University Club
 Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1929

To the late Charles E. Stearns of the Harvard Class of 1891 is due the credit of starting the University Club of Grand Rapids. Others had previously mentioned the possibility of such a club; but it was he, who with his characteristic enthusiasm, saw that the idea became a reality. Others shared his vision, gladly assuming their part of the responsibility in the proposed enterprise. To these men belong much credit, for without their hearty and intelligent co-operation "Cap" Stearns’ dream could not have been realized.

The first informal meeting was held in January, 1923, at the home of Lemuel S. Hillman, who joined Captain Stearns in calling together the following men: Benjamin P. Merrick, Marcus B. Hall, Thomas C. Wanty, Walter D. Idema, Dr. John R. Rogers, Isaac S. Keeler and Carroll F. Sweet, representing Harvard, Yale, Michigan Princeton, Amherst and Colgate.

The feasibility of a University Club in Grand Rapids was freely discussed. Unanimity of opinion was quickly apparent. No one doubted the need, as well as the possibilities of a club for university men; all agreeing that such a club would undoubtedly be successful if properly organized and wisely launched. The conference ended at a late hour, the club still in the embryonic state.

Less than a month later the club was actually brought into existence on the evening of February 6th, 1923, at the home of Thomas C. Wanty. The cold winter weather apparently had in no way chilled the enthusiasm of the first meeting. The same group was present, augmented by Messrs. Julius H. Amberg, Dean Charles E. Jackson and James C. Everett. Before the evening was over the following permanent officers were elected: Clay H. Hollister of Amherst, President; J. Arthur Whitworth of Michigan, Charles E. Stearns of Harvard and Edgar H. Johnson of Princeton, Vice Presidents; Marcus B. Hall of Yale, Secretary; and James C. Everett of Hobart, Treasurer. With these officers Walter D. Idema of Princeton, Isaac S. Keeler of Amherst, Dr. John R. Rogers and Thomas C. Wanty of Michigan, were elected as the first Board of Directors.

There was as yet very little of which to be President, and no funds for a Treasurer to safeguard. The club was still on paper in the form of a list of names selected informally by those present. The list was quickly adopted, proving the fine spirit which animated the group, since each one present had still other friends he would have liked to suggest for membership in the club, as yet limited by vote to one hundred. Dues were placed at $25.00, a nominal fee intended to assure a democratic and representative membership.

After a general discussion of the newly born club and its possibilities, Dean Jackson brought the evening to a close by making the practical suggestion that invitations be mailed at once to the proposed charter members and the club "carry on".

For a brief period of six years the club has carried on, justifying the confidence of its founders. Attractive and convenient quarters were established in the Pantlind Hotel. Mr. Hollister served as President for two years, being succeeded in 1925 by Edgar H. Johnson. In 1926 Mr. Philo C. Fuller, better known to the club as "Uncle Phil", became its President. On January 1, 1928, Mr. Hollister again took over the resp0onsibilities of the presidency, and in May of 192, Mr. James M. Crosby was elected President to succeed Mr. Hollister.

During these six years the membership has grown from one hundred to two hundred and fifty. More important, however, than the increase in members has been the growth of interest in the club. As a rendezvous it has been delightful. Besides developing a congenial atmosphere and a spirit of good fellowship, the club has been successful in having frequent guests who have discussed educational, political and economic themes of interest.

The club has unquestionably established itself on a firm footing. Worth-while traditions are slowly but surely taking root. The first six years of its existence augur well for the future.

Lemuel S. Hillman




The name of this Association shall be The University Club of Grand Rapids



The officers of the Club shall be a President, three Vice-Presidents, a Secretary and a Treasurer, each of whom shall be chosen annually by and from the Directors and shall hold office until the next annual meeting of the Club, and until the election of their successors.


Duties of Officers

The President shall preside at meetings of the Club, and of the Board of Directors. He shall sign the written contracts of the Club, and perform such other duties as the Directors of the Club may prescribe.

The Vice President shall act as President during a vacancy in the office of President or in the absence of that officer.

The Secretary shall give notice of meetings of the Club and of the Directors. He shall conduct the correspondence and keep the seal and records of the Club. He shall notify persons elected to membership of their election.

The Treasurer shall collect the admission fees and dues, keep the accounts of the Club and report thereon at each regular meeting of the Directors.


Board of Directors

1 The Board of Directors shall consist of nine resident members, divided into three classes of three members each. Not more than three Directors may be graduates or non-graduates of the same college or university. The term of office is three years with nine directors – three terms expiring each year.


James M. Crosby President

Julius H. Amberg Vice-President

Henry L. Grinnell Vice-President

George C. Thomson Vice-President

Siegel W. Judd Secretary

J. Arthur Whitworth Treasurer


Terms expire 1930

George C. Thomson Thomas C. Wanty Siegel W. Judd

Terms Expire 1931

Julius H. Amberg Antoine B. Campau J. Arthur Whitworth

Terms expire 1932

Henry L. Grinnell James M. Crosby William B. Steele


House Committee

Antoine B. Campau, Chrmn Hollis S. Baker Horace P. Dix

Library Committee

Samuel H. Ranck, Chrmn Gustave A. Wolf Roger B. Keeney

Luncheon-Speakers’ Committee

Lemuel S. Hillman, Chrmn William A. Greeson Samuel H. Ranck

Transcriber: Evelyn Sawyer
Created: 22 June 2002