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Our chapter had it’s beginning in March 1982 when eight members of the Mid-Florida Chapter, living in the Port Richey and New Port Richey area, under the leadership of Joe Grezaffi and Bob Cornell, met to consider starting a new chapter on the Upper Suncoast. They wanted to have evening meetings and to have their wives participate. These officers became known as the Organizational Committee and were referred to as the “gang of eight’:

LTC Robert W. Cornell, USA        LTC Michael F. Killian, USAF

LTC Jack F. Ford, USAF               COL William H. Loomis, USAF

LTC Joseph Grezaffi, USA            LTC Richard B. Sherwood, USA 

CPT Clinton E. Keidel, USA          LTC Robert M. Wiggins,USA

All were members of the Mid-Florida Chapter, which protested their efforts to National TROA and refused to offer financial assistance. National TROA ( now MOAA) rejected their protest and encouraged our efforts.  Without any financial support from Mid-Florida or National TROA the members of the Organization Committee funded the start up cost to cover printing , postage, etc.

The Chapter’s first meeting was held on October 12, 1982 at the Pasco Times Community Meeting Room.  The Constitution and By Laws were approved and adopted by a large assembly of members.  Joe Grazeffi, Chairman of the Organization Committee, was elected President, Bill Loomis to lst VP, Bob Frankel to 2nd  VP, Bob Cornell to Secretary and Bob Wiggins to Treasurer.

The chapter meeting was at the Polish American Club, Hudson, on November 9, 1982. Capt Mace Wells, USN-Ret, President of the Florida Council of Chapters, installed the officers and presented the charter.  The signatures of all members present appears on the charter.

The chapter continued meeting at the Polish American Club for several months. We then began the “wandering years” by changing our meeting place each month. Since our membership was drawn from a large area this was an attempt to ease the travel for those living in the various regions.  During this period we met at the Holiday Inns in New Port Richey and Weeki Wachee; the Eagles Club of New Port Richey, where  we presented our newly elected Congressman Michael Bilirakis with an honorary membership; the Italian American Club in Port Richey; the K of C in Port Richey and Spring Hill; finally settling at Seven Springs Golf and Country Club from late 1983 until the early 1990’s.

During those years our membership was over 300 and we could muster up to 150 for our meetings.  Our meetings included three balls each year.  There was a Sweetheart Ball in February when each lady was presented with a corsage, a Spring Fling in May and a Christmas/Installation Ball in December.  Many officers wore their dress uniforms and the ladies all wore evening gowns.

In the early 1990’s the chapter moved it’s meeting to the Sheraton Inn on US 19 in New Port Richey for a couple of years and then moved to the Spartan Manor, where we continued to meet until September 2012.  At that time we moved to the Gulf Harbors Yacht Club at 3926 Marine Pkw, New Port Richey, Fl 34652.

During it’s brief history the Upper Suncoast Chapter has accomplished the following:

1988 Florida TROA Convention: Hosted the convention at Saddlebrook Golf and Tennis Resort. First time the convention had been held at something other than a hotel or motel.  Was a big success.

Spring Hill Chapter: Sponsored and provided financial support and our members living in  that  area became the nucleus of that chapter.

KINNEY-TROA-ROTC Scholarship: Provided $32,000 to several Pasco County high school graduates that were required to take ROTC and maintain a 3.0 GPA.  The fund was provided through the L. R. Kinney Charitable Trust by Col. George R. Kinney, USAF-Ret, a charter member of the chapter.

Upper Suncoast Chapter Scholarship Fund: Established in 2000 with a $3,000 donation.  It provides a scholarship annually to a deserving student who is a veteran or who is from a veteran's family, selected by PHCC, in the chapter’s name.  This initial endowment has grown from chapter member donations so that in 2012 it is at approximately $20,000.

Each year our chapter presents awards to a JROTC cadet at seven Pasco County High Schools.  The award recognizes leadership as well as academic achievements. 

The chapter was very active in Project Gratitude.  The program honored active duty chaplains recently returned from a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan and their families with a brief three day R&R in Tampa.  Our chapter provided funds toward meal coupons for those chaplains and was represented at the award ceremonies.

Florida Council of Chapters: The Upper Suncoast Chapter has given the Council one President and three West Central Area Vice Presidents.


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