On Dec. 12, 1990, the last meeting of the Leclaire Centennial Committee was held at the home of Chairman Karen Hangsleben at 930 Holyoake Road. It was announced that beginning in 1991, a new organization, Friends of Leclaire, would be organized. An organizational meeting was held April 25, 1991, and the first official meeting was on June 18, 1991, at the home of Jack and Janet Foehrkolb at 515 Hadley Avenue at the southeast corner of Leclaire.
Those present at the first meeting, most still active in the organization today, were Bob Blain, Mary Blain, Bennett Dickman Sr., Jack Foehrkolb, Janet Foehrkolb, Jim Fralinger, Bob Gill, Andrew Hughes, Jean Hughes, Steve Hughes, Diane Jacober, Betty McKinnon, and Bonnie Wehrend.
The name for the new organization was suggested by Jim Fralinger, and the first Friends of Leclaire newsletter was published by Bob Blain in October 1991. The first officers in the organization were Co-Presidents Janet Foehrkolb and Jean Hughes, Treasurer Mary Blain, and Secretary Diane Jacober.
According to that first newsletter, the purposes of Friends of Leclaire were to “support and encourage park improvements and events and to promote an appreciation of the history of the Leclaire neighborhood.” Friends of Leclaire has far surpassed those modest goals in the years since then with the help of many incredible volunteers.
In October 1991, they held an “Old Fashioned Picnic” at Leclaire Park, but the following year, in 1992, the first Leclaire Parkfest and Volksmarch was held on October 25.
In 2007, thanks to Steve Brockmeyer, Friends of Leclaire created its first website. It’s been upgraded since then, with version 3.0 due to launch in a few weeks. The website has proven useful for students of Leclaire history, neighborhood residents, people seeking information on their genealogy, and those just interested in history. Friends of Leclaire also serves as an informal help center, receiving many calls and e-mails with requests for recommendations and information.
Friends of Leclaire will celebrate its 25th anniversary on June 5th with a members only picnic at the “scene of the crime,” 515 Hadley Avenue, where the first Leclaire meeting was held in 1991. Invitations were sent out to members in May. Many thanks to Bob and Ellen Nickrent who will not only serve as hosts, but also suggested the event as a celebration of this special milestone. Happy Birthday, Friends of Leclaire!