Sedalia Noonday Optimist Club celebrates 70 years of service tonight

By Faith Bemiss -

The Sedalia Noonday Optimist Club will celebrate 70 years of service in the local community tonight with an anniversary dinner.

This is the first time for the local club, that is noted for helping children, to celebrate an anniversary.

“It’s going to be a fun time, and you know, I just got to thinking about it, over the years why didn’t we do this the 25th year or the 30th or the 35th or why didn’t we do it the 50th?” Club President John Schwenk said Wednesday. “I think I woke up in the middle of the night, when I took over as president last year, and I thought ‘you know what? This is the 70th and, and I’m going to work hard to make it happen.’”

Schwenk added that club members agree that longtime former Sedalia businessman Gerald Cecil was instrumental in starting the local Optimist Club in 1947. Cecil, who owned Cecil’s Cyclery in downtown Sedalia, was club president from 1958-59. In honor of Cecil, club members have invited Cecil’s son Greg Cecil, of Columbia, to the celebration dinner tonight.

“We have three people from Columbia, and four from Marshall and our West Missouri Governor from Blue Springs area, she’s coming,” Schwenk noted.

Sixty-four people are signed up to attend the event including 11 past presidents. The 11 past presidents will have the opportunity to speak for two minutes each during the celebration. Schwenk said four past presidents are women with the first being Sedalia businesswoman Garnetta Sullivan, who served from 1990-91.

“We’re going to ask all the past presidents that come to it … to say what is your most memorable time as being president of the Optimist Club,” Schwenk said. “I’ve certainly got a story I want to tell …”

The Noonday club has 44 active members and has raised a total of $12,400 from October 2014 to October 2016. Schwenk said the funds raised usually goes back into the local community to benefit children.

Three of the prominent fundraisers for 2016 are the February benefit breakfast, a golf tournament and the upcoming Haunted Hay Ride, which is very popular.

Over the years the Noonday Optimist Club has contributed funds to local and area schools and colleges, the Sedalia-Pettis County United Way, the Sedalia Travelers Baseball, Girl Scouts of the American Heartland, Sedalia Youth Football League and the Sedalia Area Literary Council, just to name a few.

“I think overall our club is rewarded,” he said. “We do these fundraisers so we can spend the money back on the youth in our community.”

Schwenk emphasizes that there is “no ‘I’ in team.”

“It takes everybody to make it happen,” he noted. “I’ve been a member since 1982, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I hope in 70 years we’re still around.”

Sedalia Noonday Optimist Club President John Schwenk invites those who wish to join the club to visit their weekly meetings. The club meets at noon each Tuesday at Best Western State Fair Inn (Gambler’s Room), 3120 S. Limit Ave.

By Faith Bemiss

Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.

Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.

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