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Chapter Spotlight: Austin

For this month's Chapter Spotlight, please enjoy a piece of the Austin Chapter's historical narrative.

Austin Chapter Heritage – 1950 to 1960

During the early 1950’s, the industry leaders in heating and ventilation within Austin would drive to San Antonio to attend meetings of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (ASHVE). The Southwest Texas Chapter of ASHVE also included the South Texas and Corpus Christi areas. After a while, driving the 100 miles or so began to wear on the Austin members and regular attendance at the meetings began to diminish.

As early as 1953, several of the regular attendees from Austin began discussing forming a local independent Chapter of ASHVE. Early members of the group were Mr. Frank Frazee, Mr. B. Segall, Jr. (1st President 1956-57), Mr. Atwell Lagow (2nd President 1957-58), Mr. James Rea (3rd President 1958-59), Mr. Ira Wilke (4th President 1959-60), Mr. Bill Luedecke (5th President 1960-61), Mr. Joe Boyer, and several others in Austin.

In October of 1955, at an ASHVE meeting, it was proposed to form an Austin Chapter. After discussions, it was decided to operate Chapters in both Austin and San Antonio. So in January of 1956 an organizational meeting was held and Mr. B. Segall, Jr. was elected the Chairman of the temporary organization with Mr. Atwell Lagow elected as Vice-Chairman. The group began meeting monthly and continued to meet; providing technical programs until the Austin Chapter was chartered on April 8, 1956. The first published newsletter was on July 19, 1956. The Austin Chapter was the 66th Chapter of the American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHAE). The July meeting was the first for the new Society year, and subsequent meetings were held by four (4) Officers and two (2) Board of Governors. The Chapter was established with 43 official members and 3 awaiting membership by the Society’s action.

The original Officers and BOG were: B. Segall, Jr., President; Atwell Lagow, Vice-President; Perry Sisler, Treasurer; Mr. James Rea, Secretary; Mr. Ira Wilke, BOG; and Don Schuett, BOG. James Rea also designed and wrote the first newsletter of the Austin Chapter and it was called “The Austin Register”. The newsletter was two (2) pages, printed front and back on about 11 x 17 sized paper. The newsletter was then double folded to form a “business envelope” size mailer where an address and postage stamp was added to the “blank” section at the bottom of the back page. The cost to mail the 1958 newsletters was two (2) cents.

Meetings of the early Austin Chapter were held at the Pioneer Drive Inn meeting room at 829 Barton Springs Road, at the corner of Bouldin Avenue. The meal was usually chicken fried steak complete with salad and desert, coffee or tea, and cost $1.75. The reception and Social Hour usually began at 6:00 p.m., dinner at 7:00, Chapter Business and Announcements at 7:45, and the program at 8:00 p.m. The meeting adjourned around 9:30 to 9:45 p.m. (not unlike our meetings today).

The Chapter’s main function then, as now, was to encourage professional growth and enjoy fellowship with other industry professionals. This goal was, and is now, achieved by hosting technical seminars and lectures, raising funds for technical research, and participating in regional conferences.

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