Senior citizen Golden Jet Club closes after 50 years

| 25 Apr 2019 | 01:19

    A senior citizen social club that once had so many members it was closed to additional joiners has been shut down permanently.
    With dwindling numbers and no one stepping forward to assume leadership roles, a tough decision was made by the dozen or so remaining members who disbanded the club.
    “The Golden Jet Set” senior citizens group was organized in the 1970s.
    Richard Wirth has been president of the club in recent years, and now in his 90s, he was looking for someone else to take the leadership reins, but no one stepped up.
    Another group “The Golden Age Circle”, sponsored by West Milford Senior Services, continues to meet on the second and fourth Monday 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Camp Hope, according to the township's website.
    Senior citizen meeting groups were so popular in the 1960s that there was a time when one of the existing clubs in the township could not accept new members because attendance filled the meeting room to its capacity.
    The Golden Age Circle’s first regular meeting in September 1963 was attended by 84 members and 17 guests, including Nancy Golden and Ida Brennan, who helped organize the circle.
    Mario P. Grippi, who was West Milford school superintendent at the time, discussed proposed school expansion and urged the group to vote in favor of a $980,000 bond issue to provide a total of 30 classrooms to be added to existing buildings.
    He said 2,440 children were enrolled in the district, an increase of 300 students over the previous year.
    In the early 1970s Larry Clark, Otto Weber and Dorothy Smeltzer, senior citizens living at Upper Greenwood Lake, saw the need for more organizations of this type.
    There were 60 senior citizens attending the organization meeting at the Upper Greenwood Lake Property Owner’s Association Clubhouse. A segment of Upper Greenwood Lake residents included retired people who had moved to their former seasonal residences for year-round enjoyment of a relaxed life in the country.
    Passaic County Freeholder Louise Friedman, Township of West Milford Mayor Arthur Mildner, and Third Ward Councilman Charles (Chuck) Slawinski were invited guests.
    There were other meetings in months to follow with about 50 club members attending regularly.
    The club was named “The Golden Jet Set” and officers were elected, by laws were written and the group was incorporated.
    Clark was elected president with Jim Rutherford as vice president. Pearl Twoncheck was secretary and Otto Webber was treasurer. Betty Rutherford, Joseph Murphy and Gerard Petrie were voted in as trustees.
    Through cooperation of the Upper Greenwood Lake Volunteer Ambulance Corps, the group was able to schedule two meetings a month in the ambulance building.
    With about 2,200 senior citizen residents throughout the township at the time, a need for senior citizen services by Passaic County was seen.
    Passaic County Director of Senior Services Ray Fink met with West Milford officials on Dec. 6, 1978. Slawinski was appointed to serve as liaison between the county and township. A Senior Advisory Board was appointed in March 1979 by the mayor and council.
    The Golden Jet Set initiated a township-wide senior picnic in September 1979.
    In December of that year at the request of Recreation Director Gary Webb and Slawinski, the officers of the Golden Jet Set traveled to the Community Fire House in Newfoundland to assist in the formation of a third senior citizens club named “The Highlands Seniors”.
    In 1980, The Jet Set established a Nursing Home Committee that made gifts for residents at Milford Manor and St. Joseph Nursing Home.
    The club members successfully worked toward having a senior nutrition center established in Hillcrest School in 1980.
    Frances Finnin and Larry Corsaro were honored as the first couple from the Golden Jet Set to be married. Their wedding was on Aug. 12, 1981.
    The organization participated in the annual senior citizen municipal picnic since 1979, initially having a booth there where they sold hand-crafted articles.
    One of the goals of the club was to keep seniors informed about their rights and benefits. Other goals included entertainment, friendship and companionship for senior citizens.
    While the “Golden Jet Set” existed its leaders saw that those goals were well met.