Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000, Executive Director
As FMCA enters its 45th year, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the humble beginnings of this wonderful association. You may have already heard the story of how 26 motor-coach-owning families gathered to watch a solar eclipse at the Hinckley School in Hinckley, Maine, on July 20, 1963. However, exactly how that group was assembled and the efforts that were undertaken by those early FMCA members is nicely encapsulated in one of the articles printed in the first issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine.
I have taken the liberty of reprinting here the majority of the article, titled “A History of Family Motor Coach Association,” which was printed in Family Motor Coaching, Volume One, Issue One, dated February 15, 1964. It is amazing to me that at a time when there was no Internet, no e-mail, no cell phones “” and long-distance phone calls were very costly “” word of the birth of FMCA certainly got around and sparked a considerable amount of interest.
I am sure that, just as FMCA members do now, the early members recruited the majority of families to the association by word of mouth. Those early members must have shared the excitement of their lifestyle and recreational pursuits with others as they traveled. Their enthusiasm regarding the enjoyment of the opportunity to spend time with like-minded owners must have been infectious. I hope that you will enjoy reading this short background of FMCA’s humble beginnings and the efforts of many that made it what it is today.
A History of Family Motor Coach Association
“The first person that we know of to suggest a national association of family motor coach owners was Bill Christensen, F28, of Winona, Minnesota. Using a list of the names of forty or fifty coach-owning families, Bill sent out a letter in the spring of 1962, suggesting such an organization, and received many favorable replies. To our knowledge, however, no immediate attempt was made to start an organization on the basis of these replies.
“In February, 1963, Jean and Bob Richter read that there was to be an eclipse of the sun, visible across a path in Maine, on July 20th of that year. They thought it might be a good idea to invite coach-owning friends, and other families whom they had heard of, to join them in watching this. On April 24th, they circulated a letter to eleven families, inviting them to attend, and asking them in turn to send in the names of anyone else whom they thought might be interested.
“In the meantime, unaware of these activities, Ted Austin, of Owosso, Michigan, and Dennis McGuire, of Alma, Michigan, circulated a letter on May 10, 1963, inviting Michigan owners to a first meeting of coaches at McCurdy Park in Corunna, Michigan. This meeting, held on June second, was the first meeting of any organization of coach-owners in the United States, to the best of our current knowledge. Attending were the Austins F35; Jenningses F26; Matthewses F38; McGuires F11; and four other coach-owning families.
“Word of the plans for this meeting reached Jean and Bob Richter on June 7th, and those attending the Michigan meeting were invited to watch the eclipse in Maine.
“The response of everyone to the eclipse meeting was remarkable, and twenty-six coach-owning families from eight states and Canada met on the grounds of a private school, the Hinckley School at Hinckley, Maine, on July 20th. The following attended: Beauregards F23; Bradners F18; Braleys F8; Browns F9; Coles F43; Cunninghams F42; Elmerses F145; Fritzes F4; Fullers F6; Hardins F66; Hodges F12; Jacobses F14; McGuires F11; Penneys F58; Richters F1; Rupps F5; Samuelsons F19; Shannons F17; Sharps F2; Stones F3; Taschners F13; Websters F16; Whipples F15; Whitings F7; and two other coach-owning families.
“At the Hinckley meeting, it was the common feeling of all who attended that an organization of some sort would be worthwhile, and eighteen of the families attending joined together to form a non-profit association. Several names for it were presented for consideration. Bob Richter was chosen as organizational chairman, Mary Whiting volunteered to serve as secretary, and an organizational committee, composed of Bud Sharp, George Hardin, Bob Richter, Ray Fritz, John Samuelson, Hans Taschner, Will Whipple, Dennis McGuire, Kirwan Elmers, and Dr. George Whiting, was agreed upon. The committee was instructed to report back three suggested names for the organization, and to commence the formulation of a constitution and bylaws, to be discussed and voted on by the general membership.
“The organizational committee met on July 21st at Hinckley. The name “Family Motor Coach Association,” which had been suggested by Ray Fritz, was chosen. A constitutional committee was appointed to draft the constitution; volunteers for this were John Samuelson, Bud Sharp, Dr. George Whiting, Bob Richter, Allan Braley, Hans Taschner, Will Whipple, Derek Brown, and George Hardin.
“A number of constitutions from other organizations were assembled, and at two meetings of the constitutional committee in August the draft of the constitution took shape.
“On September 7th, 30 member families gathered at Wolf Den State Park in Pomfret, Connecticut, for a weekend, to discuss and perfect the constitutional material. After this meeting, the draft constitution and revisions were circulated to the entire membership for comment. In October another meeting of the constitutional committee incorporated final changes, and the constitution was approved for submission to the membership for ratification. The constitution was officially declared ratified by a sixty-five to zero vote on December 15th.
“In the meantime, a legal agreement of association was circulated to the following signers: Ray Fritz, George and Mary Whiting, Bud Sharp, Dennis McGuire, Harold Rupp, Ted Austin, Bill Christensen, George Hardin, Al Braley, Will Whipple, John Samuelson, Charlie Owens, Howard Fuller, Stu Rutherford, Hans Taschner, Bud Stone, and Bob Richter. Articles of incorporation were filed, showing the signatures of Richter, Fritz, Mary Whiting, and Whipple as officers, and Samuelson, Owens, Sharp, McGuire, and George Whiting as directors. Legal incorporation was accomplished as of October 15th, 1963, with Atty. John E. Sullivan of Pembroke, Massachusetts, Assistant Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, acting as voluntary legal counsel. Mr. Sullivan also voluntarily supervised and counseled the drafting of the constitution.
“The growth of FMCA has been impressive. From eighteen members on July 20th, it grew to 30 on August 23rd; 65 on September 15th; 133 on October 14th; and to 184, from thirty-one states and Canada, as the year ended. Concurrently, the list of prospective members grew from eleven on April 24th to 152 on August 6th; 181 on September 15th; 479 on October 14th; and 705 on December 27th, 1963.
“Regional groups in several sections of the country have started operation. Notable among these is the Ohio-Indiana-Kentucky group, which was initiated by Charles Owens (F44), and, of course, the Michigan group previously mentioned.
“As the year ended, the FMCA was particularly grateful to the many members who had contributed their time to the success of the initial organization. During 1963, a total of $3.75 was expended from FMCA funds for labor. The balance of effort expended on FMCA was by volunteers, serving without pay.
“As of this writing (January 27th), FMCA membership now stands at 233 charter or full members, 1 associate member, and 5 commercial members.
“A careful estimate of the average investment of each member of FMCA in their coach is $9,450.00. Thus, the FMCA currently is composed of owners of coaches worth nearly $2,000,000. The affairs of this organization are becoming serious business!”
Following in their footsteps. The generations following FMCA’s founders need only to tell each other about the fun of getting together with other motorhome owners, and the association will keep growing just as it did back then. So, the next time you meet someone with a motorhome, don’t forget to say something about FMCA. Hand them a copy of FMC magazine, invite them to a chapter gathering . . . or just talk about all the member benefits FMCA provides. (The entire Member Benefits Guide is included in this issue, beginning on page 117.)
Whatever you decide to do, you can help ensure that FMCA’s future is just as bright as its past.