Community service club, the Jaycees
There have been many civic and fraternal organizations in Sussex-Lisbon throughout the years, but one of the most prominent was the Sussex-Templeton Advancement Association. It had its time in the sun and was especially active in the early 1920s. This club was instrumental in starting the Sussex Fire Department in 1922 following the burning of the Sussex Main Street School. Then, in 1924, this same club led to the incorporation of Sussex.
This club disbanded and others took its place like the Sussex Lions in April of 1939. As Sussex-Lisbon started to grow from an agricultural community to a bedroom community, there was a need for a younger men's club. In early 1965, at the Sussex Community Hall, young men, ages 18 to 36, were invited to get together to become a chapter of the U.S. Jaycees that are dedicated to leadership training.
The purpose of the Jaycees was to provide personal growth through the conduct of community development projects and the execution of fundraisers to provide money for these projects.
The result was a very profitable 22 years that produced a lot of results but there was a drawback as the club grew older and did not replace itself sufficiently which led to its demise in early 1987.
Originally, it started as the Sussex Junior Chamber of Commerce. The group was always known as the Sussex Jaycees until the 1970s when the name was changed to the Sussex-Lisbon Jaycees.
The charter members were: James Anderson, David Barteltt, William Beier, George Cade, William Connor, Harold Delfosse, John Duffy, Sydney Dwyer, Don Edmunds, Gene and Thomas Erdmann, Ron Evert, Richard Goodreau, David Granum, Sterling Haverfield, Ken Hottenroth, Robert Kramer, Gerald Lenz, Leon Manke, Glen Moody, Rev. Harris Mooney, William Mundt, David Noreika, John Phillips, Glen Pugh, Ron Rettig, William Rose, Ricahrd Schmitz, Duane Tucek and James Van Valin.
The original project of the Sussex Jaycees was to initiate a local little league program. It opened in 1965 with 135 participants at a $2 per player fee. The program later grew to 440 players. With the Jaycees declining in the 1980s, the club turned the little league over to the Sussex-Lisbon Youth Baseball Association who still runs it today. All the Jaycee equipment was donated to this new organization.
The Jaycees had many money-making events during the years, but the first really big one was a license for bingo as Sussex became an early state recipient and a player in this gambling activity in 1974.
In 11 years of operation, the Sussex Jaycees grossed $300,000 from this labor-intensive project. In the early years, profits of more than $1,000 a night were made. More than $200,000 was paid out for taxes and prizes. The remaining funds were donated to numerous charities including: Muscular Dystrophy Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Blue Heron Council, The Ranch, Lisbon and Sussex parks, library and fire departments, the food pantry and various scholarships.
When the bloom was off the bingo craze, the Jaycees gave the Sussex VFW the rights to the event.
The mega year of the Sussex Jaycees was 1977. They were running the local little leagues and then became the concessioner of the newly created Sussex Softball Leagues at Sussex Village Park.
In 1977, the club donated a Jaws of Life to the Sussex Fire Department at a cost of $5,100. When the Lisbon Fire Department organized they made a similar donation.
Also in 1977, the Jaycees purchased 10 cartoon character suits. They used these costumes for many activities in the area. For years the Bugs Bunny costume was used for local Easter egg hunts.
The contract for the concessions at the softball games was for 10 years. Initially, the concessions were served out of a second-hand tent donated by a funeral home. Then the Jaycees stepped forward and donated a concrete block concession stand and work storage building paying off the mortgage of $65,000.
There was a 10-year period where the Jaycees paid for and even erected the Christmastime Main Street decorations and when they stopped, the new Sussex Lisbon Area Business and Professional Association took over, but the Jaycees were the first big donor to their Christmas decoration funds.
There was also an offshoot women's Jaycees club that formed. It was only active for a short time.
The Jaycees had a booth at Lions Daze where they sold Polish sausages and melon slices. They also had a Halloween haunted house project and car shows. Then in the start of 1987, the Sussex Jaycees were getting "club old." The membership was aging out and the gloss was off. It was time to do something new. The club contributed all its assets to a variety of good causes and silently folded their tent.
Many of the members became Sussex Lions Club members including Glen Moody, Gabe Kolesari, Clem Stoffel, Dave Bartlett, Don Edmonds and Mark Wilde; many also went into local politics. Today there is a 1987 bronze plaque at the Village Park concession stand noting the Jaycee's presence in the community. This year marks the 25th anniversary the Jaycees disappeared.