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6501 Portland Avenue South, Richfield, Minnesota

Minneapolis/Richfield Post 435

 

The History of American Legion Post 435
 Established May 4, 1927

Our Legion Post 435 was formed in early 1927 at a meeting of ex-servicemen at the old town Hall on 62nd and Lyndale. The Hall was a large old fashioned room, heated by a pot-bellied stove. Fifteen ex-servicemen of World War One were required to sign the charter which was duly completed. The temporary charter was issued on May 4th, 1927, signed by Department Commander Howard Rufus Rand, Department Adjutant Edwin Lindell, National Commander Howard Savage, National Adjutant John F. Barton. 

The first order of business was the installation of officers, held at the Richfield- Roosevelt Elementary School. An installation team form the Calhoun Post conducted the ceremony. Officers installed were: William Pelling Jr., Commander, Dana H. Dutton, Vice Commander, B.J. Schwoeffermann, Adjutant, Dr. L.A. Schoenleben, Finance Officer, James B, McDonough, Sergeant-at-Arms, and W.R. Andrews, Chaplain. The program was open to the public and was attended by Department Commander Rufus Rand and other Department and 5th District dignitaries. The Calhoun Post quartet entertained musically. 

During these early years, the Post met in the basement of the Mayflower Congregational Church in the building known as Towns Edge Hall. Executive Committee meetings were held in various members' homes. The young Post fast became involved in all aspects of the Legion programs. The young Post developed, and by 1935 had 53 members. Judge Joseph J. Piotros was Commander when the permanent charter was received. It was dated and signed on July 15th, 1935 by the National Commander Frank N. Belgrans Jr., National Adjutant Frank E. Samuel and on July 25th, 1935, it was signed by Department Commander William R. Mitchall, Department Adjutant , C.A. Turner. 

In 1941 the Membership voted to add the name "Minneapolis" to the Post name, thereby becoming Minneapolis-Richfield Post 435. This came about because most of the members lived in the area of Richfield that was annexed by Minneapolis in 1927. The charter members had chosen a place-named Richfield as a Post name rather than that of a comrade because they didn't want to slight anyone. There was a wealth of World War One heroes to choose from and they felt that to choose one would slight the family of another; therefore, Richfield was neutral. 

In 1943 the membership was able to realize the end of a dream. Through the financial backing of a Post member, Dave Good, they were able to purchase a night spot known as Jensen's at 6430 Nicollet. The members renovated the place themselves. It was in 1943 when the first World War Two vet joined our Post. He was Cliff Hagman. 1943 was also a hallmark year for the Legion Baseball in our Post. Coach Fred Warnburton had taken his charges--basically the Washburn High School team--to the first National Junior American Legion Baseball Championship ever won by a Minnesota team. By now, with the economy on the upswing, the Post was in a position to form a building committee. This committee was able to secure money for a complete remodeling of the Post home. In 1947 the Post home was remodeled and refurbished. Membership had grown to 150 members. 

In 1951 Richfield applied for and received its State Club License. This enabled the Post to put on more social functions but still on a limited basis. The major income to support our Legion Program was now coming through the efforts of a dynamic young Legionnaire who promoted the Bingo program at our Post. He is Dale Frederick and continued his service to Post 435 for the next twenty years. This then young man built the Bingo program from a few dollars to a sum worthy of a 7,000-member Post to be spending. The Post continued to grow slowly to 460 members by 1954. Ed Vieman was the First Vice Commander and Membership Chairman. Ed was a local TV and Radio personality. As Membership Chairman, he initiated the "1000-or-Bust" slogan. As result, the Post achieved well over 1,000 memberships by 1955. The largest mass initiation ever held in Minnesota took place on February 21, 1956 at the Richfield High School auditorium. The guest of honor and main speaker was National Commander J. Addington Wagner. In attendance were 500 new initiates. In addition to the National Commander's appearance, Department Commander Dan Foley was on hand for greetings, plus Department and Fifth District dignitaries. The ritual was conducted by the Voiture 45, 40&8 ritual team led by Bill Lyons. Prior to the initiation, Commander Wagner dedicated the ground of our new Post Home at 6501 Portland Avenue. The program was opened with a concert by the Richfield High School Band. The Colors were posted and retrieved by the Minneapolis Fire and Police Post Color Guard. Greetings were delivered by Governor Orville and Richfield Mayor Fred Kittell. Choral offerings by the Minneapolis Choralaires added to the inspiring evening. 

With all the financial arrangements having been made, including sale of the Post Home property, construction began on the new Post Home at 6501 Portland in August 1956. The work was completed by 1957 and formal dedication of the new Post Home took place on March 20th, 1957. E.E "Frenchy" De Jarlis was now Commander and, having been inspired by Ed Vieman, continued an aggressive membership program. By 1958 we were at 1,700 members. In 1958 Commander Ed Salk took charge and continued in the membership rolls under Ed Vieman. Ed Salks' main theory was to sign them up and keep them coming. Under Ed's guidance we were able to purchase some used kitchen equipment and began food service on a limited basis. During his year, a gun club was organized, a toastmasters club was chartered, and a firearms safety program was initiated. Live music was expanded to four nights a week to go with the new food service. Ed's year, which ended in June 1959, saw a new all time high of 2,000 members. 

As the Post grew. A need for more space developed. Our kitchen and dining area had outgrown its capacity. Financial arrangements were made and culminated in a $150,000 addition and kitchen expansion during the Legion year of George Evans' Commandership. An additional important feature of Commander George Evans' year (1961-62) was the purchase of the 58 acres of land in Webster Township, some 30 miles south of Richfield. This property was acquired for a song and now is a very valuable asset. Ed Salk had become District Commander for 1960-61. Other candidates were Fred Howland of Bearcat Post and Ralph George of Post Office Post. The membership growth of our Post continued to get us all-time highs each year and by 1964 we were at 4,500+ members. 

The year 1966-67 was a banner year for our Post. George Evans was serving as Commander of the Fifth District while Ed Salk won election to the Office of Department Commander. Since Ed was the first member of our Post to move to that high office, it made for a great year at all our functions. The year of 1967-68 again saw the planning and completion of remodeling and expansion. The lounge area was totally remodeled and the kitchen was expanded. The 1973-74 Legion year once again put a comrade from our Post at the helm of the Fifth District. Harry Springer was elected as the unanimous choice for Commander. Harry went on to serve as Department Vice Commander representing the fourth and fifth Districts in 1974-75. 

Under the leadership of Commander Billy Stone, the year 1974-75 was also a big year, both Legionally and for our Post home. A $250,000 expansion was begun in 1974. This expanded our dining room facility, kitchen, established permanent offices for both the Legion and management activities. Also added was a TV room, activities room, game room, and new entry foyer and coat room. The culmination of this was the visit of National Commander James Wagonseller for the ribbon cutting and re-dedication ceremonies on January 20, 1975. Commander Wagonseller was the keynote speaker at the re-dedication banquet.

This is all the History that has been noted and written down. The original history was compiled by Past Commander Ed Davis. He was our Historian in 1975-76. This article is an edited version by Billy Stone.

 

Scholarships and Community Projects

American Legion Post 435 sponsors various scholarships for the further education of our children. We also sponsor and financially assist many worthy community projects and programs initiated by the National American Legion.

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