"My 'DREAM' for a US JCI Senateorganization came as a result of my travels to Jaycee functions. One trip took me to the Jaycee National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1968, where I had the opportunity to talk with JCI Senators from many parts of the United States. During discussions with these Senators the need to form a NATIONAL Senate organization kept coming up. Some of the Senators taking part in the brainstorming in Louisville were: Senators Ollie Swaim, Springfield, IL.; Jim O'Connell, Joliet, IL.; Bernie Storjohann, IL.; and others. However, no decisions were made at that time."
"In the month of April, 1969, I was awarded JCI Senatorship No. 9714 at our local (Rantoul, IL.) President's Installation banquet. In the month of May, 1970, I was elected a director of the Illinois JCI Senate, and later appointed secretary of the organization. As secretary I helped in the revision of the Illinois JCI Senate's Constitution & Bylaws for then Illinois Senate president Tom Wallisch, with many other Illinois JCI Senators, including Chet Neff, Bill Brunkow, Tom Brown, Gary Furlong, and others. This Constitution & Bylaws was to become the foundation for the proposed Constitution & Bylaws of the USJCI Senate, as presented to the assembly of JCI Senators in Atlanta, GA.,in 1972."
"I attended all Illinois Senate meetings that followed the Louisville convention and it was during these meetings (between April, 1969, and May,1971), and at other separate meetings with Jim O'Connell, Dick Hiatt, Larry Olson, Tom Wallisch, Glen Wemple (and others) that discussions continued about the formation of a national JCI organization. I was elected presidentof the Illinois JCI Senate in May, 1971, and it was at this point that I formulated a definite plan of action to make it happen!"
"A major part of my plan was to attend the 1971 JCI World Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii, in order to contact US Jaycee state presidents and JCI Senators from around the United States. My wife and I, and other JCI Senator friends from Illinois, really enjoyed the activities and festivities, including meeting World JCI president, Ron Au and other JCI dignitaries and Senators from around the world. As I presented my thoughts of the formation of a National JCI Senate group to some of these distinguished Jaycee and JCI leaders, they were basically for it - but not fully informed enough about the organization to be 'enthusiastic' about it. However, all whom I talked to did agree to assist me in my efforts to contact active and reliable JCI Senators (other 'Contact Persons') within their respective states. I should tell you that US Senators I talked with about the formation of a national organization were both PRO and CON!"
"My next task was to compile a list of all known 'organized' state Senate groups; the names and address of all Jaycee state presidents; and names and addresses of all JCI Senators that I had talked with on this subject. This task completed, I composed a letter to them briefly explaining my thoughts on organizing a National JCI Senate, requesting the names and addresses of ACTIVE Senators, or Jaycees, with in their respective states, so that I could send them the same information."
"I was elated with the results of this first mailing! I received many names of 'Contact Senators and Jaycees, which was exactly what I needed to send my second letter inviting these 'contacts' to the planned formation meeting in Atlanta."
"Allow me to digress a few moments. One of the letters I mailed, from my acquired 'Contact Persons' list was a BRAND NEW JAYCEE, Leon Straub, from Wisconsin. He did not understand 'what the heck was going on!' as he put it later. I found out about this mailing error when Leon and his lovely wife, Karen, were with a group of Illinois Senators a few years ago during the Davenport, IA., Jazz Festival. We all enjoyed a good laugh! Leon has since been honored with a JCI Senatorship, and has been a truly active JCI Senatorwithin this state - and the US JCI Senate! (How about that, Leon! You are as much a part of the US JCI Senate as many others - just because of a letter!)"
"It was February, 1972, when I asked for the support of the Illinois JCI Senate. The question of cost was raised by our ever conservative Senator, Larry Olson - to which I replied, 'There will be NO COST to the Illinois JCI Senate.' After having said 'no cost' - the request was unanimously approved! Not only did the JCI Senators present at that meeting approve my actions, they became totally involved, and committed, to the fullest."
"The second mailing to my newly compiled list was an invitation to attend the Jaycees National Convention in Atlanta, GA., in June, 1972. The main purpose was to 'discuss' the feasibility of establishing a national organization of JCI Senators to be known as - 'The US JCI Senate!' Again, the results were extremely satisfying. I received several phone calls and letters of support and encouragement. In the meantime, Jim O'Connell and I made many phone calls, and other personal contacts, to get a large attendance in Atlanta. The results of our efforts were truly gratifying, as you know, from our success in Atlanta."
"I am sorry now that I do not have copies of these initial 'contact and announcement' letters, but I did not, at that time, realize the importance of those letters to our history - and the results that were to follow! If anyone should have a copy of these letters, PLEASE send them to me or to Gary Hogue in Iowa."
"June, 1972! The moment of truth was coming closer and closer! Jim O'Connell was very busy - running his insurance and real estate business - and writing the first draft of the Constitution & Bylaws that were to be presented to our committee in Illinois, prior to presentation to the assembly in Atlanta. This tedious, and monumental task was accomplished, and a meeting to approve it was held at the Holiday Inn in Bloomington, IL., Sunday, June 4, 1972 - just a few weeks prior to our historic meeting in Atlanta! (Copy of the minutes of that meeting are attached). Present at that meeting were: JCI Senators Leo Briere, James O'Connell, Bob Drdak, Ted Landgraf, Don Madden, and Jim Madiar. Absent was JCI Senator Dick Hiatt. It was learned that Dick, the incoming Illinois Senate president for the year 1972-73, had been injured in an automobile accident on the prior Friday and was in the hospital in Kewanee, IL. It was at this meeting that the proposed Constitution & Bylaws, as presented in Atlanta, were discussed, argued over, revised, and finally 'hammered out.' THIS is definitely part of 'THE BEGINNING!'"
"Following this meeting, Jim took the newly revised and approved draft of the Constitution & Bylaws back to his office to be typed and sent to me to print. Jim then flew into Champaign, IL., to pick up the printed copies that were to be distributed at the Atlanta convention! (Talk about PRESSURE!)"
"The next challenge, in my mind, was who should be 'at the helm' during our first year. I was aware of the fact that newly formed organizations usually appoint the founder as its first president. However, if this happened, it would place me in a very bad position since I just started a new business in the early part of 1968 that was still struggling to survive. My financial resources, and available time, would prohibit me from accomplishing the arduous tasks that would befall the first US JCI Senate president. I discussed these problems several times with Jim O'Connell, and finally, with some reluctance, Jim agreed to serve as Founding President if nominated and elected. (What I told my 'backers', like Norman Baptista of New York, was that Jim had the time, the money and a PLANE! All I had was the desire to see the organization live!) Little did I realize the enormity of the cost of time and dollars that it cost Jim in that first year! I do not believe that we would have grown a large as we are today had it not been for Jim's personal and financial contributions during that most critical first year!"
"Having settled the problem of the presidency - I decided that I would serve as secretary to Jim and the newly formed US JCI Senate, a position that would put me in close contact with all that would happen during this first critical year. As secretary, I compiled and printed the first 'Directory of Officers' listing all elected and appointed officers. Copies were then mailed to everyone listed and to all of our newly affiliated state Senate groups. Other copies were mailed to non-affiliated states, Jaycee headquarters in Tulsa, OK., and to JCI headquarters in Coral Gables, FL. This allowed everyone to be able to contact an elected or appointed officer, and the results were well worth the effort!"
"In closing, although some of the preceding information is not supported by official minutes of meetings, notes, or copies of actual letters, it is asaccurate as I can recall. Enclosed herewith, is a copy of the Constitution & Bylaws, as approved in Atlanta in 1972; a copy of the Minutes of that momentous meeting of June 20, 1972, and all other data that I could find to support my efforts to supply information about THE BEGINNING. If I failed to mention any person or organization that should have been included in this history of THE BEGINNING, I offer my sincere apology. Further documented information of THEBEGINNING should be sent to our historian, Gary Hogue."
"I always close my letter with my fellow JCI Senators in this manner:YOURS IN JCI But in this case, I will close as follows:"
"YOURS, IN 'THE BEGINNING' OF JCI!!!"
"Leo W. Briere, JCI Senator No. 9714"
Leo W. Briere #9714 is recognized by most as the founder of the US JCI Senate. How many of us have ever seen or had the opportunity to meet Leo? How many of us would recognize Leo if he were to walk into a meeting room or if we saw a picture of Leo? There would be some of us that would recognize him, but not many. And, that's a shame. A Senator that worked so hard and is generally recognized as the founder of our organization and he could attend one of our meetings in almost anonymity.