End of an era? Vet's Club may be closed permanently if new manager is not found

Lifetime members ... Pictured above are veterans from the local area who signed up for lifetime memberships to the Vet's Club in Waukon. Left to right - Front row: Vernis Engelhardt, George Haler, Karl Mosier, Helmer Sanderson. Second row: Joseph Deeney, Ludvig Larson, Robert Weipert, Kenneth Flage, Robert Anderson. Third row: Reuben Hager, Donald Sweeney, Merton Palmer, Mark Byrnes, Richard Schmidt and Rodney Peterson. Photo submitted by Robert J. Anderson of Waukon.

Early foundation of the Vet's Club in Waukon ... The gentlemen pictured above in this photo that hangs in the Vet's Club in Waukon were referred to as "the foundation of the Vet's Club" by "Big 10" Board President John Regan, Jr. of Waukon, a U.S. Army Veteran himself from the Vietnam War who heads the board in charge of the Vet's Club in Waukon. Pictured above in a photo labeled as being taken in October of 1978 are: Left to right - Front row: Carlton Radloff, Sam Rask, Tiny Hanson, Martin Hayes, Henry Lippe, Leroy McCabe, Robert McDonald, George Haler, Ben Quillin, Donald Rubendall, Jack Wadsworth. Back row: Leonard Hanson, Robert Anderson, George Philips, Vernon Blietz, Melvin Reeder, Wilford Buege, Mark Byrnes, Lester Delaney, Frank Hager, Karl Mosier, Jack Halvorson, Kenneth Flage (partially hidden), Harold Peterson, Matt Ryan, Donald Sweeney, Neal Wiedenmann. Submitted photo.

by Lissa Blake

It could mean the end of an era that’s lasted more than seven decades.

If someone doesn’t step forward to reopen the Vet's Club in Waukon, it may be closed permanently.

Vietnam Army Veteran John Regan is the president of the “Big 10” Board, which consists of four members from VFW Post No. 4117, four members of American Legion Post No. 62 and a member from each of the clubs’ Ladies Auxiliaries. He said the club has been closed since November 18 of last year, when the most recent managers, Terry and Sue Grotegut, decided to seek other ventures.

Regan said for many years the board has rented out the club for $100 per week. Anyone wishing to manage the club has to show proof of insurance and apply and pay for the applicable food and liquor licenses. “I did have someone who was scheduled to open it in April, but then he backed out,” said Regan.

Since then, Regan has been trying to recruit someone to manage the club by placing advertising and posting things on various online venues. Regan said the VFW, American Legion and Auxiliaries are invested in the building’s future and have tried their best to keep the building in good order.

“It’s an older building, but we kind of keep it up. We’ve added a new roof, air conditioning and furnaces,” said Regan.

World War II Navy Veteran Bob Anderson said he remembers when the club opened in the 1940s and when it offered area veterans lifetime memberships for $100 each.

“The club was quite active back then. Many of us would stop in every afternoon and every evening after work,” remembered Anderson. “We received no fanfares or welcome committees. We stepped off the bus (following the war) and went back to work. The club was a lot more active then."

Regan said the last two managers have closed the club Sundays and other days sporadically throughout the week. “We’d like to see it run Monday through Saturday, with some noon specials for dinner. It’s right across the street from the courthouse. There used to be a lot of people who would come in for dinner,” he said. “We put the bar and hall on in 1951. It’s not a big space, but it could be rented out for wedding dances or whatever.”

“I’ve had a lot of people ask me if it’s going to open again… All it takes is someone with some ambition to run it. If they do a good job, it will make money," Regan said.

Anyone who may be interested in renting the Vet's Club should call John Regan at 563-568-8062.

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