A young man, a concerned Jaycee, moved to Rochester. Forest Wiley noticed the need for a Jaycee chapter in Rochester and asked several young men from our area to attend a Jaycee meeting with him in Redford where he was a member. This was the beginning of the Rochester Jaycees. Because of the distance between Rochester and Redford the Pontiac Jaycees offered to help get us organized.
Dwight D. Eisenhower is President and Explorer I is launched to study cosmic rays. Alaska becomes the 49th In Little Rock, Arkansas, high schools are ordered by the Supreme Court to admit Negro Students. “West Side Story” plays on Broadway, Boris Pasternack’s Dr. Zhivago is in the bookstores and the radio is plying “Volare”, “A Certain Smile”, the “Chipmunk Song” and “Flying Purple People Eater”.
In March of 1958, Rochester became an official chartered Chapter member of the U.S. Jaycees with Forest Wiley installed as charter president. That first year, numerous community projects were begun and the first annual cider sale was started. The pulse was set for the future of the Rochester Jaycees as they were presented with the Milestone Award as the Outstanding First Year Chapter in Michigan. The Rochester Jaycee Auxiliary was also formed at this time as the wives of Jaycees. Their purpose was to assist and support Jaycee projects.
In the next ten years the membership of our chapter grew from 25 to 60 members. Many dynamic community projects were undertaken such as: Debates on cityhood for Rochester, working for unification of Rochester and Avon Township, fighting for needed school millage increases, donating boards for a hockey rink and helping the youth in our area, plus building friendship with other young men of action.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy are assassinated. The United States is deeply involved in the Vietnam conflict as protest and flower power rock the campuses. Richard Nixon is elected President. The Detroit Tigers beat St. Louis to win the World Series and Detroit recovers from the riots of the previous summer. “Mrs. Robinson” plays the airwaves, Arthur Haley’s Airport and Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test are on the bestseller lists; “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “ The Odd Couple” and “The Lion in Winter” are on the silver screen.
In the next ten years, the Jaycees come of age in Rochester. We grew to 102 members and became a leading force in our community, taking on the Christmas Parade, Haunted House and Walk for Rochester. In that span we received the Robert Dancer Award for the best youth programming in Michigan and the Governor’s Cup for outstanding work in governmental affairs. We saw member Dick Robinson elected President of the Michigan Jaycees in 1974 and Mike Robinson is elected President of Michigan in 1977. We nominate 7 JCI Senators. The auxiliary now has open membership.
The United States and China open full relations; tensions escalate in Iran, causing the Shah to flee. Pope Paul VI dies and Jimmy Carter is elected President. Cult leader Jim Jones leads over 400 followers to their deaths in Guyana. Tune into the radio chards and you’ll hear “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees, “Grease” by Frankie Valli and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond. Disco dancing is all the rage.
We continue to pursue the Jaycee philosophy as expressed in the Jaycee Creed. The Ride for Rochester has become a big project and we make additional improvements at the Jaycee Little League Ball Park on Woodward Street. There is a renewed emphasis on individual development. Bob Braglia is elected President of the Michigan Jaycees in 1983. In 1984 a dramatic change takes place when the Supreme Court rules that because of its unique leadership training qualities, the Jaycees must open their doors to women. In August of 1984 at a summer board meeting of the Michigan Jaycees in Marquette, the first three women Jaycees from Rochester are sworn in. The auxiliary ends and several projects are transferred to the Jaycee agenda.
The economy makes headlines, trouble still brews in the Middle East and a former actor named Ronald Reagan is nearing the end of his second term as President. Iran-gate, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker and presidential hopeful Gary Hart compete for headlines.
The Jaycees are still busy. The Ride for Rochester, Christmas Shopping Tour, Safety Town and Christmas Closet Craft Show keep us busy. The leadership training, fellowship and community involvement are the best around. The future of the Rochester Jaycees lies in the young men and women of today and tomorrow. New ideas and new blood remain the life line of continued success for us as one of the most respected Jaycee chapters in Michigan.
The impeachment trail of President Clinton begins. The weather extremes are causing havoc around the wold and the Detroit Red Wings win their 2nd Consecutive Stanley Cup.
The Jaycees have another successful Christmas Shopping Tour. Safety Town, Christmas Closet Craft Show, Red Wing Alumni Hockey Game, haunted House, Heritage Festival concessions and many socials continue to keep us busy. The Rochester Jaycees launch their own web site and secure an office at the Community House. The future of the Rochester Jaycees lies in the young men and women of today and tomorrow. New ideas and new blood remain the life line of continued success for us as one of the most respected Jaycee chapters in Michigan.
The U.S. remains at war in Iraq. President George W. Bush is finishing up his second term in the White House while the impending nominees for our next President have been exciting. Michigan’s economy is in a “One State” Recession. There is a renewed movement to “Think Green” within the country and an emphasis on educating citizens of the global effects of pollution. With gas prices being at an all time high, more people are turning toward Hybrid Vehicles.
The chapter is still cruising along. The RAJCs just finished up delivering Easter Baskets to the shut in Seniors in the community and we are in the planning process for Heritage Festival where we will have the Rock Wall and Extreme Jumpers again, as well as, running the annual Bikes, Trikes and Wagons Parade. The chapter is gearing up for convention in May which will be held at Boyne Mountain Resort. We are looking forward to our tried and true cornerstone projects including Safety Town, Haunted House and Christmas Shopping Tour.