Richmond Area Chapter History

The initial organizational meeting of the Richmond Area Chapter, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA - formerly The Retired Officers Association - TROA), was held at the Commonwealth Club, 500 West Franklin Street, Richmond, Virginia, on 3 December 1958, nearly fifty years ago. The meeting was organized by COL Joseph W. Koch, USAF and CAPT Towson O. Summers, USN. The meeting was called to order by Captain Summers, who led the assembled thirty-five retired officers, in a discussion of the possibility of organizing a local, affiliated chapter of the MOAA. Captain Summers then asked Colonel Koch to assume the Chair and introduce the guest speaker for the evening, BG James H. Banville, Secretary of MOAA. General Banville explained the aims and purpose of The Retired Officers Association, and discussed legislation being prepared for presentation to the next session of Congress. He also discussed the rationale and method for the assembled officers to organize a MOAA affiliate. After some discussion, the officers voted in favor of establishing the Richmond Affiliate.

The newly-formed membership elected Colonel Koch as Temporary Chairman, and LTJG Russell L. Wyatt, USN, as Temporary Secretary-Treasurer. In order to raise funds to meet expenses, each officer present was asked to contribute $1.00. A committee of three members consisting of RADM R. O. Glover (Chairman), CAPT W. A. Saunders, and LCOL K. J. Hatke, was appointed to draw up the constitution and bylaws for the affiliate. On 5 December 1958, the committee submitted the draft constitution and bylaws to the Temporary Chairman.

The second organizational meeting was held 17 December 1958 at the Commonwealth Club with thirty-two members present. The proposed constitution and bylaws were reviewed and approved. The original name of the organization was established as the Richmond Area Retired Officers Association, but was subsequently changed to the Richmond Area Chapter, Military OFficers Association of America (RAC-MOAA), when chapters were officially chartered by MOAA. The first slate of officers to serve through 1959 was elected as follows:

PresidentCOL Joseph W. Koch, USAF-Ret
1st Vice-PresidentRADM Olin Scoggins, USN-Ret
2nd Vice-PresidentLCOL Kendall J. Hatke, USA-Ret
3rd Vice-PresidentCDR Ronald J. Moore, USCG-Ret
Secretary-TreasurerLCOL Allan P. Fulton, USA-Ret
Asst Secretary-TreasurerLTJG Russell L. Wyatt, USN-Ret
Legal OfficerLCOL Martin S. Ryan, USA-Ret

The bylaws called for the Chapter to meet five times each year, on the third Wednesday of January, March, May, September and November. Annual dues were set at $2.00. The members voted that the adopted constitution and bylaws be submitted to MOAA for issuance of a charter, along with a list of fifty-two charter members. The official charter application was submitted on 24 December 1958. The fledgling chapter hoped to reach a total membership of 450 - 500.

The Chapter hosted its initial meetings at the Esso Building at the intersection of Broad and Hamilton Streets in downtown Richmond. Records reflect the first such meeting took place on 21 January 1959 with twenty-one members present, and five new members accepted at the meeting. The guest speaker was Mr. A. W. Lowe, Officer-in-Charge, Veterans Administration, Richmond, Virginia, who discussed the relationship of retired officers to the Veterans Administration.

The Chapter became officially affiliated with MOAA on 8 February 1959. During the past four decades, the Chapter has continued to grow and many changes have taken place. In the early days, ladies were invited only to the May dinner meeting, entitled “Ladies’ Night.” Subsequently, ladies were also invited to the November dinner meeting. Today, ladies are welcomed at all RAC-MOAA meetings and functions. The meeting place has changed several times: from the Commonwealth Club to the Esso Building; to the Richmond Hotel; to the Westwood Club; and finally, to the Bellwood Club, Defense Supply Center Richmond (DSCR), where Chapter meetings are currently held. The minimal dues have gradually increased from the original $2.00 to $20.00 annually. Originally, auxiliary members and senior members (age 70 and over) paid no dues. Beginning in 1980, since more than half the membership fell into one of these two categories, both were required to pay one-half the regular dues. The adoption of revised bylaws in 1991 eliminated the Senior Member category, requiring full dues payment from all regular members; however, auxiliary members continued to pay half the regular member dues. The Associate Member category was also eliminated in 1991, to bring RAC-MOAA’s bylaws into agreement with the MOAA national bylaws.

From its early beginnings, the Chapter has provided support to the Army ROTC Program at the University of Richmond and its five satellite units, through the presentation of a MOAA medal and certificate to an outstanding MS IV Cadet at each unit annually. The Chapter began presentations to Junior ROTC cadets at five Richmond-area high schools in 1983, and now makes annual presentations of a MOAA medal and certificate to an outstanding Cadet at twenty-six Junior ROTC units at high schools and academies in the greater Richmond area. Since 1983, the Chapter has also sponsored the annual attendance of an outstanding Junior ROTC Cadet to the MOWW-sponsored Youth Leadership Conference, supported solely by contributions from the membership.

The Chapter has been a Charter Member of the MOAA Virginia Council of Chapters since its inception in 1974, and provides a Chapter Representative and Legislative Representative to the VCOC on an annual basis. The Chapter hosted the third VCOC Biennial State Convention at the Holiday Inn on West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia, in 1979, the eighth biennial VCOC Convention at the Marriott Hotel in October 1989 and the fifteenth biennial convention at the Bellwood Club in 2003. The 1979 convention was chaired by LCOL Rubye W. Archer, the 1989 convention was chaired by COL John Domenech and the 2003 convention was chaired by COL Mel Drisko.

Over the years, the diversity of Chapter member services has progressively expanded. The Chapter publishes a very informative newsletter, is active in legislative programs at the local and national levels, provides responsive member personal affairs support, and sponsors a variety of community-support and social activities for member participation and enjoyment.

Since January 1980, control of Chapter affairs has been vested in an elected Board of Directors. Initially, the board consisted of nine members including: the President; 1st and 2nd Vice-Presidents; a Secretary and Assistant Secretary; a Treasurer; two other directors; and a VCOC representative. In May 1983, the Chairmen of the Legislative Committee and the Personal Affairs Committee were added. In November 1993, the position of Assistant Secretary was re-designated Newsletter Editor. There have also been Chaplains on the board on occasion. In 1996, the Chapter was officially incorporated as a non-stock, non-profit corporation in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The corporate board now consists of: a President; 1st and 2nd Vice-Presidents; a Secretary; a Treasurer; a Newsletter Editor; a Director of Legislative Affairs; a Director of Personal Affairs; a Director for Youth Programs; a Director of Transition Services; several Director-at-Large; and a Chaplain. Board meetings are currently held at the American Legion Headquarters in RIchmond at 1000 hours on the third Wednesday each month, and are open to the general membership by making advance notice to the Secretary.

In 1993, the Chapter took its first step across the bridge to the 21st century, with the computer automation of its membership roster, and electronic mail communication and information exchange with MOAA. In 1997, the Chapter established a “website” on the Internet which resides at the address: http://www.racmoaa.org. From 2003 thru 2015 the chapter earned MOAA Communications Awards for its overall excellence in this area of endeavor. To date, the Richmond Area Chapter is one of only a few MOAA chapters in the Nation which offer an optional "paperless" membership to its computer-literate members at a discounted membership rate.

Effective 1 November 2002, the Richmond Chapter officially changed its affiliation to reflect the change of TROA's name to the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) as reflected throughout this document. RAC-MOAA has been honored as a MOAA "Five-star" chapter fourteen consecutive times - 2003 through 2016.

At present, RAC-MOAA membership is exceeds 600 members, easily surpassing the 500-member goal established by its founders more than fifty years ago. As we continue in RAC-MOAA’s fifth decade of service, a slightly grayer, but no less enthusiastic cadre of members provides the impetus for the Chapter to continue to grow and prosper.

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