www.mybaycity.com May 12, 2015
Rotary Article 9933

Rotary Hears History of James Clements Airport

Club Holds Centennial Gala Dinner Thursday

May 12, 2015
By: Stephen Kent

Charles Binder
Rotarian, and local historian, Dave Rogers introduced Judge Charles Binder, who spoke about the history and some of the memorable events at Bay City's James Clements Airport.

The Airport has a long and colorful history. The earliest picture shown was of Lionel Deremer in 1911 with his "Wright Flyer number 15". That was the fifteenth airplane built by the Wright Brothers themselves. The plane was destroyed by a rare Bay City tornado the next year, but the name plate was saved and is in the airport archives.

Local mechanic Henry Dora joined Deremer. Dora became the longest serving manager of the airport and figured prominently in its history. The iconic "greenhouse" hanger was named for Dora.

The airport was originally owned by the Chamber of Commerce. The committee included some of the best known leaders of the time and was responsible for many of the improvements leading to today's facility. Among the members was Oscar Anderson, father of past Rotarian Andy Anderson and grandfather to Current Rotarian Ashley Anderson.

The airport was named for James Clements, an amphibious aircraft pilot in WWI. The greenhouse hanger, with over 1,700 panes of glass, was built during improvements in 1929. The first airmail came to Clements in the early 20's when the airport beat out Saginaw for that privilege.

Many historic moments can be cited in the Clements story. An early endurance attempt started on the frozen Saginaw Bay, the only place long enough for the large Stinson aircraft heavily loaded with fuel. An unforeseen warmup and slushy ice thwarted the effort.

Jeannette Lempke Sovereign, an early female air racer and contemporary of Emilia Earhart, flew out of Clements. Banker James Davidson famously saved the banks at the height of the depression by flying to Detroit and returning with a million dollars. Scheduled air service, both land and water flew in the late 20's.

The Carr brothers did high altitude experiments in a special balloon gondola built with a special "Dow Metal" alloy and constructed in Dora hanger. Supporters included the National Geographic Society. The gondola is now displayed in the Smithsonian.

Clyde Beatty, the circus animal trainer, showed up a few times. In the early 40's the First Pursuit Squadron held maneuvers here and camped on the grounds. Aviation pioneer Al Hoffman followed Dora as airport manage. Managers lived on the second floor of the administration building. During the war, cadets in training lived on the third floor. "Wings of Mercy" flies out of Clements and has flown well over 300 missions.

The airport was rededicated as a Veterans Memorial in 1960. The hanger was named for Henry Dora in 1977. The Administration building was listed on the National Register of Historic places on November 22, 1982.


President Ron opened the meeting with ab aboriginal greeting from northeastern Canada. The Winnipeg Rotary club was the first international club in 1912. Additional information may be found at The Rotary Global History fellowship and at Rotary 1st 100.

Dee Dee Wacksman greeted guests include past president Hratch Basmadjian visiting from Chicago. Ron presented him with one of our 100 year anniversary pins.

The board met today. Among other items of business, the name of Tara Welch was approved for proposed membership.

Ready for the
A Rotary Leadership Conference will be held at Baker College in Owosso on May 30. Ron has information.

Bob Chadwick announced that a committee evaluating International Night, and recent club surveys, want to replace that event with a "Zombie Run". WHAT? Yes, an October Zombie Run. These very popular events bring out runners, kids, families, amateurs and pro runners (many in costume) for the run/walk.

Wendy Dore is making the Country Club available. There will be entertainment, face painting and makeup, food, Texas Hold'em, and other events. A "fear factor" event will see what people will hold still for. Every want to lie in a real coffin with five live mice?

Morning Rotary is on board with the event and timing. Not only will it not interfere with their Driathlon, but their organizer John Shankool will also organize our event.

A great deal of publicity is being planned. Radio stations are on board as well as other media. The committee hopes to raise around $10,000 at the event.

Tim Holsworth announced sponsors for the upcoming Golf Outing on Wednesday, June 17 at the Bay City Country Club. Other sponsorships are available. A 60" TV will be auctioned off and tickets are available now.

The Club's Centennial Gala Dinner was held at the Doubletree on Thursday, May 14, 2015 . Following fellowship and dinner, Eric Jhlha recognized special guests. Chris Girard read a Proclamation from the City. Jim Griffiths and Rev. Ann Grady honored deceased members with a Yellow Rose ceremony. President Ron spoke, followed by District Governor Delores Brock.

Eric Jylha looked back over the first 100 years followed by the presentation of a video about the club, which was highlighted with songs by Rob Clark. Jerome Yantz recognized Paul Harris fellows and announced that 100% of the membership will have received their Paul Harris designation this year.

The keynote address "A Bag of Coins" was presented by Dr. Mary Berge, a Rotary leader from Zone 29 in the Pennsylvania region.

The Gala was closed by Ron as he told Rotarians to look ahead to the next 100 years and to "Light Up Rotary".

Flags adorn the walls of the room

Rob Clark, Bob Chadwick, Mary Berge and husband Ivar

Rotary Club of Bay City
View Centennial Year Celebrations Schedule
July 2014-June 2015

Click to read the March District Newsletter PDF.


RYLA, Rotary Youth Leadership Award camp - June 14-18

Golf Outing - Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - Bay City Country Club

Upcoming Programs

(See the official schedule at RotaryBayCity.org )

May 19, 2015: The Historic Importance of Bay City Rotarian Dave Rogers will speak about the history of Bay City and it's importance in the history of the state and region.

Current and past DISTRICT DISPATCH newsletters are available on the District site shown in the LINKS section below.

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RotaryBayCity.org BayCityMorningRotary.com
District 6310 Web Site District Dispatch Archive
Rotary International Make-up On-Line at RotaryEclubOne.org
The Rotary Global History Fellowship rotaryfirst100.org
Rotary Global History.

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