- Published: Wednesday, December 11 2013 01:35
While this may come as a surprise to many of you, I have decided to not stand for re-election on our Board of Directors next year. It has been my pleasure to be of service to Osco and Sav-on associates as an Alumni Club Board Member since my official retirement from active work in 1998. During my first three years on the board Tork Fuglestad was our President and I was the Hospitality Chairman. This involved organizing and setting up our semi-annual social events in the Chicago area. I put together several early December banquets with a Christmas party theme and some really fun spring luncheons. We eventually gravitated away from the Christmas functions since folks were so busy during that time frame. But they were pleasurable events and we had a great time putting them together.
In late 2000 Tork approached me about assuming the President’s responsibilities so I have served as the leader of your Alumni Club for the past 13 years. I must admit that it has been both rewarding and challenging in terms of expanding our membership and participation levels. One can look at the glass as half empty or half full. I am an optimistic, but very pragmatic, individual so I’ll share some thoughts on both. Let’s start with the positives. When I began my tenure we had a paid membership of about 170. Today that number stands at well over 350 in spite of an aging base and the passing of several dear souls each year. On the event participation level, we have had several home runs. In August of 2012 the Alumni Club organized our 75th Anniversary Reunion at Pheasant Run. It was a lot of work but an enormous success and provided long lasting memories for close to 300 in attendance. In addition, board member Jerry Gonyo hosts an annual Sunday Brunch in Scottsdale every March that is actively attended by the relatively limited number of folks in residence. This past October Dan Quinn and his committee organized the first Sav-on reunion in the Los Angeles area. The event had just under 200 participants which I think is terrific for our initial club function. And Larry Wahlstrom and his group are finalizing plans for a big New England reunion to be held this coming June with around 225 folks planning to attend by last count. All of these extravaganzas provided, or will provide, long cherished remembrances of their friends at the event.
So now let me address some of our opportunities. While it is nice that we have doubled our membership in the Alumni Club, one has to wonder what our true potential is with the thousands of former work associates out there and, more importantly, how do we reach them???? How do we get our membership base to 700, 800, or 1,000? It is bewildering to me to think that there are unattached alumni out there that haven’t yet coughed up $15 to remain in social contact with friends from many, many work years. Even more frustrating is the relatively weak turn out we are experiencing at our Chicagoland social get-togethers with the noted exception of our 75th Reunion. Our recent average attendance is 40-45 but has been as low as 31 for our Fall ’13 Dinner.
There are literally hundreds and hundreds of former Osco employees living in the Chicago area so these low numbers are very discouraging and emotionally distressing for me. Your board has tried many new avenues and alternate dates, times, and locations but we seem to end up with the same relatively low number present. I’ve tried everything I can think of to expand our base and our participation level at the Chicago events but the results continue at disappointing levels. For this reason I feel it is time for a new leader to take command of the Alumni Club, bring forth some new ideas, and hopefully garner some additional interest.
I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my work and activities associated with the Alumni Board. It has been a labor of love and an invigorating experience to continue to be of service to all the great Osco and Sav-on folks that I toiled with for 47 years - - 31 years of active work where I actually got paid and 16 years as a volunteer on the Board. It has been memorable, fun, and enjoyable. It has been great to work with so many dedicated and talented people that have served on our present and past Boards. I thank each and every one of you. While I will not be participating in normal activities after the first of the year, I will obviously be available on an ad hoc basis to be whatever assistance or advice I can be.
Lastly, while I am not going anywhere, you will be hearing a lot less from me come January. So to all my friends and former work associates, I bid a fond farewell. I will certainly plan to attend our Chicago functions and I plead with you one last time, to make every attempt to join us. Events are announced months in advance so put them on your calendar, come out, and have some fun. I can guarantee you that you will enjoy it.
Stay happy, stay health, and stay in touch!