For seventy- nine years, The Commissioners have celebrated summer in grand style at the Jersey Shore in Atlantic City. Their 2012 black tie gala began with a lavish cocktail reception.
The reception was followed by a delicious gourmet dinner at Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino on the world famous Atlantic City Boardwalk.
Members, their beautiful wives, significant others, friends and guests danced the evening away to sensational music by The Warren Daniels Band from St. Albans, N.Y., after a warm welcome by Commissioner President Dr. Samuel “Sam” P. Wyche Jr.
Other club officers are: Eric Coombs, vice president; Emmett Peabody, secretary and Picard Losier, treasurer.
Sam was kind enough to share the club’s history with me which was provided by longstanding, elder member, Dr. Charles Bridges. Both escorted their gracious wives, Dr. Leslie Brown Wyche and Mrs. Ruth Bridges.
The Commissioners Club was founded in 1933 by a group of prominent Philadelphians: Wilbur Strickland, William Ramsey, Robert Nelson, Hobson Reynolds, Tanner Moore, Charles Chew, Dr. Roland Milburn and John Hopkins. The club’s name was suggested by Robert Nelson, a former Pennsylvania Boxing Commissioner. The purpose of the men’s social club is, “to promote social involvement among members and the community.” Furthermore, “members must be men of substance, men who have contributed to their communities and have been achievers in their jobs and professions.”
The club started with members gathering at each other’s homes to enjoy poker games, cocktails and discussing politics. They met following the Penn Relays and were joined by friends from Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C., to socialize. Members from those areas connected with friends in Wilmington Delaware and that led to the beginning the Commissioners in Delaware. The Atlantic City group was started by Dr. Roland Milburn.
The Commissioners meet once a month in the type of posh restaurant they were barred from in earlier years because of racism. Today, these proud Black men carry on the tradition of hosting two signature affairs each year. They are the two day summer party in Atlantic City and a festive New Year’s Eve Party.
The Commissioners 2012 active members are: Evan T. Booker, Dr. Charles Bridges, Dr. Nathaniel Copeland, Ronald V. Cole, Eric Coombs, Dr. Adam Craven, Judge Richard Fauntleroy, Orim Graves, Dr. Vaughn Graves, Robert Harden, Dr. Michael Milbourne, Picard Losier, Raymond S. Parker, III, Emmett Y. Peabody, Kenneth D. Penn, Edward L. Reid, Tim Roderick, Joseph I. Wells, Dr. Samuel P. Wyche, Jr., Neal Scarbrough and Rodney Gillespie.
This year, new member Rodney Gilespie, sponsored by Tim Roderick was welcomed into the distinguished group by Dr. Sam Wyche. Tim’s wife, Donna Roderick and Rodney’s wife Angela Gilespie shared the special bond of friendship. New member Neal Scarbrough was unable to attend.
Honorary 2012 Commissioner members include: Judge Horace Davenport, Wayne Davis, Andrew J. Delgado, Frank Doggett Jr., Lawrence Fonville, Douglas C. Howell, Pierce T. Ramsey, John P. Simpkins, Lawrence H. Stallworth, Jr., Harry White and Judge Robert W. Williams Jr.
There was a moment of silence for sorely missed Commissioners Paul Terry and Richard Moore, led by Ronald Cole. Both men were highly respected and admired. Richard was a gracious and fun-loving attorney whose father, Attorney Tanner Moore, was a founding member of the club. Richard and his wife Norma Moore graciously invited me to the summer party. I have fond memories of the time.
Among those “Out & About” having a fantastic time were: Tuskegee Airman Pierce T. Ramsey, Cathie Peabody, Tina Coombs, Sharon Losier, Robert and Connie Zagerman , Phyllis Brown and Byron and Stephanie Golson, Shelly and Eric Pullian William and Joya Sherron and Ed McConnery who travelled from Rochester, Michigan and Ct. for the special occasion.
Following a lovely brunch at Roberto’s Ristorante at Trump Plaza Hotel, members and guests said farewell.
Salt water taffy, The Miss America Pageant, Chicken Bone Beach, Club Harlem on Kentucky Ave, Steel Pier and other famous aspects and landmarks of Atlantic City may be fond memories but the elegant tradition of the Commissioners Summer Party continues in grand style!
Have a fantastic, less steamy week “Out & About” everyone!