ENTER THE MIDWEST COUNCIL: LATE 1973-1975

By Bob Cunningham

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PREFACE

From the outset, this project’s narrative has emphasized the Green Country Flyfishers’ role as the leader of organized fly fishing activities in the Mid Continent area. However, in 1973, the Federation of Fly Fishers created an umbrella organization called the Midwest Council to serve and coordinate the activities of FFF member clubs, including the GCF, in all the states in the mid-United States, literally from border to border. At this point, then, the narrative will shift to the Midwest Council and will focus on its activities until 1981, when the Midwest Council was divided and GCF became part of the geographical portion called the Southern Council.

It is unfortunate that the records from this point for both the Midwest Council and the Green Country Flyfishers have disappeared. After assuming the Council presidency December 1, 1973, I attempted to locate the minutes for the Council’s December 1973 meeting and was advised that no official minutes had been kept. In fact, I have been unable to locate any of the official Midwest or Southern Council records prior to those for 1985. Under my presidency of both the Green Country Flyfishers and the Midwest Council records were properly kept and transferred to incoming officers. Unfortunately, I did not keep duplicate records, nor, it appears, did others who served in these positions before or after me. For example, I placed an ad in a recent Long Casts and have had absolutely no response to my request for information and copies of records which might be of value in the preparation of this history.

So it is that what follows is partly from my recollection, and some parts are subject to minor clarification.


Creation of the Midwest Council

To clear up the nagging question of just when the Midwest Council was created, the Flyfisher magazine, Volume VI, Number 1 [Spring], 1973, Page 25 contains the following full paragraph:

    “Changes in the FFF’s Bylaws were adopted to formalize the establishment of the regional councils. Five councils now exist - the Eastern, Southwest, Northern California, Northwest and Rocky Mountain councils. Plans are underway to establish a Midwestern Council [underline added for emphasis].”

Further, the Flyfisher Volume VII, Number 4 [Winter], 1974 states:

    “The second Midwest Regional Conclave will be held November 15-17 at Mountain Home, Arkansas….”

These two excerpts from the FFF's official publication bracket the time span of the formation of the MIdwest Council as a functioning unit within the national organization as between the spring of 1973 and the fall of 1974. In addition, the use of the word "second" in reference to the November 1974 Conclave clearly implies that the first such Conclave had already been held.

Because the FFF's national Conclaves were annual events, it is reasonable to assume that the first Midwest Council Conclave would probably have been held the previous year, 1973, and probably at approximately the same time of year, that is, in the late fall or early winter of 1973.

In fact, evidence that a first formal Midwest Regional Conclave did take place in the early winter of 1973 is found in the November 1973 edition of the Green Country FlyFishers' official publication, the Flyline. The agenda for that Conclave is reproduced below exactly as it appeared in that publication:

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30


    12:00 Noon – 7:00 p.m. Registration, table clinics, and local fishing advice.

    7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Dinner

    8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Meeting FFF Officers and delegates from member clubs.

    8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Table clinics and socializing


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1:


    8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.,m. Registration, meetings, table clinics, fishing programs, Lefty Kreh.

    7:00 p.m. – ? Dinner, program, auction, raffle.


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 2


    10:00 a.m. – brunch, fishing


    Note: In addition to the above Doug Swisher and Dave Whitlock will present programs.

    Nelson Renick announced that the Ozark Flyfishers would donate the social hour Saturday evening.

The FFF was represented at this event by Paul Collier, FFF President, and Dr. Karl Glander. Dr. Glander of the Indianapolis Flycasters was a Director of FFF and had been selected by the FFF to chair this first conclave of the Midwestern Council.

As President of the Green Country Flyfishers in 1973, it would normally have been my responsibility to represent the club at the Midwest Council Conclave the first weekend in December 1973. However, I was in Anchorage, AK, serving the Prudhoe Bay Unitization Committee as Chairman of the Accounting Sub-Committee and could not arrive in Mountain Home in time for the meeting scheduled for the evening of Friday, November 30th. Milt Blaustein, who had preceded me as president of the club, was selected to serve in my absence as the GCF delegate.

It is my recollection that Mickey Hall and I drove to Mountain Home Friday night, arriving about 11:30 PM. Late the next morning he and I had breakfast and as we were on our way to the car to fish the North Fork River, we were intercepted by Dave Whitlock who asked me to attend a meeting. He stated that the meeting was nearly over and would not detain us very long, and that I was needed to serve as President of the Council.

I entered the meeting and Dave nominated me for President. The official program placed the business meeting at 8 to 9 p.m. on Friday. I was elected, and the meeting was adjourned immediately.

It has always been my impression that the meeting was held but that there was no president elected. My reasoning for this was that when Dave met me in the parking lot the next morning, he said words to the effect that I was needed at "a meeting to be elected president of the council" and that it would take "but a few minutes." I visited with Milt Blaustein just before he moved to Nevada in May, 2005 and his recollections of this event match mine.


Below is the first plaque given by the Midwest Council, confirming my efforts to help establish a functional council.

MwcAwrd75


 a photo of the first plaque given by the midwest council, federation of flyfishers.

Dated 1975, the legend at the bottom states that "this special award is presented to Bob cunningham in appreciation for outstanding service to the organization and dedication to its principles."

The Flyfisher’s Spring 1986 edition also credits me with being President of the Council in 1974 and being named Council Man of the Year in 1975.

1974

Diverse Interests

At the time of the announcement in the Flyfisher it was GCF’s assumption that the “Midwestern” Council would be just that – who could imagine one council being assigned a geographical area now known as the Great Lakes Council, the Southern Council and the Southeast Council - approximately 1/3 of the entire United States?

However, it soon became clear that the interests of the member clubs of the Midwest Council did not always match. Immediately after my election I received a letter from a club in Wisconsin, I believe it was an Izaak Walton Chapter, which stated that they had 7 members, they wanted no more, and they did not want to tempt outsiders to visit their fine waters.

I also received a joint letter from two Great Lakes area clubs which stated that they were not interested in being a part of the organization because their primary concern was with cold water species, which they described as “anadromous” in that they traveled to and from the Great Lakes, while our concerns were entirely different. Later, when a club was formed in New Mexico and was added to the Midwest Council, I received a letter from its President, whose name I believe was Rizzuto, stating that their interests lay with fisheries similar to those of the Southwest Council and that they declined to be a part of the Midwest Council.

Growing Pains

At the time of my election, the FFF had no formal rules or regulations for the operation of a council. As stated in the second paragraph of this section, the FFF formalized administrative structure of the Councils during my presidency in August of 1974 or 1975. One of the effects of the formalization was to specify the titles and term lengths of council officials: a Chairman, a Vice Chairman, a Secretary and a Treasurer, each being elected for a one-year term. Thus my title was changed from President to Chairman.

1975

Jim Wingfield was elected Chairman of the Midwest Council in October 1975. During his administration the FFF officially changed the title of Chairman of all Councils to that of President and set the term of office at two years. It further absolutely restricted the number of officers to four and named their titles. Thus Jim served a year as Chairman and then two years as President until October 1978, and those who participated in the business meeting of the Midwest Council in 1979 under the presidency of Charles Weidman will recall that the effort to add Walt Twarowski as a council official in a special capacity was denied at a council meeting because of the FFF bylaws. Until I recently located an account of the formalization provision in FFF’s Bylaws in a Flyfisher magazine, I had been unable to determine when this shift occurred.

Postscript

As of this writing, I am told that the FFF’s records of this change are in storage, unsorted, in Livingston, MT. Should I have the opportunity to go to Livingston I will seek permission to look up this provision in the by laws and confirm other items important to the Green Country Flyfishers’ history. 

copyright©2007

R.M. Cunningham II

 

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