Akron German Family Society

Akron German Family Society

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Akron German Family Society celebrates 60 years!

The Akron German Family Society's 60th Anniversary celebration began with a Catholic Mass celebrated by Fr. David Misbrener. He and his family have a long connected history to the Akron German Family Society. After Mass, Erika Leipold served as the evenings Master of Ceremonies as she welcomed all members, guests, and distinguished guests in attendance.

Erika orchestrated the evening perfectly in her warm welcome to all. She shared how 60 years ago, Mr. & Mrs. Josef Rickert had a vision and founded the Deutscher Familien Verein to promote their German heritage and keep its traditions alive today. A special thanks was given to the Rickerts and everyone who followed in their footsteps. Erika went on to say, "the friendships “Kameradschaft” have continued over the years and tonight we celebrate the generations who've made life-long friends throughout this club and beyond.  We celebrate the hard work and dedication of our presidents and their boards, our past and present  group leaders, including Guenter Moellmann, who for many years served as a youth group leader as well as director of the Harmonie Singers.  Mrs. Liz Miller and her daughters who leads the Children’s group, presented most recently at the Muttertag program and the Jr. Youth Group, Youth Group and Tanzgruppe leaders who danced during the evenings 60th celebration. The soccer organization, under the direction of Marty Misbrener, whose involvement with the soccer program spans nearly 60 years is one in which we are very proud.  It is through their dedication to the same vision that has kept our German Family Society a strong as it is today.  We extend heartfelt thanks not only to them, but also to the generations of parents and grandparents of our youth for taking the time to support and promote this heritage.  The Rickert’s vision is very much alive today, evidenced by the many activities of the groups within the German Family Society".
A moment of silence was shared to remember and honor those who are no longer among us, but whose spirit is alive in our many fond memories.
Rudy Stagl read the special proclamation from Akron Mayor Donald Plusquellic's office honoring our 60 years of service and German Heritage in honoring our club with a day of recognition.

Mr. Robert Keller, accompanied by his wife Phyllis, was the evenings first guest speaker. Mr. Keller is currently serving as Brimfield Township Executive, following many years of service as Brimfield Township Fire Chief.  In total, his career in fire department services has spanned 40 years. Mr Keller gave special recognition to the evenings 60th anniversary celebration. He stated how proud the city of Brimfield is in our clubs momentous anniversary. Also, he shared how much our clubs events and members are valued and respected for continuing in such a rich German culture.

Erika Leipold introduced the evenings next guest speaker, Mr. Robert Filippi, who is currently the Landespraesident (National President), Landesverband der Donauschwaben USA. Mr. Filippi is a long-time friend and supporter of the German Family Society and is fellow member and past-president of the Cleveland German Club, widely known as “Lenau Park”. Mr. Filippi has an extensive background in the national Donauschwaben organization.  He was born in Friesheim, Kreisstadt Regensburg Germany, emigrating to the United States in 1959 and settling in the Cleveland area.  He is married to Elisabeth Mueller in 1975, and they have three children, who are also active in the Cleveland German club. Mr. Filippi captured the audience with his message of the importance of tradition. to love our culture, as well as to revel in the moments that bring "goosebumps". He spoke with such an engaging message that kept youth, that filled the front of the hall, holding on to his every word. The compassion and emotion filled Mr. Filippi's words that conveyed the true message of the "family".  He led the youth and the entire audience to moments of remembering each and every close moment in which we share together. This is including those in which his own children shared while with our Akron youth though the years.

The evenings next guest speaker was Rudy Stagl, the current president of the Akron German Family Society. Rudy follows in the footsteps of his father, Rudy Stagl Sr., who served as President of the German Family Society in 1964 and again from 1969 to 1971.  Erika shared a little-known fact…Rudy has the distinction of being the first German Family Society president who was born in the United States. A little history of Rudy, for more than 20 years, Rudy served on the German Family Society board, 16 of those years as Vice President.  Currently, he is serving in his second year as president.
Rudy, who along with the support  his wife, Amy, the many dedicated board members, group leaders, as well as the support of the Club membership, is guiding the German Family Society to a continuing vibrant future.  Erika went on to acknowledge Rudy in his steady leadership as a testament to the many past presidents and their boards, who themselves dedicated many selfless hours in order to promote the cultural and social aspects of our German heritage.
He and his wife, Amy, have 3 daughters, Alaina, Gina, and Marina who've also been active in the Club’s activities.  Rudy shared his early childhood to current experiences and close ties with his German culture and how important the German Family Society is to he and his family. Rudy devotes great efforts toward the success of our club in particular to our new Kuchen Haus or cake and dessert house.

Mrs. Helga Hippich, President of our ladies club of the Frauengruppe spoke as well.  Following in the footsteps of the immediate past-president of the Frauengruppe, Mrs. Anna Koenig and several others before her, Helga has served in her current position for 15 dedicated years.  Previous to serving in her current position, she coordinated the Kuchen area for 6 years.  In addition to the many hours she and her Frauengruppe board members spend in the kitchen preparing the wonderful menus for club and private functions. Helga emigrated with her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Guld, in 1951.  She and her husband, Gregg, have 2 children and 6 grandchildren. Helga is ever humble in congratulating all those that help her so tirelessly in the kitchen. She is overjoyed in seeing the youth become dedicated as well as their parents in the functions of the club. Helga is a great example for all of us.

Erica introduced Frau Anna Koenig, who was the last speaker of the evening celebration. Anna recently accepted the position of head of our culture clubs or Kulturleiterin. She is following the passing of Frau Barbara Tonhaeuser who served in the same position for many years.  As culture group leader, Anna hopes to instill in our youth some German language skills which may serve them well in the future, and to share the rich history that is our club.  The job of explaining why our club and the other Donauschwaben clubs exist and why we hope to continue the Rickert’s vision into the future is an important task.  It is one that Anna takes to heart and works hard to promote.  To the young people in our club, we hope you open your hearts and minds to the history of the many youth groups who preceded you so that this information will also be an important part of your own participation in your group today.  All of us who have had the privilege of being part of any of the youth groups over the years, can tell you that we've made life-long friends, an experience that we will treasure the rest of our lives.  You are an important part of this history.

Under the direction of co-leaders, Carolyn Langenfeld and Lisa Blaser, there are currently 43 total members in 2 age groups ranging from 8-11 and 12-14 years of age.  Carolyn and Lisa are very proud of the fact that many of these youngsters have moved up together from their time in the Kindergruppe.  In addition to the coordination of practices and performances involved in leading the group, Carolyn & Lisa try to make it fun for the kids and parents alike.  They enjoy a lot of “Kameradschaft” with things like weekend trips, during which both the kids and their parents can meet and share friendships in different environments.  The junior youth did a wonderful job with their dance for the evening celebration. Soon followed by the outstanding performances from the Youth group as lead by Steve and Carri Sensius.

As leaders of the Youth group over the past 4 years, as well as being long-standing, dedicated members of the GFS, Steve and Carri Sensius have dedicated many hours to ensuring that the members of the group continue to foster the German heritage through songs, dance performances, and in some years, visits to Germany and other European countries.  There are currently 43 total members in the group ranging in age from 14-25.  32 members in 2 groups presented two dances on the evenings celebration:  The Ah-Ha!, choreographed by Aaron Englehart and Hannah Thompson, and the Echt Tirolerish.  
The joy in the faces of each of the dance members is evident of the outward signs of a healthy club and one in which has the beginnings of many years of involvement of the rich German culture in their lives.

Last but not least, The Tanzgruppe performed, with co-leaders Aaron Engelhart and Steve Sensius are keep the German traditions alive by co-leading the DFV Tanzgruppe, a young adults dance group whose 28 members enjoy a long-standing friendship with each other. Like so many of us growing up in our second home called the German Family Society, friendships are an integral part of this group. In addition to serving as the Tanzgruppe leader for the GFS, Aaron was recently appointed National Landesverband Kultur representative.  This evening, they will pay tribute to our former president Joe Geiser, who served as president of this Club for 20 years before passing away at much too young an age last year.  The dance performed by the Tanzgruppe is titled simply, “Joe Geiser’s Tanz.  Ladies & Gentlemen, the GFS Tanzgruppe.
After the dances, Rudy Stagl presented a gift to Fr, David Misbrener in commemorating his 20th year in the priesthood. Also, gifts were presented to our guest speakers Mr. Keller and Mr. Filippi.

The food was delicious and well prepared by the many dedicated kitchen volunteers.
I, and our German Family Society members, wish to extend a heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Erika Leipold for providing an outstanding service to the evenings 60th anniversary celebration as our Master of Ceremonies. Well done Erika!! To Amy Stagl, thank you for your great efforts, time, and special care that you devoted in creating the 60th celebration booklet.

Rich Reikowski

Also, a VERY special thank you to David Hall for the outstanding pictures included in this blog.
Higher resolution images for printing or cropping can be found here.