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History of the Suncoast Woodcarvers.

President Robert Vinas requested that an effort be made to document the history (Information has been gathered, but there are several years where information isn't available, due to the loss of minutes and other circumstances) The officers of 1989 wish to express their thanks to all who contributed toward this effort. W. C. Elston Historian

The organizational meeting January 23 of the Suncoast Woodcarvers was a success 43 persons turned out to hear talks by Paul Zecher, St. Petersburg, and Ernest G. Bucklin, Tampa.
A fine display of carvings highlighted the evening at the St. Petersburg Beach Public Library. Paul, who migrated to Florida from Mansfield. Mass. where he was a U. S. Postal Inspector, took a course in wood carving taught by Howard Ferguson at the Mirror Lake Adult Center. The fellowship plus the enjoyment he derived from carving prompted him to start the ball rolling for a local chapter. Aided by his wife, Marie; publicity in the St. Petersburg, Independent, and Chip Chats, his appeal to carvers and whittlers to form a club was answer by persons from Tampa, Clearwater, Bradenton and Long Boat Key.
The purpose of the group will be to promote interest in carving; improve the carving ability of members a to sponsor programs presented by master carvers. Paul also hopes that the club will stage public exhibitions.
At the February 20 meeting, Paul and Marie shows their pictures taken on Whittlers Whittler Wanderjahr II.
Carvers interested in more details are asked to contact Paul at 6701 Burlington Ave. N., St. Petersburg.. He is standing at the extreme left in the photo, the man with the cane; Mrs. Zecheris behind him.


October 29, 1973, a preliminary meeting was held at the home of Mr. Paul Zecher, 6701 Burlington Avenue N., in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Twenty-four persons were in attendance that evening, with seventeen consenting to form a new woodcarving club.

The November/December 1973 issue of CHIP CHATS contained an article about the above meeting, giving further information, which created much interest among the local woodcarvers. During the meeting, Mr. Paul Zecher proposed the name of "SUNCOAST WOODCARVERS" which was approved by those present.

January 23, 1974, an organizational meeting was held at the St. Petersburg Beach Public Library, with forty-three persons in attendance. During the meeting the following people were selected to serve as "temporary officers" until an election of. officers, scheduled for the Sept meeting could be held.

President: Paul Zecher Vice President: Howard Ferguson Secretary/Treasurer: Dorothy Malley

The February 16, 1974 meeting was held in the St. Petersburg Beach Public Library with Mr. Paul Zecher showing slides of his European Tour "Whittler's Wonderjahr II". Mr. Elmer J. Tangerman was guest speaker, he being the Vice President of "The National Woodcarvers Association" at that time. During the meeting a member ship fee of $2.00 was proposed and accepted by those present.

The March 1974 meeting was held at a new location which was the Pasadena Community Church, in the Auxiliary Building. During the meeting a $5.00 fee was collected for rental of the building.

The March/April issurissueHIP CHATS contained a group photograph of the *first organizational meeting.

No records of an April or May 1974 meeting is available, however, the club did meet, in September to elect officers. September 25, 1974 the club resumed its activity, meeting at the Pasadena Cam-unity Church. An election of officers was held with the following persons being elected to office:

Pres: Paul Zecher
Vice Pres: Frank Malley
Secretary/Treasurer; Esther Holand

The club held meetings at the Florida Power Building on St. Petersburg Beach for about a year and Rudy Fontaine carved a placqplaqueFlorida Power for the use of their meeting room.

January 1974, the first woodcarving show was held on a Sunday afternoon at Pasadena Community Church for the sole purpose of displaying and acquainting the public to the wonder of woodcarving. Encouraged by the attendance, the club has continued shows each year in several shopping malls in the St. Petersburg, Largo, and Seminole areas. (for a list of the shows, see Page 8 )

The club had a need for By-Laws and in 1980 a commicommitteeselected by Pres: L. A. VanFossen to write the necessary rules and regulations. Howard Wondra was appointed to serve as Chairman with Dave Watson, Bill Alderman, Bob Wetstein and Lowell Plum as members of the committee. The By-laws were completed and accepted. Other members contributed to the by-laws, there were, Howard Ferguson, Carl Hoffsinger and Kan Taylor. Several revisions to the bylaws were made in 1982 and 1988.


On Monday evening, May 10, 1993, the Suncoast Wood Carvers Club began an "Historical Relief" group of carvings of "Old and New" landmarks of the City of St. Petersburg and surrounding areas.

The montage was carved by club members to be donated to the City of St. Petersburg to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the club and to do something positive for the city.

Fifteen blocks of Basswood and Mahogany, each twelve inches square and one and a half inches thick were mounted on a backboard of three quarter inch thick plywood, framed in mahogany, supported by it's own easel, and finished in clear polyurethane.

We were assured that it will be displayed at various places in the city ... city hall, public library, and others.

The project was scheduled for completion by the December 13, 1993 club meeting. Photographs and information were obtained from the Historical and Flight One Museum.

Midge Loflin and her staff are to be commended for their excellent aid and assistance, procuring the necessary photographs for our work. Lee Metger is to be thanked for his effort and encouragement in setting up the presentation to the mayor and city council.

Listed below are the subjects and carvers:

1. Old Outdoor Post Office Robt. Hoppe
2. St. Petersburg City Hall Robt. Hoppe
3. New Skyway Bridge Esther Holland
4. Thunderdome Robt. Vinas
5. Museum of Fine Arts Robt. Vinas
6. Benoist Biplane James Walsh
7. New Pier William Elston
8. Fisherman/Pelican/Pier Carmen Zeoli
9. Historical/Flight One Museum James McPhail
10. Don Cesar Hotel Sandy Elmore
11. Old Vinoy Hotel Robt. Vinas
12. St. Bartholomew's Church Charles Harbaugh
13. Bayfront Center Don Witt
14. Dali Museum Estelle Baker
15. Bethel A.M.E. Church Leonard Willey
16. Rosettes Susan Ullman
The project was completed by December 3, 1993, presented to the club members on December 13, 1993, and was on display to the annual Suncoast Wood Carvers Show on January 22-23, 1994, in the St. Petersburg Junior College Campus Gymnasium.

On Thursday, February 24, 1994, it was presented to the city council and was favorably received with many comments from the council members. My thanks are to ALL who participated in this our club project.

Bill Elston
Club Historian and Project Coordinator