Club Stories


In June of 1954 Dick and his family joined the Wilmington Community Swimming Pool which would become the Wilmington Recreation Club. The entrance at that time was a wooden gate and dirt road that were down where the tennis courts were. The road ended by the boat ramp. People camped in the picnic area which was sand and sand burrs (ouch!) and boats would just pull up on the sandy shore. Eventually a dirt road was built to the other areas and as this road was close to the water, people pitched their tents near the shoreline - there were not too many accidents from people rolling down the shore at night.

Dick VeroFebruary 5 1927 August 16 2020

Dick was chairman of the operating Committee which helped build the Club; rebuilding the beach house, big pavilion, new entrance, trap range, turning old outhouses to block washrooms, development of new camp areas, as just an example of what these men and volunteers accomplished.

Dick joined the Board of Directors in 1967, became Chairman of the Board in 1982, and was head of camping for many years. He was fair to everyone and treated people like family, as that's how he viewed the Club. after his love for his family and friends, the Club was always in his heart.

Forever a proud man, Dick wore his heart and his compassion on his sleeve. Following is an article published in our Happy Daze August 14, 1998 in Dick's own words.


I was sitting on the dock watching my grandson, Anthony, age 10 and my granddaughter, Jackie, age 2-1/2 fishing, When all of a sudden Anthony was yelling with joy as he pulled in a 2-1/2 pound bass. I has as much fun as he did while he was working the fish. Just the look on his face was worth all the money in the world. I just wished I had a place like the WRC when I was his age.

I joined in 1954, when the WRC was known as the Wilmington Community Swimming Pool and the dues were $10.00. That's right $10.00. We leased and used about 120 acres from the Peabody Coal Company. There was very little camping at this time as the road ended at the present big boat-ramp. There were no outhouses or washrooms, except at the beach which was half the size it is now.

The old board of directors at that time never had meetings that were open to the members, so nobody had a voice or knew what was going on within the Club. Some of us got together and forced a meeting at election time and got people on the board who were interested in the Club.

At that time, Lucky Sedlar, Ed Mesik and Al Pechan heard a rumor that Peabody wanted to sell the property. which at the time was 1,000 members. You read that right 1000 members! A meeting was held with the members about buying the Club. They voted to buy it and then we lost about 500 members who quit.

Now we were really struck for the money to buy the Club. We all got together and set up booths and went door to door to sell memberships for $75.00 so we could scrape up enough money for the down payment. Don't forget $75.00 was a lot of money at that time. Due to these men and others we own our club which is about 485 acres with 875 members.

The reason I brought this up is because some of our younger members have asked me if we own our Club since they have read as most of you know, that ComEd is selling off a lot of their land that they leased to some of the clubs in the area. These clubs had leased the land rather than buy it. Some had leased the land for as long as 24 years. I wish them luck, but you can bet the price of this land will be real high. We should all thank those old time members who had the foresight to buy and with your help made WRC the best Club in the area.

Let's make sure that we protect our Club for us, our children, grandchildren, and their children.


Dick Vero



John, "Bernie", and Bonnie Southall

On February 10th, 1962 John Burnell, "Bernie",and Bonnie Ruth (Davis) were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Illinois.

Together, they had 3 Sons. Brent, Brad and Barry and 8 grand children. All are current WRC Members.

Together, they Managed the Wilmington Recreation Club for 50 years !

Bernie was born September 24th, 1939 in Muscatine, Iowa.

He attended Illinois State University and earned his degree in Education.

During College he played 4 years of baseball. Upon Graduation he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds but was unable to play professional ball due to an arm injury.

He loved playing horseshoes, loved horse racing, and was a true man of God. He loved his faith and his church as well.

Bernie became a Teacher and later the Principal at Stevens Middle School in Wilmington.

Bernie was the second Manager of the Wilmington Recreation Club. He served from 1962 until his death April 3, 1977.

John Burnell "Bernie" Southall

September 24, 1939

April 3, 1977

Bonnie Ruth (Davis) Southall

October 22, 1941

October 21, 2019

Upon Bernie's passing, Bonnie took over as Manager of the Wilmington Recreation Club.

Bonnie loved designing flowers and decorating. She opened the Flower Loft in Wilmington soon after Bernie's death. She provided many beautiful flower arrangements for many various occasions, specializing in wedding arrangements.

Bonnie managed the Wilmington Recreation Club for nearly 35 years before retiring and passing the reins onto her son Brad, who is our current Manager today.

A nice day for a boat ride. Bernie, Brent Bonnie and Brad July 1966

As if She were saying;

Here's to you my friends, I wish you good health and happiness. May you enjoy and protect our Club so that it will be here for generations to come. May God keep you safe and grant you long life.

Rest in peace Bonnie and thank you for all you have done for our club.