History Of The Association
by David S. Price
Source: The CUB, Vol 7, No. 4 March 1951
This is a brief story of the 106th Infantry Division Association from 1945 to 1950. Nine out of ten membership associations collapse in their first five years, but we have weathered that critical period. We're not only still in business but are financially sound, have retained a large nucleus of loyal members, have had four successful national conventions, have several strong local chapters, have had our history published, have a memorial fund, and have a good magazine.
A friend who writes history for a living once told me that the main danger in his business is that historians look back over their shoulders so much that they often trip up and fall flat in the present. This history is not only a look at where we've been, but also an attempt to evaluate our present and guess our future, guided by lessons learned through our experience. We've made some mistakes and some progress, have had gratifying experiences, tough times and a few hard knocks. How long we’ll last, or how well we will accomplish our objectives -- answers to those questions will depend upon our own collective efforts. But, to begin at the beginning. . .
The overseas CUB of September 1, 1945 announced that ‘the 106th Infantry Division Association, with some 50,000 men eligible for membership, was formally ushered into existence yesterday at a meeting in Karlsruhe.' The temporary steering committee which did the initial planning and work to build the Association was composed of Lt. Cols. Agule and Livesey, Maj. Perlman, Capts. Crank and Lowther, Lt. McIntosh, and M/Sgts. Given and Hall. In two weeks the committee raised $2,200 in direct contributions from men of the 106th, drafted a constitution and by-laws, made plans for state-side organization including the memorial fund, conventions, the history, and a headquarters, and started arrangements for the release to the Association of about $16,600 surplus remaining in various Division funds.
The first business meeting of the Association was held under canvas at Camp Lucky Strike, France, on September 16, 1945. 117 men were present. The constitution and by-laws were adopted after much discussion and some revision. A board of directors of seven members was elected, and the board chose Major William B. Perlman as president and Lt. Col. Herbert B. Livesey, Jr. as secretary-treasurer.
Back in the States, after deactivation, the board met in Mamaroneck, N. Y. on February 3, 1946. Maj. Perlman, whose business had taken him to Cuba, resigned as president, and I was elected to succeed him. The board authorized Col. Livesey to prepare a roster of all known members of the Division, and to prepare for board approval a general mailing to tell all former 106th veterans about the aims and program of the Association and to solicit membership.
Livesey turned his garage into an office, hired clerk-typists, and tackled the job of unscrambling hand-written overseas rosters and converting them into useable card records. After months of work and a large expense, some 41,000 names were recorded in two files, one alphabetic, the other geographic. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Col. Livesey, who averaged more than 40 hours a week on Association business for about 19 months; to clarify the record at this point, he was on a salary basis for the first seven months only -- after that time, it became apparent that we wouldn't have a large enough membership to afford a full time secretary, and he continued his duties without salary.
A board meeting on April 7 authorized Livesey to make arrangements for a division history, and to send out test mailings to selected samples of the mailing list. We were incorporated on May 13, 1946. In August, the first postwar CUB appeared, edited by Col. Livesey. Our big mailing to 40,000 men went out.
Results were disappointing. By June of 1947, we had signed up only 1,000 members. It was obvious that we had guessed wrong, and had been planning on too grand a scale. That we set our sights too high was again demonstrated when we lost about $2,700 on our 1947 Convention at Indianapolis. At the close of our first fiscal year, June 30, 1947, our surplus was reduced to about $2,550. Page 43 of the December, 1947 CUB presents a report of the way we spent our funds in our first two years.
About 500 attended the first convention, with Joe E. Brown and Cedric Foster as the headline attractions. The constitution and by-laws were revised, including the authorizing of chapters and an auxiliary and the expansion of the board of directors to 21 members. Plans for the history and memorial fund were advanced.
Shortly after the '47 convention, our darkest days began. Herb Livesey had resigned his full-time non-salaried job of secretary-treasurer, but continued the duties of his office for about two months after the convention. His elected successor, due to unforeseen complications, was not able to effectuate the transfer of headquarters and the CUB publication. Nothing happened for several months. By December we were able to iron things out, CUB publication was resumed, a new headquarters was set up, and the time-consuming secretary-treasurer job was abolished and replaced with separate positions of adjutant and of treasurer. Meanwhile, correspondence had piled up unanswered, we had missed out on sending membership renewal bills, and things were generally fouled up.
We scraped through the balance of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1948. Membership rose to about 1,130 for '47-48, but our surplus had been used up and our books showed a deficit of about $370. The 1948 convention, again at Indianapolis, was attended by 306 persons and resulted in a profit which made us solvent again, but not by much. For the fiscal year '48-49, membership stayed steady at about 1,100; the Chicago convention drew 250 persons, and we operated at a small profit for the year. 1949- 1950 membership of about 860, and successful 1950 convention have put us in pretty good financial shape. Our surplus on December 31, 1950 stood at about $2,700, nearly all in cash, and in addition we have nearly $1,500 more tucked away in our memorial fund.
So far for 1950-51, we have about 650 members. Membership and convention attendance have decreased annually since 1947. We have managed to stay above water only by maintaining very strict expenditure control and by having all Association business handled by volunteers. Nearly every day's mail brings renewals and reinstatements from former members. Maybe we're being guilty of over-optimism again, but it is my hope that membership has now leveled off and will begin to rise again.
My Association like ours is a product of group participation and cooperation. But a few of the volunteer office-holders have guided us through the past three years, and I think that they should have special mention in this article. Presidents Charles Robasse, John Gillespie and Edward Luzzie have been promoters, the idea men who have pushed the organization and got the rest of us together to work in its behalf. Adjutants Russ Villwock, Bob Rutt and Bob Kelly have kept the records, received the renewals, and written the letters. Convention chairmen Ken Perry, Ed Luzzie and Bob Kelly have organized three fine reunions, during years when failure of any one of them would have put us out of business. A bouquet should also go to Arvo Paananen, present editor of the CUB whose job calls for the expenditure of a whole lot of time and effort.
One of our main strengths has been the new blood we’ve had in responsible positions each of the past four years. By rotating the key jobs we get fresh approaches to the management problems of the Association, and are left with a group of about ten men each of whom could do any of the jobs for the national organization.
Leadership in chapter organization and in our national auxiliary have been vital to our organization’s success. I hope that some one some day will write about the auxiliary and the chapters for the CUB.
Pittsburgh, July 27-29, 1951! It seems to me that the future of the outfit depends on membership participation, constructive individual activity. Bring your ideas to Pittsburgh with you. There are many ways that individuals can help out, even if they can't manage to attend the conventions -- send news items or stories to the CUB; plan and carry through a project to raise a few dollars for the memorial fund; work on chapter activities in your locality; send constructive criticisms to the president or editor.
One of the most important jobs we have done as an organization is the furnishing of information to next-of-kin. The Memorial Fund is growing, and a big project in the next few years will be to determine how this fund should be used. We are doing a fairly good job of maintaining war-formed friendships through the CUB and chapters and conventions.
We have had several articles about the 106th published in magazines of national circulation. Our division history, 'St. Vith: Lion in the Way' by Col. R. E. Dupuy appeared in 1949.
We were formed for three objectives - fraternal, educational, charitable. It seems to me that, unless we increase our emphasis upon the charitable objectives, we will continue to lose a few more members each year until we gradually fold up. But, if we can instill a strong feeling of purpose into the membership -- to try to raise funds to help the dependents of our fallen comrades -- we'll have a worthwhile program that will keep us active. There will be more about this in coming issues of the CUB, and it should be high on the business agenda for discussion at Pittsburgh.
Any history of the 106th Infantry Division Association would be incomplete without listing of the men who have worked to build it. My version of an Association Honor Roll follows, with a try to list all who have contributed ideas, time and effort. The list is surely incomplete because it is based on my recollection over a period of five and a half years. I’ve doubtless omitted several who deserve inclusion. I know that there are many loyal members whose names aren't here only because time, distance or other circumstances have prevented them from taking an active part. Some chapter workers may have been omitted, not because they haven't made a real contribution, but because we at headquarters don’t know about their work. Members of the Auxiliary are omitted because their listing properly belongs in a separate article for the CUB.
So, with the above apologies for and explanation of omissions, here is my Association Honor Roll, 1945-50:
|Merle Allen||Jim Hatch||Gen. Perrin|
|Frank Anderson||George Hayslip||Kenneth Perry|
|Francis Aspinwall||John Hopbell||Dave Price|
|R. B. Davis||Pete House||Clayton Rarick|
|John B. Day||Bob Howell||Tom Riggs|
|Phil Bally||George Huxel||Charles Robasse|
|John Beals||Gen. Jones||Ed Roberts|
|Myron Belzer||Bob Kelly||Marvin Rusch|
|Tom Bickford||Russ Kelly||Bob Rutt|
|Sam Blandford||John Ketterer||Glenn Schnislein|
|Edward Boyle||Harold Knox||Ralph Steed|
|Paul Cavanaugh||Art Kuespert||Floyd Stewart|
|Gerald Cessna||Marshall Lipkin||Vincent Stiles|
|Pete Chiti||Herb Livesey||Robert Stout|
|Sam Cimaglia||John Loveless||Gen. Stroh|
|Richard Comer||Ed Luzzie||Dave Trimbath|
|Bob de St. Aubin||Joseph Matthews||Oakley Utter|
|Tom Dowgin||Roger May||Russ Villwock|
|Pete Frampton||Vollie McCollum||Bob Vorpagel|
|Jerry Frankel||Gen. McMahon||Alan Walker|
|Bill French||Jack Middleton||Lewis Walker|
|Gaylord Fridline||Lou Milanese||James Wells|
|Bob Frische||Bill Miner||Roy Wentzel|
|Charles Hackler||Bob Morrison||Earle Williams|
|Ben Hagman||Arvo Paananen||David Woodson|
|John Hall||Don Palmer||Amos Wright|
|Al Harding||Harold Pax|
|Vin Harrold||William Perlman|
To conclude this summary of the Association's formative years, may I remark that I have enjoyed the work that I have done with and for the organization. It has been a privilege to work with the fellows in the spirit of fine cooperation which has usually been present. In the belief that a change in management is good for the Association, I have no desire to hold any national office in the future. I’m confident that the changes which have successively replaced me as adjutant, president and editor have all been improvements for the best interests of the outfit. At the 1951 convention, I will not be a candidate for re-election to my present office of treasurer.