Toastmasters District 47

Serving South Florida and The Bahamas

Subscribe to the District 47 Email LIsts



Receive the District Sunshiner and News updates from District 47. We value your privacy and your information will not be shared with anyone else.

A Brief History of District 47

Article written by
Ira Callman, Provisional Governor #1, 1955 


The Sunshine State Toastmasters District 47 was born as a result of curiosity. Curiosity may kill the cat, but in this case it catapulted members of a few Toastmasters Clubs in Florida to Action!

Being assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station, Miami, in 1952, MSgt Ira Callman was responsible for forming the Staff NCO Toastmasters Club #1423. In August, 1954, Sgt. William Kuck and Callman decided to attend the International Convention in Washington, D.C. Not being wealthy Toastmasters, they decided to hop a Marine Corp plane to Quantico, Virginia, only 30 miles from Washington. At the last moment, the flight was cancelled and the two Sergeants were able to find an Air Force flight from Miami to Washington.

In Washington, their luxury hotel was the local YMCA. At the convention, the two met B. M. Wherrette from club #28 in Orlando. Incidentally, that club was the first Toastmasters club East of the Mississippi, and it was a very active club.

The three chatted for awhile about Toastmasters. That is where curiosity took over. They learned about District organizations and asked themselves why Florida didn’t have a district. They spoke with Ted Blanding, Executive Secretary of International, who was President of Toastmasters in 1942-43. When the question “Why doesn’t Florida have a district” was posed to him, he replied with the question “Why don’t you do something about it?” Ted explained that ten clubs had to petition Toastmasters for District status. The District then must be in a provisional status for one year, with no funding from International. Talk about operating on a shoestring…without the shoestring!

After the convention, Sgts Callman and Kuck returned to their positions as NCO in charge of the Public Information Office and Motor Transport specialist respectively. Sgt Callman ended up handling all correspondence and contact about forming the district. With fourteen clubs in the state, it was a job getting the ten petitions. Support was always there from Secretary Blanding.

The decision was reached to have a western boundary at the Apalachicola River (as the rest of the Panhandle of Florida was already assigned to District 29.) The Tallahassee club wrote that they thought that they should be in District 29. The response acknowledged that point but stressed that it seemed logical that a club in the state capital should be included in the Florida district. They returned the petition immediately. The Board of Directors met in February, 1955. The tenth petition arrived during the second week and the Board voted on February 15, 1955 approving provisional status for District 47. The District organizational meeting was in Orlando in March, 1955 with Ira Callman becoming District Governor and B. M. Wherrette, Lieutenant Governor. The District was started and new clubs started to spring up. The first new club of the District was the Coral Gables Club, chartering in July, 1955.

Some other info about the District: (Special thanks to Karl Righter, DTM, PDG for this extensive history)



(includes city of residence during term)

1955-56 Ira Callman, DTM, Miami, FL (Provisional District) (deceased)
1956 B.M. Wherette, Orlando, FL (Provisional District) (deceased)
1956-57 Owen Parrish, Miami, FL
1957-58 Donald M. Larson, Miami, FL
1958-59 Norman S. Pallot, Miami, FL
1959-60 Donald F. Muller, Jacksonville, FL
1960-61 Charles M. Swann, DTM, Sarasota, FL (deceased)
1961-62 Dean Risher, Cocoa Beach, FL
1963-64 Larry Q. Webb, Jacksonville, FL
1964-65 Viggo C. Christiansen, Jacksonville, FL (deceased)
1965-66 John Diaz, DTM, Cocoa Beach, FL
1966-67 Win Chesley, DTM,*** Plantation, FL
1967-68 Charles Avery,* Cocoa Beach, FL
1968-69 Fred G. Thompson,* Miami, FL
1969-70 Hugh T. Burgay, DTM,*** Orlando, FL (deceased)
1970-71 John Bowman, DTM,* Miami, FL (DTM Badge #1)
1971-72 Michael G. Shane, DTM,*** Ft. Lauderdale, FL (DTM Badge #14) (deceased)
1972-73 Charles L. Jones, DTM, Winter Haven, FL
1973-74 Karl E. Righter, DTM, Orlando, FL (DTM Badge #51)
1974-75 Carleton Smith, DTM, St. Petersburg, FL (deceased)
1975-76 S. R. Dunn, DTM,*** Jacksonville, FL (DTM Badge #99) (deceased)
1976-77 David Meeks, DTM,* Tampa, FL
1977-78 R. Floyd Sewell, DTM,* Jacksonville, FL
1978-79 Robert Gelfand, DTM, Plantation, FL (deceased)
1979-80 Val Croskey, DTM,* Melbourne, FL
1980-81 Virginia Heddinger, DTM,* Ft. Lauderdale, FL (deceased)
1981-82 Frank Tillman, DTM,** Gainesville, FL (deceased)
1982-83 Jim Stanley, DTM,* Tampa, FL (deceased)
1983-84 Ray Floyd, DTM,* Ft. Lauderdale, FL
1984-85 Dr. Ann Tillman, DTM,* Gainesville, FL (deceased)
1985-86 Clara Gelfand, DTM, Plantation, FL (deceased)
1986-87 James E. Martin, DTM,** Clearwater, FL
1987-88 Lou Funk, DTM,*** Brandon, FL
1988-89 Fred Miller, DTM, St. Petersburg, FL
1989-90 Rosella Bonham, DTM,* Lake Mary, FL
1990-91 Sara Meeks, DTM,* Tampa, FL (deceased)
1991-92 Ed Waters, DTM,* Jacksonville, FL (deceased)
1992-93 Steven A. Bard, DTM, Lauderhill, FL
1993-94 Louise Y. Boyd, DTM, Sanford, FL
1994-95 Rusty Best, DTM,*** Titusville, FL
1995-96 Samuel P. Bain, DTM, Nassau, Bahamas
1996-97 Rex P. Lehman, DTM, Miami, FL
1997-98 Laura Reed, DTM, Tampa, FL
1998-99 Timothy Pesut, DTM,* Sarasota, FL
1999-00 Jack Jamba, DTM, Cocoa Beach, FL
2000-01 Paul Meunier, DTM,*** Orlando, FL
2001-02 Cathy Epler, DTM,* New Port Richey, FL
2002-03 Eileen Sarris, DTM,* Sarasota, FL
2003-04 Margaret Wan, DTM,*** St. Petersburg, FL
2004-05 Jim Ocque, DTM, Longwood, FL
2005-06 Godfrey Springer, DTM, Nassau, Bahamas
2006-07 Loretta Sandy, DTM,*** Palm Bay, FL
2007-08 Wanda Brown, DTM, St. Johns, FL
2008-09 Antionette Fox, DTM,*** Nassau, Bahamas
2009-10 Kristina Kihlberg, DTM, *** Pompano Beach
2010-11 Richard Furbush, DTM, *** St. Petersburg
2011-12 Pamela D. Rolle, DTM, Nassau Bahamas
2012-13 Matthew A. Kinsey, DTM, Coral Springs, FL
2013-14 Francis I. Molina, DTM, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
2014-15 Anthony J. Longley, DTM, Nassau, Bahamas


In 2015, the title District Governor was changed to District Director

2015-16 Jeanine C. Kinsey, DTM, * Coral Springs, FL
2016-17 Lynda Hammond, DTM, Ft. Lauderdale, FL


* Achieved Distinguished District
** Achieved Select Distinguished District
***Achieved President’s Distinguished District


Presidential Visits to District 47

* 1971 Arthur Diamond
* 1983 Bill Miller
* 1988 Tommy Richardson
* 1994 (Fall) Pauline Shirley, DTM
* 2001 (Spring) JoAnna McWilliams, DTM
* 2008 (Spring) Chris Ford, DTM
* 2013 (Fall) Mohammad Murad, DTM (President-Elect)
* 2015 (Spring) Jim Kokocki, DTM (President Elect)


Presidential Citations to members of District 47

* 1986 Frank Tillman, DTM, PDG
* 1988 Dr. Ann Tillman, DTM. PDG
* 1989 David Meeks, DTM, PID
* 2001 Karl Righter, DTM, PDG
* 2002 Mark Majcher, CTM/CL
* 2015 Kristina Kihlberg, DTM, PID
* 2016 Anthony J. Longley, DTM


Early Recipients of DTM Designation

* John Bowman, DTM, Miami, District 47 Governor, ‘70 - ‘71, DTM # 1
* Mike Shane, DTM, Ft. Lauderdale, District 47 Governor, ‘71 - ‘72, DTM # 14
* Karl Righter, DTM, Orlando, District 47 Governor, ‘73 - ‘74, DTM # 51
* S. R. Dunn, DTM, Jacksonville, District 47 Governor, ‘75 - ‘76, DTM # 99


International Directors from District 47

* ‘63 - ‘64 - Charles Swan, DTM, PID
* ‘68 - ‘70 - John Diaz, DTM, PIP
* ‘71 - ‘73 - Win Chesley, DTM, PID
* ‘79 - ‘81 - Hugh Burgay, DTM, PID
* ‘83 - ‘85 - Dave Meeks, DTM, PID
* ‘87 - ‘89 - Ray Floyd, DTM, PID
* ‘91 - ‘93 - Evelyn-Jane Burgay, DTM, PID
* ‘95 - ‘97 - Steve Bard, DTM, PID
* ‘02 - ‘04 - Paul Meunier, DTM, PID
* ‘06 - ‘08 - Margaret Wan, DTM, PID
* ‘12 - ‘14 - Kristina Kihlberg, DTM, PID
* ‘16 - ‘18 -Matthew A. Kinsey, DTM, ID


International President from District 47

* 1974-1975 John Diaz, DTM


International Conferences Held in District 47 with Presidents

* 1968 - Miami Beach
o Outgoing President - Lothar Salin, DTM
o Incoming President - Earl M. Potter, DTM

* 1984 - Orlando
o Outgoing President - Eddie V. Dunn, DTM
o Incoming President - John S. Latin, DTM

* 2000 - Miami Beach
o Outgoing President - Tim Keck, DTM
o Incoming President - JoAnna McWilliams, DTM


Husband and Wife District Governors & Directors

1978-79 Robert Gelfand, DTM & 1985-86 Clara Gelfand, DTM (both deceased)
1976-77 David Meeks, DTM & 1990-91 Sara Meeks, DTM (both deceased)
1981-82 Frank Tillman, DTM & 1984-85 Dr. Ann Tillman, DTM (both deceased)
2012-13 Matthew A. Kinsey, DTM & 2015-16 Jeanine C. Kinsey, DTM