THE AFRICAN VIOLET COUNCIL
by Bob Green and Carol Schreck
The idea for forming the African Violet Council of Florida was spearheaded by Alice Yawger of Clearwater. Alice had been active in the New Jersey Council of African Violet Societies before moving to Florida. From that experience, she clearly understood the benefits and pleasures a Council could offer its members. She felt there was sufficient interest in a council in Florida to explore the possibilities with nearby clubs.
In May, 1977, the Upper Pinellas African Violet Society (Alice's club) took the initiative by inviting members
of African violet clubs from across Florida to discuss the idea. It was agreed that it was indeed a good idea.
A committee was formed to write tentative bylaws to be presented to a general meeting of all interested persons. As the idea took form, more people heard about it, and it soon was apparent that people from
all over Florida were interested. The idea expanded naturally. All AVSA affiliates in the state were contacted. Alice Yawger was appointed temporary chairman for the "idea" and a charter meeting was called for January 14, 1978 in Tampa (hosted by the Tampa African Violet Society.)
Forty-five people attended the charter meeting in Tampa and elected a slate of officers. Suzy Johnson (Orlando) installed the following as the Council's first elected body:
President - Alice Yawger (Clearwater) Vice-President - Bobbi Close (Tampa) [Later replaced by DoDe Whitaker (Merritt Island)] Recording-Secretary - Ginger Davis (Bartow) [Later replaced by Bob Green (Rockledge)] Corresponding.-Secretary - Mary Johnson (Orlando) [Later replaced by Dorothy Gray (Clearwater)] Treasurer - Judy Partain (Winter Haven)
Also at the charter meeting, Bob Green (Rockledge) was appointed as editor of the Council newsletter. The first issue was published in May, 1978 as "The Florida Connection".
The "feather in our cap" came when the Council hosted the African Violet Society of America's annual convention and show in Orlando, May 19-24, 1987, with Jim and DoDe Whitaker (Merritt Island) as Convention Co-Chairman, Rita Hilton (Bartow) as Convention Vice Chairman, Bob Green (Rockledge) as Show Chairman, and Marilyn Goldstein (Hollywood) as Show Vice Chairman.
Florida Council hosted the 37th Annual Convention of the Dixie African Violet Society March 18, 1993 in Orlando. Alyce Droege was President, Rita Hilton Convention Chair, and Mary Lou Harden Show Chair.
The Council also hosted the DAVS convention in Jacksonville in 1986, Tampa in 2001, and Lakeland
Florida Council hosted the 51st AVSA Convention at St Pete Beach 1997. Jo Anne Martinez was President and Show Chair. Mary Lou Harden was Convention Chair.
When the charter membership rolls closed November 4, 1978, 91 African violet fanatics had joined the Council.