PENNSYLVANIA JAYCEE HISTORY
The earliest mention of the Pennsylvania Jaycees, according to US Jaycees records, occurred at the first Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri in June 1920, when Philadelphia was listed as a non-affiliated city. The next mention of Pennsylvania occurred at the 15th National Convention in Miami, Florida. S.B. Benton of Brandford (Bradford), Pennsylvania was listed as one the 25 directors of the corporation. Further checks of US Jaycees records show that Lancaster was the first or pioneer chapter in Pennsylvania and was chartered in 1936.
Pennsylvania became a state organization in early 1939 in a smoke-filled room in the basement of Bob Eyerman’s home at 86 Charles Street in Wilkes Barre. Only 7 men attended that historical meeting, and when the smoke cleared; a new organization had been formed – The Pennsylvania Junior Chamber of Commerce, later, to be changed to the Pennsylvania Jaycees.
The first State Convention was held in Wilkes Barre in May 1939. Three men vied for the office of State President. Robert Eyerman was elected and went on to serve the PA Jaycees as its inaugural president. Some of the things Eyerman pushed his year in office were membership, extensions, youth welfare and Americanism.
The next few years, Pennsylvania had many outstanding leaders including Winfield Cooke and Paul S. Miller. During this time, Pennsylvania recognized its first TOYM winner (a precursor to our current OYP program) in John P. Roche of Pittsburgh.
During the early years, the PA Jaycees had no permanent home. Prior to 1947, state headquarters was simply the State President’s briefcase, which he carried as he traveled across the state. The first office of the Pennsylvania Jaycees was established by President Dan Wertz in Johnstown at the First National Bank Building. The practice of establishing an office in the President’s hometown continued until 1953, when a permanent headquarters was established at 23 S. Front Street, Harrisburg. Three years later, the office was moved to the State Chamber of Commerce Building and that office was used for the next 12 years. In 1968, the office moved to Camp Hill. A short time later, it was decided that the PA Jaycees need a truly permanent headquarters. In 1971, it was voted to build a permanent structure in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Ground breaking occurred on May 22, 1971. The Lancaster Jaycees committed to providing financing, design, and donations of services and materials for the project. The new building was dedicated on December 11, 1971. A new chapter in The PA Jaycees history book was written.
The Pennsylvania Jaycees produced many fine leaders during the 1950’s including Frank Pasquerilla, Grover Goucker, and Morgan Doughton. Doughton went on to serve the US Jaycees as its 40th National President.
Two of the great leaders during the 1960’s were William D. Johnson and A. Bruce Coble. In the 60’s, many automobile manufactures provided fleet cars for travel to National Conventions and for use by the President’s during their term in office. Bill Johnson received a 1962 Buick to use his year.
During the 1970’s, the PA Jaycees ranked in the top 20 – several times. The PA Jaycees Education Foundation was founded, and the one of the biggest controversies in Pennsylvania Jaycee history occurred. The Philadelphia Jaycees amended their bylaws to allow women as members.
In the 1980’s, the PA Jaycees had many accomplishments, some of which were George “Bear” Mitten being named the Outstanding National VP in Atlanta. Changes were on the horizon of the US Jaycees in 1984, on July 3, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Minnesota Jaycees must admit women as members. The US Jaycees followed suit and voted to change their bylaws to allow women as full voting members on August 16th. The Jaycees continued their strong tradition throughout the rest of the decade. Many changes occurred in the 1990’s, with the addition of women as members – the PA Jaycees saw the first woman run for State President. Nancy Salopek made history when she ran for PA Jaycees State President against Matt Shapiro and Gary Duell. Matt Shapiro won the election and went on serve as the US Jaycees 74th National President. However, another chapter was written in the history book. This decade saw the first woman elected President. Diane Buck became the 56th President of PA Jaycees and went on to serve as National VP. History occurred again when the first husband and wife were elected presidents of the organization. Gary Hess became the 57th President and Sandy the 61st President. Click here to see a list of all Pennsylvania Jaycee Presidents.
The new century brought about many changes in the organization. The age change allowed members to join the PA Jaycees at the age of 18 and continue their Jaycee careers to the age of 40. The PA Jaycees downsized and consolidated our headquarters and Bingo operation into one building. The PA Jaycees continue to follow the 63 words of the Jaycee Creed, and strive to carry on the traditions of our forefathers. And the history continues ……