Family & Friends
By Bob Chubbuck, F296082
“Participate, volunteer “” and have fun!” was the challenge issued by charter member John R. Kelley, L6562, to fellow chapter members and guests attending the Heartland Travelers’ 15th anniversary rally October 15, 16, and 17, 2004, at Walnut Creek Lake and Recreation Area near Omaha, Nebraska. Heartland Travelers members are primarily from eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.
John’s message was echoed in remarks by FMCA national senior vice president Don Moore, F154921; national secretary Ginger Painter, F23514; and Midwest Area vice president Nelson K. Stubbs, F107765. On October 16, these national officers, along with their spouses, helped transition this anniversary observance into a surprise salute to John and his wife, Regene, who contributed more than 30 years of service to FMCA, the chapters to which they belonged, and the Midwest Area.
Sadly, Regene died unexpectedly on December 4, 2004. Our condolences go out to John and the entire Kelley family.
The three national officers reminisced about their associations with the Kelleys, as John served on FMCA’s Constitution and Bylaws/Policy and Procedure Committee and Nominating Committee. Charlie Painter presented John with a new FMCA Parking ball cap, citing his many years of work with the Parking Layout crew, which included developing that group’s bylaws when it became a chapter.
The Kelleys enjoyed a variety of hobbies. One they shared was HO-gauge model railroading. John did the design and technical work while Regene provided the landscaping and built the miniatures. To recognize their many contributions, the chapter presented them with a customized Pullman model railroad car christened “Heartland Traveler,” with their names on it. Each side also is labeled “Private Coach,” even though the builder, a die-hard railroader, insisted that it should read “Private Car.” The Pullman can be incorporated into their model railroad or can serve as a stand-alone piece.
Chapter member Gwen Carson, F43813, concluded the program by reading congratulatory messages to the Kelleys from FMCA national president R.G. Wilson, F21025; immediate past national president Jeff Jefcoat, L118344; and Northwest Area vice president Jim Phillips, F158824, co-chairman of the Constitution and Bylaws/Policy and Procedure Committee.
During the celebration the Kelleys expressed their thanks to the FMCA family — national officers, committee members, volunteers, Heartland Travelers, and the many friends they met during the past 30 years.
The Kelleys began motorhoming after renting travel trailers for family outings. They purchased the first of their six motorhomes, a used Winnebago Chieftain, in 1971. When John’s boss, an FMCA member, learned about this, he introduced the couple to the association. Their long relationship with FMCA began in 1972.
The Kelleys joined the Illini Coachmen chapter, held offices, and often served as camp hosts even though John was still employed at General Electric and on 24-hour call. The Kelleys attended approximately 50 international conventions, and in 1976 they answered FMCA’s call for life members.
In 1982 John retired after 30 years in the electrical engineering and construction field with General Electric, and the couple moved back to Omaha, a previous GE assignment, to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
The closest active FMCA chapter at the time was one 135 miles away in the Des Moines, Iowa, area, far enough to discourage frequent involvement. Finally, John and another Omaha resident, the late Elmer Bryson, F1723, decided a local chapter was warranted, and in February 1989 the Heartland Travelers was founded. John is credited with naming the chapter and setting annual dues at $10, a rate that remains to this day. John and Regene each held a variety of chapter offices, and John served as the chapter’s national director for many years.
Typical of the couple’s extra effort at the chapter level was a 10-day Great Mississippi River Road tour from Davenport, Iowa, to St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2002. Every detail — park reservations, dining arrangements, and attractions visited — was flawlessly planned, promoted, and carried out. The couple decided to retire from RVing at the end of the 2003 season but continued participating in chapter activities as day visitors to rallies, often making two or three trips to sites within commuting distance of their Omaha home. Proving that their sense of volunteerism had not diminished, the Kelleys had jumped at the chance to co-chair the chapter’s 2004 Christmas party.
Also still active in the Heartland Travelers chapter are charter members Walt and Anna Trutna, F100886, of Omaha. Alternate national director Sondra Rohrbaugh, F38912, and her husband, Jack, from Lincoln, were unavailable for the charter meeting but also had joined before the first rally in 1989.
John and Regene, who met as teenagers when he accidentally tripped her while skating at a Davenport, Iowa, roller rink, recently had celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary. Two of the couple’s daughters and their husbands, Karen and Bob Ridder, A229270, and Anna and Rick Kania, all of Omaha, attended the anniversary-recognition program. The Kelleys also have a daughter, Pam, who lives in Washington; a son Tim in Michigan; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Golden Spike Chapter Lives Out “A Tale Of Three Depots”
By Anita Price, F203773
For those of us who travel in motorhomes, an adventure in a modern metropolis is rather unusual, as cities are often places to avoid. Not so for several members of the Golden Spike chapter, who found a visit to the redeveloped downtown area of Los Angeles, California, to be a treat they will long remember.
This unusual event brought chapter members to the Anaheim Vacation Park September 15 through 18, 2004. The plan for the rally was to explore not one, not two, but three classic train stations. Ed and Anita Price, F203773, along with Bob and Dottie Poole, F285461, organized this highly successful event.
As participants arrived on Wednesday, they were welcomed with packets listing the times and places that events would be held, as well as brochures, maps, and information for our various destinations. In addition, everyone received a clip-on U.S. car flag, a handmade soap molded in the shape of a train, and a self-assemble cardboard toy train from Amtrak. Also included was a six-page puzzle booklet titled “Something To Do When There Is Nothing To Do.” However, that was never a problem with this group, especially the first afternoon when the Pooles invited all to a get-acquainted predinner party at their motorhome.
Shortly afterward, it was time to carpool to Knott’s Berry Farm for a special chicken dinner. The meal was so large that most folks opted to bring their dessert back for the ice cream social. During this gathering in the clubhouse, ideas and plans were exchanged and we were briefed on plans for our next exciting day in Los Angeles. Some folks stayed after the meeting to play games and socialize.
On Thursday everyone enjoyed a continental breakfast before carpooling to Fullerton, where we gathered at the Santa Fe Station (Depot #1). There we boarded the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner to Los Angeles Union Station (Depot #2), a pleasant 40-minute ride. Upon arriving, we took advantage of the city’s DASH bus system and set out to explore the newly redeveloped downtown. Some headed to Chinatown to eat and shop, while others chose to have lunch at Philippe The Original, an 80-year-old landmark where the French dip sandwich was born.
In the newly redeveloped downtown area of the city, we marveled at the vast variations in architecture, which ranged from classic to modern. From the birthplace of Los Angeles, Olvera Street, which showcases houses that are more than 150 years old, to the ultramodern Walt Disney Concert Hall and just-opened Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, we took it all in at our own pace. Everyone had stories to tell when we reconvened at Union Station at the end of our downtown adventure.
Smoothly, swiftly, and nearly silently, our streamliner returned us to Fullerton, where it was just a quick walk across the tracks to Depot #3, the original Union Pacific station, which today houses an Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant. Adventures were shared during the repast, and the camaraderie was contagious. “We want to do this again” was heard, as we all marveled at how beautiful and clean downtown Los Angeles has become.
Friday morning our cohosts served an original breakfast dish they call “Eggs McPoole” which, along with coffee and fruit, fortified us to continue our adventure. This was our day to explore Orange County attractions. Some chapter members chose Knott’s Berry Farm; others went to Disneyland; and some visited Hobby City or shopped at the local malls.
Several people decided to remain at the campground to read and relax before the evening festivities. Happy hour included a champagne reception in honor of the new coach purchased by Alden and Jane Munson, F303483, and the fun continued with a memorable potluck dinner. Door prizes, a book swap, jokes, games, and socializing completed the evening.
All too soon we realized that Saturday had arrived. Again we carpooled to Knott’s Berry Farm for their wonderful senior breakfast before heading back to the campground for our good-byes. After promising to see each other again at the next Golden Spike adventure, we departed.
The Golden Spike chapter was formed in 1998 for FMCA members who have an interest in trains, planes, and other things that “go.” Most members live in the western United States, and many of our adventures are held at or near Western Area Rally or FMCA international convention sites. For more information, contact chapter president Kurt Simon, F166058, at (530) 889-2543; e-mail Webmaster Bob Poole at [email protected]; or visit www.fhmed.com/goldenspike.htm.