The Wheaton Rifle Club, Inc
It’s History , Part 2
By Bud Ardelt, Secretary
November 20, 1996
The original version of the "Wheaton Rifle Club History", (I'll call it Part 1), was written by Byron Putman and edited by Gary Birchfield, (a WRC member), January 1, 1964. Byron had intended to update it as time went on, but he died in 1972 without any additional comments. I will now attempt to complete the history from 1964 to the present.
Jack Writer's shooting accomplishments had just begun when Byron stopped his writing of the WRC History. Jack went off to college at West Virginia University where he was a three time all-American on the WVU rifle team when he graduated in 1967. He went into the air force and shot on their team winning the silver medal in the 3 position smallbore event at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Jack only missed the gold by one point. Jack was a civilian again in 1969 and needed a place to practice for the up coming 1972 Olympics. Henry Writer, Jack's father, made a deal with Byron to pay for the materials if the WRC would build a 50 meter range with a protected firing position at the club, so Jack could practice. Thus the present 50 meter shed and firing range was born. Four years later he would achieve his greatest victory, the gold medal at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.
Jack continued to compete in and win national and international shooting events for several more years. He was the gold medalist in the 3-position and bronze medalist the free rifle kneeling position at the 1974 World Championships in Thun, Switzerland. He had also won gold medals at the 1970 World Championships in Phoenix, and the 1971 Pan Am Games in Cali, Colombia. Jack continued to shoot with us in the Western Rifle League until 1977, often firing a perfect 300 score. During this time he introduced the 100 shot off-hand tournament we now hold annually. He invited a couple of his old shooting buddies, Lones Wigger and John Foster, to come the 1976 tournament, which added greatly to its success. In January 1996 Jack was inducted into the US International Shooting Hall of Fame. Jack no longer shoots competitively as far as I know, but lives in Yorkville with his wife Ginger, and children Kimberly and Randy. He is now working with duathletes and triathletes, and competes in duathlons, (riding/running), himself.
Andy Holoubek won many awards in local tournaments and at the National Matches in Camp Perry Ohio. He went off to West Virginia University to shoot with Jack Writer in 1965. He and Jack were members of the 1965 & 1966 WVU National Intercollegiate Championship teams and were both elected to first team All-Americans. Andy pretty much ended his competitive shooting after the 1966 year at West Virginia. He completed his engineering degree at Stout State University in Wisconsin and IIT in Illinois. Andy continued to shoot with us in Wheaton until 1976. He now lives in Palmdale, California with his wife and two children. His interest now is building and flying gliders and other light aircraft along with his father in Texas.
Betsy Holoubek Knowles, Andy's sister, also was a top shooter. Both she and Andy learned to shoot in Byron's marksmanship training classes when they were younger. Andy joined the club in 1960 at age 13, and Betsy in 1963 at age 12. Betsy started shooting in the Junior School at the National Smallbore Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio in 1963 while Andy was competing there. From 1965 through 1969 Betsy also competed at Camp Perry placing 6th among the women shooters in two days of iron sight competition in 1968. This won her a berth on the 1968 Randle Team. She attended Murray State University, Kentucky on a shooting scholarship in 1968-69. Betsy continued to shoot with Wheaton in the Western Rifle league through 1973 and was always one of the top scorers. She was crowned "Miss ISRA Queen" at age 19 at the Illinois State Rifle Association Meeting in 1970, being the first shooter so honored. Betsy now lives on a ranch in Jacksboro Texas. She and her husband are big game trophy hunters and have collected heads from all over the world.
I continued shooting in tournaments into the early 1980's, and haven't done much competitive (other than league matches), since than. I won the 1966 Illinois Prone Championship in Milan, Illinois, and two other prone tournaments, Libertyville (1970), and Michigan City (1979). I had a pretty good year at Camp Perry in 1962 when I was Civilian Master Champion in the four position 50 meter competition. I won the Winnebago Gallery Rifle Match in Rockford in 1964, but probable my best gallery shooting was in 1974 at Elgin, when I tied a national record with a 399 in a four position, 40 shot any sight match. When Byron Putman died in 1972 I took over his job as Secretary and have continued to date. I also took over the club news letter until I was relieved by Rick Riekenberg in 1976.
From the time I came to Wheaton in 1957 until some time in the 1970's Wheaton almost never lost a league match. Aurora was our major competition most of the time, but in the late 1970"s Elgin emerged as a power also. They would overwhelm you with numbers alone. I can remember them showing up with 30 shooters for a league match. There was hardly room to stand to say nothing about finding a place for your equipment.
The matches with Aurora were always a tense affair. It stemmed from earlier years when there were hard feelings between Byron and some of the old Aurora shooters. Byron was always so keyed up for our matches with Aurora that it rubbed off on the rest of us. I remember one match in the 1960's when Byron invited Art Cook to shoot with us in a match against Aurora. Art was a nationally known shooter and past Olympic winner and friend of Byron's, who he had signed up as a Wheaton member. Art would normally fire a close to perfect score in gallery competition. Aurora was understandable upset, but it was legal by league rules. We have had a very friendly relationship with Aurora since those days, and Larry Spoden, Glen Marshall, and the others have been good friends of ours. But it took me many years before the pressure of shooting against Aurora subsided.
In 1957 there were 7 teams in our Western Rifle League: Aurora, Elgin, Oak Park, Austin, St. Charles, Des Plaines, and Wheaton. Maywood also had been in the league earlier, but I don't have records going back that far. Our course of fire in those days was 20 shots, (5 shots in prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing). We didn't have all the equipment that is used today, so changing positions was quick and easy. Hook butt plates and palm rests were not yet legal in NRA competition. We used to shoot in Al Overtoom's auto garage in Oak Park until they bought property in Addison, and built their range there. We fired off tables at 75 feet in the Austin Town Hall for many years. They finally arranged it so we could shoot at 50 feet but we still had to fire from the tables, because they couldn't lower the targets. Aurora had many ranges until they finally moved to their present location in the community center. One range was in down town Aurora above a bar. The floor was so shaky that if anyone was walking behind you while you were shooting standing you were in big trouble.
In 1966 the Bensenville VFW joined our league. St. Charles and Des Plaines dropped out of the league in 1967. The Downers Grove Junior Rifle Club and Prairie (the reincarnated Des Plaines club), joined the league in 1971. We had to fire off shaky tables on to targets set on the stage in the Bensenville VFW Hall. I believe I heard of one of the tables collapsing under a shooter at one match. Downers Grove was a little short on distance in the community building where they set up their range. It was about 47 or 48 feet from the firing line to the targets. It didn't bother the Downers Grove Juniors much because they all shot with iron sights, but those of us who used a scope of much over ten power had to readjust for parallax. Des Plaines moved back and forth between a community building and a VFW hall and changed their name to "Prairie" before dropping out of the league in 1980. The Bensenville VFW left the league in 1973 and was replaced by the Villa Park VFW with many of the Bensenville shooters migrating to Villa Park. Villa Park lasted until 1988. Austin left the league in 1975 and several of their shooters joined Wheaton and Elgin. Stan Patla, one of our best outdoor prone shooters, was originally from Austin.
During that 1976-76 season Wheaton decided to split into two groups so that the league would still have eight teams. We were called the "Monday Niters" and the "Thursday Niters", and were divided pretty much on the normal practice nights the shooters used. This lasted only one season as both teams were beaten by Aurora, Villa Park, and Elgin. Oak Park left the league in 1994 and we gained John Marchin who was also the league president until he moved to Colorado in 1995.
Also in 1995 the Downers Grove Junior Rifle Club became the Wheaton Rifle Club (Junior Division). The community center in Downers Grove where O.B. Ellison had coached his juniors for the last 40 years or more was being sold and the juniors joined our club. Many of them were already members as they had joined so they could use our outdoor range in the summer. Ben Napolski took over the coaching duties from O.B. who retired (somewhat), because of failing health.
Somewhere in the 1960's we changed our league course of fire from 20 to 30 shots, (5 shots prone and sitting, and 10 shots kneeling and standing). This lasted until the 1994-95 season when we started shooting 40 shots, (10 shots in each position). The NRA relaxed its rules in the early 1960's to encourage international type shooting. We could now use hook butt plates and palm rests, and the 3 pound trigger restriction was eliminated. We began to see "free rifles", like the Anschutz, replace the popular Winchester 52's, and Remington 37's, and 40x's. Many accessories, such as tripod stands, also appeared on the line. It now took longer for the shooters to get set up and change positions, so the time limit had to be increased. International shooting allowed longer time limits, so this was in keeping with the trend. In the early days you would come to the firing line carrying a "Win. 52 with a military sling and 12x Unertl target scope, a 10X cloth shooting coat, a 10X leather glove, and a box Western X-PERT ammo.", and you fired your 20 shots in about 15 minutes. Those days are long gone!
I jumped ahead a little in tracing the history of the Western Rifle League. So now let's go back to 1972.
Byron died April 16, 1972 in his home at 814 Ellis Ave. in Wheaton. He had provided for the purchase of the Wheaton Rifle Club property by its members in his will. The members had one year from the date of his death to purchase the property from his estate for $40000 or 80% of the appraised value, which ever was greater. On May 4, 1972 at the annual meeting the first discussions of how to come up with the money for the purchase was begun. I had taken over the secretarial duties after Byron's death and was formally elected as secretary at that meeting. Karl Selander was elected president, succeeding Chuck Lenzi, and Del Heideman remained as treasurer. Karl, Del, and I would eventually organize the formation of W-070 LTD.
It soon became clear that the Wheaton Rifle Club was in no position to purchase any property as a group. Some sort of separate organization would be required. It also became clear that a "not for profit" organization with the requirement for equal ownership among members was out of the question. The board of directors began holding a series of monthly meetings in an attempt to come up with a proposal for the purchase of the property. The first meeting was held June 25, 1972, and the final meeting when the proposal was finalized was March 13, 1973.
Other people were interested in purchasing the property during this time. Dick Piper, a brother-in-law of Chuck Williams, Byron's grandson, proposed buying the property and renting it to the Wheaton Rifle Club. We didn't feel that this was a good long term solution and held him off until we could get an appraised value of the property and study our financing options.
Bob Guild, a friend of Warren Knight and real estate broker, appraised the property at $62950. At 80% our cost would be $50360. We sent out questionnaires to be returned at the September 28, 1972 annual meeting asking for an estimate of how much money each member would be able to invest for the purchase of the property. The original estimate for the term of investment was 5 to 10 years. A second option was for a long term investment. The first results indicated that $40000 would be available for a short term investment and up to $53000 if favorable financing could be arranged. But when the long term investment was discussed the amount dropped sharply to $29000. There was also much disagreement on what type of organization should be formed. A second appraisal was also suggested, which was later obtained and agreed with Bob Guild's original appraisal. The Board was then directed meet and come up with a detailed proposal for the purchase of the property.
It didn't look as if we would be able to come up with the required $50300 for the purchase from our club members, so we entertained several other options. We thought of asking Mary Putman to retain a 30% ownership in the property. We considered sell off a portion of the property immediately after the purchase to finance the additional capital required. We suggested asking Mary Putman to allow us to pay for the property over a period of 2 or 3 years. Finally we considered looking for another buyer who would rent the use of the property to the Wheaton Rifle Club. Mary was not in favor of any of the proposals except she agreed to allow us to make one large down payment and pay off the remainder within one year from the date of closing.
With this in mind our Board of Directors came up with the nine items of our proposal for the purchase of the property listed below: (This may seem a little too much detail, but I thought it was important to include in our history)
1. A corporation shall be formed separate from the Wheaton Rifle Club. The purpose of the corporation (or limited partnership) will be to raise the necessary money required to purchase and operate the property owned by Byron E. Putman and presently used by the Wheaton Rifle Club. The Corporation will rent the property to the Wheaton Rifle Club for its use.
2. The Corporation will be formed from current members of the Wheaton Rifle Club who purchase one or more shares of stock in the Corporation.
3. A total of 750 shares will be issued at an initial price of $100 per share. There will be no limit on the number of shares a club member may purchase.
4. The price of any shares purchased from the Corporation during the initial solicitation will be $100 per share. Shares purchased after this time will be increased in price in proportion to the value of the property. The deadline for the initial solicitation will be March 1, 1973.
5. It is anticipated that sufficient capital can be accumulated by the Corporation so that a shareholder can sell back to the Corporation some or all of his shares if he so desires. The price the Corporation pays for these shares will be determined by the estimated value of the property at the time of sale. A shareholder may also sell his shares to another person, but must first offer them for sale back to the Corporation.
6. The Wheaton Rifle Club may also be a shareholder, purchasing shares from the Corporation in the same manner as an individual club member.
7. The Corporation will be organized as follows:
These officers will be elected from the shareholders of record on March 1, 1973. A meeting of the Corporation for this purpose will be held as soon as practical after the March 1, 1973 date.
8. The Wheaton Rifle Club officers will act as temporary officers for the corporation until the general election can be held. They will perform the following functions:
a. Have the required documents of incorporation prepared.
b. Solicit sale of stock, collect funds, issue stock certificates, and keep all necessary records.
c. Negotiate the purchase of the property from the Byron E. Putman Estate.
d. Perform any other functions necessary for the formation of the Corporation, sale of shares, and purchase of the property.
9. Upon approval of this proposal the temporary officers of the Corporation will contact every member of the Wheaton Rifle Club and secure a written pledge indicating how many shares of stock the member wishes to purchase. After all pledges have been secured and tabulated, the officers will determine whether it is feasible to proceed with the formation of the Corporation.
If they deem the results of the pledges favorable they will proceed immediately with the formation of the Corporation, sale and issue of stock, and negotiation for the purchase of the property.
If they deem the results unfavorable, a general meeting of the Wheaton Rifle Club will be called, and the members so notified.
The proposal was presented to the membership at a meeting held October 26, 1972, and was approved. The pledge cards were sent out and we were pleased with the returns. When it finally came down to the deadline more money was pledged than was first indicated. We made an agreement with Mary Putman to pay her $45000 at the closing and the remaining $5360 one year later. Since we had no Corporation as yet Karl Selander was designated to purchase the property in his name and hold it until the new Corporation was formed, at which time he would sign over the property. This was an entirely legal maneuver with no liability problems. We closed on the property on May 11, 1973, and paid the remaining $5360 on May 11, 1974. Our attorney for this phase was Karl Kuhn from Glen Ellyn. He was very efficient until after we closed on the property, but then for unknown reasons was unavailable for completing the formation of the Corporation.
Finally in frustration we went to Leo Sanford Blustin, an attorney in Oak Park who had been a shooter in the Western Rifle League. Leo was very helpful and had our corporation formed in short order. We had originally decided to call it the "Bulldog Corporation", after our emblem, but at the last minute we decided that name sounded too antagonistic. Since we wanted to keep a "low profile" and not attract too much attention to our activities, we settled on the non-descript name W-070 LTD, which came partly from our address 27 W 070 North Ave. We were formally incorporated February 20, 1974. The first officers were:
President: Karl Selander
Vice President: Warren Knight
Secretary: Clarence Ardelt
Treasurer: Del Heideman
Director: Warren Riekenberg
Director: Matthew Benesh
Director: Jack Writer
The remaining shareholders were: Edith Back, Helen Bartlett, Tannisse Blatchford, O.B. Ellison, George Griffith, Richard Griffith, Betsy Holoubek, Andrew Holoubek, Chuck Lenzi, Nicholas Miller, Stan Patla, Noel Peters, Rene Scharli, Edmund Streich, Odessa Tevis, Henry Writer, Jack Writer, and Thomas Lord.
We had to deviate somewhat from our nine item proposal when we finally formed W-070 LTD. We needed only 3 directors, not 6. All shareholders were Wheaton Rifle Club members at the time. Today only Warren Knight, Chuck Lenzi, O.B. Ellison, George and Rich Griffith, and I are members of the Wheaton Rifle Club.
W-070 LTD provides the Wheaton Rifle Club the use of the property in return for which it pays for the utilities, and provides for upkeep and most of the maintenance costs. Income for W-070 comes from rent charged to other groups using the property, such as the dog training classes, and for a number of years the College of DuPage Riflery Classes. The advertising sign also is a source of income for W-070 LTD. The real estate, corporation, federal, and state income taxes are paid by W-070 LTD.
The original estimate of a 5 to 10 year commitment for the purchase of the property would not have been a satisfactory solution as W-070 LTD is now in its 22nd year with no immediate signs of dissolution. When the long term investment was first proposed it was not received with open arms by the membership. But when the "chips were down" they came through and have provided for the continuation of the Wheaton Rifle Club.
I would like to comment on some of the Members who have had a lasting impact on the Wheaton Rifle Club. Their contributions are in the form of leadership as well as shooting skills. Since I can't tell about all the members we have had over the years, literally hundreds, I'll have to pick those who stand out in my mind, and I apologize to anyone whose feelings are hurt.
Byron Putman was the "founding father" of our club as you well know by now. Byron listed some of his shooting accomplishments in his "History" which I called "Part 1", so I won't repeat them here. Byron was a tough competitor and a great friend to have on your side. He would do anything for his friends. He guarded the Wheaton Rifle Club like a mother hen guards her chicks. It was his pride and joy. Our club was the cleanest and best run of any club in this area during Byron's era. The success of the club in those years was due primarily to Byron’s efforts. He was always on the lookout for good shooters. His marksmanship training classes produced many good shooting members such as Andy and Betsy Holoubek. Because we were a successful club, we attracted more and more good members. I have always felt that the caliber of membership in our club was a little higher than that in the rest of the league, but I could be biased. At any rate Byron's contributions can hardly be over emphasized.
Byron was also instrumental in the formation of the Western Rifle League in 1939 and served the league statistician until his death in 1972. He was also an NRA director and referee.
Bob Wempe was Byron's right hand man when I joined the club in 1957. As Byron had mentioned, Bob was an outstanding outdoor shooter. He had his problems at 50 feet, but that didn't keep him from competing in all out league matches and traveling to gallery tournaments with the rest of us. (Bob was better than average at 50 ft. but not outstanding like he was outdoors) Bob took care of most of the grass cutting using the club's old machine which pulled several reel type mowers behind. When the old machine gave out in about 1965, we bought the Cub Cadet tractor we still use. It was purchased from Bob Houtz, a WRC member who owned an International Harvester dealership in Elburn, Illinois. Bob Wempe, Byron, Del Heideman, and I made several trips to Camp Perry together in the early 1960's. Bob Wempe moved to Minnesota in 1966.
Warren Knight is the only remaining member who was present when the clubhouse was constructed. Warren got his start shooting before World War II with the WRC when they used a range in Wheaton College. Warren spent World War II in Europe as a member of the US Army Rangers. When I came to Wheaton in 1957 Warren was one of Wheaton's top shooters. We fired a 20 shot course (5 shots in 4 positions), in those days because we had so many shooters in the league it would take too long to finish a longer course of fire. Warren would shoot in the high 190's. He also traveled to tournaments with us. We usually had enough shooters from Wheaton to enter a team if we so desired. I remember one tournament in Michigan City, Indiana when we had to interrupt Warren's all night poker game and drag him off to the match. He slept about a half hour in the car on the way there and shot the best score of any of us. Warren was always an enthusiastic hunter and fisherman. He has organized many pheasant hunts, both locally, and in South Dakota for his WRC friends. At the Des Plaines Conservation Area, (our annual WRC pheasant hunt), Warren lead the troops, tracked down the pheasants, and feed us lunch from his mini-home. Warren had a dog named Barron who used to account for most of the birds by himself. Barron has been dead for some time now, but Warren seems to have inherited his nose. I witnessed him track down a pheasant hidden under the snow in November 1995. We didn't need the dog when we had Warren.
Karl Selander died in 1993; he was almost 95 years old. I don't know when Karl joined the Wheaton Rifle Club, but he was a member in the early 1950's. He was already an accomplished shooter in the early 1940's when he shot on the University of Chicago range. Karl continued to shoot with us until he was well into his 80's. He could still shoot kneeling by turning over his ankle and sitting on the side of his foot. He participated on the pheasant hunts both at Des Plaines and in South Dakota. He also hunted deer in Minnesota. Karl took care of the pop concession at the club for many years. He was always eager to try new things and was the first WRC member to purchase a quality air rifle. Karl was the first president of W-07- LTD.
Del Heideman was also a member when I joined in 1957. He had joined in 1951. Del had also spent World War II in Europe, as did Warren Knight, but Del was in the Artillery. Del was a very particular shooter and always tried to do everything right. He was best at outdoor prone and won many prone matches while at Wheaton, including the South Dakota State Championship in 1980. He won 4 of the 6 fired matches in very bad conditions that day and beat out a nationally known shooter, Elizabeth Espontour. He fired the only 400 recorded that day. Every now and then he would also come up with one of the top scores in our league competition as well. Today he is retired in Pensacola, Florida and is into BR50 bench rest shooting with his air rifle. He is doing very well and was ranked 6th in the nation in June 1996.
He became treasurer when Bob Wempe left in 1966, and held the position until he moved to Florida in 1986. He is the only treasurer W-070 LTD has had. It was largely through his efforts that W-070 LTD came into being and the Wheaton Rifle Club still exists.
Henry Writer became a member in 1961 one year after his son Jack joined the club as a junior at 15 years old. Henry was a member until his death in 1987. Through the years he supported all the clubs activities both physically and financially, although he never fired a shot. He financed the building of the 50 meter outdoor range and shooting shed. Henry was always there for counseling and encouragement.
Stan Patla came to us from the disbanded Austin club in 1965. Stan was an outstanding outdoor prone shooter. A display of some of the medals he won is hanging on the mantel over the fireplace in the clubhouse. George Griffith assembled the display after Stan's death in 1985. Stan pretty much took care of all the grass cutting at the club while he was a member. Since he loved outdoor shooting, he combined business with pleasure, mowing then shooting, or visa versa. I remember one year at Camp Perry in the early 1960's when Stan would have to sit on his bunk in the evening and stretch his neck to relieve a pinched nerve. He had a sling under his chin which was attached with a rope through a pulley over his head with weights hanging down on the end. What a nuisance, but he wanted to shoot.
George Griffith came to the club in 1966 and soon became one of our best shooters. George would almost always win any kneeling competition he was involved in and was generally one of the top position shooters in the league. He fired a 200-14x in a kneeling match at Elgin in 1977. He became, and still is a top outdoor prone shooter. Although he says he never won an entire tournament, he won many individual matches both indoor and outdoor. He had fired as high as 1599-137X but failed to ever win the tournament; many tournaments have been won with less. George has accumulated over 100 medals in competitive shooting in gallery and outdoor competition.
On November 1, 1983 George lost his trigger finger on his right hand in an accident at his shop in Elmhurst. Most people would have given up shooting right then, but not George. He was out at the club shooting a few days after the accident with his hand still bandaged. I didn't even know he had been injured until he left the range and someone told me about the accident. George had concealed his hand while talking to me, and left the building without mentioning it to me. He had come out to see how he could perform using his middle finger as his trigger finger. As his record shows he soon adapted to his new style of shooting and reestablished himself as a top shooter.
George also became the club's "resident gunsmith". George and his brother Richard had owned and operated a machine shop for many years and were skilled in metal work. They both had basements full of metal and wood working tools. They even manufactured and sold lock mechanisms for muzzle loading rifles. George was always available to help other shooters with their gunsmith needs. Changing a barrel or fixing a trigger was no problem for George. He also helped maintain the club's Cub Cadet Tractor. George has held many club offices, including President, over the years, and it would be hard to imagine our existence without his help.
Chuck Lenzi joined the club in 1967. Chuck had been a pistol shooter previously, but quickly adapted to the smallbore rifle. Chuck was never able to become one of the top shooters but next to Byron, it would be hard to name anyone who has contributed more to the day to day operation of the club. Chuck quickly took over the coaching duties, including the NRA qualification course, for the junior shooters, as he had two juniors of his own, David and Carol, as members. Chuck has continued to coach juniors, when required, to this day. He became the "untitled" custodian and maintenance officer of most of the club property. He is always there when work needs to be done. Chuck and I ran the State Junior Championships at Wheaton for a number of years, and Chuck is still involved with the statistical work with our present 100 shoot off-hand tournament. Chuck has held many club offices, including president, and is currently president and statistician of the Western Rifle League. He is also Vice President of W-070 LTD.
Richard Griffith came to Wheaton in 1969 from the Northwest League where he had been shooting for a number years. Rich soon became one of the club leaders. He is the present Treasurer, taking over from Del Heideman in 1986. Rich, like his brother George, has always been a leader in club activities, maintenance, and dealings with business and insurance. Rich was also instrumental in the introduction of air rifle shooting at Wheaton. This was partly due to his reaction to burned powder on the indoor range. Rich would suffer headaches the day after shooting in a gallery match, and finally had to give it up. Rich and George are both directors of W-070 LTD.
Noel Peters joined us in 1969. Noel was with us until 1986 when he moved to Florida and later died. Noel's impact on the club was a lot like Chuck Lenzi's. Noel never was able to stay in top group of shooters consistently, but had his spurts of success. He was a determined competitor and traveled to many gallery tournaments. Noel was a big help in maintaining the club and club equipment. He took charge of changing the lock on the clubhouse door after W-070 LTD took over. With Noel and Chuck around most of the maintenance chores were well in hand.
Bob Sebby started shooting with us in 1971 as a junior member at age 16. His girl friend (Pat Huster, now his wife) was also a member for a number of years. He soon became one our best shooters, particularly in standing. Bob has been one of the club stalwarts over the years contributing many hours of his time to club projects, writing the club news letter and holding many club offices including President. He and Pat have organized and run the annual "game dinner" many times. They have also helped run our summer picnics. Bob was also instrumental in promoting air rifle shooting at the club. Whenever the club needed a helping hand Bob and Pat were there.
The Riekenberg's, Rick and Carol Lee, came to Wheaton in 1971 also. They had originally tried to join at Elgin because Rick enjoyed high power shooting as well as smallbore, but were told that women were not allowed as members at that time. Their loss was our gain. Both Rick and Carol Lee soon became leaders at the Wheaton Rifle Club. Carol Lee also became the Western Rifle League Statistician, a position she held until they moved to Iowa in 1986. Rick helped with the league bulletin and also wrote the club news letter for time. Both became excellent shooters. Rick held the edge in gallery shooting, but "dead eye", as Rick called her, would often turn in very fine 100 yard prone targets using only "X-PERT" ammunition. They are charter members of W-070 LTD, and Rick still holds the office of Second Vice President of W-070 LTD. We occasionally see them when they return for a visit at our annual "game dinner".
O.B. Ellison had organized and run the Downers Grove Junior Rifle Club from the early 1950's until he finally retired in 1995 when the community center in Downers Grove was sold and his juniors became members of Wheaton. O.B. joined Wheaton in 1972 primarily for the use of our outdoor range. He soon encouraged many of his juniors to become members of Wheaton also so he could train them on our outdoor range. Many of O.B.'s kids went on to win national titles, such as Gwen Fox and Marianne Wallace, who were primarily Downers Grove Juniors, but were also WRC members at the same time. His teams were always tops in the nation. Presently Nancy Napolski, now a WRC member, but who was trained by O.B. is shooting for the U.S. Olympic Team in the 1996 Games in Atlanta. Her father Ben Napolski now runs the junior program at Wheaton. Both Ben and Nancy have been members of Wheaton since 1989. O.B. is also a charter member of W-070 LTD. He was given an honorary life time membership in the WRC in 1996 in appreciation for his years of support.
We have some relatively new members who are now making their presents felt at Wheaton. Paula Lambertz and her father Johann joined the club in 1986. Paula is becoming one of the top shots in this area in both smallbore rifle and air rifle. She is responsible for organizing and running the annual air rifle tournaments we now hold in April, and our monthly club air rifle shooting. She is also active in the Wednesday night training of junior shooters. Paula has written the club news letter for the past several years. Johann has become our Friday night custodian as he is almost always there with Chuck Lenzi to open and close the range on practice nights. Being a retired electrician, he has been very helpful with lighting and other electrical problems at the club. Both Paula and Johann have held various club offices including President.
Paula recently won 3 gold medals at the 1996 Prairie State Games. She was high woman in the 50 meter 3 position, and 50 meter prone smallbore rifle events, and in the air rifle event. She also won gold medals in the 1995 Games in Women's Air Rifle, and Women's 50m three position. Also in 1995, she was the Illinois State Indoor International Women's Champion in smallbore Standard Rifle, and Air Rifle.
Harry Mark came to us in 1988 because of his interest in air rifle shooting, but soon got caught up in smallbore rifle shooting as well. He is now our best league shooter and one of the top shooters in the area. Harry has won Illinois State Gallery Championship in 1992, 1993, and 1994, and the outdoor prone championship in 1993 and 1994. He also won the gold medal in the 1993 Prairie State Games in the smallbore 3-position 50 meter, the smallbore prone, and air rifle competition. In 1993 he attended the Olympic Training Camp in Colorado Springs. Harry has also served in several club offices including President.
Mike Juritz came to us in 1990 and was already an established shooter in the area in both smallbore and high power rifle. He is always one of the high shooters for Wheaton in league competition and can always be counted on when we have a work day at the club.
Greg Burke is our newest young shooter who is beginning to make his mark. He is traveling to tournaments with Harry and Paula and recently won our Wheaton Air Rifle Tournament in April 1996. At present he is away at school at Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, studying engineering. He also helps coach the university rifle team. Greg has also been very helpful with work projects around the club. He and his father rebuilt our 50 foot back stop, and he and Harry rebuilt the 50 meter target frame. He is a good member to have around.
Jack Arntzen and Don Schmitt joined our club in 1987 and 1988 with family memberships as they had children shooting at that time. After a short lapse in membership they rejoined the club in 1993 as individuals and are fast becoming valuable members. Jack is our current president (1996), and Don is on the board of directors. They both helped with the grass cutting before our present landscaper took over, and are always available for club work projects.
I would now like to give credit to those members who have contributed the club news letter over the years. When I first came to Wheaton in 1957 Byron was writing a monthly news letter which he felt was an important factor in maintaining a successful club. I'm sure he was right about this because without good communication, club members tend to loose contact with each other and drift away. However it is a chore to keep it up and many of us have had a turn at it over the years. I took over from Byron after his death for a few years then I was followed by Rick Riekenberg. After Rick moved away both George and Rich Griffith wrote the news letter for a time. They were followed by Bob Sebby, Terry Eck, and Paula Lambertz. I finally took over again from Paula in August 1996. Since I am now retired I have more time to work on it than in the past.
This pretty much brings us up to date as of November 1996. Again I apologize to those members who have not been mentioned, but I had to draw the line somewhere in the interest of brevity. I hope to continue this "History" as time goes on and add more names and events to this record.