The Kiwanis Club of Cheviot-Westwood
The First Cheviot-Westwood Kiwanis Organizational Meeting in 1937
The July 16, 1937 edition of the Western Hills Press (VOL. XIII, No. 37) indicated that the first organizational meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Cheviot-Westwood was held on Tuesday evening, July 13, 1937 at the Western Hills YMCA at Harrison and Montana Avenues with members of the Kiwanis Club of Cincinnati and Madisonville present, Franklin H. Kee, field Representative of Kiwanis International, and David V. Attig, Lt. Governor of the Third Ohio District, outlined plans and purposes of the organization which had been founded in Detroit 22 years earlier.
The July 23, 1937 edition of the Western Hills Press (VOL. XIII, No. 38) reported on the second organizational meeting of the Kiwanis Club. On Tuesday evening, July 20, 1937, John J. O’Rourke, Advertising Manager of the Western Hills Press, was elected President, Robert W. Llndberg, Executive Secretary of the Western Hills YMCA, Vice President; Frank Ficker, proprietor of Ficker’s Texaco Service Station, Secretary; and Edward H. Barlion, Auditor of the City of Cheviot, Treasurer. Seven of the charter members were elected to the First Board of Directors. They were: Albert Niemeyer, Grocer; Lester L. Redman, Western Hills Electric Shop; Paul Graham, Woolworth Manager; Dr. Harold Scheidt, Chiropractor; Stanley Yanney, Insurance; Dr. Foster Williams, Physician; and Joseph Schoeny, Grocer.
At the organizational meeting the following chairmen were appointed: Joseph Schoeny, Club Meeting; L.L. Redman, Public Affairs; Henry Winkler (Western Planing Mill Co.) Boy and Girl Work; Foster Williams, Classification and Membership; Albert Niemeyer, Program; Albert Huneke (Western Hills Publishing Co.), Publicity; Paul Graham, Interclub; Michael J. Rebold, (Mortician), Underprivileged Children; and Harold Scheidt, Vocational Guidance. The remaining charter members: Walter Ammon (Pharmacist), Nicholas Bauer (Attorney), Edward Benken (Westwood Texaco Station), Clifford Dornette (Fairmount Building and Loan), Dr. Ralph E. Gieringer (Dentist), Joseph Grause (Vitt and Stermer), William Habig, (Restauranteer), Max Kroll (Gasoline and Oil), Fred Lowmeier (Real Estate), Loyal S. Martin, Harold Muntz, Richard B. Simmonds (City of Cheviot Solicitor), Adolf Simon (Jeweler), Walter Springmeier (First National Bank), Joseph Fehng (Organist), Milford Marlott (Lee’s Men’s Wear), Edward Meyer (J.C. Hackett Co. Jewelers), may have been on the charter list (not on Charter Night Program).
The first regular meeting of our club was held on Monday, July 26, 1937 in the Glen Villa Grill (on Glenmore Avenue across from Kessen Avenue where the CPA meets now). Twenty-six charter members were present. Lt. Governor Attig brought the gavel, bell, and the flag of the Madisonville Club which was the sponsoring group of our new club. Cheviot-Westwood was the seventh Kiwanis Club in the Cincinnati Area (Now 44). The first program was given by L.L. Redman, who outlined an ambitious community program for his Public Affairs Committee, including the possibility of moving the Cheviot cemeteries, the improvement of Harrison Avenue, the revival of securing boulevard lights on Cheviot streets, and various traffic and safety problems.
The Kiwanis Club of Cheviot-Westwood received its charter on Saturday, September 12, 1937, at the Hotel Alms (becoming only the second Kiwanis Club in Western Hamilton County. The Harrison Club was chartered in 1926). Zura M. Walter, Governor of the Ohio Kiwanis District, presented the charter to President John J. O’Rourke after a chicken banquet, and the evening concluded with dancing to the music of Smittie’s Famous Dance Orchestra. Ralph Gieringer, dentist, and Lee Lutz florist, are the only founding members who are still living but are no longer members of the club.
Interesting Historical Facts
Eleven years after our club was formed, the Kiwanis Club of Cheviot-Westwood sponsored the Price Hills Club in 1948. Dr. Foster M. Williams was president. On August 27, 1955, the Kiwanis Clubs of Cheviot-Westwood and Colerain established the new White Oak – Monfort Heights Club presenting its charter at the Sheraton-Gibson Hotel Roof Garden. Dr. Ray V. Skogsbergh was president and participated in the chartering, giving them a gift from our club – the gong and gavel.
Our twentieth president, Henry Betz (1957), forty-second president, Charles Mitchell (1979), and fiftieth president, Walt Spliman (1986) have served as Lt. Governor of the Sixth Division. Linc Stokes, Lt. Governor-elect in 1992, was unable to serve as Lt. Governor due to illness, and Terri Murdock was killed in a tragic auto accident when she was on Kiwanis business before she became Lt. Governor. We have been supportive of SWOKMHA for children’s mental health through the years. Our own Oreste Barone was the director of the greater Cincinnati Horse Show in 1968 and $10,000 was presented to Nick Seta at the Longview School. In more recent years we have given substantial seed money for two vans for the Longview children. More recently we are supportive of the multi-divisional support of SOKKS (Southwestern Ohio Kiwanis For Kids) to support Kiwanis Priority I and Major Emphasis projects for children. In 1996 we began to participate in the AKtion Club, endorsed by International, in support of the Mentally and Physically Challenged.
Early in the history of our club, the meetings were held on the second floor of the Westwood Town Hall, then in the old frame club house of the Western Hills YMCA, Montana and Cheviot Avenues, until 1965 when the meeting place was moved across the street to the St. James Episcopal Church. In 1979, we moved to our present location at the Westwood First Presbyterian Church. Good country cooking was the main attraction to lure the men of Cheviot-Westwood community to lunch every Tuesday and the gourmet cook was Virginia Kercheval from 1948 through 1979. Virginia’s mother and father, Vernon and Jesse Bratton were part of the kitchen crew, and after their death Virginia’s daughter Jo Ann, worked with mom along with her children when not in school. Since 1979 Connie Renshaw and her nine teams of Westwood First Presbyterian ladies and friends have continued to prepare very satisfying, delicious full luncheons for appreciative members. The diversity of the interesting and informative programs week after week have been another highlight of our Club.
Just to mention a few of the biggees: Waite Hoyt, Joe Nuxhall, Dan Tehan, Tom Luken, Judge Olive Holmes, George Smith, Linc Stokes, Julie Isphording, Pete Rose, Tony Yates, Jim LeClair, Sam Wyche, Art Ney, Don Deming on the “Great Steamboat Era” and some of our own: Tom Griffin on “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”, and Bob and Dottle Meyer on “Around the World in a 1930 model A”, and “Our trip to Alaska”, and many others. More recently we have been privileged to hear from Dennis Janson, Steve Chabot, Tim Hedrick, Bob Braun, Carol Williams, Ken Blackwell, Judge Sylvias Hendon, Phil Heimlich, Cliff Radel and Gary Sullivan.
One of our most satisfying Youth Services Projects was Andy Brady’s Cheviot-Westwood Kiwanis Youth Orchestra and Music Clinic which he directed each summer from 1962 through 1974. Our club sponsored a Key Club at Western Hills High School from 1961 to 1963, and at LaSalle High School since January 28, 1982, and Mother of Mercy since February, 1994. The Charles W. Reusing Scholarship is given annually to outstanding Key Club members at LaSalle & Mother of Mercy.
The ‘Kiwanis Bulletin” came into being when our Club was 9 years old in 1946, under the creation of Al Huneke, owner of the Western Hills Press and a charter member.
Jim Hader is currently our longest active member having joined the club in 1946 when Cheviot-Westwood was nine years old. During his 53 years of membership he has had 48 years of perfect attendance. Russ Witte has 45 years perfect attendance, joining in 1947 and this is his 51st year of membership. Twenty-one of the 61 presidents of our Club are still members and take a vital part in the activities of the Club.
Members who have served as Secretary have been Laurence White, Rev. William Kohler, Bill Gehringer and Earl Applegate. Jim Weber served as secretary from 1975 to 1995. Those who have served as treasurers are: Joseph Gunter, Waiter Springmeier, Bill Gehringer, Dave Eckert, Ted Beck, Charles Reusing, Jim Lunsford, Paul Hartlaub, and John Rathkamp served as treasurer from 1978 to 1993. Matt Roth began as treasurer in 1993. What special people the secretaries and treasurers have been!
Henry Hader (1944) and Jim Hader (1961) have been the only father-son presidents of our Club. John Weber, Sr. was president of the Colerain Club in 1957 and son Jack, Jr. was president of the Cheviot-Westwood Club in 1976. There are five other sets of parent-children in our club: Charles Baverman and son, Mark, John Murphy and son, Mike Murphy, Ron Roth and sons Matt and Dan Roth, Jack Geller and son Steve, and John Weber, Sr., son Jim, grandsons John III and Paul Weber.
Kiwanis International opened the doors to business and professional women in 1987, and Cheviot Westwood had its first lady president, Terese Murdock, in the 1996-97 year. Marilyn Ward became the Clubs first lady secretary in 1996. There are several committee chairs that are held by lady members.
In 1996-1997, our Community Services Budget put $63,000 into community needs with an emphasis on young people including scouting, scholarships, music ventures, sports, YMCA, and many other special projects. We acknowledge a “Citizen of the Year,” bid at the 4-H auction at the fair and give beef, pork, and lamb to needy institutions. Our Major Emphasis Committee supports needy projects under the Kiwanis International theme “Young Children-Priority One”. In 1996-97 our club gave $25,000 from the Community Service funds, 2,399.00 from Committees, and from individual member contributions for a total of $46,491.10 to the Kiwanis International Major Emphasis $75 million project Iodine Deficiency Disease (I.D.D.) to eliminate I.D.D. and its concomitant mental retardation from Third World countries who have not had iodized salt for their diet. That was our first ever major contribution to the world wide community to fulfill an International Kiwanis obligation (which took us just one year) beyond the confines of our own backyard community.
When the highlights of our history have been recorded, we have to conclude that the meaningfulness of our Club is the people who have met together frequently not only for food and fellowship but also to “Build” and to make this community a better place in which to live.
We cannot forget the many Kiwanians (too numerous to list) who have done so much in the past, to make the Kiwanis Club of Cheviot-Westwood, the top notch club it is today.
A toast to the hundreds of members who have made Cheviot-Westwood come alive with their dedication, their vision, their talents, and their labors! Let us continue this fine tradition.
Bill Gerhardt, Historian