HISTORY OF THE MISSOURI-ARKANSAS DISTRICT
(Issued in 1974 by Tuck Tucker, – Revised in 1981 by Les Mace – Revised in 1995 by Herb Roberts)
The first club in Missouri was organized in St. Louis, MO, July 19, 1917. The charter was presented on April 16, 1918. Lee W. Grant was the first President.
The second club in Missouri was organized in Kansas City, MO, August 24, 1918. The charter was presented on October 12, 1918. Charles L. Scott was the first President. O. Sam Cummings International Secretary, presented the charter.
Joplin, the third club, was completed on May 17, 1920, Springfield, the fourth club was completed on June 25, 1920, St. Joseph, the fifth club was completed on August 11, 1920 and the sixth club, Kirksville, was completed on November 9, 1920. Many others followed in rapid order.
At a meeting held in St. Louis in the Fall of 1918, the Missouri District of Kiwanis International was formed with just two clubs in existence. Lee. W. Grant of St. Louis was appointed the first Governor. He continued to serve until November, 1920.
At the St. Louis Convention in 1920, Kansas was combined with Missouri to form the Missouri-Kansas District. Thus, a third club was added – chartered with a membership of 50 on November 28, 1919, in Lawrence, Kansas, just ahead of Joplin.
On June 30, 1923, Arkansas was affiliated with the Missouri-Kansas District, and the first convention for the Missouri-Kansas-Arkansas District was held in October, 1923 at Springfield, MO.
Normal growth of the Mo-Kan-Ark District continued in the Tri-State area until 1931-33, when the depression and economic crisis overtook service clubs. Past Governor and past District Historian, John P. Davidson, Wichita, Kansas, worked diligently to keep clubs from surrendering their charters until people became adjusted, business improved, and an upward trend could be foreseen.
The year 1946, following the end of World War II, saw phenomenal growth of new clubs. Governor George W. Kirk, Sikeston, MO, helped build 25 new clubs: 14 in Missouri; 8 in Arkansas; and 3 in Kansas.
Due to a general feeling that the Tri-State area was entirely too large for good administrative purposes, the Missouri-Kansas-Arkansas District was divided into two districts, Missouri-Arkansas District, and the Kansas District. This division was completed by unanimous action during the Convention held in Topeka, Kansas, October 8-11, 1950. Final approval was granted by the International Board of Trustees at its meeting October 29, 1950. District officers were elected for each District effective January 1, 1951. The division of funds was based upon the certified number of clubs on July 1, 1950. The club totals on July, 1950 were: Missouri-76, Arkansas-34, for a total of 110 clubs in the new Missouri-Arkansas District and 58 clubs in the new Kansas District.
The first Missouri-Arkansas District Key Club (No. 106) was chartered at Caruthersville, MO. In 1981, there were more than 100 active Key Clubs in Missouri and Arkansas. There are now 125 Key Clubs in the District. The District now has 17 active Circle K Clubs. Builders Clubs have also gained stature in the district.
The Missouri-Arkansas District hosted the Kiwanis International Conventions in 1951 and 1990. Dr. Gene Engelhardt was General Chairman of the 1990 Convention and was also elected for a three year term as International Trustee.
The new club building record was broken during the Administration of Governor Elmer H. Austermann, Jr., 1964, with a total of 26, unexcelled in the history of the district. Eighteen clubs were organized in Missouri and 8 in Arkansas.
For many years, with Board approval, the District Secretary was appointed by the new Governor. No permanent Central Office was established, and the address of the District Office was moved from year to year. Finally, in 1957, under the leadership of Governor Robert F. Lawyer, a movement was started to establish a permanent office for the Missouri-Arkansas District.
The task of combining the Kiwanigram Editorship, secretarial support, and other normal office functions under one roof was assigned to the Governor, Dr. Earl A. Collins of Cape Girardeau, MO. Governor Collins diligently continued in this capacity until his death in 1960. In recognition of his efforts, the Earl Collins Memorial Scholarship Fund was inaugurated in his memory.
Dr. Earl A. Collins was succeeded by Linus W. Bartels, who served until he ran for Governor. Past Governor, E. W. (Tuck) Tucker, assumed the secretarial and editorial duties in 1962 and continued in this capacity through 1977. Charles (Pheeze) Kemper has served in this office since that time.
Combining the offices of the District Secretary and the District Treasurer was considered from time to time and was finally adopted in 1981.
In 1959, the Missouri-Arkansas District of Kiwanis International was incorporated through the efforts of Todd Harrison, Blytheville, Arkansas and W. Donald Dubail, St. Louis, MO.
At the District Convention in Kansas City in 1957, and again at the District Convention in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1973, there were discussions presented that the Arkansas Kiwanians should withdraw from the District and for a separate district. Each time the pros and cons were introduced in the House of Delegates, the proposal was overwhelmingly abandoned.
The Kiwanigram, the official publication of the District, has been issued 10 times each year for the past 72 years. The Kiwanigram is to the District what The Kiwanis Magazine is to Kiwanis International – a promotional tool, particularly in the field of Kiwanis Education and an invaluable public relations instrument. The Kiwanigram has been frequently cited as the top district publication in all of Kiwanis International.
The designated District-wide sponsored project is the Earl Collins foundation which was initiated at the District Convention held in St. Joseph, MO in 1960 during the Administrative year of Governor Joe A. Mueller. The not-for-profit, tax-exempt foundation By-Laws provide for a separate governing Board of Trustees.
At the District Convention in St. Louis in 1984, under the guidance of Governor Myral Coatney, the Foundation’s by-laws were significantly revised to provide that the Board would consist of a representative from each of the divisions who were to serve for two years and each to be elected in alternate years, the even numbered divisions in even numbered years and the odd numbered divisions in the odd numbered years. The President shall be a Past Governor. It was informally agreed that the President would generally be the Governor immediately prior to having served as Immediate Past Governor. Much greater emphasis was put on funding the Foundation, and it was agreed that income from the funds would only be used primarily to sponsor scholarships. Last year, 1994-5, seventeen scholarships were provided in the amount of $750 each. Also, annual contributions are made to the District Key Club Organization and the District Circle K Organization. During 1986, Don Dubail presented the Foundation with a check for $150,000 from an estate which he had probated. At the same time, Pheeze Kemper presented a check for $10,000 to the Foundation from another estate. At the present time, 1995, the Foundation has about $350,000 in total assets.
The District pioneered the Inter-Club Relations Council idea which has since been adopted by other Kiwanis Districts. Between 30 and 40 clubs in the Greater St Louis (Divisions 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) sponsor Kiwanis Camp Wyman for disadvantaged children and adults. This has been a traditionally successful enterprise bearing the Kiwanis label. Kiwanis Camp Wyman is now completing a five-million dollar capital campaign and operates with a budget of about 1.5 million dollars per year. The Kansas City Kiwanis Metro Council included clubs in the Kansas District as well as the Mo-Ark District and is dedicated to promoting local projects as well as Kiwanis International projects such as Immune Dificiency Disorder (I.D.D.). Other councils are located in Springfield and Little Rock.
At the request of Past Governor, Dean Murphy, and M-A Fund was established during the 1980 District Convention at Hot Springs, Arkansas. The purposed of this fund is to give financial assistance to a Past Governor of the Missouri-Arkansas District while campaigning for a Kiwanis International Office and while service as a Trustee or Officer of Kiwanis International. The first person for whom this fund was used was Past Governor, Raymond Lansford in his bid for Vice President of Kiwanis International. Raymond ultimately served as a Trustee for two terms, 1977-79 and 1979-81. Ray was successful in his bid for Vice President, and at the Minneapolis International Convention in 1982, he was elected to the Office of Treasurer, Kiwanis International for the 1982-83 term. Ray served as President of Kiwanis International during the 1984-5 Administrative year. The Fund has been used to help elect Gene Engelhardt, International Trustee, on two occasions and has aided Gene Engelhardt’s campaign to become an Officer of the Kiwanis International Foundation for which he has served as Secretary, Treasurer, Vice-President, and President.
Missouri-Arkansas participation in the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon Program was initiated by Past Governor, Lou Stepter, and has grown each year both in number of clubs participating and in dollars contributed. Kiwanians and Kiwanis Clubs in the District have contributed over $70,000 since 1988 to support this program as part of the $6,900,000 raised in the Missouri-Arkansas area.
The Hugh O’Brien Youth Foundation, (HOBY) has developed into a Missouri-Arkansas activity. Bob Rieders, 1992-3 Chairperson, reported that 800 plus high school sophomores participate each year. The total cost is more than $175,000 per year. Kiwanis Clubs and Kiwanians contribute money, and Kiwanians serve in the Administration and as Counselors