Redwood Empire MOAA
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 Sub-Chapter Information

  SUB-CHAPTER OFFICERS - (At the present time there are no currently active Sub-Chapters)

Sonoma Valley

Lake County Sub-Chapter:

[History] The Lake County Sub-Chapter of MOAA was formed about 1990 under direction of COL Tommy Gilliam, AUS and assisted by CWO Robert Russell, USA and Col Leonard Isabelle, USAF. COL Gilliam proposed the idea of a sub-chapter to MOAA because of our remote location and the travel time (usually at night over mountain roads) needed to attend chapter functions. We believe that this sub-chapter was the first in the country. The idea has since spread with MOAA calling such groups "Satellite Chapters."

Subsequently, the Redwood Empire Chapter offered to absorb mailing costs associated with publicity for the sub-chapter in return for chapter membership, without restriction on sub-chapter organization or activities and some limited financial assistance. The chapter also offered a seat on their Board of Directors for a Lake County representative (initially the sub-chapter leader) and space in the chapter newsletter for publicity.

The Lake County Sub-Chapter began with about 10 retired officers and met bimonthly on the third Thursday of the month at various restaurants in the county for lunch.

Representative - None at this time


Sonoma Valley Sub-Chapter:

Representative - None at this time


Mendocino Sub-Chapter:

Representative to Board - Mrs. Myrna M. Hurst, AUX 468-0146



Activated in 1964, the Redwood Empire Chapter is comprised of the northwestern California counties of Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte*, stretching several hundred miles from the Bay Area to the Oregon border. For decades, organized Chapter activity was concentrated in Santa Rosa in Sonoma County where Chapter headquarters was located, with other parts of the Chapter area virtually ignored.

Finally, in the early 1990’s, Chapter members in Lake County, of their own volition, organized a Sub-Chapter to engage in local activity. Then, in 2002, the Chapter Board recognized what had long been apparent, that the remaining three counties and the southeastern portion of Sonoma County (Sonoma Valley) were still being ignored. In that year, the Chapter 2nd Vice President organized additional Sub-Chapters in Mendocino County and, combined, Humboldt/Del Norte Counties, followed in 2003 by the Sonoma Valley Sub-Chapter (city of Sonoma, communities of Glen Ellen and Kenwood). The remainder of Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa where the Chapter headquarters was located, was designated Sonoma County Main.

During these developmental years, there were over 300 officer members in the Redwood Empire Empire Chapter, with 400 plus other MOAA officer members located within the Chapter boundaries who had not joined the Chapter. The latter have been periodically identified from rosters provided by MOAA and used for mass-mailing recruiting campaigns over the past  eight years, usually two years apart. Each of these campaigns brought from 30 to 50 new members into the Chapter, counteracting attrition.

All of the three Sub-Chapter development efforts as conducted by the Chapter 2nd Vice President proceeded along the same lines. The areas selected for Sub-Chapter development (Mendocino, Humboldt/Del Norte and Sonoma Valley) typically had from 50 to 75 officers each as possible members. First, existing Chapter members in the target area, usually few in number, were queried by mail to assess their interest in forming a Sub-Chapter. Then, from the current MOAA roster mentioned above, MOAA members living in the target area and not belonging to the Chapter were queried by mail to determine their degree of interest. Those officers responding and showing interests were then further contacted by phone, informed that an organizational meeting would take place, and screened to identify possible Sub-Chapter leaders (Commander, Vice Commander, Adjutant). A pool of likely Sub-Chapter members was thus established.

An organizational meeting was then scheduled. If potential or volunteer Sub-Chapter leadership had been identified, they were consulted regarding time and place. The meeting was then arranged around a luncheon or dinner with all meal expenses paid by the Chapter. Formal invitations for the meeting, with reply requested, were then mailed to all Chapter members and to non-Chapter members expressing an interest. This typically resulted in between 15 to 20 acceptances.

The organizational meeting was then chaired and conducted by the Chapter 2nd Vice President. He handed out an agenda and list of attendees. He stated briefly the Chapter history, organization, area of responsibility and current activities. He then discussed reasons for forming the Sub-Chapters, mainly to make MOAA activity available to all MOAA members throughout the Chapter area. He then outlined suggested organization and activities of the Sub-Chapter and relationship with the parent Chapter. Then, after assuring general agreement with the formation of the Sub-Chapter, he held an election. In all cases, nominees for the Commander position had been identified beforehand and between these and nominations from the floor all three leadership positions were voted on and filled.

The new Commander then took over the meeting and began planning future Sub-Chapter activity with those present. At the end of the meeting the Chapter 2nd Vice President with few exceptions obtained applications for Chapter membership from those present who were not already Chapter members.

All the Sub-Chapters now have between 25 and 50 officer members, plus some auxiliaries, and typically hold luncheon or dinner meetings every other month. With spouses/guests included attendees usually number between 20 and 30. A speaker or some other program is typically featured. Once a year, at one of these meetings,  the Sub-Chapter holds an election to select their Sub-Chapter leaders and a Director for the Chapter Board for the following year. Chapter Board officers, including the 2nd Vice President, periodically visit the Sub-Chapter meetings.

The existence of the Sub-Chapters is documented in the Chapter Bylaws. Chapter members living in a Sub-Chapter area are assumed to also be members of the applicable Sub-Chapter. Each active Sub-Chapter is represented by a Director on the Chapter Board. The Chapter 2nd Vice President is responsible for coordinating support and providing guidance to the Sub-Chapters, while exercising liaison between them and the Chapter. Other Chapter functions, Membership in particular, coordinate their operations through the Sub-Chapter leadership. The Commander, Vice Commander, Adjutant leadership structure is suggested in the Bylaws and is generally being followed. As with Sonoma County Main Chapter members, Sub-Chapter members pay Chapter membership dues and vote, in most cases by absentee ballot, in annual Chapter election meetings, or on other occasions when a general membership vote is required.

 Peter D. Wolffe   
Major, USA Retired

* - Humboldt and Del Norte Subchapters have left the Redwood Empire Chapter.