Barbershop Harmony Society recognizes long standing members.

Mayor proclaims June 1 st - 5th, 2004

by Ralph Brown

Wow! What a week.  I just returned from Louisville where I experienced my first International Convention.  It was awesome.  I don't know how they did it, but so many little details were taken care of and things ran very smoothly.  A little glitch here and there went practically unnoticed. 


The competitors in all categories from quartets to choruses were outstanding.  Our Society certainly produces a lot of great talent. Our own POWER PLAY brought such grace and love to the stage and once again demonstrated they truly are Super Champions.
I had a special mission while at the Convention which was to cover the induction of the Fifty Year Members' Class of 2004 and special recognition of Members with over sixty years as a member of S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A. as we are now referred to as "The Barbershop Harmony Society". 
Gene Gillem from our Chapter was honored with recognition on stage for having completed over 64 years as a member.  Gene told me he has been to 27 International Conventions over the years.  He first joined the Kalamazoo Chapter in 1941 at the age of sixteen.  His father was talking to the local Fire Chief, who was a member at the time, and told him about his sons who sang in a Trio called 'The Gillem Trio' comprised of his three sons.  The Trio started when Vern age 5 sang Tenor, Lynn age 8 sang Lead, and Gene age 11 sang Baritone.  His father took him to the Chapter Meeting.  At that time Gene was 14 years old and couldn't join until he turned 16 years old.  Gene told me that the Trio sang on radio in Detroit and Chicago.  They sang on the "Kiddies Carnival" for WXYZ.
He later joined the Battle Creek Chapter and sang for six years in a quartet called "Chord Arrangers".  He also served as Chapter President.  He later left Michigan for Toledo Ohio due to job relocation.
When he returned to Michigan he lived in Saginaw and joined their Chapter.  He sang in a quartet with Bob Glover, Herb Benjamin, Emil Franz, and they were known as "The Cross Towners".  He also served as President of the Saginaw Chapter.
At one point he was "The Bush League King" which was mostly an honorary title in appreciation for involvement and assisting in the annual event operations.
He then became a member of the newly formed Saginaw Bay Chapter, and after joining Frank Thorne for a number of years, he is back to the Saginaw Bay Chapter.
Gene Gillem was President of PIONEER DISTRICT 1968-1969International Board Member 1970-1971, and inducted into the MICHIGAN HALL OF FAME 1980
He recently married,  his new Bride Barb is the former Barbara Waller from Beaverton.  They now reside at Wixom Lake, Michigan.

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