On October 15, 1929, thirteen young men from Santa Rosa gathered at the Sonoma Mission Inn at Boyes Hot Springs for a dinner engagement. During this dinner, the 20-30 Club of Santa Rosa No. 50 was formed. The Charter Night festivities brought members of 20-30 clubs from as far away as Reno and Santa Cruz. The gavel was presented to the new president, Dr. Ed McMannis, by the president of the Petaluma Club. The guest speaker for that night was the British Consul General of San Francisco. Distinguished guests representing the Lions, Kiwanis, and Rotary Clubs of Santa Rosa were there to witness the event. The evening was concluded with the singing of "America" and the 20-30 Club Song.
The first project that the club sponsored was to support the passing of the Golden Gate Bridge Bond Initiative. The project required little financial support from the young club and had high visibility. This set the stage for evaluation of many future projects of the club. in the summer of 1930, the club faced a legal challenge and almost lost its name to the "Western Women's 20-30 Club of San Francisco." Fate smiled on the club, and the 20-30 Clubs were allowed to keep the 20-30 name. No one seems to know what happened to the "girls."
Santa Rosa No. 50 did a lot of traveling in the early thirties, helping charter clubs in St. Helena, Vallejo, Napa, and Sebastopol. Our Club was also active in local sports, with a ball team that played in the Twilight League, which the Club helped sponsor. The team was successful, showing up at the top of the league each year. The club also sponsored an invitational track meet for the high schools of the area.
An early fund raising project was to sponsor movies at the old California Theater. The theater sat about where the Macy's parking lot is in the Santa Rosa Plaza Mall. The movies shown were Boris Karloff's Frankenstein and Howard Hughes's Sky Devils. The money raised was used to replace the memorial to Sheriff Petray in the Courthouse Gardens. Later, additional money was raised to refurbish the grounds around the Courthouse through a citywide "CIean-Up Drive." The Club also helped get the Rose Festival off the ground. In 1934, the Club won first prize for its float, which was pulled by the Boy Scout Troop that the Club helped support.
By 1935, the Club had already established a tradition with the Children's Christmas Party, as well as sponsoring Boy Scouts and athletic events for youth. The Club was very supportive of the other 20-30 clubs in the area, attending various inter-club events. The Club also established a tradition of interesting guest speakers, which included quite a few celebrities– Ernie Nevers, Buck Shaw, Robert Ripley, and Skip Madigan.
The darkening clouds of war in Europe in 1940 brought about quite a change in No. 50. The Club held its first "Pots and Pans for Defense" drive in July 1941 (before Pearl Harbor). Many members were also putting on uniforms heading off to faraway places. At that time Santa Rosa was home to a Naval Air Station, which was located south of Sebastopol Road and west of what is now Highway 101. During the war years, the Club held Scrap Drives, Bond Drives, Blood Drives, "Have A Serviceman To Your Home For The Holidays" programs, and helped set up roadside "Hitch a Ride" shelters in 1943. In 1944, the Club took on its biggest war project yet, a servicemen's canteen and recreation center, which within one year's time had some 68,000 servicemen as its guests.
With the end of the war, the Club turned to fundraising projects for a new hospital, and "Air Marking" the town to aircraft. In 1948, along with the Santa Rosa Police Department, the Club placed signs at all school crossings in Santa Rosa. Also in 1948, the Women's Auxiliary was formed for the wives of 2030 Club members.
In the "Fabulous Fifties," the club grew and prospered. The club sponsored two beauty pageants– the Maid of California Pageant and the Miss Sonoma County Pageant. 1949's Miss Sonoma County had been named Miss California. In 1957, the Maid of California Pageant was taken over by the Sonoma-Marin Fair. At the close of the fifties, the club made a major change by merging with "Active International" to form Active 20-30 International. The Club was further honored by having one of its own members, Jack Kummerts, named the first President of the combined organization.
The 1960's were up and down for the club, as our numbers dropped to as low as 20 but later rebounded above 60. The Club also saw many of its members become community leaders. Charles DeMeo, the first non-founder initiate into the club established himself as a leader with continued impact to today. Other prominent members include Robert Tutee, Judge Bryan Jamar, Dusty Destruel, Henry Mayo, Bill Knight, George Dutton and many others. Santa Rosa had adopted Active 20-30 in such a big way that it supported two clubs, our own No. 50, and the Santa Rosa Evening Club, formed in 1964.
In the seventies, the Club took on larger, more involved projects beginning in 1974 with the first Fall Extravaganza. This community-wide party was attended by as many as 2,500 people. Through the 1980's this project alone netted over $100,000 in profits. It was an excellent fundraiser and it enabled the Club to formalize its commitment to youth; the Club created the Youth Benevolent Fund in 1975. This fund is a repository for the Club's youth related fundraising profits, and it may only be used to benefit youth. Also during the seventies, the club reaffirmed its interest in athletics by participating in Club-sponsored city league softball and basketball teams.
In 1990 and 1991, the Club sponsored and organized the "Great Sonoma County Duck Race." For two years, these events were the primary fund raisers for the Club's Youth Benevolent Fund. With net proceeds of approximately $100,000, the events were by far the most successful fundraisers in Club history. More recently, the club's main event has been the Battle of the Brews which first started in 1997. To date, this event has generated over $500,000 for the Youth Benevolent Fund benefiting at-risk children across Sonoma County. Our membership and reputation has increased as a result of the good publicity earned through our involvement in these events.
The Club has remained actively involved in the International organization, with Dave Del Monte being selected as Area Director for Northern California and Nevada in the late seventies. In addition, Chuck Stark was selected as Regional Director for the Central Region, National President for the National Association of the United States and Canada, and followed that by becoming our second member to serve as President of the International Association in 1986. A third member of our club, Ross Liscum, was selected International President in 1988. Our long history in the International Association was honored by being selected as the site for the 1995 International Convention, which for this year was augmented by the addition of the National Convention for the United States and Canada. This event, held at the Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa was attended by over 360 club members from as far away as Colombia. At the National Convention, the Convention Chairman, our own Evert Fernandez was selected as a Regional Director for the United States and Canada.
Because of our active participation in Active 20-30 International, Santa Rosa #50 was selected "Club of the Year" in 1996. In addition to club of the year honors, Tom Jackson was selected "President of the Year" for Active 20-30.
Over the years, the club has helped support many youth causes and programs. Among them are the Boy Scouts, the Santa Rosa Boys and Girls Clubs, Social Advocates for Youth (SAY), The Battered Women's Shelter, Kids' Street Theater, River Community Services, Valley of the Moon Children's Home, Junior Olympics, The Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, Challenger Little League, "R" House, Junior Achievement, Central Santa Rosa Youth Soccer, Friday Night Live, Tomorrow's Leaders Today, Children's Village and The Ronald McDonald House. Many of these programs offer direct support for at-risk children. The Club is especially proud of its involvement in making a difference in the lives of the children in our community.