The South Texas Chapter began in the fall of 1986 with a group of about eight. Michael Davis of CPL attended some Alamo Chapter meetings in San Antonio and the Region VIII CRC in the spring of 1986. He was so enthused that he wanted to begin a chapter in Corpus Christi. We were in the geographic assigned area of the Alamo Chapter in San Antonio, but the two-plus hour drive precluded active participation for most in the South Texas area. The founding group searched out ASHRAE members in the area that could reasonably be separated from the Alamo and Houston Chapters to determine if there was sufficient interest in forming a new chapter centered in Corpus Christi. After many months of effort, there were about fifteen people who would commit to attend local meetings. The request for a new chapter was submitted to society and a charter was granted. Officially, the chapter came into existence on September 22, 1987, with the first official meeting attended by ASHRAE members and spouses from across Region VIII. Ralph Pitzer was the first president and the chapter was heavily supported by Central Power & Light (since bought out and taking the name of the parent company, American Electric Power or AEP) in the early years. The founding committee consisted of Michael Davis (CPL), Roger Ceballos (CPL), Bud Reed (Reed Air Conditioning), Steve Lewis (Tom Inglis Co.), Ralph Pitzer (Grigsby-Pitzer Consulting Engineers), Tom Toungate, Garnet Pavalas (Eggelhof) and Robert Olivo (Del Mar College). The founding committee met in CPL offices initially and then at the office of Bud Reed. The first few years, chapter meetings were held at Pharaoh County Club. Long-time AHSRAE members included Jim Grigsby, Jack Callins and Tom Inglis.
The chapter hosted the CRC in 1997, which was very well attended from members throughout Region VIII. The Friday Dinner-Dance was held on the USS Lexington, anchored across the ship channel from downtown Corpus Christi. Following that, for several years, attendance and volunteers declined drastically, and the chapter struggled to survive with the same group of about six people filing all the leadership positions. Recently, within the last 3 years some new volunteers have stepped up and are helping to fill the leadership roles in the chapter. Marco Esquivel has been instrumental in leading the fundraising efforts of our chapter, with our now annual “Night at the Corpus Christi Hooks Game” event beginning when he was president. Matt Gross followed Marco’s lead and continued to push the chapter to grow and become more active during his time as president.
We are lucky to have some of our founding members still in the leadership roles in our chapter. Ralph Pitzer, Steve Lewis, and Tom Toungate all serve our chapter in either a chair position or board of governors. Recently our chapter has nominated Ralph for the chapter service award, and we are looking forward to hearing the news at this year’s CRC. These founding members have given our new leaders and volunteers much needed advice and direction over the past few years and they continue to be instrumental in our progression.
With the help of our members our chapter has had some significant achievements in the past year. We were able to rally together and raise funds to donate for Hurricane Harvey relief, which was a wonderful way to give back to our community that desperately needed it. Also, thanks to Michael Vorderkunz, our chapter also gave the first ever Student Activities presentation and recruiting event at Texas A&M Kingsville. Marco Esquivel organized a raffle to raise funds for RP at our annual Christmas social, which was a great success. At the same annual Christmas social we gathered toys donated by our members and donated them to Driscol Children’s Hospital. We are also looking forward to our annual RP fund raising even at the Hooks game that will be happening in May 2018.
Even though our chapter is still in a state of rebuilding, it is exciting to see new enthusiasm from our members. We are gathering lots of feedback from newly active members, as well as from our founding members to make the best decisions moving forward to make the chapter as good as possible. Dominic Detore is a very motivated president elect and will surely continue the path forward for the South Texas Chapter.