By R.G. Wilson, F21025
My wife, Jeri, and I have made many wonderful friends and precious memories through our membership in Family Motor Coach Association. I am dedicating this month’s column to our memories of one FMCA friend in particular.
In 1976 Jeri and I became members of FMCA and joined the Rollin’ Okies chapter, which I believe was the only FMCA chapter in Oklahoma at the time. We made many close friends through this local chapter. One of the couples was Royce and Liz Bishop, F62577, with whom we seemed to have a lot in common. Royce grew up in a large family of modest means in Oklahoma City. He was what I would describe as a self-made man who married very well. He and Liz worked very hard to build their successful family businesses, which consisted of Bishop Paving Company and Mega Supply.
When I retired from my CPA firm in 1996, I became very active in FMCA on the national level. At some point during that time I recommended Royce to then-president Charlie Atkinson, L10327, and Charlie appointed him to the Convention and Rally Committee. While still serving on that committee, he was appointed to serve on the President’s Council, and also was chosen to serve on the Nominating Committee.
Royce loved FMCA, and he loved to serve others. He was very talented. He could operate any type of equipment, and always had a very pleasant attitude. When asked what his duties were on the Convention and Rally Committee, he laughingly replied, “I’m in charge of controlling riots and rebellions.” When individuals became upset and angry in meetings, he had the ability to say the right thing to turn the anger into laughter.
Royce was a very generous man and enjoyed entertaining others. In fact, he would not turn in expense accounts for his travel on FMCA business, to which he was entitled.
As you may remember, Royce suffered a fatal heart attack during our convention in Redmond, Oregon, last August. Just the day before, Royce, as chairman of the President’s Council, attended the Governing Board meeting with the other council members and spouses. As you might expect, his untimely death put a cloud of sadness over the remainder of that convention.
A few months later, during our November Executive Board meetings in Cincinnati, some of the members proposed establishing a memorial on Royce’s behalf at the FMCA campground, which is located at the Round Bottom Road office. After much discussion, it was decided that a beautiful outdoor lamp would be installed along the walkway to the building there. A bronze plaque with the words “Lighting Your Way in Memory of Royce Bishop” would be placed on the lamp. Also, we decided to plant a redbud tree nearby, representing his home state of Oklahoma. It was agreed that the project would be paid for by contributions from the Executive Board.
Royce liked and enjoyed nice things, so after the November meetings we began searching for the right lamp that would meet Royce’s approval. We found a sturdy light pole with three beautiful lamps. Our plans were to have the redbud tree planted and the light installed in time to hold a dedication service during the May 2005 meetings “” specifically, on the evening after the Convention Committee meeting. This was all accomplished. Liz, her daughter, granddaughter, and daughter-in-law flew to Cincinnati to attend the dedication services on May 20.
It was a tremendous memorial tribute to a great and generous man who served our association well. More than 60 people were present for the service. We heard testimonies from about 10 individuals who made brief statements about their relationships with Royce.
Jeri had the idea of creating a “memory book” for Liz, which would include reminiscences from Executive Board and committee members who were in Cincinnati for the meetings. All who wished to wrote a statement of what Royce meant to them or told of an experience they had with Royce and Liz during the years of association with them. With the help of Chapter Services director Loretta Buob and art director Guy Kasselmann, Jeri put together this nice book of memories, which she presented to Liz at the dedication. It meant a lot to the Bishop family.
If you are going through Cincinnati in the future, I believe you would enjoy stopping by our campground at Round Bottom Road in Newtown and spending the night. You will see this beautiful memorial and can get a tour of this facility and our main office on Clough Pike.
As stated earlier, this project was intended to be funded by the Executive Board; however, others, including the Rollin’ Okies chapter, the President’s Council, and Parking Layout wanted to have a part in it, too, and contributed toward the cost. No FMCA funds were expended.
We have included a photograph of the group at the dedication and another of the Bishop family by the beautiful lamp that will continue to light our way as did Royce Bishop while he was here on earth with us.
Using FMCA’s Campground
FMCA’s campground is located behind the Round Bottom Road office building, which houses the Member Services department, the Mail Forwarding operations, and storage facilities. It has 15 full-hookup sites available for members to use free of charge. All sites are on paved surfaces. There is a two-day maximum stay limit.
Typically the campground is available to members traveling through town, but on occasion it is occupied by FMCA chapters holding rallies or, during the May and November meetings, by members of the Executive Board and various FMCA committees. Because of this “” and because the property gate is closed during non-business hours “” it’s important for you to call ahead before you visit.
FMCA members may tour the main FMCA office building on Clough Pike as well as the Round Bottom Road office when they are in town. Please note that members should not drive their motorhomes to the Clough Pike office, as its parking lot cannot accommodate them.
For more information about using FMCA’s campground or touring the offices, call (800) 543-3622 and ask for the Member Services department.