History of the Retirees Club:
In March 1966, Al Vandenbergh Sr., President of the Belgian-American Businessmen’s Association and the
board members founded the Retirees Club. At the first meeting, Robert Follebout was elected President;
Florence Houtekier, Secretary, and board members were Leon Buyse, Oscar Raes, Louis Houtekeir, Ben
Baetens, and George Brouckaert.
The original membership included 26 people, but increased rapidly to by the end of 1966, there were
over 50 members. The initial meetings were scheduled for the Belgian Hall, until it closed in 1970.
The club transferred to the St. Clair Shores Civic Center, and afterwards to the Shores Banquet Hall
(now Barrister Gardens). In 1994, they moved to their present location, the Lutheran Fraternities Hall.
It isn’t unusual to realize that card games were an integral part of club activates. Practically
every member initially was a card player with bien as the major game activity. Even in the early
years it wasn’t unusual to have over 40 bein players participate. They even requested experienced bein
players to have patience and instruct the new players, which they did. As more members were signed up,
31 became the secondary card game. Shortly thereafter, euchre was introduced and became more and more
poplar to its present level of over 40 players a month. Bien has dropped off to where a dozen players
are hard to find. Even pinochle had outgrown bein. It does give present members a choice of games they
wish to play and allows almost all members present some activity.
The membership grew from the original 26 to a high of 115 in 1981. It dropped off to 92 in 1987, and
several ways of boosting the membership was considered. The officers of the parent club, in their usual
wisdom, asked the membership to include outsiders. It was agreed tat non-Belgians would be accepted if
they were fortunate enough to have a Belgian wife.