Historic Timeline of the Service Club for the Blind

Historic Timeline of the Service Club for the Blind

March 28, 1934 – Service Club for the Blind was founded by Adeline Ann Ruenzi

  • In 1927, Miss Ruenzi developed the tactile writing aluminum script because she was anxious for her pupils to learn the use of penmanship – this is still in use throughout the world.
  • In 1929, Miss Ruenzi helped organize a radio fund for the blind which was eventually run through the Service Club.
  • In 1934 the Cultural and Service Club for the Blind was formed and Adeline Ruenzi elected President.
  • Treasury had $4 in its fund.
  • The Club’s first home was in the building occupied by the Henry L. Wolfner Memorial Library for the Blind at 3844 Olive Street (now an historic building), but because the ground floor was not available the blind could not display articles for sale that were made in home to passersby.
  • The Club then moved to a ground floor building at 4312 Olive Street which had a display window that could be seen from the sidewalk.
  • In 1940 the name of the Cultural and Service Club for the Blind Incorporated was changed to Service Club for the Blind, Incorporated and the fiscal year which had been from April 1st to March 31st was changed to October 1st to September 30th.
  • In 1940, the Service Club for the Blind added the White Cane Service to its Objectives and took over the responsibility of the white canes, sponsored by the Lions and the Kiwanis Clubs. White Canes were distributed to the blind throughout St. Louis, St. Louis County and to rural districts upon request.  The Service Club for the Blind was the only organization in the state giving White Cane Service to the blind.  The cost of the White Cane is approximately 65c a piece. From 1946 to 1959 the Service Club for the Blind has assumed the full responsibility of the White Cane Service.  The cost of White Canes is approximately $1.75 apiece. (Today in 2018 The Service Club sells its white canes for $17.50 for a 4-section cane and $20.50 for a 6 section cane)
  • On October 16th 1947, Miss Ruenzi formed the Carver League for the Negro Blind, a recreational club, housed in the Wolfner building.
  • In 1957 after extensive renovating on the Club building, and two weeks before they were to hold an open house, a tornado came through St. Louis and tore the roof off.
  • One year later in 1958 the building became victim of an electrical fire which was related to the tornado damage the previous year.

1971 – Lillian Dunn became President

• Lillian Dunn was Acting President from October 12, 1971 to June 10 1971 when she became President, after the resignation and subsequent death of Adeline Ruenzi.
• She passed away on  January 27, 1976 while still in office.

February 4, 1976 – Fred Keller became President

• Joined the Board October 1972 as 1st Vice-President January 9, 1973.
• February 7 1994 – the Service Club moved to 3719 Watson Rd. (formally Mardel Hardware Store) due to the neighborhood around Olive St. becoming dangerous.
• Joined the Carver League with the Service Club.
• Abolished the fundraiser program as the Service Club was spending more money on it than raising money.

2003 – Kathleen Demsky became President

• Approved for membership on October 12, 1972;
• Introduced gift cards for our clients;
• Introduced grant programs for the purchase of adaptive technology and major medical benefits, and person of the month;
• 2012 – 2-month major renovation of the inside of the building allowing for more social functions.
• Retired September 30, 2016.

October 1, 2016 – Jack Lenk became President

• 2017 – New roof and new refrigerator.
• Introduction of the “Coffee with the President” program.
• Reinstated the Annual Appeal.

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