.In 1995 Jerry Woelfel, President of the Venice-Nokomis Federated Republican Women’s Club, organized a group in Venice called “Coffee and Politics.” This group, comprised of interested men and women, met informally at the 250 building on Tamiami Trail for approximately two years. In 1997, the group decided to formalize its status and become chartered through the Republican Party of Sarasota County and later through the Republican Party of Florida.
The first president of the new club, now named the Republican Club of South Sarasota County (RCSSC), was Harold Hart. With its newly chartered status came the idea for a formal speaker at each monthly meeting. Because the meetings were usually held at noon, member Pat Klewers was in charge of serving snacks. Robert and Jerry Woelfel continued to be generous hosts in providing a meeting place at their 250 building until the membership outgrew the capacity of the meeting room in 2004.
Following a search by outgoing president Richard Brady, the 2004 newly elected president Don O’Nesky selected the Venice Chamber of Commerce building as the new location for RCSSC monthly meetings. This building provided not only a much larger meeting room, but much more available parking for members. Meetings continued to be held on the second Wednesday of each month. After the sudden passing of Pat Klewers in 2005, Gladys Green took over preparation of snacks with the help of Alice Letizi. As the membership increased, we began serving a light lunch rather than snacks. Volunteers on Gladys’ team were Pete Green, Alice Letizi, Jo Henry, Peachie and Dale DeYoung, and Mary O’Nesky.
Because of inspired leadership and excellent programs, the club continued to grow in strength and influence. In 2009 another move to a larger meeting place was necessary to accommodate the increasing number of members. The Venice Gardens Civic Association, 406 Shamrock Boulevard, was selected by then-president Ron Filipkowski as the new meeting location and is the current location of our monthly meetings.
The presidents who have led in the development of the RCSSC are Harold Hart (1997), Dave Brown (1998), Russell Strange (1999-2000), Francis Kendrick (2001-2002), Richard Brady (2003), Don O’Nesky (2004-2005), Barbara Hines (2006), Jack Malone (2007-2008), Ron Filipkowski (2009-2010), Peachie DeYoung (2011-2012), John Harrison (2013-2014), Barbara Vaughn (2015-2016) and current President Tom Van Dyke (2017-2018).