Grand Rapids Audubon Club
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
Year President Vice President Secretary Treasurer
1955 Norma Raby Ben DeVries Betty Olds Alice Weschgel
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
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
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.)