Since 1944, YMCA an integral part of Worthington, regionWORTHINGTON — With the opening of the new Worthington Area YMCA-DeGroot Family Center and City of Worthington Aquatics Center approaching Saturday, the following is a brief synopsis of history involving the YMCA in Worthington.
By: DAILY GLOBE, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — With the opening of the new Worthington Area YMCA-DeGroot Family Center and City of Worthington Aquatics Center approaching Saturday, the following is a brief synopsis of history involving the YMCA in Worthington.
The source of the information is text from the “50 Years of Service” booklet written by Ruth Hein in 1994.
The beginning years
The Worthington Area Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was formally organized and chartered 50 years ago. Its beginnings go back to 1944, when this community’s first youth center opened in the former Congregational Church at the corner of Third Avenue and 11th Street, the present location of the Daily Globe building.
According to an article Bob Cashel wrote for the Daily Globe of March 1, 1969, on the occasion of the Worthington Y’s celebration of its first 25 years of service:
Harry Rickers, then a veteran local photographer, had presented an idea and a plan for a youth center to V.M. (Vernon) Vance, publisher of the Worthington Daily Globe at that time. Rickers had said he himself was “an underground rat, and left home before I was 14 years old.” Apparently, by his own experience as a youth, Rickers knew the need existed for a youth center here.
At a regular city council meeting on Feb. 9, 1944, the city of Worthington was offered the use of the former Union Congregational Church building as a site for a youth center, rent-free.
Rickers and Vance had previously purchased the property thinking they might temporarily use the former children for their own businesses, with thought toward building new for their purposes at some later date. The need for a youth center presented itself, and they saw they could take other avenues. If a youth center were organized, it was thought that it should have some connection with a national organization so that it could draw on its experience.
E.O. Olson, also a key person in the youth center project, felt that the YMCA would be a good choice. Olson pledged $3,000 a year for 10 years for the project, and as time went by, he continued to provide funds for the development and expansion to the Worthington Area YMCA. The Sept. 25, 1944 issue marked the official opening of the youth center in the former church building.
Founders of the local Y were Harry Rickers, V.M. Vance, E.O. Olson, John L. Olson, Henry Hagge, Dr. R.W. Lowry Sr., C.E. Stower and Alvin Graf.
In October 1948, Mr. and Mrs. F. Hardy Rickbeil offered the Y the “old armory building” for the sum of $20,000. It had been used for storage by the Rickbeil Hardware Store. The building was acquired, and Oct. 13, 1952, a resolution was adopted by the Y board of directors to occupy the old armory building and remodel it into a new home for Y.
1953 was a big year for
the Worthington YMCA
In 1953, after nine years of service in the old church building, the youth center found a home in the building once known as the “old armory” on 11th Street, where it would remain until construction of the new Worthington Area YMCA at Minnesota West.
Don Rickers headed the YMCA building committee, according to a Jan. 9, 1953 Daily Globe article. He was also instrumental in getting the new quarters for the Y, and he spearheaded the remodeling project then under way.
Later that year the first recreation board, nominated by the Worthington Youth Commission to handle summer recreation, was submitted to the city council and were unanimously approved. Members were The Rev. W.H. Wiener, the Rev. J. Stanley Hale, Edmund Blixt, Don Rickers, James E. Gabe, Gaylord Hay and Mrs. Byron Bishop.
Bill Hedeen was elected the new president of the YMCA Board of Directors, with W. Craigen Thom elected vice-president and Don Rickers reelected secretary. F. Hardy Rickbeil was chosen to head the fall fund drive.
After several months of work, three open house nights were set up for Sept. 10, 11 and 12, 1953, marking the grand opening of the new YMCA facilities. Formal dedication took place on the evening of Sept. 12.
A fire brings changes
In early February of 1961, a major early morning fire gutted the YMCA building. The morning after the fire, the Y board met in the Thompson Hotel and seriously discussed whether the Y in Worthington could continue when it did not have a usable building. However, it voted unanimously that morning to continue and to rebuild an even more serviceable building.
Much of the remodeling work was done by volunteers from various civic clubs, businesses, Y groups and others. During the nine months of remodeling, the Y used the old Presbyterian Church as its headquarters. It was then located at the current library site.
A major addition
In 1962 a fund drive organized by community leaders allowed the addition of an indoor swimming pool completed in 1964 at a cost of $235,000. George Zeise, the YMCA’s general secretary at that time, said, “The land for the pool addition had been owned by E.O. Olson. He said, ‘I’ll give you the land if you’ll build an indoor pool there.’”
The Y kicked off the campaign on Jan. 19, 1962, with General Drive Chairman H. Marvell Tripp and his co-chairmen, Dr. R.W. Lowry Jr. and Russell Rickers. The 25’ by 75’ pool would have a special spectators’ balcony with space for a portable bleacher section to be installed when needed. Lockers and shower rooms would be built, with ceramic tile around the pool and adjacent areas.
A committee had conducted a study leading to the decision. Committee members were John L. Olson, Hans Hudson, E.O. Olson, Burdette Peterson and Craigen Thom. Team 1 chairmen were Bill Hedeen and Bob Rayl; team 2, W.C. Thom and Raymond Mork; team 3, Lee R. Anderson and N.L. Hanson.
An April 1, 1963 Globe photo and caption announced the “Groundbreaking for the City YMCA Swim Pool,” to be built 5’ wider than originally anticipated. Additional history
The Worthington YMCA celebrated 25 years of service in 1969. At an open house event commemorating the anniversary, 1968-69 YMCA Board of Directors President Russell Rickers released the following statistics on 1968 operations: 3,035 individuals registered as members; 414 clubs, classes, teams and other program units were served; total registrations for swimming instruction (the largest single unit of program) was 4,942 for the various classes; total attendance for swimming instruction during 1968 was 39,966.
At that point, only $9,000 was still owed on the swimming pool addition, a tribute to the persons in the community who all together had pledged more than $237,000 to build the pool.
In the next year — 1970 — an adult health club was added to the facilities and a handball and racquetball club was enlarged in 1976.
During 1978, the YMCA served more than 4,000 persons. In 1979, an open house took place Jan. 28 to celebrate 35 years of service.
By 1994, when 50 years of service was observed, the Worthington YMCA was offering a wide variety of programs, including: aquatics, adult fitness, kindergym; pre-school cooking classes; youth basketball; racquetball; volleyball; no-school days, junior high nights and open gym times; Red Cross classes, Tae Kwon Do and a Big Brothers/Big Sisters program; and numerous types of memberships, support clubs and funding programs.
Tags: hardy rickbeilMore from around the web