The New Millennium (2000-2017)

33rd President Ray Ainslie #44136 (Centralia)

Ray began his year with a Hot Air Balloon theme of “Lift Off to the Future”. Known as the “Little Colonel” during his Jaycee career, Ray led us into the New Millennium. Under his leadership we developed our first website which became an additional communication tool and enhanced our Illinois Senate newsletter. Jerry #36183 and JoAnn Smith #51107 hosted the Senate Picnic in the Fox Valley Region where golf, socializing, steaks and watching Ray lift balloons was enjoyed by all. The first “Gathering of Eagles”, a summit of Jaycee and Senate leadership, was held at Starved Rock State Park to bring a closer relationship with the Jaycees. Due to changes in the Jaycee meeting calendar, the first Senate Fall Frolic was held in Springfield. President Ray read a proclamation from Governor Ryan during a press conference for TOYP, a new addition to the program. Charles “Chuck” Fries #18344 was inducted into the Illinois Jaycee Hall of Fame. Wayne Kiefer #36498 of Illinois was our Region V National Vice President.

Ray Ainslie was inducted into the Illinois Jaycee Hall of Fame in 2011.

34th President Brian Ziegle #42479(Peoria) The first actual New Millennium president used the theme “Teeing Up Opportunity”. The second Fall Frolic was held at the Northfield Inn in Springfield. Bingo is still one of our financial successes earning around $1000. The Jaycees asked for a second “Gathering of Eagles” which the Senate was more than happy to oblige. During this year the Senate stepped up their involvement with training and mentoring coordination with the Jaycees. It was during Brian’s year the Senate began swearing in the Senate President at the TOYP Banquet.Mike Kelly #33910and Leonard Schwarz #21173 were inducted into the Jaycee Hall of Fame. Denny DeGroot #40222 was elected as USJCI Senate President at the National Convention. Silent Auction, which has become an annual fund raiser, brought in $2500 to the treasury. The Illinois Picnic was held in Carlyle with Ray Ainslie #44136 as acting chairman.

35th President Denny Birt #37116(Champaign) With the theme of “Key to Success” the 2001-02 year was off and running. As the 35th President, Denny visited every state in Region V as well as the USJCI Senate Fall Board in Connecticut and Winter Board in Orlando. National Convention was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where Denny#40222 and Kay DeGroot wrapped up their year as National Senate President. During Denny’s year the life membership hit 600 members with Kim (Barrett) Kozak #62413; Illinois Senators were also pleased to announce Roland Burris #12798 as a candidate for Governor of Illinois. William Jackson #4139 was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Denny’s year as President can be summed up by a Jimmie Buffet song, “He went to Paris”, when he says “Some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I had a good life (year) all the way.” The magic comes with support and help of family and friends with the responsibilities of being President. Denny’s last bit of advice: “never call someone Babe from the head table”.
Inducted into the Illinois Jaycee Hall of Fame in 2017

 36th President JoAnn Smith #51107(Woodstock)

“Stand Tall, Stand Proud, Stand Out” was the theme during 2002-03 as JoAnne and her Penguin led the Senate to a great year. Denny Birt #37116 created the fund raising project at the Illini concessions. We started with the Bear games since Soldier Field was under construction. We also started “Lotto” Senate fundraiser with Donna Ward #53588 as our first chairperson. Jim Mammen #37122, Gary Pittenger #24804 and Chuck Fries #18344 helped co-chair the World Congress held in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving week. John Olson #35308 was elected Region V Vice President. Inducted into the Hall of Fame was Roland Burris #12798 and Ralph Rohweder #58184. This year marked the passing of Past Illinois Senate President Roger Colbert #38086, since Roger was to be chairman for the Illinois day hospitality at National Convention, Past Presidents Wayne Kiefer #36498, John Olson #35308, Bev Olson #42473 Ray Ainslie #44136 and Jim Mammen #34122 stepped up, put on aprons “Bubba’s Cooking Crew” and continued the project. JoAnn was named one of the Outstanding Presidents along with Mark Niedenthal as one of the Outstanding Treasurers.

 37th President Mark Niedenthal #39701(Danville)

Under the theme of “Catch a Big One” the 2003-04 year was under way with 37th President “Captain Mark”. Mark was sldom seen without his shipmates Tom Greathouse #60003 and “Digger” McGraugh #36156 who kept the Captain straight of course. During the month of November, the sad news hit the Senate with the passing of one of our founders, Leo Briere #9714. The Illinois Senate, under Mark’s leadership, began the “Operation DD” program to recruit and train District Directors for the Illinois Jaycees. The Illinois Winter GA and the USJCI Winter Board were held on the same weekend; hopefully our forces were split for the last time. Region V Spring Fling was hosted by the Kentucky Senate in Louisville and a very good job indeed. Indiana celebrated their 35th Anniversary in Columbus. The May GA-TOYP was held at the old Pierre Marquette Hotel and the splendor of the Presidential Suite was something to behold. Wayne Kiefer #36498 and Johnny Anthony #49464 were inducted into the Jaycee Hall of Fame. In June, the first Annual Bubba Bash Golf Outing was held in honor of late Past President Roger Colbert #38086, proceeds to go towards scholarships.

38th President Norm Hoffman #25676(Belvidere) Spiderman appeared in 2004-05 when President Norm spread his web around Illinois with the theme “United We Grow”. The Spiderman wanted to unite and bring a closer relationship with the Illinois Jaycees by promoting one of the purposes of the organization, “upon request lend support to the Illinois Jaycees movement in any capacity that could not be construed as active participation in the Jaycees”. During this year, International Relations Committee, Friends Program and the Jaybirds all began. The year also continued the “Operation DD” program with John Olson #35308 as chairman. The year was successful; however it had sadness with the passing of Vice President Marti Kaeb #49392, Past President Mike Kaufmann #21168 and Past President Weldon Greeneberg #26977. Norm became the first Illinois Jaycee President to also serve as Senate President. He was also a past president of the Illinois Jaycee Foundation. Fred Fischer #21307 was inducted into the Jaycee Hall of Fame. The National Convention in Niagara Falls presented Norm with the “Thomas Humphrey Memorial Award” as the Outstanding State President. Also recognized was Outstanding Treasurer Larry Ferguson #45060, Outstanding Newsletter and Outstanding State for Return the Favor Program.
Inducted into the Illinois Jaycee Hall of Fame in 1992.

 39th President Jack Ward #53585(Brookfield)

The 2005-06 theme of “Friendship-Love-Loyalty” marked the 39th year of the Senate. This year started with the picnic in Bloomington having “Beer Nuts”. Our National President Ed Hart #28991and his wife Boni was in attendance. In August, the Senate hosted the Illinois Jaycee Planning Board chaired by Denny DeGroot #40222. Also in August the Larry Olson Memorial Golf Tournament marked its 15th Anniversary. This year marked a farewell dinner at Floyd’s in West Dundee, 25 Senators attended the Last Supper. Jack presented the first Illini Crying Towel to Denny Birt #37116. Jack had a mishap during his year, a broken foot, which then developed “notes from the couch”. “Operation DD” continued into the third year with 16 DDs present which was more than the Jaycees had in the past ten years. The program received recognition at the Spring Fling meeting. Fund raisers did very well, concessions brought in $3100 and the Silent Auction in Augist another $2300. At National Convention in St. Charles, Jack was recognized as one of the Outstanding State Presidents, Larry Ferguson #45060 was an Outstanding State Treasurer, the “FORUM” was awarded Outstanding Newsletter, Outstanding Return the Favor and a new recognition as the Outstanding Web Page, Don Beaty #53508 webmaster.

40th President Larry Ferguson #45060(East Alton) During the 2006-07 year, the theme was “Racing to Success”. Larry’s year began in Kewanee with the annual Picnic. Friday golf was rained out but it did not dampen the spirits for everyone to have a good time. The Summer GA marked a special dedication for the Hall of Fame, where those in attendance actually hung their plaque on the wall at the Jaycee Service Center. The USJCI Senate Fall Board was in Indianapolis with Head chef Wayne Kiefer #36498 serving lunch. “Operation DD” was run for the fourth year in a row with JDO #35308 as head trainer. At the January Winter meeting in Decatur the Senate celebrated our 40th Anniversary chaired by Jack Ward #53585 and Fred Fischer #21307. USJCI Senate Winter Board was in Mesa, Arizona with the theme “Where you don’t have to shovel Sunshine”. It was the first time for most of us to see snow fall in Mesa. Outstanding “Return the Favor” Senator was recognized and awarded to Patty Daiber #65881 by the USJCI for the second quarter. At the March Spring Fling in Indianapolis, Region V elected Bev Olson #42473 National Vice President. Steve Shomaker #24923 was inducted into the Jaycee Hall of Fame. In June we celebrated the 4th Annual Bubba Bash raising money for the Roger Colbert Scholarship Fund. End of the year awards included: Outstanding President for Larry, Outstanding State Newsletter, and Outstanding Return the Favor Program.

41st President Chuck McFarlin #47910(Round Lake Beach) The 2007-08 theme of our 41st President was “Bridging the Gap”. Chuck’s year began with a picnic in Carlyle hosted by Ray & Melodie Ainslie. In August, Chuck and other Senators attended the Kentucky Bourbon Bash and a tour of the Maker’s mark Distillery. The Senate helped the Illinois Jaycees by hosting the “Leadership Training Academy” at the Summer GA including providing all of the trainers. Under Chuck’s leadership the Senate also helped the Illinois Jaycees celebrate the 75th Anniversary by hosting the Hospitality Room. Illinois was also host to both the USJCI Fall Board and Region V Spring Fling both held in Springfield and chaired by Denny DeGroot #40222. Gene Honn #28311 was inducted into the Illinois Jaycee Hall of Fame. Of particular note, the Senate entered a team in the Jaycees State Bowling tournament and beat the Illinois Jaycee Exec Board team. Since mentioning sports – Illinois beat Missouri in the annual Bragging Rights game in December. Chuck’s year ended with the National Convention in Charleston, West Virginia.

42nd President Stephanie Pittenger #59999(Morton) Our 42nd President, 2008-09, came with the assistance of Charles Schultz Peanut gang under the theme “Soaring Beyond Your Best”. President “Snoopy”, as the “Flying Ace” took the lead in promoting the ideas of doing good, working for the better and soaring for our best in all we do as Senators. 20 new Senators were added thus ending the year with 741 members. A total of 391 Senators participated in return the Favor projects during the year which resulted in Illinois being recognized as the Outstanding RTF State under the Chairmanship of Linda Ferguson #64547 and Monty Schroeder #62203 as the RTF Senator of the Year at National Convention in Atlanta. The” New Senator Midnight Toast” was changed from Saturday night to Friday night at the GA meetings. This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Senate hosting the TOYP Honor Program for the Illinois Jaycees with original co-chairmen Fred Fischer #21307 and Mike Kelly #33910 serving as emcees. Approved and awarded the first Sam Barker Memorial Award to Don Falls #40510. Nancy Fletcher received Friendship #21 from USJCI Senate. Stephanie was recognized as the Terry “Stump” Laster Memorial Award recipient by Region V and named one of the Outstanding Presidents by the USJCI Senate. Larry Ferguson was named an outstanding State Webmaster. John Doody #31417 and Ted Spanbauer #27252 were inducted into the Illinois Jaycee Hall of Fame.

43rd President Gary Hongsermeier #39708(Hoyleton)

2009-10 had the theme of “Senate Family Across Illinois”. The picnic was held in Oakawville at the Original Springs Hotel. Bar Burgers and the meeting were held at the Addieville Community Club. There were 105 in attendance at Bar Burgers. At the Fall Frolic, the Illinois Senate voted to host the USJCI National Convention in June of 2011in Napierville. This was the first time a national convention will be held in Illinois. Jim Mammen #37122 was inducted into the Illinois Jaycee Hall of Fame. National convention was held in Concord, California. Illinois was recognized with the #1 Return the Favor Project of the Year (TOYP Honors Program) as well as Outstanding Return the Favor State for the spring and summer period. Marsha DeVore #67330 was recognized as Outstanding Program Manager for Return the Favor for the spring and summer period. Greg Hilleary was named an Outstanding State Treasurer. President Gary was recognized as one of the Outstanding State Presidents.

 44th President Greg Hilleary #43305(Danville)

Our 44th President, 2010-11, came with his old pal Snoopy, who masqueraded all year as Joe JCI. His theme “Tis Cool to be a Senator” was really Cool! The annual picnic was held in Danville with the theme “Dockside in Danville”. The weekend included wine tasting, golf, museum tours, boat rides and even early hospitality on “Hilleary Hill” with First Lady Mary Ann #64615 hosting. Illinois Senators traveled to the Ohio Pig Roast, Kentucky Bourbon Bash Iowa Picnic Michigan Golf Pouting and then the USJCI Fall Board in Bloomington, MN. It snowed for the USJCI Winter Board in Nashville, TN and they closed the bars early due to the weather. We celebrated Illinois Jaycees secretary Cheryl Knoche #57394 30th anniversary with the Jaycees in Decatur. At our business meeting Monty Schroeder #62203 proposed marriage. This was a first according to “Linc”. Senate travels continued to the Michigan/Ohio/Indians Border Bash, Region VI meeting in Branson, MO, and Region V Spring Fling in Romulus, MI, Indiana Senate in Indianapolis and the Ohio annual meeting in Columbus. Richard Hiatt #7811 and Raymond Ainslie #44136 were inducted into the Illinois Jaycee Hall of Fame. A new committee, Future Directions, the brain child of Norm Hoffman #25676, was created to help Guide the Illinois Senate. The Land of Lincoln was the host to the National Convention. The Naperville Convention was held in Lisle due to a late hotel closure. Nearby the US Jaycee Convention was concluding as the Senate Convention began. The USJCI Senate sponsored a picnic for the US Jaycees. Monty Schroeder #62203, Maureen Butler #67669 and Gary Pittenger #24804 were recognized by the USJCI Senate for Return the Favor and Ray Ainslie #44136 was recognized as the Chaplain of the Year.

 45th President Kate Patterson #52517(Park Forest)

Serving from 2011-12 Kate was our 45th President. Her theme of “Never Break the Chain” reflected our continued need to support our Illinois Jaycees as we remember our early years. The year started with “Fun in the Fox” hosted by the Fox Valley Senators. Two new projects included a Blood Drive chaired by Melodie Ainslie #69200, and a Camp New Hope raffle chaired by Chris Curtis #35440. Wendy Leonard #51472, the first female President of the Illinois Jaycees, and Denny DeGroot #40222, the 1995-96 USJCI Senate President, were inducted into the Illinois Jayvee Hall of Fame. National Convention was held in Altamonte Springs, Florida. President Kate received a Presidential Award of Honor. The Illinois Senate was recognized for Return the Favor. The “Forum” was one of the top five newsletters. Larry Ferguson #45060 received the Ron Robinson Memorial Award as the Outstanding National Appointed Officer for his management of Membership Services. Illinois sadly said goodbye to three Past Presidents, Dick Hiatt #7811, Troy Wood #16149 and H.M. “Tiney” Nix #18321.

46th President Monty Schroeder #62203(Danville) Our 46th President was ready to “Serve Up Illinois Hospitality” during the 2012-13 year. The Illinois delegation traveled to Ohio Pig Roast for “Christmas in July”. Monty (spelled Monte) on the name badge) a.k.a. Sants allowed everyone to take turns on Santa’s lap. It was Paradise in Savoy for the summer picnic then the Illinois group traveled on to Kentucky Senate Bourbon Bash where Monté became Chef Monté and little Chef Monté joined the cooking crew. Before the Fall Board meeting, the Illinois Senate lost a dear friend, Past President and current USJCI Senate Membership Services Director Larry Ferguson #45060. This loss was not only felt by the Illinois Senate but throughout the US Senate family. At the Fall Board, Melodie Ainslie #69200 hosted a blood drive in conjunction with the Illinois Jaycees that collected 20 pints of blood. Travels then took the team to West Virginia for the USJCI Senate Fall Board, where Debbie Taflinger #70215 was awarded the Outstanding RTF Senator, Michigan’s 40th Anniversary and the Kentucky/Indiana combined meeting. The USSJCI Winter Board was in San Diego and Chuck Fries #18344 was awarded Outstanding RTF Senator. The Region V Spring Fling was hosted by Danville. President Monty was awarded the Terry “Stump” Laster Memorial Award as outstanding Region V President. Tom Mahoney #29075 was inducted into the Hall of Fame. National Convention was in Cleveland. Illinois was a proud recipient of many recognitions: President Monty received one of the top seven Presidents, Melodie Ainslie #69200 was one of the top five treasurers, Region V Vice President Gary Pittenger #24804 ws one of the top three National Vice Presidents, National Chaplain Ray Ainslie #44136 received the Ron Robinson Memorial Award as the top appointed officer. Jim Mammen #37122 received the Ira Moser Memorial Award, Stephanie Pittenger #59999 received the Nolan Terrill Memorial Award for the Region V newsletter, Kate Patterson #52517 received the Nolan Terrill Memorial Award for the Bi-Weekly News E-Blast and again Illinois was awarded for Return the Favor

47th President Linda Ferguson #64547(East Alton) “Get’Er Done then Have Some Fun” was the 2013-14 theme for 46th President Linda. The year began with the picnic in Springfield. The Senate did “Get ‘Er Done”, pulling together to have an outstanding year in fundraising. Linda introduced the position of Membership Director. We also “Had Some Fun” travelling to Bettendorf, Iowa, Cocoa Beach, Florida, Louisville, Kentucky, Baltimore, Maryland and ending a great year with a picnic in Carlyle. Virgil Wikoff #3078 was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Gary Pittenger #24804 received a Presidential Award of Honor at National Convention. The Illinois Senate sincerely appreciated Linda’s fortitude and courage in demonstrating positive leadership in the face of personal adversity.

48th President Robert “Digger” McGraugh #36156(Danville)

The 48th President of the Illinois JCI Senate, serving from 2014-15, came on with the theme “Here We Go … Think It-Believe It- Achieve It-Dig It”. Many of the By-Laws were updated and there were some policy changes. During President Digger’s term, the TOYP Program, which had been hosted by the IL JCI Senate for 29 years, was returned to the IL Jaycees, with a continuing commitment to assist as needed. This also was the last year for working the U of I Football Concessions; due to policy changes by the University. This was the main financial project for the senate for the past 12 years, chaired by Denny Birt #37116. Digger appointed a “Poker Nights” research committee (John Olson #35308, Jack Ward #53585 and Chris Curtis #35440) to replace the football concession monies for the upcoming years. Digger, at this time, was the oldest elected president. He was also noted for holding the record for lengthy board and membership meetings with a select few members always assisting with general Roberts Rules of Order. It was definitely a fun year and Digger “Had a Time of His Life”. The following “Road Runners” drove and accompanied President Digger to meetings and functions throughout the Senate year: First Lady Fran and daughter Mary Beth, Illinois Senators Denny #40222 and Kay DeGroot #73333. Gary #24804 and Stephanie Pittenger #59999, Wayne Kiefer #36498 and Jim Mammen #37122, Mark #39701 and Maureen Niedenthal #67669, Greg Hilleary #43305, Terry Kolaz #68698 and Denny #37116 and Jan Birt with other members joining in at point of destination. Past President Jim Mammen #37122 announced his candidacy for Administrative Vice President of the USJCI Senate. Due to outstanding support and teamwork by the members of the Illinois Senate, President Digger was recognized as one of the Outstanding State Presidents by the USJCI Senate National President Randy Young #46429 at the National Convention in Rochester, MN. Charles (Charlie) Meier #42808, of Addieville, was inducted into the Illinois Jaycee Hall of Fame in 2015.

49th President Chris Curtis #35540(Columbia/Kewanee) The 2015-16 chosen theme “We Believe” was ironically also chosen by USJCI National President Carol “C.J.” Jordan. The Illinois “Road Crew” was well represented at all meetings across the country except for the absence of President Chris at the Winter BOD meeting in Savannah, Georgia due to surgery on his torn quad tendon. Due to the persistence of President Chris and the work of many, the Illinois Senate was finally approved for an Illinois Charitable Gaming License to run poker events to replace our longtime Illini Concessions fundraiser. Orvel Cox #17965 was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The annual picnic “Grillin’ in the Hog Capital”was held in Kewanee, Illinois with Terry Barker #40979 as chairman. The year culminated with National Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina. Illinois Senator Jim Mammen #37122 was elected as the 45th USJCI National President. Wayne Huelsmann #30592 was recognized as one of the top five Return The Favor Senators in the nation.

50th President Melodie Ainslie #69200(Centralia)

“Celebrating Our Roots….Growing Our Future” was the theme for our golden anniversary. Melodie had a goal of activating newer Senators and embracing the Illinois Jaycees. She brought those new people on to her board and succeeded in speaking to the Illinois Jaycees on two occasions as well as visitations to several chapters promoting the Senate. Incoming Convention was in Greensboro, NC and began a year of great adventure. The Region V “Summer Tour”, Region VI in Branson and Region VII in Pigeon Forge (where she and First Gentleman Ray won the costume contest as the Lorax and Cindy Lou Who!) were a few of the stops. Fall Board was in Michigan and the Michigan girls (and others) put on a great weekend. Winter Board was in Houston with Mark Wiley #39704 and the Texas Senate (with a smidgen of help from Illinois!) gave us a great break from winter doldrums. Oh, and Melodie was draped in a rattlesnake! At Spring Fling in Indianapolis, Melodie received the “Terry “Stump” Laster Memorial Award” as The Outstanding Region V State President. Ray Ainslie #44136 was elected as NVP for the coming year. It was also a hectic year since Illinois was the host of the National Convention and the USJCI 45th Anniverasry with our own Jim Mammen #37122 as National President. Melodie garnered thousands of dollars in product donations to make the convention successful. Illinois was recognized for top Sweepstakes sales, outstanding Road Run and Charlie Gouveia #18294 was recognized with the “Nolan Terrill Memorial Award” for our Forum newsletter, Wayne Huelsmann #30592 received an Outstanding State Treasurer and Mike Andrews #58312 was an Outstanding NVP. Melodie was also recognized as one of the Outstanding State Presidents. Selected to the Hall of Fame was Denny Birt #37116 of Champaign. The year cumulated in Springfield for the 50th Anniversary Celebration held in conjunction with our annual picnic. Speakers from throughout the years spoke on our history.