Branch 8 History Report – 2013


Branch 8 was awarded in June with the Presidential Citation for being the Best Branch in the Region for the inaugural awarding of this quarterly honor from the state.  We are the only branch is SIR that has not lost members in any of the last eleven years.

We had a great group of officers and directors for 2013.  Leading the way was Big Sir Stan Johnson and Little Sir Leo Barrella.  Keeping our minutes and holding us to the rules was Secretary Erland Persson.  Bill Peterson (Attendance Secretary) did many jobs including leading contract negotiation with the Concord Hilton and estimating our attendance number for payment to the Hilton.  Bill has done such an outstanding and intense job that he was voted to be our new Honorary Life Member.  We now have 10 HLM’s and Senior HLM’s.  Paul Laderer (Treasurer) and Larry Yarberry (Assistant Treasurer) handled our funds and projected costs and needed contribution for member to operate the branch.  Membership Chairman Bob Barnes inducted the new members, prepared our roster, and kept us current on membership.  Directors Ed Benson, Bill Hunter, Larry Lange, Mike Long, Gary Plisco, and Darryl Sweetland contributed much to our BEC meetings.  About half of our members participate in the volunteer leadership activities of our branch.  Examples of this are activity chairmen and co-chairmen, standing committees, assistance at luncheon meetings, and BEC members.  Also many of our members are involved in Area, Region, and State functions.

The financial condition of our branch is excellent.  We have $9,431.13 in our last cash balance of the year.  This is very close to our final cash balance of 2012 of $9,636.46.  We received 100% participation in voluntary contributions of $43 in 2013.  The BEC voted to make these voluntary contributions mandatory dues for 2014.   For next year (2014), we have chosen to increase our luncheon charge to $25 with $20 yearly dues.  The $25 will entirely pay for the Hilton charge for our luncheons, which is requirement under the new state rules on mandatory dues.

Activities continue as a strong point for our branch.  We have 43 activities with Poker having 9 individual meeting groups each month (with their own coordinators) for a total of 51 activities.  Three of these activities include other branches in the area.  Many (about a third) of our activities invite our ladies to also participate.

Luncheon Attendance
The branch has a strong participation in our monthly luncheons.  We exceeded our 70% goal with an actual attendance of 77% for the ten meetings of 2013.

We still have a large and active membership with 310 active members at the end of the year.  This is an increase from 304 at the end of the third quarter and 308 at the end of 2012.  We have experienced an above average movement to our inactive list, mostly due to ill health and moves out of the area.  For the year, we have lost 32 active members.  Although we have added 33 members of our yearly goal of 35 (revised to 40) this year, we are concerned about this trend.  Our BEC increased our goal of new members for the year from 35 to 40, as we see we need more new members to maintain our overall size.  We had 53 new guests for the year of our yearly goal of 70.  Our Member Relations Committee has worked on the new guest/new member problem for some time.  We have formed a new Recruitment Committee with Ron Smith as Chairman to enhance our numbers of new guests (and hopefully new members).   This committee has set up an action plan with specific responsibilities in this area. Part of this plan is to actively recruit in such places as Farmers Markets and to retirement groups with specific companies.  Both of these have been accomplished in the past quarter.  We just paid for a $10 off coupon for our monthly luncheon meeting in the Valpak mailer for our area.  We are sharing this with one other branch in our area.  We have a couple phone calls so far in response.

The Member Relations Committee concluded its every three year random telephone survey of our membership.  The results were generally very good.  We have identified a couple areas to improve on such as speaker quality and interest of older members.  A Speaker Committee has been formed by our Little Sir, Leo Barrella.  He also formed an audio/visual committee to handle our loudspeaker and projector systems for luncheon meetings.  We have purchased a computer and a digital projector for exclusive use our branch for use by our speakers and other activities.  We continue to update and follow our 3-year plan.


Report from Leo Barrella, 2013 Little Sir
For the Little Sir, 2013 was quite an interesting year.  We started out learning how to line up speakers for the first few months, learning about the loud speaker system at the Hilton Hotel and finding out about making certificates for the branch.  This was definitely a learning process.

Starting with the speakers.  Our January speaker was a retired F.B.I. Agent that was very involved with the Watergate scandal.  John Minderman gave us a ride with the investigators at Watergate that was surprising as well as informative.  The speaker for Feb. was a retired Navy Seal.  Capt. Marty McNair, a college friend of Rod Hughes led us into the exciting and dangerous life of a Navy Seal.  Since The State Cruise for 2013 was to Alaska we arranged for Tina Powell of Sonoma Travel, along with SIR Tom Molinari of Br. 147 to present a picture of Alaska for the branch at the March luncheon.  April was a, ‘Now For Something Entirely Different’ luncheon.  We had the East Bay Banjo Club entertain us.  There were 20 Banjo players and a washtub player.  It was different and very entertaining. We are still getting positive feedback about this one.  May we had another Navy Captain.  Capt. Kerry O’Brien gave us more of a presentation of the American Flag than talk about it.  It was unique and very inspiring.  June, of course, as Ladies Day Luncheon so no speaker.

July we had Josephine Mele and John Stallwitz of Diablo Valley’s Emeritus College give us a first hand description of modern day Cuba. It invoked some response from the audience both pro and con on Cuba but there was a positive response for the speakers.  August brought us the Senior Helpers.  Jack Bybee’s son is involved in this organization that is dedicated to assisting seniors in improving their lives.  Chris Bybee, along with speaker Keven Reneau, described ways to improve the way seniors can enhance their future.

Sept. was a month that saw a change in speaker recruitment.  A Speaker Committee of four members was formed.  TONY de LOSADA, PUMP PUMPHREY, FRED NELSON and ED COHN became the new Speaker Committee.  They were responsible for the final three speakers for 2013 and for 2014. Tony de Lasoda found the Sept. speaker, Bob Simmons, Walnut Creek City Council member to speak on civic improvements upcoming in Walnut Creek. For Oct. Fred Nelson invited Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson to speak to us.  Mr. Peterson was most informative and entertaining in spite of a computer glitch. Since Dec. was a LDL the last speaker for the year was the Nov. speaker Dr. Ed Cohen. Dr. Cohen was introduced by our own Ed Cohn.  Dr. Cohen , an authority on Folk Music gave a recitation on Woody Guthrie and American Folk Music. With his voice and guitar he put on a good show. That finished the speakers for 2013 and introduced the new Speaker Committee to the Branch.

The complexity of the audio system, proving to much for the Little Sir, made it necessary to form an Audio Committee.  DICK BROOKS, HANS PABLE and DAVE DAVIS took over the responsibility of setting up our audio system with the Hilton’s system. This is not an easy task but Dick Books took charge and the group has a handle on setting up this system.

The making Certificates of Achievements for the Branch is something that needs some computer skills.  BARRY BROWN has had some experience in making certificates an has taken on the job as the Certificate Committee Person.

The reason for these committees is to develop a seamless transition in these areas rather than training a new person every year.

That about sums up the year for the Little Sir for 2013.  It was for me, a fun year.  The Little Sir muddled through with the help of the BEC and others. Thanks a lot to all……………….

And to all a Good Night.

Ladies Day Luncheon

Jack Waddell – VENUE : We held two luncheons this year The spring event was at the Contra Costa Country Club, the Christmas event was held at the Crow Canyon Country Club.. the Contra Costa Country Club continues to prove excellent in terms of service and price. and the terrace has been a desirable feature for the June event . The entertainment for this lunch was Glen Staller, with his classical guitar. This year we was our first time at the Crow Canyon Country club ; We made good use of their dance floor and our entertainment was Steve Swan, a Frank Sinatra impersonator

We have not received any significant negative feedback concerning either these locations, and absent some new developments will probably seek to return to the Contra Costa Club for June 2013, We will be taking an informal survey of the membership to see whether they like Round Hill or Crow Canyon better for the Christmas Luncheon;

ATTENDANCE: At the June luncheon there were 202 paid attendees less 5 “ no shows” for a total of 197 .  At the December luncheon the total paid was 286 with 14 “no shows” for a total of 272 The attendance at the spring luncheon has always been about 70% of the attendance at the December luncheon. As the size of our Branch increases, it may be necessary to look for additional venues or put a cap on the number of attendees, that however is not an immediate concern.

FINANCIAL: Over the past four years we have been able to hold down the price of the luncheon to about $34 at Contra Costa and $37.50 at Round Hill .Crow Canyon is less expensive ($35) because we were able to use Ron Smith’s membership to get a break on the price. All three of these venues are more reasonable than quotes from other venues which we have inquired about including the Hilton. Included in the cost of the luncheon is the price of candy , centerpieces for the tables and door prizes as well as the entertainment.. In the past years we have always managed to break even or return a small unintended profit the Branch. Paul Laderer ,has submitted financial summaries to the BEC for both 2013 luncheons

 18 Hole Activity Report

Darryl Sweetland, Chairman

The 18 Hole Golf committee consisted of:  Chairman – Darryl Sweetland, Assistant Chairman – Mike Hennessy, Membership / Handicaps / Data – Gordon Batesole, Treasurer – Alan Ensign, Assistant Treasurer – Jim Regan, Tournaments – Wally Freeman, Marshals -John Hayes, Technology and Website – Bill Hunter and Dwane McGlothin and Communications – Bill Koski.

In 2013 18 Hole Golf had 107 members and our members played 1,361 rounds of SIR Branch 8 golf.  The average age of the golfers is 75 with the oldest being 92 and the youngest 61.  We had one woman obtain her NCGA membership though our branch, which is a first.  The 107 members of the 18 Hole Golf represent more than 1/3 of the Branch 8 membership.

We scheduled 52 golf events in 2013 of which 26 were held at our home course Boundary Oak Golf Course in Walnut Creek.  We also held 26 golf events at various golf courses in the bay area.  Our annual 2 day Carmel event was held in May and we had 48 participants which included 5 members’ wives.  During 2013 our Tournament Director held 8 Branch 8 Tournaments and Branch 8 golfers also participated in varous State SIR Golf Tournaments and events.


Phil Philpot, Chairman
Barry Brown, Asst. Chairman

Our golf year included 64 different players wandering about three different courses. Most all of our outings included a contest ranging from closest to pin (CTP), fewest putts (FP), greens in regulation (GIR), blind boggy,  and on a whim letting those who wanted to tee up on the fairway at BFGC. The winner of the contests had a choice out of the “gift box”, an accumulation of mostly donated golf balls and stuff. Our highest turn out of players was 36 and the fewest was 10 playing in light showers. We had only two total rain outs for the year.

The NINE HOLE GOLF had their 1st annual championship tournament comprising of three divisions. We had team match made up by a blind draw, an individual low gross champion and an individual low net champion. The team winners were Barry Brown, Wally Freeman, Ken Hodges and Hal Johnson scoring a team net of 24. Individual low gross was Jack Stack with a 40 and individual low net was Bill Bargenquast with a 32. We had several low net ties which the winner was determined by his score on the #1 handicapped hole.

With the approval of the BEC, NINE HOLE GOLF assumed the annual Don Atwater Tournament as an event on our schedule. As a tradition and in honor of Don we will name this event “the DAI” and will try to play on the first Thursday of June.

From January 1st to December 1st we played a total of 1063 (9 hole) rounds as follows;
Our home course is Diablo Hills Golf Course (DHGC) where we played 900 rounds.

There were two Hole in One’s recorded one each for Bill Cooke and George Benkly who will be awarded the coveted feather. We had 66  birdies  and 1154 pars. Our DHGC low gross scorer was Jack Stack with a 36.

We also played Pine Meadow Golf Course (PMGC) with 111 rounds scoring 9 birdies and 122 pars. Low gross scorers were Don Allen, Erland Persson and Jack Stack with 34’s and Buchanan Fields Golf Course (BFGC) with 52 rounds scoring 4 birdies and 83 pars. Low gross scorers were Jack Schweitzer and Wally Freeman with 36.

Branch 8 Sir – Writing Your Life Stories

Roger Sperling, Chairman

We completed the seventh year of Writing Your Life Stories in June 2013 and elected to begin the eighth year (10 monthly sessions) in September.  We currently have 16 members on the roster (below). We are now doing something new—having three facilitators take turns leading the group. The continuation of this activity is testimony to the camaraderie felt among the Sirs when they write and read to each other short stories about their life experiences. It is a pleasure to work with them as they strive to preserve their personal family history—and have fun doing it.



John Mosher, Chairman

2013 was the Couples Bridge group third full year. The Chairman is John Mosher with  Bob Pate as the Assistant Chairman. During the year, Bob very  efficiently filled for 5 months during John’s illness.  Thank you, Bob. Unfortunately, as documents were passed back and forth, some of them have been lost or misplaced. Therefore, the following information is based largely on memory. In addition to the health issues, we also had to move to a new meeting place as Carl’s, Jr. closed. We now neet at Round Table Pizza on Treat Blvd.., on the 3rd Monday, at 1:00 PM.

The group currently has a roster of 14 Regular member couples. All of the Regular couples played at least once with one exception. There are currently 8 Substitute couples, 5 of which played at least once.

Although the goal is to have six tables, 12 couples, it has not always been possible. We ranged from 3 – 6 tables with the average around 4 or 5.No matter how many couples were able to play, a good time was had by all. Everyone seems to enjoy the gatherings with friendly competition and lots of socializing.


 Ed Benson, Chairman Now in it’s eighth year, this popular group of 44 met the third Tuesday of each month at Sir Executive Chef Ed Benson’s home to cook and eat lunch, drink wine, tell lies and engage in fellowship.  It is not necessary to have cooking skills or have a home large enough to hold the typical meeting of 24 Branch 8 Sirs to join the group.  Once a year they put on the Branch 8 BBQ and they include spouses at a Christmas Gala Dinner.  In addition to the 44 Sirs in the Kitchen that attended in 2013, an additional 12 Sir guests attended its events not including the Branch 8 BBQ.


Dan Weller, Chairman

The Bowling Activity continues to languish because of the lack of participants.  It is difficult to understand that the year started with only two out of Branch 8’s over 300 members participating in a SIR Bowling League.

Even more disturbing is that at year-end, only one member is in a SIR bowling league.  This reduction is due to one of the members resigning from Branch 8 SIR due to health problems.

I am counting only those members who are in SIR leagues as Branch 8 bowlers.  In that context, we had two bowlers at the start of the year (Bill Earl and Dan Weller).  At year end, there was only one bowler, Dan Weller.

Now, there are actually several Branch 8 members who are bowlers.  It is just that they do not prefer to bowl in the SIR league for some good reasons.  These people are eligible to participate in the many SIR Bowling Tournaments.  I’m sorry to say that none of these members elected to bowl in any SIR events this year.

In spite of the poor attendance statistics, Branch 8 did well in the bowling area.  Here are some highlights:

  • The four-man team with Dan Weller and three non-Branch 8 bowlers, finished in first place in the fall league session, and then soundly defeated the winner of the winter session in a three game championship event, thus winning the league championship.
  • Dan Weller met one of his “bucket list” goals by averaging 200 for the 2011-2012 season.

Heads Up Walkers

Dan Weller, Chairman

2013 started with a new, streamlined process for the Heads-Up Walkers.  Starting in January:

  1. The weekly schedule and location for all 50 walks were generated by a random selection of walks from our walk inventory.
  2. Each walk was assigned a “leader”.  Members were encouraged to trade leader dates in the event of conflicts with other plans.

We averaged 10 members on each walk.  Considering that we had 50 walks and that each person walked three miles on each walk, the Heads-Up Walkers netted about 1,500 miles of good exercise in 2013.

It is interesting to note that four of the members (Peterson, Raaka, Tenzer, and Weller) and their spouses shared a dining table on the SIR Alaska Cruise.

 Lets Dine In #1 Bob Price- Chairman This is a couples activity. We meet every other month at a members home. The host provides a main dish and other members round out the dinner with accompanying sides. We each add a favorite wine to be shared . SIRS participating are: Ron Cassano, Ed Benson, Stephen Deness, Dan Franklin, Joe Karg, Walt Schick, and Jim Lunn.

Winefinders #2.  Ron Cassano, Chairman. This is a couples activity. We meet every other month at a members home. The host selects a wine to taste costing under $15.00. Each couple brings appetizer to share. The wines are rated on a blind tasting. SIRS participating are: Ron Cassano. Ed Benson, Joe Karg, Bill Eich, Derek Southern, and Tommie Thompson.

Ron Cassano, chairman

ANNUAL BRANCH 8 BBQ   Ed Benson, Chairman – For the last five years, Sirs in the Kitchen has held the Branch 8 BBQ in June.  For the last four years it has been held at Castle Rock Park, a beautiful setting at the backside of Mt. Diablo.  Typically around 110 Sirs and guest enjoy BBQ’ed steak, beans, salads, desserts and copious amounts of wine, beer, soft drinks and even some water.   The party typically begins around 4:00 p.m. and the last dog dies around dusk.  A great time is had by all as evidenced by the growing attendance from year to year.  First come, first served sign-ups are typically first taken in March and spaces tend to go fast.  Come join us!

Book Exchange

Tom Kerns, Chairman

 This activity displays a large volume of used books, DVDs, and CDs at every luncheon.  The idea is to bring in a good book you have read and exchange it for another.  

Computers and Technology (Area 2)

Derek Southern, Vice Chair – Branch 8

This activity is led by Phil Goff (br 116) Chair, and Derek Southern (br 8) Vice Chair.  For 2014, Neil Schmidt (br 116) replaces Phil Goff.

The Branch 8 representatives for this activity are Bill Phelon and Hans Pable.  Bill also serves as the membership chair for the CAT group.

Meetings for CAT are on the third Thursday of the month, except for June and December.  The meetings begin at 9:15 AM and are held at the Walnut Creek Elks Club.  The usual monthly programs are either guest speakers, or activity members, presenting information on the latest in computers and technology, including software developments and consumer electronics.  Some of the subjects covered in 2013 included a presentation on AT&T’s Smart Home; discussions of Cloud Computing, Tablet Computers, Internet TV, Tax Preparation Software and Windows 8.1.

Between 44 and 75 Area 2 SIRs attend each monthly session.  During 2013, 48 Branch 8 members attended at least one CAT meeting.


In 2013 we had three bus trips to different parts of San Francisco.  In March our group traveled to the Asian Art Museum to see the Terracotta Warriors exhibit and after a lunch in Chinatown we visited Buddha’s Universal Church to enjoy a performance of “Turmoil’s at Professor Ming’s Mansion.  In May we offered a two part tour where we first viewed the movie Vertigo while enjoying hot dogs and popcorn and a week later traced the key venues in the movie on a bus tour in the City.  November had a bus load of Branch 8 SIRs following the 49 mile drive around an entirely different list of sites in the 49 square miles that encompass the City of San FranciscoThe initial meeting of this new activity started out with breakfast and a guest speaker sharing tales of travel.  We had a total of 30 people at this first session and topics ranged from preferences in types of travel, to sources of information on air fares and accommodations.  Additional topics covered were travel insurance, packing and tips on selecting sites to visit.  All in all it was a very interesting exchange of information.  The group voted to continue the activity and will probably meet on a quarterly basis.

Fishing Activity

Carl Moyer, Chairman

The salmon season was disappointing as all the fish went north and fishing out the gate was just sad. We did catch a lot of trout on well attended trips to San Pablo Reservoir and Shadow Cliffs.  However, it was a banner year for rockfish and ling cod, the best year in decades in fact with big black rockfish coming easy and ling plentiful. Sturgeon and stripers were not as obliging, with the unending winds being a prohibiting factor. Our annual backyard barbecue and Christmas party were notable for great camaraderie and fine food.  We had three fish fries, including our annual get together with the Branch 8 Sirs in the Kitchen.  We made farther trips to Oregon, Alaska, Mexico, the Klamath river, Lake Davis, Lake Oroville, and the upper Sacramento River. We hope for less wind in 2014, more salmon, and lots of fun.

 Bargain Wines

Ed Benson, Chairman

The Sir Bargain Wine activity entered its third year in 2013, and it has proved popular.  The objective of the group is to let members take advantage of BevMo and Grocery Outlet (as well as Safeway, Trader Joe’s etc.) major wine sales; therefore, the meetings are called on an ad hoc basis, usually four or five times a year.  The Chairman notifies members of the meeting, and he and volunteers purchase wines, and the participants meet, sample and decide if those wines purchased are candidates for further purchase.  The tasting is followed by a group dinner.  All costs are shared on a pro-rata basis.  The tastings are either held at a member’s home or one of the retail outlets; the dinners are held at either a restaurant or the home of the Sir volunteer where the tasting was held.  Results of the tastings are published to all Branch 8 members through email.

Wine Tasting

Gary Plisco, Chairman

This was our last year for this unique wine tasting activity.  A new chairman could not be found and members were reluctant to volunteer to host so Chairman Plisco closed the activity as of 12/1/13.  At the close there were 22 SIR members on the e-mail list for the group.  Members were expected to volunteer to host a tasting, select a varietal to taste, purchase the wine (7 or 8 bottles-cost shared) and tasters brought food to share.  Number of tasters was determined by hosts’ available space for the sit down tasting.  Although the group normally tasted every other month, only 3 tasting’s were held in 2013.  The first, in January, for 14 tasters, was hosted by Dave & Barbara Platter.  They served 8 Syrah wines.  It was unique in that Dave provided at no cost to tasters a $110 bottle of Shadowbrook Syrah ( winery located in Walnut Creek off Northgate Road).  It was a winner.  Others ranged from $10-$16.  In March, Gary & Sonia Plisco hosted a tasting of Petite Syrah ranging from $10-$47 for 14 tasters.  A wine from Lodi (Earthquake-$20) was the winner.  In July, Jim & Sandy Sowell hosted a tasting of French Chablis (value $20-$73) for 14.  The $20 wine was the winner.  A tasting was scheduled for October but cancelled due to inadequate participation.  All the tastings were highlighted by a brief period for tasting and discussion of the aroma/taste of each wine followed by comradery while tasters consumed the remaining wine and the food brought to share.  The activity was started in 2006 and Chaired by Gary Plisco with Bill Barnard as Assistant Chairman.

SIRS IN THE KITCHEN  Ed Benson, Chairman– Now in it’s eighth year, this popular group of 44 met the third Tuesday of each month at Sir Executive Chef Ed Benson’s home to cook and eat lunch, drink wine, tell lies and engage in fellowship.  It is not necessary to have cooking skills or have a home large enough to hold the typical meeting of 24 Branch 8 Sirs to join the group.  Once a year they put on the Branch 8 BBQ and they include spouses at a Christmas Gala Dinner.  In addition to the 44 Sirs in the Kitchen that attended in 2013, an additional 12 Sir guests attended its events not including the Branch 8 BBQ.

Couples Golf

Phil Derby, Chairman

Golf for couples had another great year of participation, friendship and enjoyment.  All 12 monthly games were played at Diablo Hills and all but one lunch was at the Greenery Restaurant.  Due to a temporary closure of the Greenery, we diverted 1 lunch to the Black Bear Diner.

The group’s has grown significantly, +25% and we now have an average turnout of 20 golfers.  As of the 1st of December, our roster consists of 17 SIR’s (attached).  This compares to 13 SIR’s a year ago. Additionally, we have encouraged  “Marshal Creativity” wherein the marshals have the option to modify the game formats to include games other than standard Match Play.  In 2013 we played formats such as “3 Club”, “Scramble”, “Best Ball” and in November it was “Steichen’s Surprise”.

While we continue to play all of our golf at Diablo Hills, we are investigating playing at possible other locations in order to take advantage of some of the very reasonable “Stay & Play” packages offered in the greater Bay area.

Margaret Batesole continues to an outstanding job of preparing our monthly activity reports and she is the equivalent of our Assistant Chair Person.

Singles Dine Out

Bon Wadors, Chairman

Our activity has a simple format. Each month one of the group chooses a restaurant in the area with reasonable prices and acts as host. We meet at 5:30 and are out by 7:00PM. By then we have discussed current events and traded ailments.  In the past year we had three members leave the group and we added one for a net of 13. Jack Stack replaced Steve Tiller as assistant chairman.

Hikers Activity

Phil Trapp, Chairman

The hikers meet on the second Tuesday of the month for an EASY hike and on the last Tuesday for a MODERATE/HARD hike.  There were 25 hikes in 2013 with attendance ranging from 2-15 hikers (not including guests) each hike – or an average of 10 hikers per hike – all having a good time.  Each hike is chosen and led by a member of the group, generating a wide range of locations and member vistas seen from all over the East Bay.  The Hikers group encourages hiker families and friends to join us.  We had 39 guests participants in 2013.  This year we added one special hike to the program.  Coordinating with Larry McEwen, a member of the Mt. Diablo Interpretative Association and assistant chair of Explore and Eat, the SIR hikers of Oct 1st went on a tarantuia nature hike in Mitchell Canyon on Mt Diablo finding 5 tarantulas on the trails.  Active membership in SIR Hike3rs increased this year 27 to 33 (not including tarantulas).


Dick Schally, Chairman

In 2013 we had three bus trips to different parts of San Francisco.  In March our group traveled to the Asian Art Museum to see the Terracotta Warriors exhibit and after a lunch in Chinatown we visited Buddha’s Universal Church to enjoy a performance of “Turmoil’s at Professor Ming’s Mansion.  In May we offered a two part tour where we first viewed the movie Vertigo while enjoying hot dogs and popcorn and a week later traced the key venues in the movie on a bus tour in the City.  November had a bus load of Branch 8 SIRs following the 49 mile drive around an entirely different list of sites in the 49 square miles that encompass the City of San Francisco.


Travel Club

Dick Schally, Chairman, Ed Cohn, Assistant


The initial meeting of this new activity started out with breakfast and a guest speaker sharing tales of travel.  We had a total of 30 people at this first session and topics ranged from preferences in types of travel, to sources of information on air fares and accommodations.  Additional topics covered were travel insurance, packing and tips on selecting sites to visit.  All in all it was a very interesting exchange of information.  The group voted to continue the activity and will probably meet on a quarterly basis.

Dominoes – Dan Rinaldi, Chairman

The group has 10 members and is now chaired by Dan Rinaldi and, Co-chaired by Jerry Foott.  The Group plays at Round Table Pizza  located at 2960 Treat Blvd  on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month. Time of play is 11:00am – 2:00pm.  Each member contributes $5.00 for the prize money at the end of the day.

Duplicate Bridge 1 

Bob Kahl, Chairman

Duplicate I meets once per month at Chateau II in Pleasant Hill for 4 tables of Duplicate Bridge. We play 21 hands or “boards” at each session, which lasts about 3 hours. We have 16 regular participants and have another 12 or so players that substituted one or more times.

The competition is keen yet friendly. While some pairs tend to score above average, the play is not dominated by any one pair.

This group started many years ago and rotated the play between the members’ homes. The play was limited to 4 tables as that is all the typical home could accommodate. When one of our members moved into an assisted living facility, we found a place where we could play regularly. This works well as the set-up is minimal and refreshments are provided. We are still limited to 4 tables because of space. However, due to the constant need for substitutes, many more than the regular 16 members get to play


Duplicate Bridge 2,  Max Creamer, Chairman

Duplicate Bridge 3, Jerry Milano, Chairman

 These activities are combined .  The group meets the 4th Friday of each month (except December) at the Greenery restaurant in Walnut Creek.  We play 5-6 tables (20-24 players) over a four hour period.  We typically have a few substitutions, other Branch 8 Sirs or SIR wives, each month from a substitution list of over two dozen people.  Players are relatively experienced.


Larry Lange,  Chairman

January 14th – Astronomy Magazine (AM) DVD Series: Constellations
February 18th – AM:   Ride a Comet
March 11th – Guest Speaker:  Karto Keating
April 8th – AM: Catastrophes That Changed the Planets
May13th – AM: Microscopic Universe
June – no meeting
July 8th – Guest Speaker:  Pat Kelly
August 12th – AM:  How the Solar System Was Made
September 9th – I can’t find my notes re subject and the Hotline Article is no help.  A senior moment.
October:  No meeting –Technical issues with the equipment
November 11th – Alex Filippenko’s DVD Lecture:  Comets


Mike Anderson, Chairman

  • February – Dick Brooks presented his works in “Ships in a Bottle” and other wood crafting items and related tools for crafting his works.
  • March – Alan Hodgens displayed photos, silks, and other items related to his years in the pari-mutual racing business.
  • April – Jim Sowell exhibited some of the miniature racing cars and associated pictures and tools that helped us appreciate this hobby/craft in which he and his grandchild are participants.
  • May – Pump Pumphrey and his associates treated us to the digital photography world with some great photo exhibits.
  • July – Bob Sherman brought to us a collection of photos, medals, and newspaper articles related to his accomplishments as a Grand Master diving competitor.
  • August – Roger Sperling gave us an exhibit of equipment and photographs that reacquainted us with stereo-photograpy.
  • September – Larry Lange and his associates in the interest of astronomy gave us a presentation of their works and a look at the sun through a specially filtered telescope.
  • November – Ron Shahade shared with us his craftsmanship in wood sculpting and includes an array of tools he uses in his wood working art.


Wine Finders 1,2,3

#1 Co-Chairmen: Bob Price and Tony de Lasada
#2 Chairman – Ron Cassano
#3 Chairman – Larry McEwen

We are a group of wine lovers who are primarily interested in good wine for a good price, ergo high value.  It is a couples  event, with each couple bringing a bottle of wine and appetizers to be shared with all members.  Cost of wine is limited to a maximum of $15, and value bonus points are awarded for wines under $10, and double bonus points for under $6.  If after tasting the various  close second  wines, one likes the $15 selection best, and a second wine almost as much for only $5, member has the option to  choose accordingly.

  • This past year (16 months), we successfully transformed from a 36 member group to three (3) smaller groups of 12 to 14 to better match the comfort level of member’s homes, as we take turns hosting the event.  Our most recent gathering was a gala holiday event and reunion of all 3 groups, with sparkling wine as the shared beverage.  All seemed to enjoy the mutual gathering and seeing everyone under one roof.
  • All three groups try to meet separately on the 2nd Thursday of even numbered months (i.e. Feb. April, etc), and each group separately makes its wine selection.  Intent is that some cross-pollination occurs where a member of one group may participate participate in one of the other groups when space is available.  Wine selections this past year were Merlot – Calif(Feb); Asian Wine ‘Sake”(April); Merlot -Int’l.(June); Sauvignon Blanc-Int’l (Aug); Italian Reds, (Oct); and Sparkling Wine (celebratory, no ranking) Dec..
  • Membership grew by four (4) for the year.  All are looking forward to a bountiful and prosperous New Year!

Explore and Eat Activity

Ron Woods, Chairman

Explore and Eat included the following events for 2013:
April – Bill Hoey Day at the Races
May – Eugene O’Neil Tao House Tour and lunch
August – Watercolor Art Exhibit and lunch at the Legion of Honor
September – Diebenkorn Art Exhibit and lunch at the Legion of Honor
October – Multi-Branch Day a the Races
November – Greystone Culinary Institue Tour and lunch

 Digital Photo Club

Pump Pumphrey, Chairman

The group of 20 continued to meet mostly on the 3rd Friday of each month at  member’s homeWe talked about individual insights and experiences with cameras, lenses, techniques, photo software, new developments, and of course the photos we took.  Some members are just amateurs who really like photography and some are so proficient that they should qualify as “Semi-Professionals”.  As time goes on, the available photographic equipment keeps improving and dropping in price, as the quality and number and kinds of programs used to manipulate the manipulate the photos.

Good modern cameras and the modern image-enhancing software have incredible capabilities if you know about them.  Some of us are too busy taking pictures to read the manuals, and we profit greatly from the guidance and information garnered from the more knowledgeable among us.  Beyond the viewing and discussion of photo images beyond the lore of equipment, programs and techniques, we also share our personal experiences and a generous portion of good fellowship.


Rubber Bridge

Basic Bridge

Rod Spicer, Chairman

Rubber Bridge and Basic Bridge had to find a new venue after Carl’s Jr. closed.  Both bridge groups now operate out of Chateau lll, 175 Cleveland Road, Pleasant Hill.  Rubber Bridge meets from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the same location.  Rubber Bridge has a charge of %3 for the prize money and is for SIR members only.  Basic Bridge has no prize money and is co-ed and promotes interest in the game by being non-cometitive and encourages questions at all times.

Bocce Ball – Open Play

Bob Barnes, Chairman

Bocce Ball is now in play.  Any SIR member who enjoys Bocce Ball or wants to learn how to play may join the weekly contests.  We play every Friday at 8:30 am at the Newhall  Park Bocce Courts (Ayers Rd and Turtle Creek Dr) in Concord.  We usually play three games and end around 10:30 am.  If you have never played then we will show you how to play, explain the rules, and answer all questions.  Spouses and friends are welcome.  We play until the October time frame.  It depends on the status of the weather and the condition of the courts.  The results of all games are posted on a weekly basis in the Bocce Ball section of the Branch 8 website.  The results are based on the percent won with a minimum number of games.

Bocce Ball – League Play

Bob Barnes, Chairman

SIR Branch 8 members and their partners are members of the team that is called Sir Bocce.  The SIR Bocce team participates in the Concord Bocce Generation League.  CBF League plays throughout the week at both parks but more games are played at Newhall Park.  CBF League play began on May 6, 2013.  SIR Bocce plays on Tuesday evenings (6:30 pm – 8:30 pm) at Baldwin Park.  We play 3 games each evening.

Book Group

Steve Tiller, Chairman

We have switched over from a bi-monthly format to monthly meetings.  All of which were at my home in Martinez (1465 Ashwood).  We start at 2 pm and take about an hour or an hour and half.  We changed in the last year along with a monthly format to a prearranged monthly selection of which we would put out in January and July.  We have had a mixture of novels, histories and commentaries.  Included were:

Life of PI
The Generals
The Empire of the Summer Moon
Killer Angels

In the new year, we will probable return to the bi-monthly format as we will be looking for some new ideas to generate a little more interest in the group.

Cellar Fillers Wine Activity

Jim Sowell, Chairman

 Our group is open to Branch 8 members, applicants and guests.  Spouse and significant others are welcome at the other four wine related activities of the Branch.  CFWA held three meetings during 2013.  They were attended by 16 Branch 8 members and two guests.  Several  of the members attended two or all three of the meetings, bringing the total attendance at the three meetings to 34.  Participants enjoyed a lunch of make-your-own sandwiches and fixin’s, then sampled at least four white wines and five reds.  As each wine was passed around, attendees tasted, discussed and ranked them on a simple scale of “Would Buy Immediately”,  “Probably Would Buy”,  “Probably Would Not Buy”.  After the meeting the results were posted to the CFWA page on our Branch 8 website.  The white wines were ranked higher overall than the red wines.  Wines were purchased by a committee of members from value priced retailers, such as Grocery Outlet stores in Oakland and Pleasant Hill, BevMo, Trader Joe’s Food Maxx, and Costco.  CFWA expects to hold five or six meetings in 2014 following the same format starting in January 2014.

Dine In 2 Activity

Ed Cohn, Chairman

 Dine In 2 is alive and well doing the SIR thing:  We had the usual number of events this year at the various members homes and they are getting better and better.  We are thinking of changes our name to Gourmet Dining 2 in 2014.  Unfortunately we are not accepting new members at this time as ten people is all that we can handle.  The meals are varied and the host chooses the main dish.  All the other goodies that accompany that dish are prepared by the members and they are usually a “can you top this” offering, as well as a bottle of wine.  The setting is usually top drawer.  Next year will be more of the same and as far as I can see there will be no openings in the near future as we all excited and looking forward to the next extravaganzas.


Ek Keller, Chairman 

There are now eight (8) separate poker groups of seven (7) players.  This an activity open to all other Area 2 branches.  There were 51 different players.  Each group had its own “coordinator” or sub-chairman and meets monthly on a scheduled day and time at a members home.

Sums in Retirement

George Schulze, Chairman 

The Sums in Investment met eleven times in 2013.  There were as many as 55 to a low of 34 attending depending on the speaker or the subject.  Our branch core attendees were 15 with a few lookers.