A brief history of the New London club as published in 2000 for the club's sixtieth anniversary

As the Storm Gathered

Kiwanis International, founded in Detroit, Michigan, was celebrating its 25th anniversary when a group of business and professional men from New London established the local club.

The Kiwanis doctrine of service to the community and fellowship among men of good will appealed to the group; and so began a 60 year passage through all of the trauma and dramatic change of the 20th century.

Dick Pugh, later to become club president and division Lieutenant Governor, was host to the founding group in his office at the head of State Street across from the courthouse and next to the Garde Theater. There the organization foundation was laid, and on December 2, 1940 the charter was presented to the Rev. Frank S. Morehouse, the first of some sixty presidents, in elaborate ceremonies at the Lighthouse Inn.

Dick Pugh's beach house on Pequot Avenue, incidentally, was to become the venue of the club picnic, a social highlight for several generations of Kiwanians.

The Nazi war machine was already churning inexorably through Europe, and the United States' subsequent entrance into the conflict was to dictate the activities of the club for the next decade. Some members went off to war; those staying behind organized projects to assist the war effort; selling war bonds, raising funds to assist families separated by war, volunteering for duty as air raid wardens (made all the more urgent because of New London's strategic importance).
The Movable Feast
Meanwhile, club meetings shifted from one locale to another as the ripples of the war touched every facet of American life.

Come war's end, much was to be done to restore domestic normality. Helping the returning servicemen to readjust to civilian life and the civilian population to welcome them home became paramount among the club's priorities.

The 1940's saw the establishment of "Camp Kiwanis" at Lake Pattagansett, where scores of underprivileged youngsters were treated to a healthful summer of learning and fun. One young counselor at the camp, an Air Force veteran returned from the war, was to become eventually synonymous with the Kiwanis name and credo. His name: John Kashanski. The camp continued well into the 1950's. Similar activities were likewise undertaken by the Fresh Air Fund. The Salvation Army and the Boy Scouts, all of whom were assisted by New London Kiwanis.

The 1950's, much celebrated as an era of growth, innocence and tranquility, brought with it new directions for the club's charitable endeavors. Fueled by a national sense of optimism, New London Kiwanis burgeoned, becoming the city's largest service club and taking on a variety of creative efforts to make life in this little city more pleasant for all of its inhabitants. And after bouncing around various downtown restaurants, the club settled comfortably into the Mohican Hotel, a State Street landmark built by the famous newspaper mogul, Frank Munsey. The club continued to meet there through the 1960's, until the building was converted to public housing. (The changing fortunes of New London eateries over the past forty years would move club meetings to Holiday Inn, The Gondolier, Buckley House, Lorelei, Pedo's, and eventually to Timothy's.)

As the New London club matured during the 1950's several members climbed the hierarchy to assume divisional leadership positions. Most notable climb was that of N. Blake King, an adopted son of New London by way of Georgia who progressed steadily up the ladder until winning the New England governorship in 1965.

Membership growth slowed in the 1960's, but the club retained its status as the largest and most visible of the city's service clubs. Perhaps the most notable project was the annual sponsorship of The Herald Tribune Fresh Air Fund Program, which brought inner-city youngsters from New York to enjoy a healthful and fun-filled vacation with many Kiwanis activities, developed this effort.

And as drugs became an international scrounge, New London helped in the establishment of the Southeastern Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency (S.C.A.D.D.). Col. Les Williams, retired executive officer of the Connecticut State Police, became its spokesman and a dedicated Kiwanian.

With the "Great Society" of the 1960's came the gradual dissolution and re-location of many downtown businesses. Lost in the process was the core of the club membership. A similar phenomenon occurred in the late 1980's, when the real estate market crashed and, with it the club's substantial membership from the banking industry.

Although membership suffered, Kiwanis never wavered in its efforts to scare up money for community causes. An indoor circus became a lucrative staple into the 1980's. When it phased out, on came the beer concession during waterfront celebrations, and after the public attitude shifted away from the suds, the club grilled sausages. Theater parties, modest in their fund-raising goals, complemented the sidewalk sales.

Still to come in the 1990's were the golf tournament, which since has grown into a major producer of revenue, and the barbecue outing at the Norwich Navigators ballgame, which introduced many members to minor league baseball while generating a few dollars for charity.

The fruits of these fund-raisers regularly have been distributed among the needy of the community by the vote of the board of directors, funds funneled through social agencies, some given directly, all through the John Kashanski Service Fund. The fund was named in 1997 to honor the man who continues to devote his considerable energy to Kiwanis.

A portion of each fund-raiser and in some cases the entire proceeds are diverted into the N.B. King Scholarship Fund, which confers scholarship gifts upon recent graduates of New London, Waterford, Old Saybrook and St. Bernard high schools.

Local Foundation Created

Following several years of consideration, the New London club established its own foundation to close out the last millennium, a device enabling the club to accumulate funds and solicit tax-exempt contributions. Although a distinct and separate entity, the foundation is governed by the same board of directors as the club.
An unfortunate dispute regarding control of the foundation led in 1999 to the resignation of several stalwart members despite the pleas of would-be mediators.
A Cultural Shift
The beginning of another landmark cultural phenomenon, profoundly affecting the club, was felt in 1987 when the Supreme Court deemed women to be acceptable company for the men of service clubs. Atty. Barbara Quinn, who left us to become a judge in Middletown, became New London's first female member. Marybeth Foley, the next of her gender, rose to the presidency; and Dr. Dorothy Leib went one better to win the post of divisional lieutenant governor. Karen Hall, who saw in the new millennium as president, likewise will ascend to the divisional post.

The arrival of women launched a new era, which sees us through now into the club and the conduct if its activities.

Throughout the ebb and flow of membership, no matter the nature of the schemes to generate funds, contributions to charity and toward the enrichment of the community have continued; and it is difficult not to detect there the woman's pervasive touch.
On a Broader Scale
After decades of concern with drugs and such other national problems as child abuse, Kiwanis International in recent years has elected to combat a global problem, largely affecting youngsters: Iodine deficiency. The New London club joined the effort, not only conducting specifically earmarked fund-raisers, but also calling for donations from its membership.

Likewise, the club lent a hand to the New England District in support of the Pediatric Trauma Institute, an inspired idea and pioneer effort that has proliferated as other regions recognized its importance in medical care of the young.

Not all Kiwanis causes call for great expenditures; in fact, among its most visible and effective undertakings began in New London in 1965 with the founding of the area's first KEY Club, a high school service club organized first at Waterford High. East Lyme and Old Saybrook followed sometime later, and just out of its infancy but thriving is a "Builders Club," instituted at the Old Lyme Middle School by the Old Saybrook Club with a big assist from the Olsen family.

Spearheaded also by then Governor-Elect Marty Olsen, New London took to the air waves a year ago, presenting a regularly scheduled television show on the cable television's public access channel.

(Webmasters Note: This article appeared in the New London Kiwanis Club's sixtieth anniversary booklet. Contributors to this article were Theodore L. Hargrove, Gordon A. Jackson, John Kashanski, Helen H. McCartin and Christopher J. Vallas. This booklet was edited by then club secretary Theodore L. Hargrove who added this note: Many of the members referred to herein are no longer with us, but no attempt has been made to identify "late" members or "former" members. All were at one time living, contributing members of the Kiwanis family and it is as such that they are remembered here.)

The New Millennium: Our Past Ten Years, The Continuing History of the Kiwanis Club of New London
By Martin Olsen

Locally the club has expanded it presence in New London and throughout southeastern Connecticut. Three additional Key Clubs have been added to the Kiwanis Family with Groton’s Fitch Senior, Lyme-Old Lyme and Montville High Schools joining New London, Waterford and East Lyme. In 2009, a Circle K Club was chartered at Mitchell College.

A Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program was initiated at the Waterford branch of Ballestrini’s Childcare Center in 2001. This has grown to encompass their Salem and East Lyme facilities as well a summer reading program at the New London Salvation Army and our newest endeavor at Riverfront Children’s Center in Groton where we are partnering with the City of New London water company, Veolea.

The Kiwanis Club of New London NB King Scholarship Endowment under the stewardship of Glenn Hamler has grown to over $110,000. Currently the endowment supports two $3,000 scholarships that over sixty applicants now compete for annually. The scholarship program, as well as most of our charitable contributions via the John Kashanski Community Service Fund, are supported by our annual golf tournament that has been guided in recent years by Sherry Lombardi and Ted Nelson.

Club publicity is expanding with regular releases published in The Day and Shoreline Times. Our partnerships with the Connecticut Sun, and now Connecticut Tigers have promoted the club as well as allowed us to send hundreds of kids to professional basketball games and thousands to minor league baseball contests. Tom Moriarty has built and maintains our award winning club website at

Major recognition and fundraising banquets have honored John Kashanski and Chris Vallas for fifty years of membership, service and perfect attendance. Uly Bayona was honored for his work with local youth via his Taino Boxing Club. John Russell has been recognized for his work to benefit the homeless.

Most recently the club recognized Bob and Valeda Grills for their lifetime of community service. Bob has established a memorial endowment through the club in Valeda’ name - The Valeda Grills Pre-K Readers - to support youth literacy. Past President Mac Pope advocated and helped form a memorial fund in Chris’s name - The Chris Vallas Emergency Relief Fund - for the purpose helping those in need, especially children impacted by disaster.

The club has continued to have a significant presence at the district level punctuated by Marty Olsen’s ascension to the office of Governor of the New England District of Kiwanis in 2000-2001. Marty has also served three years as President of the Kiwanis Foundation of New England between 2002-2005.

Valeda Grills, Michael Doyle and Robert Grills have served as Lt. Governor during the decade. Tom Moriarty along with Bob and Valeda Grills have served as Directors of the Kiwanis Foundation of New England with Valeda serving one year as Vice President. Bob continues to serve as a Director.

Club President Rich Cheatham has the club positioned to grow and continue to provide more service to greater southeastern Connecticut and beyond!

Supporting the new Kiwanis International Worldwide Service Project to eliminate Maternal Neonatal Tetanus and the Kiwanis Pedantic Trauma Institute are two of President Rich’s primary goals.



Past Presidents





Rev. Frank S. Morehouse                                                       1940-1943

Dr. Alan L. MacDonald                                                            1944
Fred Benvenuti                                                                      1945
Elmore A. Blanchard                                                              1946
Richard H. Pugh                                                                     1947
Curtis J. Norris                                                                       1948
J. Lawrence Peters                                                                1949
John J. Doyle                                                                         1950
Gilbert C. Burke                                                                     1951
Lars E. Gustafson                                                                  1952
John H. Rockholz                                                                   1953
E. Kenneth Hadden                                                               1954
N. Blake King                                                                         1954
Russell G. Stehn                                                                    1955
Dr. Joseph M. Wool                                                               1956
Dr. Joseph J. Castanza                                                         1957
Herbert Hicks                                                                        1958
William F. Henderson, Sr.                                                      1959
James L. Strickland                                                               1960
Frank Picazio                                                                        1960
Ronald A. Ham                                                                      1961
Wilfred H. Cruise                                                                  1962
William T. Reagan                                                                 1963
Lincoln G. Perkins                                                                 1964
John Kashanski                                                                    1965
Phillip T. Pfeil                                                                        1966
John H. Bray                                                                         1967
Harry Palmer                                                                        1968
Roger J. Bernier                                                                    1969
Theodore L. Hargrove                                                          1969-1970
Rev. H. Kilworth Maybury                                                     1970-1971
Maury Reyburn                                                                     1971-1972
Benjamin F. Burdick                                                              1972-1973
Daniel D. Swartz                                                                  1973-1974
Leslie W. Williams                                                                1974-1975
George A. Joseph                                                                1975-1976
William J. Oney                                                                    1976-1977
Thomas S. Perkins                                                               1977-1978
Christopher J. Vallas, Sr.                                                     1978-1979
David C. Whelden                                                               1979-1980
Gordon E. Jackson                                                              1980-1981
David N. Hammerstrom                                                       1981-1982
Namer J. Gorra                                                                   1982-1983
David J. Blaney                                                                   1983-1984
Ronald F. Bettez                                                                 1984-1985
Capt. Robert Green                                                            1985-1986
Bradford W. Currier                                                            1986-1987
Dr. Bruce H. Patterson                                                       1987-1988
Gustave H.Murby                                                               1988-1989
Martin T. Olsen, Jr.                                                             1989-1990
Marybeth Foley                                                                  1990-1991
Dr. Dorothy B. Leib                                                            1991-1992
John MacDougall                                                                1992-1993
Richard Haviland                                                                1993-1994
Glenn Hamler                                                                     1994-1995
Martin T. Olsen, Jr.                                                             1995-1996
Helen H. McCartin                                                              1996-1997
Rev. William O. Gregg                                                        1997-1998
Thomas L. Grayek                                                              1998-1999
Karen Hall                                                                          1999-2000
Capt. Gerald Morgan                                                         2000-2001
Ted Nelson                                                                        2001-2002
Valeda Grills                                                                      2002-2003
Michael Mader                                                                   2003-2004
Michael Doyle                                                                    2004
McCoy Pope                                                                      2005
Robert Grills                                                                      2005-2007
Thomas S. Moriarty                                                           2007-2008
Capt. Chris Sinnett, USCG                                                2008-2009
John Russell                                                                     2009-2010
Rich Cheatham                                                                 2010-2011
LTCDR J. Andrew Ely, USCG                                              2011-2012

John Rusell                                                                    2012-2013

Lynn Farrell                                                                    2013-2014

Erica Richardson                                                              2014-2015

Past Governors of New England District

N. Blake King                                                                    1966
Martin T. Olsen , Jr.                                                           2000-2001

Past Lt. Governors of New England District

Richard H. Pugh
Curtis J. Norris
Lars Gustafsen
N. Blake King
John Kashanski
Gordon A. Jackson
David J. Blaney
Dr. Dorothy B. Leib
Martin T. Olsen, Jr.
Toni Walker
Valeda Grills
Michael Doyle
Robert Grills

Thomas Moriarty

Legion of Honor
Membership of at least 25 years is required for entry into the Legion of Honor. Those in red with an asterisk are still working on another five-year increment in their Legion of Honor designation.

Name Joined

Fred Benvenuti 1940
Gerry Morey 1940
Ed Neilan 1940
Dick Pugh 1940
Frank Shea 1940
Larry Peters 1945
Blake King 1946
Hub Ryan 1946
Al Moutran 1947
Bob Williams 1947
Dr. Joe Wool 1947
Tony Filardi 1949
Lou Kaplan 1949
Herm Gratenstein 1951
John Ternavascio 1951
Ron Ham 1952
John McGill 1952
Jack Fanning 1953
John Kashanski 1953*
Chris Vallas 1953
Frank McCartin 1954
Hub Neilan 1954
Gen. Ted Russell 1955
Linc Perkins 1956
Eli Aronson 1956
Bing Bray 1959
Phil Pfeil 1959
Ed Rachleff 1960
Roger Bernier 1961
Ted Hargrove 1961
Dan Schwartz 1961
Al Kaplan 1963
Capt. Ephraim Rivard 1963
Maury Reyburn 1965
Dick Kerr 1967
Gordon Jackson 1971*
Les Williams 1971
Bruce Patterson 1984*

Marrtin Olsen 1987*