Club History

  The idea of a press club for the Springfield area was born in 1960 at an informal meeting between Carroll Robbins, John Deegan, Amico Barone, and a handful of others. They felt that professional journalists and media folks, in both the print and electronic media, should have a central place to meet socially, relax and share experiences. They also outlined other purposes of the club: to improve the standards of the working reporter and to promote the best ideals of journalism.

After much discussion, Amico Barone wrote to the National Press Club in Washington, DC requesting a copy of their bylaws. Though it has been amended from time to time, the present constitution established in 1961, is still modeled closely after the National Press Club’s constitution.

The Valley Press Club was formalized and Amico Barone, Jr. served as chairman pro-tem until John Deegan was elected president. The following year, on May 7, 1962, the Press Club was incorporated as a legal nonprofit organization.

Former Presidents of the Press Club

1961 Amico Barone, Chairman, Pro-Tem  

1961-62 John Deegan

1962-63 Carroll Robbins 

1963-64 Earl Merill

1964-66 Ed Kennedy

1966-67 Steve Pappas

1967-68 Ed Malley

1968-69 James Donahue

1969-70 Frank Usin

1970-72 Kitty Broman

1972-73 Saxton Fletcher

1973-74 Durham Caldwell 

1974-75 Keith Silver

1976-78 Bob McClellan

1978-81 Ann Haggerty 

1981-83 Vin D’Addario 

1983-85 Frank Faulkner  

1985-86 Cynthia Simison

1986-88 Carol Malley 

1988-90 Susannah Pugh Russell

1990-93 Charlie Bennett 

1993-95 Trudy Tynan  

1995-96 Nancy Piccin

1996-98 Jim Madigan 

1998-01 Trudy Tynan

2001-05 Marla Goldberg

2005-08 Peter Goonan 

2008- Charlie Bennett

The Club’s first headquarters was established at the Stonehaven Hotel (then the Sheraton Motor Inn) on Chestnut Street, but from the beginning it was felt that the space was too small and a committee was formed to find new quarters.  

April, 1964, Maurice A. Donahue of Holyoke, then Speaker of the Commonwealth’s Senate, would be the guest of honor and speaker at a VPC luncheon. This was the first record of such luncheons which have since become important features of each year's programs. The first Scholarship Dance would take place the following month (May) with the proceeds going toward a $500 scholarship to be offered annually Club to a high school graduate who was interested in making a career in journalism.

Albert H. Jaffe, a high school student from Pittsfield, MA was 1964’s scholarship recipient. He studied journalism at Emerson College. Today, Mr. Jaffe is a senior executive with ESPN. In May, Brian King, chairman of the Membership Committee sent out letters to those who might be described as sources of news information, and invited them to become "associate members" of the Club. This established a practice which immediately bolstered membership, and created interest within the organization. October, 1964, a three-year lease was signed with Kimball Towers for 800 square feet at $125 a month.

In December 1964, the Club was addressed by Bishop Christopher J.Weldon. He spoke on the Ecumenical Congress which he attended. The year ended with an eggnog party at the new headquarters. Meanwhile, a letter came from Albert Jaffe stating that he was one of three freshmen appointed to the air staff of Emerson College's FM radio station, WERS. Club membership was reported at 178, and a membership drive was started.

1965 Edward M. Kennedy of Channel 22 became president during the fifth year. The Club was now settled in a suite at the Kimball Towers. The furnishings included a television set, a bar, and a piano, besides the more traditional chairs, lounges, etc. Larry O'Brien, the new Postmaster General of the United States, addressed the Valley Press Club at a luncheon on November 10, 1965. 

1966 John Lederle, president of the University of Massachusetts, spoke at the March luncheon. Plans were announced for the fourth annual Scholarship Dinner Dance which was subsequently held on May 22 at the Shaker Farms Country Club in Westfield.  On June 29, 1966, Shirley Jones, star of Oklahoma and more than a dozen other films, presented the Club's 1966 scholarship award to Ann Haggerty, graduate of Cathedral High School, at a noon luncheon at Kimball Towers.  
 

On July 26. 1966, Ed Carroll (associate member of the Club) and owner of Riverside Park (now Six Flags New England)  invited members and their families to a day of free rides, free beer and barbecued chicken.