By Don Moore, F154921, National President
I think it’s very important that the members “” the owners of FMCA “” know the history of our organization. Some of you might already be familiar with part of it, but here is a review.
On July 20, 1963, under the guidance of Bob and Jean Richter, L1, of Hanson, Massachusetts, 26 families from eight states and Canada met at the Hinckley School “” now known as the Good Will-Hinckley Homes for Boys & Girls “” in Hinckley, Maine, to socialize and become acquainted with other “house car” owners. There, the families decided to organize themselves into a motor coach owners common interest group.
The next day the Family Motor Coach Association was born, so named after the owners decided to call their vehicles “motor coaches.” There were 18 original member families.
On September 7, 1963, the first Constitution Committee met at Wolf Den State Park in Connecticut. The Articles of Incorporation were filed on October 15, 1963, and the following were elected as the first officers of FMCA: Robert L. Richter, L1, president; J. Raymond Fritz, L4, vice president; Mary L. Whiting, F7, secretary; and Willard E. Whipple, F15, treasurer. National directors were John T. Samuelson, F19; Charles E. Owens, L44; Dennis McGuire, F11; Hubert S. Sharp, F2; and Dr. George L. Whiting, F7. FMCA’s constitution was unanimously ratified on December 15, 1963.
By the beginning of 1964, membership totaled 184 families from 31 states and Canada. Since that time, FMCA has experienced phenomenal growth. On December 29, 1965, membership number F1000 was issued. By March 1988 membership number F100000 had been issued; by November 1991, F150000. As of mid-October 2005, membership number F368836 had been issued.
For most of the first two years of FMCA’s existence, Bob Richter ran the association from a small storefront office in Hanson, Massachusetts. On March 15, 1965, the association’s paperwork and supplies were moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Kenneth T. Scott, L63, took over the reins, working from his own house. Ken was named FMCA’s executive director, and he served in that position until his retirement in 1978.
In June 1967 the association’s headquarters moved from the Scotts’ home to the “ivy-covered cottage” on Beechmont Avenue in Cincinnati, where it remained until it outgrew its space. The fourth home of FMCA, an office at 5200 Beechmont Ave., housed the association for six years, from 1970 to 1976.
At the summer convention in Centreville, Michigan, in 1976, plans to purchase a building at 8291 Clough Pike (provided the funds could be raised) were announced to the FMCA membership. During that convention $260,000 in cash was raised by the members to purchase the building. Fifteen members chose to make a $1,000 donation to FMCA; these contributors are members of the Thousand Club. Lifetime memberships in the association were sold for $500 each; more than 600 became lifetime members.
On November 30, 1976, FMCA moved into the facility at 8291 Clough Pike with a staff of 15. Our current staff totals 58 full-time and nine part-time employees. This is where the FMCA national office is still located today. If you are ever in Cincinnati, you may want to tour the office.
During the summer convention in Puyallup, Washington, in 1985, the Governing Board approved a $1 million expansion of the Clough Pike facilities, which was completed in 1987. Other updates have been made to the facility over the past few years as needs have arisen.
In 1989 FMCA purchased another piece of property, located a few miles from the Clough Pike office, at 3590 Round Bottom Road. The telephone message service and mail forwarding department were moved there later that same year. As time went by, the Clough Pike office became crowded, so in 2001 it was decided to move the Membership Services Department to the Round Bottom Road location. Warehouse storage space also is available at the Round Bottom Road facility.
In 1990 a campground was constructed at the Round Bottom Road facility. Today 15 full-hookup spaces are available there. This year some improvements were made. The fence was painted and repaired, and concrete was removed and replaced in some spaces.
FMCA members are allowed to use the campground; they are limited to a maximum stay of two nights per month. You should call ahead of time to inform staff of your arrival: (800) 543-3622. Accommodations are on a first-come, first-served basis. You should arrive between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and must display your “goose egg” on your motorhome. Be aware that during parts of May and November the campground is full, as the national officers and committee members hold meetings during those times to conduct official FMCA business.
Back to FMCA history. The Maine Wheels chapter had its first meeting on the grounds of the Good Will-Hinckley Homes for Boys & Girls in the spring of 1988. Good Will-Hinckley is a facility that serves at-risk children, many of whom come from broken homes or have been the victims of abuse. As time went by, some members of the chapter began to think about doing something to commemorate the founding of FMCA at the school grounds. They helped generate interest among national officers for the idea of putting some type of monument at Good Will-Hinckley, and came up with a design that was ultimately approved by the Governing Board. The beautiful black granite monument was dedicated in July 1994.
In 2000, when FMCA’s summer convention was held in Brunswick, Maine, the Good Will-Hinckley Homes for Boys & Girls began its first phase of selling commemorative bricks and granite blocks to build a walkway around the FMCA monument. National officers, chapters, and individuals purchased granite blocks or bricks with their name or message engraved upon them. Funds raised from the walkway project benefited the school. Members of the Executive Board, myself among them, visited the monument as a group at the conclusion of the convention.
While at the 2005 Northeast Area Rally, some members of the Maine Wheels chapter approached me about some funds to do maintenance work at the monument. It was brought up at our next Executive Board meeting and it was agreed that FMCA would pay for maintenance needed at that time. I believe we are obligated to maintain our history.
This should let you know a little about the history of our association. I know there is more history to be reported, so if you have stories, let me know.
Helping hurricane victims
Many FMCA members and friends were affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The RV industry has been heavily involved in the hurricane relief efforts by supplying trailers to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) to be used as temporary housing for those displaced by the disaster and by making donations of various kinds.
Several FMCA chapters and individuals have made donations. While it would be nice to list the many chapters involved, it would be difficult to compile a list without leaving some out and causing hurt feelings; plus, the primary idea is to assist others rather than gain recognition. When the FMCA Executive Board meets in November, we plan to discuss how FMCA as an organization might contribute now that some time has elapsed and current needs can be assessed.
Darlene and I join the Executive Board in wishing each of you and your families very happy holidays.
January 2006 Magazine Delivery
The January 2006 membership directory issue of Family Motor Coaching will be dropped into the postal system just a couple of days prior to the Christmas holiday. Because of post office closures for the holidays; the fact that mail volume in general is heavy at this time of year; and the fact that the January issue weighs more than most magazines, it may take a little longer for the magazine to reach some of you than your regular monthly issue of FMC. So, we ask that you please allow some extra time for the issue to arrive before contacting the FMCA national office to report that your copy is missing. Also, please keep in mind that the January issue incorporates the annual family membership directory and the “Business Directory” of commercial members in addition to the January edition of the magazine.
FMCA National Office Holiday Observances
The FMCA national office will be closed in observance of the following holidays:
Christmas: Friday, December 23; Monday, December 26
New Year’s: Friday, December 30; Monday, January 2