GWRRA’s Pioneer Chapter—Arizona A
By Dennis Ammons, AZ-A Assistant Chapter Director
Chapter "A" is the first Charter Chapter of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. It was founded in January of 1978 and has been going strong ever since.
Back in 1977, Tucson resident Darrel Shaeffer attended a meeting in Phoenix with the original group of seven people destined to start GWRRA. He then decided to get something started in Tucson, a city of just over a quarter-million residents back then, located about two hours south of Phoenix. The GWRRA Home Office, though still just a fledgling itself, called Darrel’s start-up Chapter A.
Arizona’s Chapter A began its meetings in 1978, with Darrell and Kathy Shaeffer as the first Chapter Directors; however, back then they were called Area Representatives. A logo of a covered wagon was created for the Chapter since, after all, the Chapter was GWRRA’s “pioneer Chapter”.
The Chapter colors were begun by Bill and Rita Hensley. Originally, Chapter A wore white shirts, then Dusty Rose/Mauve shirts (which are no longer available) and, a couple of years ago, added Burgundy shirts. When worn together, the colors then complement each other.
Over the Years
Education has always been a priority in Chapter A, with 78 percent of its Members at Level 4 Masters—and most of the remaining Members in the Master’s Program! In fact, there’s a lot of talent and education in Chapter A and, on a yearly basis, the Chapter puts on a First Aid and CPR class. Plus, it is currently getting Parking Lot Practice scheduled regularly.
In addition, for years Chapter A has been active in the Couple of the Year Program. In all, Joe and Kathy Long, Jim and Sabra Borst, John and Neomia Stewart, Dave and Dee Gormley, Lumpy and Diane Lumpkin, Dick and Linda Powell and Dave and Sandy Novitt have gone on to represent the Arizona District as District Couple of the Year. Additionally, three of these couples have represented Region F as the Region Couple of the Year. Most recently, that honor has gone to Dave and Dee Gormley.
Chapter A also participates in the Individual of the Year Program, with four of its Members having gone on to become Region Individual of the Year.
Over the years, there’s also been a lot of leadership springing from the Chapter, including two Assistant Region Directors, one Region Educator, one Region Motorist Awareness Coordinator, one Region Couple of the Year Coordinator, four District Directors and four District Treasurers all coming Chapter A.
And one fun note is that, in Arizona, the Chapter mascots are symbolized with the alphabet series, so Chapter A’s mascot is “Alphie the Ape”. Among the Chapters, stealing another Chapter’s mascot has become popular fun and been a big success. Alphie is well-dressed in his Dusty Rose shirt, black vest, gloves and helmet and has made many trips with our own Chapter A—plus, of course, with other Chapters when he’s been stolen!
Summing It Up
When all is said and done, we’re happy to be GWRRA’s original Charter Chapter. Not only have we had great fun as part of the organization all these years, but Arizona has also been a great scenic state in which to ride. And there’s no better way than GWRRA to have gained all the knowledge needed in order to become safe riders who can enjoy those open roads!
Chapter A has had a great variety of Chapter Directors, including:
|Darrell and Kathy Shaeffer
Don and Joanne Calhoun
Carol and Emerson Dayton
Roger and Corrinne Van Etten
Bill and Rita Hensley
Dave and Dee Gormley
Joe and Kathy Long
Jon and Penny Haxton
Dave and Mary Fields
Lumpy and Diane Lumpkin
Cliff and Diana Sias
Jim and Judy Collins
Dick and Linda Powell
Carl and Joyce Jackson
Garry and Kerry Woo
Dean and Jeannine Jernigan
Mike and Susan Heritage