Tell us about your YMCA Career
I had a varied and interesting career for 42 years. I was a farm kid, growing up on a dairy farm in eastern South Dakota. We didn’t have any YMCAs near us, but we did have sports, and I was always active in all types of sports. I went to a Presbyterian college in Huron, South Dakota where I joined several clubs and the Campus YMCA. On graduation, I took a job as a child welfare worker for the state of South Dakota.
I had filed an application with the national YMCA, and that fall after graduation, I was offered a job with the Lincoln YMCA at the Northeast Branch. It was a non-facility YMCA, but we offered many programs in multiple buildings and playgrounds in the area. We offered Y Indian Guides, Gra-Y, Youth and Government, and day camp. My wife was a professional with Girl Scouts, Camp Fire Girls and the YMCA.
I was promoted to a Program Director of the Downtown YMCA, Boys Department, where we had many sports and camping activities, as well as Y Indian Guides. I was recruited from that position to the Fort Worth YMCA, Southside Branch as a Branch Director. It was an exciting time at the branch, as we were moving through a capital campaign to go from a non-facility branch to a full facility, so we spent hours negotiating land acquisition and facility planning.
I was offered a new position as Branch Director of a full facility YMCA in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was a smaller city, and the YMCA was a large part of the community, so we were very involved with social and recreation activities. I was the Executive Director of the Marion branch and was involved in the expansion of that building.
The late Ted Hawkins, COO of the St. Louis YMCA, recruited me to move to St. Louis in 1979. The St. Charles Co. YMCA was a non-facility branch in a rapidly growing county. The land had been purchased and the building was to begin once the money was raised. Ted felt I had experience in branch development and capital fundraising so we moved to St Louis. I advanced to District Director, Assistant COO, then Senior Vice President Operations.
The YMCA of the USA came calling, and I became a Director of the MRC (Management Resource Center), then a Senior Consultant for the YMCA of the USA, guiding Resource Directors serving nine states.
I have always enjoyed YMCA work, and I count many people as friends, both volunteers and staff.
How was the transition to retirement?
It was interesting since I had the freedom to do more of what I enjoy doing, such as gardening, reading and traveling. I took a break from YMCAs for a while other than AYR. Several years after I retired, I agreed to serve on the local YMCA Branch Board that I helped build years ago and now serve as a campaign chairman for the local branch Annual Campaign. I am involved in AYR (past president), and I also coach YMCA CEOs.
Tell us about the process of saving for retirement
The Retirement Fund was an unfamiliar concept to a farm boy. No one in a farm community had any type of retirement pension at all so when Harland Johnson, my first boss at the YMCA, encouraged me to save in the Retirement Fund, it was a learning experience. My wife went to a seminar at a YMCA conference when I went to another workshop. She was the only one who was 25 years young in the entire room, and she could see the importance of saving for our future. Bob Hastedt of the YMCA Retirement Fund was a huge help in fund planning for our future, as well.
If you could give one piece of advice to current YMCA staff about saving and planning for retirement, what would it be?
Put your savings with YMCA Retirement Fund and stop worrying about the future! The investors and managers at the YMCA are the best at their jobs, and you will not find a better investment group or pension anywhere else. Try to put in the maximum allowed and you will be thrilled to see how much is there when you retire.