Family & Friends
By Jan Watson, F45009
For the past nine years, the first full day at the Western Area Rally in Indio, California, has been filled with excitement, rain or shine. Thursday is Parade Day! Yes, since 1998 the opening day has been highlighted with a parade. What started out with a handful of “floats,” FMCA and Western Motor Home Association (WMHA) dignitaries, a color guard, and a marching band has grown more popular every year. This year’s parade had 19 entries, plus all of the dignitaries. Bob Newby, F108350, along with his Apollo Amigos chapter crew, has coordinated the parade all of these years.
Of course, you can’t have a parade without clowns. The Western Area Clowns are a special group of giving folks who enjoy having a good time and want to share their joy with others along the parade route, tossing candy and Mardi Gras beads to the eager spectators. Many also have shared that same joy each year with the children of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio.
Each year a dozen or so folks arrive at the “clown makeup tent” at the coach owned by John and Claire Ostrowski, F3579, to be transformed. Several volunteers from the Apollo Amigos chapter assist in the makeup department, and have done so for many years. The exciting part of the day is for the five or six clowns who make the trek over to the hospital to cheer up the kids in the children’s ward.
This year, since John and Claire were unable to make it to the rally, I was lucky enough to be part of the hospital contingent, along with fellow clowns Wesley and Ellen Fischer, F174087; Korky Campbell, F271942; Lucille Santa, F306372; Carole Gillespie, F192819; and WMHA photographer and Apollo Amigos chapter member Russ Tinsley, F42870. Armed with stuffed animals and big smiles, we were greeted by Felix Chiapperim and Tina Jellison, who escorted us to the children’s rooms. Many of the youngsters were shy at first, but warmed up quickly to the friendly, smiling clowns who wished them well and offered them a stuffed toy to help with their recovery. It was very rewarding to see the smiles on their little faces. One little fellow was celebrating his first birthday in the hospital, and our hope was to create a little cheer for him and his family. There was a small card attached to each toy to let the parents know that the token gift was from the hearts of the WMHA members. We left some extra stuffed animals with Felix and Tina so they could present them to other children who would be admitted to the hospital in the future.
The darling stuffed animals were purchased at the hospital’s gift shop, which is run by the hospital’s volunteer auxiliary. All the profits from the gift shop are used to sponsor local children’s scholarships, so it was a win-win situation all around.
Parade Day is not just about marching bands, dignitaries, and having fun, but also about sharing joy and happiness with others. The WMHA clowns like to clown around, but they also take giving very seriously. They are a very caring group of people.
If you would like to participate in next year’s event, please contact me, Jan Watson, and I will be sure to send all of the information you need to join this fun bunch of clowns (209-533-3679; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). If you love clowning around, you’ll fit right in.
Northern Lights Shine Brightly For Needy
In October 2005, 50 members of the Northern Lights chapter gathered in Gaylord, Michigan, for their annual fall rally and business meeting. During the event members donated food, supplies, and money to help the needy of Otsego County in northern Michigan.
On October 12, chapter president Dick Cooper, F144413, presented a check for $165 and boxes of food and supplies valued at more than $1,000 to Beth Hamlin and Jerry Coger from the Otsego County Food Pantry.
“We feel very fortunate to be able to travel and visit beautiful areas like Gaylord, and we wanted to do something to help the folks who haven’t been quite so lucky,” Dick told the Gaylord Herald Times, which ran a story about the donation. Joining him for the presentation were members of the charity committee, including his wife, Joy; Mary Lou Korb, F116983; and Dorothy Wierman, F249644.
The Otsego County Food Pantry is an all-volunteer cooperative ministry sponsored by area churches and the United Way to provide emergency food supplies to people in need. In 2004, the most recent year that the organization has released statistics, the group provided food and assistance to 3,631 individuals and 1,153 families in Otsego County.
This was the first major charitable project undertaken by the chapter, but newsletter editor Bob Webber, F195002, said the group plans to make it an annual event.
Bill Luckey: August 9, 1927 – March 25, 2006
William F. “Bill” Luckey, L26, husband of past national officer Genny Jennings Luckey, passed away at the couple’s home in Owosso, Michigan, on March 25. He was 78.
Bill was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Marion W. and Ethel B. Luckey. He graduated from Creston High School in Grand Rapids. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Maritime Service. He married his first wife, Barbara, in 1952 in Grand Rapids; she passed away in 1991.
Bill also lived in Sparta and Cedar Springs, Michigan, and moved to Owosso in 1993, where he belonged to St. Joseph Catholic Church. Bill retired in 1988 from the Grand Rapids Press after 23 years of service.
Before Bill began motorhoming, he enjoyed boating. When he sold his boat, he used that money to purchase his first coach. He and Barbara joined FMCA in 1986 and were assigned member number F84951.
Genny and Bill met at a rally in 1992 and were married on December 18, 1993. After the couple’s marriage, Bill and Genny attended every FMCA international convention up through the 2005 gathering in Minot, North Dakota. “He really liked FMCA,” Genny said. “He was proud to be a part of it.”
Bill served as alternate national director of the Michigan Knights Of The Highway chapter and also drove the handicapped golf cart at numerous FMCA conventions. Genny served FMCA as national secretary from 1967 to 1970; national vice president from 1974 to 1975; national fourth vice president from 1975 to 1976; national fifth vice president from 1976 to 1977; and Great Lakes Area vice president from 1982 to 1986.
In addition to FMCA, Bill belonged to the Elks Club in Owosso; the Knights of Columbus; the Naval & Armed Guard and Merchant Marines; the National Rifle Association; and American Legion Post 57. He also served as a Memorial Healthcare volunteer and was a retired chief court officer of the Kent County 63rd District Court.
In addition to Genny, Bill is survived by his son, Patrick, and daughter, Laura Jensen; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; six stepchildren; 22 stepgrandchildren; 15 stepgreat-grandchildren; and a sister, Barbara “Pat” Schmid. He was preceded in death by his daughter Linda.
A funeral service was held Friday, March 31, in Sparta.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society and mailed to the Jennings-Lyons Chapel, 520 W. Main St., Owosso, MI 48867-2607, attention: Genny Luckey.