Leon Burson Post 395 Plano, Illinois
1919-1960 recorded by the first post historian Walter (Butch) Thurow
In 1919, late in the year, Lewis Steward gathered the necessary information and papers to establish an American Legion Post in Plano. Nov 2, 1919 a group gathered in the basement of the library. The group decided to organize a post in Plano. Dr. Arthur Lord was elected the chairman and Lewis Steward the secretary. At the suggestion of Dr. Lord the post name of Leon Burson was chosen in honor of their comrade who had given his life at Chipilly Bridge in France during WW I. The first post historian, Walter (Butch) Thurow, was given the honor to be the first signee on the charter application. There were 42 signers for the original charter. The official charter was granted Jan 2, 1920 as The American Legion Leon Burson Post 395 in Plano, Illinois.
Early in 1920 Glen H. Davies was elected the first Commander. Meetings would take place on Main St. in Club rooms in the building which is now part of Cooper's Home Furnishings. A dance was held in the Kivitt's Hall and the proceeds totaled over $300. Furnishings for the post were purchased from W. D. Steward coming from the old Independent Club and pool tables were donated by the Blackhawk Club. Before the year ended, Glen H. Davies moved out of town and Dr. Arthur Lord became the post Commander for the remainder of the year.
1921 E. W. Henning was elected Commander. Walter (Butch) Thurow was the Adjutant. During this year the post membership reached a record high of 87 members which would stand until the years following WW II.
In the next few years there seemed to be considerable mobility among the post commanders. In 1922 E.W. Henning was elected Commander and shortly moved out of town. E. W. was suceeded by Merle W. Hatch for a few months until he departed town. E. M. (Mike) Johns was elected to complete the year as well as the following year 1923.
In 1924 the post came on some hard times. B. E. Peters was elected Commander but soon moved to Peoria. Dr. O. V. Vermilye succeeded Peters as Commander. Leading up to and during 1924 the post suffered "Financial reverses" and developed a debt of over $300. The future appeared gloomy. However, continuing with courage and determination the members pushed on and as a result of the raffle of a car and a phonograph, the treasury cleared the debt.
1925 Lewis Steward was Commander and building on the momentum begun the year before the post "Seemed to take on a new lease on life" This was the year of the drive for the Child Welfare Endowment. Kendall County's share was $600. W. D. Steward was the county chairman and there were chairmen for each township. The drive raised $1,075.
1926-1929 Sheldon Sauer was Commander 1926-1927 followed by C. V. Britton in 1928. William Priebe was Commander 1929-1930. In 1929 the post meeting location moved to the building that was occupied by Jones Insurance Agency at 10 N. Center St.
1931-1932 In 1931 the membership totaled 66. It is unclear who were the Commanders. It appears Laurence Henning was Commander in 1931 and George Nelson was Commander in 1932. In 1933 William Priebe was elected Commander for the third time. During this time the post secured quarters in the Plano City Hall.
1934-1935 Commander George West During this time the post purchased a plot of lots in the Little Rock Township cemetery. Soon after eight comrades were laid to rest in the section called "Soldiers Field". This plot of graves is given honor each Memorial Day as the post honor guard passes in review for Memorial Day activities at the cemetery.
1935-1944 During this period leading up to and through WW II the post was commanded by such men as Floyd Kay, Fred Weir, Claude Frank, Josiah (Cy) Ramsden, Ray Wiley, P.H. Miller, and Raymond VanKirk. As the war clouds developed and our country became involved in the war the membership saw the need for a larger facility and began a campaign to acquire a home. WW II veterans were beginning to return home. Lawrence (Larry) Bay was the first to return to Plano. In 1938 there were 90 members.
1944-1945 Commander Walter (Butch) Thurow, the Adjutant was Lewis Wells. The search for a home now proceeded in earnest with Fred Weir leading the campaign to raise funds. An ad for a home was placed in the Kendall County Newspaper. At the end of Commander Thurow's tenure, fifty percent of the needed funds had been raised.
1944-1945 Commander Lee Shaddle. During this time the post and the entire country celebrated VE Day. Commander Shaddle had the privilege of leading the dedication of the new Legion Home Post located at the corner of North St. and James St. Presently the Plano Fire Dept are located on the same property. The home was a private two-story residence at the time. The home was purchased from Winnie Wykes for $5,000. The $5,000 to purchase the home was raised by individual contributions that ranged from $5 up to $100.
1945-1946 Commander Erwin Telling. The significant event for Commander Telling was VJ day and preparations for the return of the WW II boys. Comrade Telling was recognized for many outstanding contributions over the years to Leon Burson Post 395 as well as to the Plano community.
1946-1947 Commander Charles VanKirk. Charles was the last WW I veteran to serve as commander. This was known as the "Sunset Trail for the WW I boys as they unselfishly stepped aside for WW II comrades" to take their place of leadership.
1947-1948 Commander Myrle Smith. Myrle was the first WW II veteran to take command. During this year the WW II Memorial Book came out with pictures and service information about all who had served from the Plano community.
1948-1949 Commander Keith Nichols. During this year considerable remolding was done to the Home. Many of the war casualties were brought home for burial.
1949-1950 The Commander was Herman Glen Coffman, Jr. This year was highlighted by raising significant funds for the post through raffle and other activities.
1950-1951 Commander Thomas Wright The post home underwent some major repairs and remodeling. During this year it appears to be the first time flowers and flags were placed on veterans' graves at Griswold Springs and Sandy bluff cemeteries.
1951-1952 Commander Orville Sandrock During this year funds were raised for the March of Dimes. This was a normal year with us usual Memorial Day activities, Labor Day parade participation, and the Veterans Day Banquet.
1952-1953 Commander Dr. Robert Allen This year marked the tenth anniversary of Social Night, held the third Monday of the month.
1953-1954 Commander Eli Lucas 1954 was the year of the Plano Centennial Celebration. Several Legionnaires were sworn in as police deputies to help with traffic and supplement police duties. Post 395 donated an ambulance to the city of Plano enabling the city to offer ambulance service for the first time. A "Buck Kay's" night was held at the post to recognize his outstanding service to the Legion.
1954-1955 Commander Art Carlson During this year discussion was begun to consider remodeling or enlarging the present home or building a new post. The post presented Miss Jane Henning with a Citizenship award.
1955-1956 Commander Robert LaVoy The post presented the Plano Band Association with Chromed rifles for their parades and activities. Comrade Telling was honored for his long and distinguished service to the Plano post and to the American Legion in general. The membership approved a plan to build a new home. Serving the building committee were comrades Wadley, Allen, Telling, Smith, Nichols, Eli Lucas Jr., Lavoy, Noss (Delvin), Weir, Stupka Jr. and Means.
1956-1957 Commander Bill Means New home is under construction at the site of the present post, 510 E. Dearborn St. The construction project was not without some controversy. Some were concerned about the amount of money it was costing. Total cost $15,000. Others were concerned if the project would ever be completed. The building was erected making use of volunteer labor, primarily consisting of post members. This was a year to be remembered. Many comrades worked evening after evening and weekends to complete the building. Meetings were short and many attended in construction clothes having come direct to the meeting from the construction site. The veteran's Day banquet was held on the gravel floor at the construction site. Hot dogs and coffee were served. The first meeting in the newly constructed home was on January 7, 1957.
1957-1958 Commander Delvin Noss The new facilities are requiring changes. A house rules committee was formed. The first Firemen's Ball was held in the new post. Scrap drives, dinners, dances, and auctions were held to raise funds to pay for the new post.
1958-1959 Commander Paul Christensen A lot of activities continue to raise funds to operate and pay for the new post. Comrades Van Velsor & Jordan led the way for fundraising with great success. It was determined that it required $95.00 a week to operate and pay down the debt for the post. The membership responded with open availability and diligent commitment to move forward and complete the task. This group of Legionaries and Auxiliary of Post 395 deserve great praise and compliments for the herculean task that they successfully completed.
1959-1960 Commander Lyle Darnell Activities at the post are in full swing. Saturday night dances, many organizations use the facility.
1960-1961 Commander Bill Brown The post purchased and installed a school safety sign for the protection of our children. Purchased flags for all school classrooms. Buck Kay and Mike Johns were awarded life memberships. The bonds used to build the post were paid off this year.
1961-1962 Commander Glen Jordan The post was rented for a record number of times. Books were purchased for the schools and the library. This was the year that the mortgage with the Plano Bank was burned. Buck Kay from the Legion and Alice Allen from the Auxiliary were given the privilege of burning the mortgage.
1962-1963 Commander Adrian LaVallee
1963-1964 Commander Arthur Ardelean
1964-1965 Commander Loren Christenson
1965-1966 Commander Ray Van Velsor
1966-1967 Commander Treber Thatcher
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