The Next 50 Years
51st President Marilyn Burton #55106 (Peoria/Springfield)
2017-2018 brought us “Owliver” ( a stuffed owl traveling companion and icon for her year) and the theme “Gain Knowledge-Build Understanding”. Marilyn was the first single woman elected to serve as President. Emphasis was on understanding the Jaycees while involving new Senators and utilizing the wisdom of experienced Senators. The year started with the 50th Anniversary/Summer Picnic held at the Wyndham-Springfield on the hottest weekend of the year. The Fall Meeting was held in Bloomington-Normal at the Marriott and the Winter Meeting was held at the Decatur Conference Center. The four Poker fundraiser sessions held in 2018 in Savoy were very successful, earning above the proposed goal of $1,000 each. IL JCI Senate did a great job hosting the Region V Spring Fling, again at the Wyndham-Springfield, but with NVP Ray Ainslie #44136 watching during the banquet via Skype from his hospital bed two blocks away. The National Convention was a wonderful event held in Pittsburgh, PA (in “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”). Marilyn was one of only two Presidents who were selected to serve the year on a US JCI Senate Committee (Convention & Bid Review). Marilyn was selected as an Outstandig State President and the State was recognized for outstanding RTF and Road Run Programs. Gary Pittenger # 24804 was recognized for Outstanding Appointed Officer with the “Ron Robinson Memorial Award” and Ray Ainslie #44136 was recognized as the Outstanding National Vice President with the “Donnie Alvis Memorial Award”. Other Presidential travel, besides the Region V 2017 Summer Tour, included Region VII-Pigeon Forge and Region IV-Myrtle Beach. Hall of fame inductee was Jim Dimitroff #36997 of DuQuoin. The year closed with a fun Summer Picnic held at the Ramada-North in Springfield with strong committee work from South Central Senators.
Coach Bill (Park Forest) 2018-2019 brought with him the “Caddy Shack”, a fitting theme for an avid golfer. Bill wanted to embrace the basics of the Senate and have fun. Teeing off in Springfield the Region V “Summer Tour” was on with the usual stops in Ohio Pig Roast, Bardstown Bourbon Bash and the Indiana Summer Picnic. Illinois Senators manned the gates at the National Sweet Corn Festival in Hoopeston on Labor Day. We were back in Iowa for the Fall Board in Des Moines. Illinois was recognized for third place Road Runner State with over 104,000 miles traveled in the first trimester. On September 22nd we hosted the Larry Olsen Golf Outing in at Deer Creek Golf Course in University Park, IL. This raised funds for the Illinois Jaycees Charitable Foundation Scholarships.
This year has been very costly for the Illinois Senate, as we lost three of our long time leaders who were great men. Past Presidents Ed Townsend, Bill Willet and Denny DeGroot passed within a very short time of each other. These men were living proof “That earth’s great treasure lies in human personality”. I offer my deepest condolences to the Townsend, Willet and DeGroot families and all of the friends they left behind. We all will miss them so very much.
Fall National Board was in Des Moines, IA. Fundraising went well with poker nights. Winter National Board was held in Kenner, LA. Everybody enjoyed time on Bourbon Street and at the World War 2 Museum! The Mini National in Pigeon Forge was a great opportunity for fellowship and also well attended by Illinois. The only “damper” on the weekend was again the weather. You could have floated an Ark in front of the hotel. Myrtle Beach was also on the course for the Illinois Travel Crew, but again the weather was not so co-operative.
The Region V Spring Fling in Fairborn, Ohio was also well attended by the Illinois Travel Crew. Chaplain Marilyn Burton put together an extremely touching Memorial Service. Region V Vice-President Vicky Dempsey threw a great party weekend. Our Region V Vice-President for next year will be Will Chester of Kentucky. Joe Callison of Ohio received the “Stump Award” as The Outstanding State President in Region V. It was very well deserved!
Illinois TOYP and Hall of Fame Awards were held at the May meeting in Springfield. Gary Hongsermeier and Mary Ann Gouveia Riggs were inducted into the Illinois Jaycees Hall of Fame, with a strong showing of support from the Senate.
National Convention was in Clackamas, Oregon (Portland). Ray Ainslie #44136 was recognized as The Outstanding Webmaster of the Year, and was also given a Presidential Award of Honor for his efforts in the “Reaching Out” program. Gary Pittenger #24804 received a Presidential Award of Honor for his continued dedication as National Membership Director. Wayne Kiefer #36498 was honored for his tireless devotion to the USJCI Senate Foundation. We should all be very proud of what they continue to accomplish behind the scenes in supporting the US JCI Senate. Illinois was recognized as the First Place Roadrunner State for the third trimester and the Overall First Place Roadrunner State for the year! Chris Curtis #35440 did a fine job of tracking and recording all our travels, and Susie Colbert-Curtis #73137 promoted our travel program tirelessly. The Illinois Forum was recognized with the Nolan Terrill Memorial Award for outstanding state newsletter. We were told that “The Forum is the standard that we measured all the other newsletters against. It has everything that you could want in a newsletter and is extremely well done”. Congratulations to Co-editors Kay DeGroot #73333 and Marilyn Burton #55106 and your team for all your hard work and perseverance in making the Forum the best Senate newsletter of the year! Marilyn Burton #55106 received an Award of Excellence for serving as Region V Chaplain.
The Nineteenth Hole was in Savoy with a “Return to Paradise”. Bar Burgers was at Pia’s Sports Bar with grilled burgers on the patio. Perfect weather gave all some pool time and a great time to relax from our year in the “Caddy Shack”. The Sam Barker Award was presented to Kay DeGroot #73333. The Larry Ferguson Award was presented to Chris Curtis #35440.
The year of “Don’t Stop Believin’” was a year to remember. Lil’ Wayne started the 53rd year of the Illinois Senate in Savoy with beautiful weather and a good turnout for the “Return to Paradise”. He hit the Region V Tour attending Ohio Pig Roast, Kentucky Bourbon Bash, Indiana Summer Picnic and Michigan Jeans and Jewels. Fall National Board was in Kansas City where good Bar-B-Que was enjoyed by all. Sadly, we toasted the end of an era with the passing of Past President Val Koble #13921 and the end of the annual MO-IL Basketball social as Honorary Member Gerry Moore #26604 was too ill to continue as well. We lost Gerry in June. Winter Board was in Melbourne, Florida and all who attended enjoyed nice weather. The fun continued to Tennessee to the annual “Mini-Convention”. Wayne traveled with Region V VP Will Chester #63037 to the Texas Rattlesnake round-up hosted by the Sweetwater Jaycees. On the way home, the news hit that COVID-19 reached pandemic levels and the world shut down. Events were cancelled, fundraising (poker nights) shriveled to zero and travel came to a halt. The Senate met with a new era of virtual meetings. Region V Spring Fling was put on hold until an innovative meeting, partially live and partially “Zoom”, took place at “Luttman Acres”. Wayne was awarded the Terry “Stump” Laster Award as The Outstanding President of Region V. Even the National Convention got cancelled and elections were done electronically. The Illinois Jaycees cancelled their May meeting which was our election meeting. Year-end awards were postponed until Fall Board in Lawton, Oklahoma. Hard to stop Illinois from having a party – the Picnic hosted by the Gateway Region Senators was on! Elections were held as first order of business. “Sail into Carlyle Lake” saw a good turnout with “protocols” in place. The Doug Jansen #78797 of the Carlyle Jaycees provided boat tours to attendees on Carlyle Lake. Bar burgers was at Bretz’s Wildlife Bar & Grill. Weather was mild and outdoor hospitality worked well. Cindy Ogden #73418 was presented the Sam Barker memorial Award and Lynne McGill #70364 was presented with the Larry Ferguseon Memorial Award. The Hall of Fame inductees (would have been at May meeting) were Beverly Olson #42473 and Tom Heinhorst #22132. Wayne became a member of the Illinois Jaycees Charitable Foundation.
Despite the 4-month shut-down, Illinois, under the leadership of Wayne Huelsman, did well when the year-end awards were finally presented in Oklahoma. Lynne McGill #70364 was recognized as an Outstanding Treasurer, Melodie Ainslie #69200 was an Outstanding Chaplain, Monty Schroeder #62203 was an Outstanding Senator, Cindy Ogden #73418 the Outstanding RTF 3rd Trimester, Russ Cooper #4638 an Outstanding National Ambassador and Wayne Huelsman received a Presidential Award of Honorand named one of the top 5 Presidents in the Nation. The state ended in growth (+1) and for the largest sate in the country – that is a feat. It is clear why – nobody stopped BELIEVIN’.