One Founder Evidence Cover
One Founder Evidence
One Founder Evidence

*01/16/34 Petersburg Va "Progressive-Index" Newspaper article on Ruritan founding. Through separate interviews with JJ Gwaltney and Tom Downing, the Southside Editor writes: "Mr. Downing ... declared that to Mr. Gwaltney should go the full credit. ..Mr. Gwaltney told your correspondent. . .it was Mr. Downing who suggested the idea" The Editor continues "Whichever of the two men actually made the suggestion first, little matters. It is now a matter of record that the suggestion bore fruit and to Mr. Gwaltney undoubtedly goes the larger share ofthe credit for the establishment of that first club."

*06/41 Ruritan Magazine, edited by Tom Downing, "Fixing the Facts of Ruritan's Beginning": "Mr Gwaltney, the first National Secretary and the first Secretary ofthe Holland Club .... As full time teacher in the Holland School, he and several other citizens of the community conceived the idea of a civic club for the small town and country, resulting in the organization of the Holland Club and leading to the formation of the federation of the clubs into Ruritan National at Franklin, Virginia .... " (Ed: Tom Downing was not part of the "other citizens of the community". He did not move to the Holland Community until December 1928.)

*01/12/48 Norfolk Virginian-Pilot- "Ruritan Pays First Tribute to Originator": "The father of Ruritan National came back home tonight to receive honors from the club he founded 20 years ago ... the visitor was J. J. Gwaltney .... E. T. Batten ... a charter member ...told how Gwaltney used to hold winter night meetings of farmers to talk over their problems and how the teacher seized on a suggestion that a group be formed to continue the discussions the year round. Acting on his idea, Gwaltney called a dinner meeting of farmers and businessmen and a club was formed .... For this achievement, Gwaltney got a surprise gifL.a silver bowl, inscribed thus: 'J. J. Gwaltney, the Originator of the Ruritan Idea, 1928, presented by the Mother Club, 1948'."

*1950 "History of Ruritan National" by Bruce Kent, C. E. Myers and Joe Byrum (published by Rufitan National): "When J. J. Gwaltney ... was asked about the founding of the Mother Club, he replied that it grew out of discussions held with his Vo-Ag Advisory Council at the Holland High School.... Tom Downing ... verifies the correctness of this point of view .... It was perfectly natural that Gwaltney, the Vo-Ag Teacher, should constantly consult, advise and talk over his plans with his District Supervisor, Downing. Therefore, although Tom Downing did not become a member of Ruritan until almost a year after its founding, when he moved to HolIand, the records show that he was in the background from the beginning and that he was destined to play as important a role in the growth and expansion of Ruritan as Gwaltney played in the founding of the organization .... J. J. Gwaltney called the first meeting which resulted in the Club at Holland and also called the meeting of the first four clubs at Franklin, Va. where the organization of Ruritan National was consummated. Tom V. Downing must be given credit for being the all time great Ruritan Missionary who carried the Ruritan Idea to practically evel), community .... Gwaltney, as Vo-Ag Teacher, was the one who was in a position to organize the Mother Club. Downing, as District Supervisor, was the one who was in a position to spread the idea to other communities."

*1961-64 Ruritan History Committee to determine the Founders of Ruritan, Chaired by Past National President Frank Kellam, met with parties cencerned then presented a preliminary report 'in August 1963 to the National Board of Directors. Arising from this report, JJ Gwaltney was offered Honorary Life Membership on the Ruritan National Board. Gwaltney accepted this Honorary Life Membership subject to a verification letter being signed by the remaining Charter Members of the Holland Ruritan Club that JJ Gwaltney "founded the first Ruritan Club". Charter Members knew from the beginning that Gwaltney was the only Founder of Ruritan. The II signed the letter and submitted it as evidence for JJ Gwaltney being the Founder of Ruritan. (Ed: Even today, Holland Ruritan Club acknowledges JJ Gwaltney as its only Founder.)

*01/13/64 Tom Downing's letter to History Committee Chair Frank Kellam: "I do not want in any way to take any credit from Mr. Gwaltney for the good job he did in organizing the Holland Ruritan Club. Without his efforts, there would not have been such a club started at Holland. I have thought for a good many years that Ruritan National should give him some kind of an award for the work he did." (Ed: Tom Downing writes this letter after hearing the History Committee's preliminary report. Tom affirms that Gwaltney organized the Holland Club, hence founded Ruritan. In no way should Downing's statement diminish his impoltance to Ruritan as the "Great Ruritan Builder".)

*05/08/98 Nancy G. Dennis (JJ Gwaltney's daughter) letter to Ruritan's 70th Anniversary Committee: "Tom Downing's name has been linked to Dad's for many years. Mr. Downing certainly deserves the credit for taking the idea to a fine, national level organization. Dad said many times that the type of work to do that on a national level was not where his interest was. His was definitely on a more grass roots, farmer-businessman, educational level. It was a puzzle to my mother and also to my sister and me why the facts continue to be blurred. It was Dad's idea, he started the Club in Holland and Tom Downing carried the idea to a national level."

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