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Our History


The Virginia JCI Senate is an organization of Jaycees and former Jaycees who have been awarded membership in the Senate of Junior Chamber International (JCI). A Senatorship is the highest award that can be presented to a Jaycee at the local, state, national or international level and less than 1% of all members of our organization receive this recognition.

The idea, which resulted in honoring a Jaycee with a Senatorship, was conceived in 1951. JCI President Phil Pugsley from Canada (1951-1952) discussed with John Armbruster, Charter member of the first Jaycee organization in the United States, the need for better communications among “aged-out” Jaycees. The publication “The Elder Statesman” was started with Mr. Armbruster as the first publisher. This publication was sent to JCI alumnae throughout the world and served as a way to keep the communications open between former members. Many of these alumnae were becoming mentors to younger Jaycees but many other past members were becoming less involved as they no longer had ties to the organization.

In 1952, Sid Boxer, Jaycee representative to the United Nations, met with President Pugsley in New York to further discuss the idea that instead of allowing these “honored Jaycees” to drift completely away from the Jaycee movement, to provide a lifelong link with Jaycees and a way for them to continue to work for a cause in which they believe. The “JCI Senate” idea was voted on at the 7th JCI World Congress in Melbourne, Australia in September 1952 and included in the JCI by-laws as a category of membership. Since then, Junior Chamber members in over 90 countries have been honored. Honorees receive a number that is never assigned to anyone else. Senator #1 is Joaquin V. Gonzales, Philippines’ NOM President, 1951-1952. Phil Pugsley is Senator #2 and John R. Armbruster became Senator #3.

Today, a Senatorship has become a coveted honor that recognizes outstanding contribution and service to JCI and its member organizations. By providing life membership, there is a link with an organization that continues to bring the Junior Chamber vision to thousands of young adults the world over. The United States JCI Senate was formed, and its Constitution and By-laws adopted, in Atlanta, Georgia on June 20, 1972. Virginia JCI Senators associated informally for years. They met at local, state and national Jaycee events, and formed great and lasting friendships because of their Jaycee affiliations; however, there was never an effort to organize.

The Portsmouth Jaycees conducted a chapter-approved project in 1969-70, chaired by Senator Paul Pendorf, to establish a Virginia JCI Senate similar to those forming in other states. This was two years before a USJCI organization. Bernie Kirsch, Portsmouth Jaycee President (1969-70) chaired the organizational meeting at the Lake Wright Motel in Norfolk. 

At the organizational meeting on November 20, 1969, attended by approximately 40 Senators, Senator Jack Barnes, Portsmouth’s Mayor and a past Virginia State President was unanimously chosen charter president. Franklin’s Safety Director, Senator Jim Wagenbach was elected Vice President and Pendorf, formerly a Connecticut Jaycee, became Secretary/Treasurer. District Representatives were the Honorable Al Teich, a law professor at Old Dominion University and later Norfolk’s Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Honorable Richard H. C. “Dickie” Taylor, Circuit Court Judge of Hanover County, Senator Bob Lindholm, a Northern Virginia insurance executive, later to become the 2nd President of the Virginia and USJCI Senates’, and Senator Hampton Thomas, a prominent Roanoke attorney. 


During Bob Lindholm’s term as President in 1971-73, some of the traditions we still practice today were started. Lois Lindholm, with Jim Wagenbach as the model, designed the Senate logo. The first issue of The Senator was published in July 1971. The formal presentation of Senatorships was begun and the first champagne reception for new recipients was held in February 1972. A speaker’s bureau of JCI Senators willing to speak to Jaycees was established with 42 Senators signing up. 

The United States JCI Senate was founded at the National Jaycee convention in Atlanta in June 1972. Virginia was one of 26 states voting in favor of this organization. The Virginia JCI Senate, with a good delegation in attendance, was prominent in the formulation of an acceptable constitution and by-laws. Bob Lindholm became one of the first six Vice Presidents. At the National Convention in Minneapolis in June 1973, Bob was drafted and unanimously elected 2nd President of the US JCI Senate. The Virginia JCI Senate was officially affiliated with the US JCI Senate on December 8, 1972. Rod Layman, a “committee of one,” was appointed to investigate the possibility of obtaining Virginia license plates with the JCI prefix. Two hundred were reserved, but it is not known how many were actually purchased.

During Rod Layman’s term as President in 1973-75, yet another tradition (or three) was born. At the annual meeting held in Roanoke, it was decided to hold a special business meeting in July. This, the 1st annual Summer Outing, was held at Dr. Jay Buston’s home in Chesterfield County, Virginia and attended by 19 Senators. In April, the US Jaycees officially recognized the US JCI Senate as an unaffiliated organization. Of note, Senator Bill Hartz proposed the following as the first amendments to the Senate by-laws: a) create title of Chairman of the Board, b) provide two year term of office instead of one, and c) require officers to be exhausted and prohibit their Jaycee political participation. Whether or not these amendments passed is unclear.

Rod was reelected to a second term as President in 1974-75, reportedly due to an embarrassing financial situation and a surplus of stationery with his name on it. On November 8, 1974, the Virginia JCI Senate co-sponsored the 35th Anniversary celebration of the Virginia Jaycees. The Senate agreed to co-sponsor the 3rd Annual B&B Bash that was held in the penthouse at the Bull & Bear Club for many years. The first Friday Evening Dutch Treat Dinner was held in Williamsburg in February. The Senate also began to cosponsor the Five Outstanding Young Men (FOYM) program. Rod remarks that one of the most amusing experiences that he had, in retrospect, was Bernie Kirsch taking a photograph of him while bartending, converting it into a postcard and using it to communicate with him at the ABC Department while he served as Chairman of the Virginia ABC Commission. Rod later served as Secretary of Public Safety for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Under Bill Kline’s term as President in 1975-76, the first JCI Senate pins were ordered and sold for $2.00 each. Bill reports that the most significant decision he made was to only take the Presidency for one year. He stated, “All succeeding Presidents should be grateful!” Under Dan Moore’s term as President in 1977-78, the Virginia Jaycees agreed to waive the minimum registration fee for exhausted Senators at state meetings and the Senate by-laws were amended to delete the word District from the title of Director.

Under Jim Nefflen’s term as President in 1978-79, the by-laws were changed to reflect that the fiscal year of the Virginia JCI Senate would be from July I through June 30. This was the first year that the Senate operated under an approved budget and it was also the year that dues were raised from the original $10 to $20 per year. In 1978, Jim accepted the Virginia JCI Senate charter at the National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Under Sam Moore’s term as President in 1979-80, the first Senate roster was distributed in September. The Senate celebrated its 10th Anniversary in Richmond at the John Marshall Hotel and it was a very successful function with approximately 150 Senators and guests in attendance. The first New Senator Orientation brochure was published during this year as well.

Under David Rock’s term as President in 1981-82, more changes were made to the by-laws that are still in effect today. The Senate by-laws were amended to separate the offices of Secretary and Treasurer and also made it so that the President would appoint these offices. Efforts were begun to amend the Virginia Jaycee policy to allow the Senate to have the final say on all JCI Senatorship applications.

Under Wesley Bowles term as President in 1982-83, a near tragedy occurred. A winter storm prevented the hospitality liquor supply from making it to the Winter Board meeting in Arlington. In fact, everything was closed, even the 7-11 stores. All Senators attending were asked to contribute their private stock, thereby preventing the meeting from becoming a total loss! Things were so bad that even the White House Tour was cancelled.

During Lit Maxwell’s term as President in 1985-86, Dave Ingram revealed his secret formula for his now famous homemade Kahlúa. Also during this year, a new Senate orientation pamphlet was printed and the Senate began quarterly dues billings. Lit’s recollections of all the dates and specifics may be just a little hazy, but as he puts it, “I do remember the individuals and the good times and that is what it is all about in my book.”

The US Jaycees National Convention was held in Richmond in 1988 and there was a lot of work during Dave Ingram’s year as President getting ready for this huge event. For the first time, in an effort to raise funds for the hospitality at the upcoming Richmond National Convention, the Senate hosted the Virginia Jaycee Winter Board Meeting in Williamsburg. This was also the first time that the Virginia Senate was the Host State for the US JCI Senate at the National Convention in Richmond. Senator Brian P’Pool chaired National Convention Hospitality for the Senate, which entailed three long years of hard work for him and his committee. The first female, Debra Patrick, was inducted into the Senate. 


The 50th Anniversary of the Virginia Jaycees was held during Tom Brenzovich’s term as President in 1988-89. The Senate hosted the MAI meeting in Fredericksburg and was actively involved in the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Virginia Jaycees. The Senate sponsored a program to obtain Senatorships for eight past Virginia Jaycee Presidents who, for whatever reason, had never received one. These were presented at the 50th Anniversary celebration. At the Fall Board meeting, Linda Lester received her Senatorship. Linda was the first female Senator to become actively and fully involved in the Senate. The year ended with 242 dues paying members and the Virginia Senate was recognized as one of the top 10 in the country. 

Brian P’Pool’s year as President in 1990-91 had a lot of visibility on the national level. Donnie Alvis served as National Vice President and was assigned to the states of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. Virginia’s Return-The-Favor program received special recognition from the US JCI Senate, which also recognized Virginia as having one of the top ten outstanding Treasurers and State Presidents in the country. Also, thanks to President Brian, dues were increased from $20 to $30.

During Frank Butler’s year as President in 1991-92, international communication was the focus. An international travel program was instituted, along with the Arlington Jaycees to communicate with the President of every country in JCI offering to assist any Jaycee or Senator traveling through our area. Many international travelers were assisted, including JCI Vice President Rees Mann from Johannesburg, South Africa and Dr. Tonu Loog from Tartu, Estonia. Also during Frank’s tenure, the by-laws were changed to establish a finance committee. Frank’s year as President started his “run to the top” as he served the US JCI Senate as Region III Vice President in 1993-94, as Administrative Vice President in 1994-95 and President in 1996-97.

Linda Lester was elected the first female president of the Virginia JCI Senate at State Convention in May 1995 and was in attendance at National Convention in Des Moines, Iowa when Frank Butler was elected US JCI Senate President, the second President from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

During Larry Green’s year as President in 1996-97, the Virginia JCI Senate established a national award for the outstanding National Vice President in honor of Donnie Alvis and won a contested bid to host the January 1998 Winter meeting of the US JCI Senate in Crystal City, VA.

During Anne Johnson’s year in 1997-98, Virginia hosted the US JCI Senate mid-year meeting in January 1998. The 25th annual B&B Bash was held and the recipient was Governor George Allen. A new edition of the New Senator Orientation Booklet, was created by Tucker Watkins, (the old edition was last distributed in the early 1990s).

The Virginia JCI Senate reached another milestone during Gerry Sproles’ year and was incorporated as a Virginia Corporation with the assistance of Senator Craig Lane during 1998-99. The B&B Bash, under the leadership in 2000-2001 of Dave Wortman, was highlighted by the recognition of Vance Wilkins, the first Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates since reconstruction. Senators Johnson and Roth shared not only their leadership abilities but also their social graces in chairing the MAI meeting in Portsmouth highlighted by great food, great tours, great massages, and a wonderful time for all our friends in Regions II and III. Our own Gerry Sproles came out of the weekend as the new National VP for Region III winning his election by one vote.

Under the leadership of L. Alan Richardson in 2001-2002, the US JCI Senate Foundation recognized the Virginia JCI Senate in Sioux Falls as a Gold Level Donor with donations totaling over $2,500. The B&B Bash, led by Frances Daniel was held on February 13, 2002. The Senate recognized Judge Richard “Dickie” Taylor with a special award for his efforts in founding the B&B Bash. This Senate year will also be remembered due to the attacks upon our country on September 11, 2001.

While is it commonly known that JCI Senators know how to have a good time, it became apparent during 2004-05 that Senate President’s gavels can have even more fun. Chris Williamson “lost” his gavel shortly after installation as President and that gavel had more fun that year and traveled more places than Chris will ever go in a year. The year-end slideshow showing all the escapades should be archived in the permanent records of the Virginia JCI Senate.

Gerry Roth served two terms as President, from 2005-07. During Gerry’s second term, we held our first evening tailgate party at William & Mary with some students joining us for leftover food. The highlight of the year was the MAI meeting which we hosted at the Holiday Inn – Olde Towne Portsmouth. Nearly 120 Senators from around the country attended the event. All had a great time!

In 2007, under the leadership of Beth McOsker, the holiday season was kicked off at the home of Beth and Craig Lane for the first Annual Holiday Party. The B&B Bash, led by Rod Williams, celebrated its 35th year where Robert S. Bloxom, State Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry was recognized as the Outstanding Achievement Award recipient. T. Rod Layman was presented with a special award for his efforts in founding the B&B Bash. The last meeting of the year was held in Staunton where the new board was elected and voted to increase dues for the first time since 1991. 

Somewhere around the mid-2000’s, it became apparent that a new beverage of choice was “infecting” the Virginia JCI Senate. All of a sudden there were numerous wine tastings, wine outings, wine as year-end gifts, wine as quarterly raffle prizes and someone is always “wining.” Not to say that you can’t still find a good PBR in the suite, but don’t even think about starting off the second 40 years without chardonnay and vodka and cranberry on hand! 


President Donna Yenney in 2008-2009, with the full support of the Good of the Senate oversaw the Final B&B Bash, organized by the Past Presidents. The March 2009 event honored one of our own, Mark Smith, for his help as the B&B Liaison over the last 20 years. This final occasion was also recognized by a proclamation from The Honorable Tim Kaine, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

As we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, under the leadership of Ariel Jones, for the 2009-2010 year, we are poised to welcome a record number of new Senator inductees in recent times. This next generation of Senators will have this document to reflect upon as a rich history and a solid foundation for many successes in future years to come

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