HISTORY of the
At the annual Board of Directors meeting during August, 1990 in Salt Lake City, Utah, the historian position was proposed and Melville H. (Mel) Cohee was to become the first historian for ARSCSE.   At the Board meeting the following year, in Lexington, Kentucky the position of historian was approved as an official position of the organization.   Mel Cohee was the "most elder SCS statesman" at the time, and therefore, was the perfect choice to document early history.   Following are excerpts from the document that was released March 26, 1993.   Assisting Mel with the history were Minot (June) Silliman, Cletus J. (Clete) Gillman, A. A. (Kling) Klingebiel, Lincoln F. (Linc) Gallacher, and Neil F. Bogner.   As you will see, this group did an outstanding job.

Don A. Williams is given credit for the original concept of ARSCSE.   Don was an engineer in the northwest from the inception of SCS to the late 1940's when he moved to Washington, DC.   Soon thereafter, he became the 3rd SCS Administrator (position now known as Chief) from November, 1953 until his retirement in 1969.   After 3 assignments in India, Don actively started to organize a group that would allow retired SCS employees to keep up with and support conservation work as well as providing a means for social activities.   He sent a letter to about 1000 SCS retirees on June 1, 1973 stating "Assuming that not less than 200 of you respond and that you say 'yes', then the matter MAY be worth pursueing.   If so, it would be my intention to arrange an interim committee to appraise the situation, 'organize' if considered wise, and seek a manager-writer to do the work for a portion of the annual dues".   His letter ends with, this "is not for my work or passtime; if it has merit, it is for YOU and the welfare of the agency and its work to which we have been so long dedicated.   Nice to greet you all again and may God bless all of you".

Well, just over 200 responded favorably, and on August 23, 1973 an interim committee met at the Minot (June) Silliman home in Alexandria, VA.   The committee included Ogden W. Greene, H. L. (Hal) Jenkins, F. J. (Joy) Hopkins, Charles Cook, Charles Koechley, Paul Lemmon, B. O. (Ben) Osborn, E. J. (Pete) Peterson, J. B. (Joe) Rogers, Wallace (Wally) Anderson, A. A. (Kling) Klingebiel, R. D. (Roy) Hockensmith, June Silliman, and Don Williams.   Don and June had prepared a charter prior to the meeting.   After many revisions it was adopted, and the committee decided to move forward.   On September 10, 1973, Don sent a letter to those interested.   After expressing disappointment in not receiving a healthier response, Don tells about the committees work and its request that he send this letter with a copy of the charter.   He asked each person to send the $6.00 membership fee by December 1, 1973 so that a part-time manager/editor could be hired and further organizational work could be done.   The newsletter was to have four functions 1) comments on going SCS programs and activities, 2) proposed changes in SCS functions by legislative, executive order, etc., 3) personal news items about fellow retirees, and 4) suggestions of things retirees might do to help further conservation work and SCS interests.

FIRST YEAR (1974):
Responses to the second letter were most satisfying.   The organization started with 217 members, but BY THE END OF THE FIRST YEAR THERE WERE 703 MEMBERS.   On November 7, 1973, Chairman Williams called for a meeting of the interim committee to be held December 4th in Don's apartment in Alexandria, VA.   Harold Tower was added to the committee, while June Silliman moved to his farm "The Timbers" in Illinois.   June is considered to be the co-founder of ARSCSE because of his contribution of ideas and writing and rewriting the charter and letters.

In Don's third and last letter, he reported that "the ARSCSE was born on December 4, 1973", and that Roy Hockinsmith would act as president, Wally Anderson vice-president, and Joe Rogers as secretary-treasurer until the first election could be completed.   A ballot was enclosed with this letter.   The letter closed with "This has been an interesting and stimulating exercise for me to help launch an organization that I believe can help the 'cause' of sound conservation, our parent agency, and our country.   Thank you, Don A. Williams".   Don remained a consultant until his death in 1969.

The ballots were returned to Joe Rogers by January 10, 1974, and elected:
    Roy Hochinsmith as president
    A. A. Klingbiel as vice-president
    Joe Rogers as secretary-treasurer
    S. L. Tinsley as vice-president of the East
    Paul McGrew as vice-president of the West
    H. B. Martin as vice-president of the South
    William Russell as vice-president of the Midwest
Click here to see a complete record of officers.   In February, 1974, the four regional representatives were asked to select a leader in each state to represent the association.

The first bi-monthly newsletter was issued January 15, 1974.   Harold Jenkins served as manager-editor with compensation of $500 per year.   One of several stories in that FIRST edition was:
A Warming Tale From The North Country
"We thank Herb Flueck, former Minnesota STC, for relaying an article by George Peterson made to the first Soil Erosion Service Demonstration Project, Coon Valley near LaCrosse, WI, on the projects 40th anniversary.   The conservation work of 40 years ago was virtually intact."   In addressing Herb, an original cooperator, Elmer Manske, said: "There she is, just the way you laid it out."   Peterson wrote: "Observing the well-being of the area, along with its enduring beauty, I realized anew the great work of the Soil Conservation Service."

The first annual meeting of the association was held August 12, 1974.   It was in the Empire room of the Hotel Syracuse in Syracuse, NY.   This started the tradition of holding an "Annual Banquet Meeting".   One hundred sixteen people attended who thoroughly enjoyed the cocktail hour and dinner program.   It was hosted by President Hockinsmith.

    Last updated July 22, 2000 by Owen P. Lee