The board of directors of the 99th Infantry Division Association met July 22 at the Doubletree Hotel, Overland Park KS, during the 62nd and final convention of the association.
Those in attendance were Phil Benefiel, J.R. McIlroy, Herb Knapp, Harry McCracken, Hal Etter, Sully Sullivan, Harry Clifton, Howard Bowers, Jesse Coulter, Norman Zuckerman, Glenn Bronson, Tim Nugent, Donna Bernhardt, and guest Sam Notkin.
Treasurer J.R. McIlroy reported approximately $41,000 in the association treasury.
President Phil Benefiel gave a short report, saying he had taken over as president at the untimely death of B.O. Wilkins in January. Benefiel said he had arranged for a banquet speaker for the convention, Mary Jean Eisenhower.
Executive director Donna Bernhardt gave the membership report, stating there are currently 913 members of the association, of which approximately 600 are veterans. There are 131 widows and 180 associate members. There were 17 new members added for the year and Taps claimed 46 members.
Bernhardt also gave a convention report, telling the board the previous convention in Louisville had a total registration of 173 people and a loss of $1,297. She said the attendance at this year’s reunion had increased over last year, with total registration at 342 of which 91 were veterans.
On that note, McIlroy opened the discussion of having another reunion. He said he’d had 20 to 30 people ask for another reunion.
“We have enough money to do one more reunion or run two or three years with the Checkerboard,” he said.
Glenn Bronson suggested the decision be left to the newly elected board.
“We are the board,” McIlroy said. “There’s no need to elect a new board if there aren’t any more meetings.”
Auditor Harry Clifton suggested a poll of the current board members.
Clifton reminded the board this convention was publicized as the final one.
“I’m bothered by the fact that we advertised it as the last one,” Benefiel said. “Our credibility is at stake.”
Bronson agreed, saying several people had made a special effort to attend because it was the final convention.
Sullivan said he thought it would be more advantageous to keep publishing the Checkerboard. Nugent concurred, saying it was more important to keep communication going through the newspaper.
“I have enough content to keep the Checkerboard going for a long time,” Bernhardt said. Clifton added it could keep going as long as there is money and people paying dues.
Sam Notkin suggested the board authorize a feasibility study for having the first convention in Europe.
“So much of our history occurred there,” he said. Notkin said he has lived and worked in Europe for many years and would volunteer to help. He suggested asking members if they’d like to have a convention in London or Dublin and ask other divisions to participate.
Coulter asked whether it would fill Notkin’s idea to have a travel agency sponsor another battlefield tour.
Notkin said it wouldn’t be a tour; it would be a convention with a central hotel and program.
Benefiel told him to write a letter to the Checkerboard, asking if there is any interest in such an endeavor.
Benefiel called for the question of a final convention. McCracken made a motion that the board not plan additional conventions and continue the association with the Checkerboard as long as funds are available. Zuckerman seconded the motion, which carried.
McIlroy, as nominating chairman, said there was no need to elect any more board members, but a vice president may be needed.
Nugent commended Notkin for a good idea and thanked him for bringing it before the board.
McIlroy, upon direction of the board, agreed to make arrangements for the last toast from the bottle of cognac that had been passed from president to president.
With that, the meeting was adjourned.