Grand Rapids Audubon Club

Brief History

 

The following article about the history of GRAC written by former archivist Henry Van Goor first appeared in the November 1967 Caller and was revised for the March 1970 issue.

 

In the archives scrapbook is an old membership list of 1913, which has some 77 names on it. We do not have much information about the Club activities of that date. It apparently became defunct during WWI, for a clipping reads in part, “The organization meeting (1925) was well attended by new members, as well as those formerly affiliated with the local Audubon Society, which flourished for several years prior to the war. There are 90 members of this old society still residing in Grand Rapids.”

This second organization lasted until 1943. Quoting from an excellent article written by Jim Ponshair and Peter Hovingh, in their interesting work, Afield With Nature, December 1953 issue, “The second organization was founded in 1926 and lasted until 1943. The Grand Rapids Audubon Club held their meetings in various homes of the members, at the YMCA, the Kent Scientific Museum (the Grand Rapids Public Museum on Jefferson SE), several churches and schools. The Club met once a month, except during the summer, and had their annual dinner in May and one of less importance in January. They elected officers in May. On December 10, 1928, there were 145 members in the Club.

“Since at that time the winters were very severe, the Club’s main project was winter bird feeding…The Grand Rapids Audubon Club took many hikes, often all day hikes…Some of the speakers to the Club were David Spencer, Charles D. Nelson, Walter Hastings, Ben East, Frank L. DuMond, Prof. J.W. Stack of Michigan State College (now MSU), Dr. Miles Pirnie, Clayton W. Bazuin, and John H. Baker (Pres. of the National Audubon Society). On May 12, 1934 the Club had a joint meeting with the Michigan Audubon Society.

“In 1943, the Grand Rapids Audubon Club disbanded because they had a hard time to find a place to hold a meeting.”

We have minutes and treasurer’s reports from this Club and a blue scrapbook. The officers of this Club while it existed are listed below.

 

Year    President              Vice President         Sec.-Treasurer

1926-27  Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Harry L. Creswell         Marian W. Gross

1928-29  Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Frank L. DuMond           Myrtle Church

1929-30  Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Frank L. DuMond           Myrtle Church

1930-31  Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Frank L. DuMond           Myrtle Church

1931-32  Frank L. DuMond           Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Alta Harrison

1932-33  Frank L. DuMond           Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Alta Harrison

1933-34  Clayton W. Bazuin         Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Alta Harrison

1934-35  Clayton W. Bazuin         Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Alta Harrison

1935-36  Dr. Ward L. Chadwick      Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Alta Harrison

1936-37  David Spencer             Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Jessie Deuel

1937-38  Evelyn Adams              Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Eleanor Field

1938-39  Mrs. Norman English       Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Eleanor Field

1939-40  Mrs. Norman English       Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Eleanor Field

1940-41  Miss Claire Walper        Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Emma A. Grocock

1941-42  Miss Claire Walper        Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Mrs. Pauline Califf

1942-43  Charles D. Nelson         Mrs. Harry E. Hosken      Mrs. Pauline Califf

 

According to our scrapbook, the Club was reactivated again in 1951. This quote form a Grand Rapids Press article:

 

BIRD LOVERS TO ORGANIZE – DuMond Will Revive Audubon Club

“Actually it will be an entirely new organization,” Frank L. DuMond says. “The old Club has been defunct since 1943 when it was forced out of existence by WWII curtailments.”

“But at its peak, the local group organized in 1926, led the Audubon clubs of the state with a membership of 150. DuMond was its president several years and headed the Michigan Audubon Society five years. Its year round program of winter meetings and warm weather field trips will be used as a pattern for the new organization. Large turn-outs for the spring bird hikes, sponsored by the Museum the last few years, indicate there is much local interest in ornithology, DuMond points out.

“Grand Rapids, once the Audubon leader in the state, is conspicuous by its present absence of a bird study group,” the Museum Director states. “We know there’s much interest in birds and nature in general here. Let’s get it concentrated into an Audubon Club.”

We have minutes, financial records, a scrapbook, Callers and membership lists for this Club.

Since this reorganization, we have excellent minutes and financial records and other records of the Club’s activities. This proves that we have had excellent leadership for the past 18 years, and the interest shown, especially in conservation, indicates that the Club should continue for a good many years with no sign of becoming defunct.

 

The officers of this Club who have served from 1951 through 1969-70 are:

 

Year   President             Vice President   Sec.-Treasurer    

1951    Dr. Richard H. Meade    Eleanor Burgess     Julia Barnes

1952    Dr. Richard H. Meade    Bernard Gryska      Julia Barnes

1953    Bernard Gryska          Agnes Kugel         Julia Baker

1954    Harry F. Stiles         Norma Raby          Betty Olds

         (1½ yrs-5/55)

Year   President         Vice President     Secretary           Treasurer

1955    Norma Raby          Ben DeVries          Betty Olds             Alice Weschgel

        (May ’55)

1956    Norma Raby          Arthur Sherk         Charlotte Chandler     Chester Bergman

1957    Ralph Baldwin       Joe Martin           Charlotte Chandler     Chester Bergman

1958    James Ponshair      Arthur Sherk         Charlotte Chandler     Mary Jane Dockeray

1959    Arleen Sweet        Dean Avise           Marion Jennings        Katie Chase

1960    Arleen Sweet        Dean Avise           Marion Jennings        Katie Chase

1961    Chester Bergman     Alex Hook            Donna Milbourne        Marge Simmons

                                                      (Illencik)         

1962    Chester Bergman     Alex Hook            Marion Jennings        Marge Simmons

1963    Joan Wolfe          Marion Jennings      Dorothy Brant          Jack McMurphy

1964    Joan Wolfe          Marion Jennings      Dorothy Brant          Ernie Hoover

1965    Doug Smith          Jack McMurphy        Charlotte Chandler     Arleen Sweet

1966    Doug Smith          Jack McMurphy        Marge Simmons          Arleen Sweet

1967    Jack McMurphy       Mary Jane Dockeray   Betty Romph            Henry Van Goor

1968    Dean Avise          Dorothy Brant        Betty Romph            Henry Van Goor

1969    Dean Avise          Dorothy Brant        Teresa Buist           Marion Jennings

 

 

Editor Comments:

How right Henry was those 29 years ago! We’re still going strong and in 2001 we celebrated our 50th anniversary!

Note that the following present members were also members of the original 1951 club: Char Chandler, Katherine Chase (now deceased), Bernie Gryska, Alex Hook (now deceased), Charlotte Johnson (now deceased), John Muzzall and Jim Ponshair. (Jim was only 14 years old at the time and the bylaws had to be rewritten lowering the age limit allowing him and his friend, Peter Hovingh to join the club.)