wisconsin. He began his working career in Illinois at an electronics firm. As a supervisor there, he met Sharon Meyer, an inspector, who hailed from Springfield, Illinois. The couple was married in 1977. They have a daughter, Denise, and grandsons Joshua, 8, and Timothy, 4, who live in Cleveland, Ohio.
Preferring the outdoor life, the Aneys moved to Clear Lake, Wisconsin, a town of approximately 300, where outdoor activities are plentiful. Sharon said they both enjoyed deer hunting, and added with a smile that her father used to say she’d been born in the wrong era. Growing up she spent summers at her grandmother’s home near Beardstown, Illinois, where there was no indoor plumbing. She recalled priming the water pump, using a wringer washing machine, making rag rugs and quilts, and learning to can produce from the family’s vegetable garden on a wood-burning potbellied stove.
While living in Wisconsin, the Aneys spent weekends and vacations at a cabin they’d bought near the small community of Winter. In the summer Sharon especially enjoyed picking wild berries “” until the day she came face-to-face with a bear. “We scared each other half to death,” she said with a grin. “I ran one way and he went the opposite.”
In 1993 Dennis founded D.C.A. Manufacturing Inc., a firm that assembled electronic circuit boards for other companies. Sharon occasionally worked on the production line while Dennis, as president, had his hands in all aspects of the business. The firm, which opened in a 2,000-square-foot warehouse, grew rapidly and soon moved to a new 8,200-square-foot facility in a 40-acre industrial park.
Dennis is particularly proud of having won the Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year Award for Emerging Companies in 1999. Nonetheless, he was ready to sell the firm and take to the road the following year.
Dennis said that much of his joy in traveling is derived from visiting parts of the country his ancestors called home while pursuing another one of his passions: genealogy. He currently is researching all four sets of their grandparents, and he’s been able to trace family members back to 1500.
“It’s been well known in my family that four of my great-great-great uncles had fought for the Union in the Civil War, three from Wisconsin, one from Illinois,” he said. “All of them survived, but it had been believed that one was a deserter.”
Dennis said he was delighted to recently learn “” serendipitously, from another genealogist “” that the uncle who was branded a deserter had in fact become ill, was unable to make roll call, and was mistakenly thought to have deserted.
“Doing genealogy is like putting a giant jigsaw puzzle together,” he said. “You just keep finding more and more little pieces.”
Sharon said she loves traveling for the people she meets at campgrounds and elsewhere. “Motorhomers are never strangers to each other,” she said with a smile. “Everyone is so friendly, just like a big, happy family.”
Dennis said that for him, the adventure of travel is the attraction. “What does a retired person do?” he asked rhetorically. “Not sit in a rocking chair; not this one. Better to move around the country “” who knows what you might find around the next bend in the road.”