Max A. Durbin, F76454, a tireless champion of FMCA members’ legislative rights, passed away on March 4, 2009, in North Fort Myers, Florida, after a battle with cancer. He was 79.
Max served as International Area vice president from 2002 to 2005 and as area secretary from 2001 to 2002. He also was a member of the Cincinnati Support Committee from 2007 to 2009 during his wife, Joanne’s, current tenure as FMCA national secretary. The couple belonged to 12 chapters. To many, however, Max will be remembered most for his longtime work on FMCA’s Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee.
Max was born on June 29, 1929, in St. Louis, Missouri, and was a graduate of St. Louis University. He met Joanne when he was hired to sell paint and wallpaper at a hardware store in St. Louis, where she was working part-time while in college. The two were married on April 7, 1951.
Max developed a career in the public sector, working as chief of police and city administrator of Kirkwood, Missouri, and as chief of police in Flint, Michigan. He retired as police commissioner of Warren, Michigan, in 1985.
While the Durbins lived in Michigan, they enjoyed boating. They grew interested in motorhoming as well and purchased their first coach, a 1985 25-foot Champion Titan, in 1985. The couple decided that after retirement, they would spend six months on their boat (a 33-foot cruiser) and six months in the motorhome. They sold all of their furniture and most of their possessions and left home on November 1, heading west in the coach to visit a daughter and grandson in San Diego, California.
By the time the Durbins returned to Michigan the following March, plans had changed. “We had decided by that time that we would rather full-time in the motorhome than come back to Michigan each summer, so we had the boat sold by May first,” Joanne said. The couple toured several Southern states, looking for an appealing spot to spend the cold-weather months. They chose an RV park in North Fort Myers, which would serve as their home base for 22 years. They also enjoyed traveling to Alaska several times in subsequent years.
After a hailstorm badly damaged the Durbins’ motorhome, they bought a newer Titan, this time a 32-footer. The coach was followed by a new gas unit, then their first diesel, a 33-foot Monaco Windsor. “Max fell in love with it,” Joanne recalled.
The Durbins joined FMCA in 1986 after learning about a popular member benefit. “Friends had told us about FMCA’s Emergency Message Service,” Joanne said. “At the time, few people had cell phones, and finding and using pay phones in all kinds of weather was a pain. So, we joined FMCA and regularly used the message service beginning in the days when (employees) answered the phones and handwrote the messages, then relayed them verbally to us when we called in.”
Both Max and Joanne dove into the association with gusto. They began attending FMCA international conventions and helped form two chapters in the Southeast Area, with Max serving as organizing president of both and Joanne serving as national director for one. After FMCA’s 1998 convention in Ogden, Utah, Max was recommended for a position on FMCA’s President’s Council. Charlie Atkinson, L10327, newly elected national president, decided that he would be more valuable on the Legislative Advisory Committee, however.
“The rest is history,” Joanne said. “He was appointed chairman of the committee (in 1999), and the committee spread its wings into many other areas due to his knowledge of law enforcement and city administration, which expanded the committee’s work considerably.” To reflect its broadening scope, the group eventually was renamed the Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee. Max served as chairman until his death.
The committee originally was designed to assist motorhome owners who faced restrictive parking ordinances in their local areas. Under Max’s leadership, the group also developed a position statement and recommendations related to a model state lemon law; updated FMCA’s “Parking Rights Manual & Guide”; worked toward changing legislation so as to open up more states to FMCA conventions; established a volunteer subcommittee to assist FMCA members; developed an audiovisual presentation covering RV parking rights for use by city planning commissions and councils; established the “Motorhome Regulations” chart and the “Legislative Updates” column published in Family Motor Coaching magazine; fostered the RV Friendly signage program championed by committee member Frank Brodersen, F289730, now in use in many states; and developed seminars and roundtables on legislative topics at FMCA conventions and area rallies. And that’s only a partial list.
Tom Ainsley, F182814, served on the Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee from 2005 to 2007 and recalled that Max “was proactive, hardworking, and had vision that guided him to do his very best for our association. He was a true gentleman, and I was privileged to work with him. He set an example for all of us to follow.”
“I believe we have all lost a very dear friend whose commitment to FMCA was unwavering to the very end,” commented Connie Pool, F140306, FMCA national president. “When I was elected to serve as national president in 2007, I immediately asked Max if he would continue to serve as chair of the Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee, as I valued his wealth of knowledge, integrity, and statesmanship. Most importantly, I placed high value on his personal counsel that I sought on numerous occasions over the past two years. His contributions to FMCA are well documented and will be a matter of record for a very long time in this organization’s history.”
In addition to Joanne, Max leaves three sons, two daughters, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Memorial donations may be sent to Hope Hospice, 2430 Diplomat Parkway, Cape Coral, FL 33909.
Roving Wolverines’ End-Of-The-Season Rally
By Angel Vandrell, F351423
The Roving Wolverines chapter had its 2008 fall rally September 12, 13, and 14 at Silver Creek RV Resort in Mears, Michigan. Rally hosts Angel and Maggy Vandrell, Hal and Ruth Wattles, and Jim and Nancy Welch made all the preparations, including organizing fun events such as the pet contest and the horseshoe puzzle.
On Friday night we were treated to a Spanish-style supper with soup that all attendees enjoyed. On Saturday morning we held our chapter business meeting, and that night we all got together for a chopped steak dinner provided by the Roving Wolverines, along with a variety of dishes brought by members.
We all had a wonderful weekend and are looking forward to an even better 2009 rally season. Thanks to chapter president Dave Flickinger and all the chapter officers for their support throughout the past year.
River City Travelers Celebrate 20th Anniversary
By Peggy Reeder, F364540
The River City Travelers, a chapter that includes members from in and around the San Antonio, Texas, area, celebrated its 20th anniversary during a rally at the Skyline Ranch RV Park in Bandera, Texas, January 23 through 25, 2009. A total of 34 couples attended the rally.
Several members began arriving as early as Monday, January 19, to enjoy the beautiful weather and mild temperatures and to begin spending good times with friends. As members pulled in, the welcoming committee, in a fleet of golf carts headed by Daryl Waldrop, escorted them to their parking sites. All received a special welcome gift: a wine bottle tote embroidered with the chapter logo, donated by members Jerry and Ann Dumais, which was full of anniversary goodies.
Pre-rally events included Wednesday’s Steak Night followed by country-western dancing at the 11th Street Cowboy Bar in Bandera. On Thursday, a spontaneous hamburger cookout took place at noon, and a delicious potluck dinner was served later that evening, followed by karaoke and games such as LCR (Left Center Right), poker, and Pegs and Jokers.
On Friday, the official start of the rally, the day began with breakfast prepared by “Chef” Bill McCarley and the wagon master crew. Shortly thereafter, one of our musically talented members, Bill Crist, gave line-dancing lessons to all who wanted to participate. Friday evening was designated Western Night, and members showed up in their best Western finery. In keeping with the theme, the caterer served a cowboy dinner with chili and tamales, while we danced to some of our favorite country and western songs. The line dancers showed off their newly learned moves to the tune of “Elvira.”
On Saturday morning we gathered to officially recognize the chapter’s anniversary with a celebratory brunch and program. Many of the original members of the River City Travelers had been invited to attend, and we were delighted to have five couples join us. Each charter member was acknowledged with a framed certificate, as well as a bag full of anniversary goodies. All past and current chapter presidents in attendance also were recognized and presented with a framed certificate thanking them for their contribution to the success of the chapter. FMCA South Central Area vice president Fred Kennedy presented chapter president Richard Schendel with a 20th anniversary certificate from FMCA.
Other brunch highlights included an incredible buffet; spectacular flower table arrangements; a champagne toast to the chapter offered by master of ceremonies Bill Moore; an anniversary cake; and wonderful entertainment by the Sauerkrauts, a German musical group from nearby New Braunfels.
Saturday evening was the finale to a very special rally. Margie Waldrop’s committee did a terrific job creating a sophisticated atmosphere in the hall with candlelit tables and masses of flowers. Members dressed up for dinner, and the caterer accommodated the mood by serving a beautiful sit-down meal that featured prime rib cooked to order. After-dinner music provided another opportunity for dancing, but many folks were content to just sit and enjoy.
The rally concluded Sunday morning with members bringing their coffee to the rally hall and saying farewell to friends. The 20-year anniversary party may have ended, but we are all looking forward to more years of growth and success for the River City Travelers.