Minutes of 2016 Annual Picnic

Annual Meeting


The following people were awarded owls:

Peter Kolbrenner
Mario Ottaviano
John Weiss
Roy McCabe

The following people were awarded plaques:

Bill Balch
Bill Blaufuss
John Brandt
Lou Bregy
Jay Dirnberger
Tom Douglas
Hal Foodman
Roy Fuchs
Mike Guthman
Jeff Hare
Peter Kolbrenner
Shelly Lipsett
Ed Meisner
Mario Ottaviano
Ted Voss
Joel Wasserman
John Weiss
Ed Bloch

Mike Guthman was elected president.  The other elected officers are as follows:

First Vice President: Jay Dirnberger
Second Vice President: John Brandt
Treasurer: Joel Wasserman
Assistant Treasurer: Bob Fox
Secretary: Ted Voss
Assistant Secretary: Les Wolf

As ascending President Mike Guthman gave the following address:

Good Morning Y’s Men.

First, thank you for this vote of confidence in electing me to lead this great organization next year. Please let me know if I screw up.

Just as Art thanked those who have made significant contributions to the Y’s Men this year, there are several people I really want to thank. First and foremost is Art Greenberg.

Art has been an incredibly hard working President. He has done whatever was needed. To recognize his service, we’ve prepared a somewhat larger plaque for Art which reads as follows:

“As President this past year, Art successfully met the myriad challenges of returning to our former venue in the Saugatuck Congregational Church.  Thanks to his dedication, resolve, and management skills, the change went so smoothly most were unaware of the hard work necessary to accomplish the mission.  Art has held nearly every important leadership position in the Y’s Men and to each has brought his unparalleled energy, skill and love for our organization.  We thank him for his service and his leadership.”

Thank you, Art. You’ve left the Y’s Men organization in terrific shape.

As you know, this weekend is the Memorial Day parade and, as in years past, the Y’s men have designed and are in the process of building a terrific float that celebrates the spirit of Memorial Day.

While there have been many hands contributing to the effort (and will be more over the next few days), there are a few people who must be recognized.

Roy McKay and Hal Foodman have led the float construction effort and have generously contributed their time and talent. Also, again this year, Len Fisher has lent his artistic talent to the project. Thank you to the three of them. It’s been a pleasure working with you.

The final assembly of the float takes place at Kowalski’s garage on the Post Road this Saturday at 9:00 AM. You are all invited to come and help. Or, even more importantly come to Kowalski’s after the parade on at about 11:00 AM Monday to help with the disassembly.

Thinking about the year ahead, I want to thank John Brandt and his hard-working speaker committee for already lining up the majority of the speakers for next year.

We’ll kick off next year on September 8 with Tom Appleby, News Director of Channel 12, talking about the state of the media in our country. This should be especially interesting, given that the Presidential election takes place only eight weeks after his visit.

I also want to thank Jay Dirnberger, who’ll be our First Vice President next year. Jay jumped in and already scheduled the holiday party at the Norwalk Inn. As you know, Continental Manor has closed and I’m confident that Jay will provide a seamless transition to the Norwalk Inn next year.

Finally, an enormous thanks to John Weiss our master caterer who each year pulls off a great picnic. Thank you John, Larry Lich and your entire crew. This year you even got the weather right.

Thanks to all of you and the many others who contribute to our success. I look forward to working with you throughout the year.

Shifting gears….

I’m sure we all agree that the Y’s Men is an incredible organization. We were founded almost 40-years ago by a group of insightful men who understood both the difficultly of the transition from working life to retirement, and the importance of maintaining an active and engaged retirement. They founded the Y’s Men to help their generation and, I might add, future generations, deal successfully with this major life change.

I know what they started worked for me. As with many of you, during my working career, I was very lucky and worked with the same group of people for many years. We attended each other’s family celebrations and the conversations that ended on Friday at 5:00 picked right up again at 8:30 on Monday. There was great continuity and lots of friendship. Then, when I retired, that work continuity came to an end. Oh sure, we got together for lunch occasionally, and still do, but it wasn’t the same.

Fortunately, I found the Y’s Men and was able to more than fill that void. I now have a wealth of friends and really a great focus in many of the interests that fill my life. I could be busy 6 days a week with Y’s Men activities. Sometimes I wonder how I ever had time to work. I owe a great deal to all who came before me, for giving me this great organization and making my life fuller and happier.
Earlier I said that the Y’s men was formed almost 40 years ago. In fact, it was in 1977. That means that next year will be our 40th anniversary. I’m sure you all remember 1977…

  • Jimmy Carter took office in January 1977
  • The first London to New York Concord flight took place
  • It was the year of the New York blackout
  • In sports, Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown, Oakland beat Minnesota in Super Bowl XI, and the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the World Series
  • The PC revolution began (that’s personal computer not political correctness) with the Commodore PET and the Apple II
  • There was Star Wars, Saturday Night Fever, Close Encounters, Annie Hall and for those of us with lower brow taste, Smoky and the Bandit.
  • And we lost Elvis, Bing, Charlie Chaplin, and Groucho

I think we need to have a great party next year to celebrate our four decades of service and fellowship.

Before I close, I’d like to get serious for a moment. It is really quite remarkable that this organization has not just existed, but has thrived for those 40-years. And this longevity was accomplished solely on the efforts and energy of its members.

We have positively impacted our lives and the lives of several generations of Westport/Weston men. And because this club has become so important to each of us, we all have an obligation to pass this organization on to those who come after us. They should have the chance to experience the same benefits that we have enjoyed.

About a month ago, I spoke to you about the aging of the Y’s Men’s population. I mentioned that our median age had increased over the past few years and today over half of our members are age 80 or above.

Now there’s nothing wrong with being over 80. Some of my best friends are over 80 and if we stay active, chances are we can get there and beyond.

But as our population ages there is a concern about the long-term vitality of the club. This is not a “this year” problem or even a “next year” problem, but one that could be a problem in the future. I want to assure you that the Y’s Men organization is in excellent shape today. We are financially sound and have a large membership.

Never the less, we must be mindful of the Y’s Men’s changing demographics and how that impacts the club’s evolution. As President I see this as part my responsibility for stewardship of the organization and long-term planning.

Toward this end, we need to continue the conversation we started this year about sourcing new members and I plan to do just that next year. We must talk this through and decide as a group how to maintain the club’s mission through membership and evolving.

As a starting point, I’m going to call upon the marketing expertise in the Y’s Men to form a group to work on better marketing the club to our core audience, Westport and Weston residents. We must recruit more of the new, energetic, committed retired and semi-retired men in our community. New members are the life’s blood of any organization. It is my belief that if we have the same foresight our club’s founders had 40 years ago, we can help assure another 40 years for the Y’s Men.

In closing, I am very enthusiastic about next year. We have a great line-up of speakers, many active interest groups, and the opportunity for a great 40th anniversary party. I look forward to another exciting year, one that builds on helping one another, enjoying great fellowship, and, above all, laughing a lot.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 40th year for the Y’s Men.                   

Mike Guthman
Y’s Men’s President