The Early Years

By Phyllis Carlson


I guess it was the fall of 1979 that John Babler, Harvey Kadlec, Jerry Olson, David Loos and Jeff Meyer sent post cards out to all the sheep hunters that they could think of and they held an informal meeting at what is now the MN Horse and Hunt Club in Prior Lake, MN.  As I recall there were 16 in attendance.  We visited, watched a sheep hunting movie and most of us went up to the lodge for supper.  During the meeting Harvey asked me to take some notes.  And then he declared me secretary! At that time we were the Minnesota Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep.

That Following winter, the 1980 national convention was held at the Thunderbird Hotel in Bloomington, MN.  After the national convention and now that we were organized, we made plans for a spring fundraiser using the same theory for each of us to spread the word.  Our 1st banquet was help at the Northland Inn.  Much to our surprise and disappointment, the room they gave us was a guest room with the furniture removed!  The good news was that our attendances doubled.  Harvey Kadlec had obtained a rifle and a couple of other things to auction.  And so began our treasury!

A small sum was agreed upon for the use of purchasing a few auction and raffle items for the 1981 fundraiser which was held in the basement of an old bank in White Bear Lake, MN.  Again, we doubled our members.  We had 63 sheep hunters and wives and they came with enthusiasm.  We held a couple more meetings there in White Bear Lake, but quickly out grew the capacity and moved over to The Hudson House in Hudson, WI.

This is where we experienced major growth. Word spread past our borders and so in the early 80’s the Board went through the process of changing the name to include Wisconsin.  As much as we had had Iowan’s coming up and joining the chapter, Iowa was also forming a chapter and so MN-WI FNAWS would be the name.  I came up with a logo representing the two states.

It was at this time that we had enough money in the kitty to start funding sheep projects and I think our first was in the Yukon.  We were on the Map!  I don’t remember when our dues started or how much they were.  Our treasury was growing but it was nip and tuck at times.  The men on the board were doing a good job at getting auction and raffle items.  Their wives consistently came with them and brought food, helped with raffles, etc… and were vital for our successes.  I squeezed out some money from the budget for a few items for a women’s raffle which became bigger and a regular event.  I maintained that we would not have thrived without the wive’s encouragement and their added enthusiasm.  Whole families started showing up and what a good idea.  

Many of the kids became active in helping out during auctions walking through the membership and showing the items up for bids, setting up raffles, etc… and that is how we became family.  Many of these young people became our future board members and event planners along with their spouses.  Back in those days we had quite a variety of entertainment following our dinners: magicians, square dancers, comedians, women’s style show, etc…

The chapter newsletter was pretty primitive compared to what we receive today.  I took my secretary minutes, but also wrote up the newsletters, had them copied, one of our kids folded them, another taped them shut and the other would put the postage stamp on and I would address them.  Then Steve Bruggeman rescued us!  His company had an in-house printing department.  I continued to gather information, members hunting stories and pictures, put them in some type of order and handed them off to Steve to take to printing.  As with many things, the growth needs to take the next step and what a blessing when Janet Johnson got and learned the computer!  And that was back when you had to make your own programs!  She became the secretary and had the minutes, the membership mailing list and all things pertinent in her computer.

So many individuals and countless outfitters brought their skills and connections and donations!  We were here in the Midwest with no wild sheep raising funds to endow Jerry Waite’s legacy of “Putting Sheep on the Mountain” of North America.

One of our members, but not well known to us at the time, long-time Wi business owner and Tombstone Pizza representative would always bring his beef jerky to share at our fundraisers.  Jack Link now shares his beef jerky worldwide.

I went on to be elected to the national board and this chapter went on to continually grow and do outstanding fundraising, with outstanding dedicated board members, with a membership that is dedicated to the Foundation’s purpose.

Our chapter has had four members who have served as National Presidents:  Arnie Johnson, Harvey Kadlec, Craig Johnson and myself.

With deep appreciation to our members, thank you for accepting me as your secretary and helping get this group up and running by the seat of our pants!  I have the greatest memories of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep both chapter and national.  In our hearts, FNAWS with always be remembered.  FNAWS/WSF has given us our best friends.

Phyllis Carlson