Pilot Club of Gonzales celebrates golden anniversary


Service and Friendship.

That is the motto of Pilot Club International. We are lucky to have the Pilot Club of Gonzales in the community, celebrating their local club’s 50th anniversary of leading the way on those principles.

The Pilot Club celebrated this golden milestone with a come and go open house and ribbon cutting involving the Gonzales Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture on Sunday, March 19, at the Riverside Community Center, 200 Saint Lawrence St.

While Pilot International began as a women’s only organization for business professionals, it has now expanded to include everyone with clubs across the globe. The primary focus of the club is brain awareness and how people of all ages can care for their health. They have a strong focus on traumatic brain injuries.

Our local club has been instrumental in conducting a lifeline program at a time when there were not other emergency programs for seniors in the 1980s and early 1990s. More recently, the club began hosting Brainminder’s puppet shows, aimed at children to teach them about bike and water safety, and anti-bullying.

The Pilot Club of Gonzales is proud to be the sponsor of the Gonzales Anchor Club, their student partners. Pilots offer leadership training, community service opportunities and scholarships to and through their Anchors to encourage the next generation of leaders to continue the Pilot principles.

While looking back on 50 years, charter member Sheila Wright stated her fondest memories include “shared goals and gaining new friends with my fellow Pilots both locally and across the country as we worked together to make our communities and world a better place.”

As the Pilots look toward the future, they are excited about upcoming projects. The Pilots have partnered with the Gonzales Lions Clubs to bring an Inclusive Playground to Gonzales at the Lions Park. This continues another principle of working to make our community more accessible for all. They are also starting a scholarship for nursing students in memory of Pilot member Melanie Wright, RN, through a 5K to be held Sept. 16 in Gonzales. In addition, they are grateful to be part of Project Graduation once again, a program they originally brought to Gonzales in 2002 to provide a safe place for seniors on graduation night.

The Gonzales Pilot Club meets at Riverside Community Center the second Wednesday of each month at noon. Charter member Lois Willmann has faithfully been the chair of the committee overseeing the restoration and upkeep of the building.

“When my husband first suggested we meet there I thought he was crazy, then Morris Keck from the evening Lions suggested it also, I took it as a sign from God. That was 40 years ago” Willmann said.

As a long time Pilot herself, Pat Anders-Ryan, the club president, is pleased to be serving the year of the club’s 50th anniversary. “As we celebrate years of service to Gonzales, we look forward to the next 5o years. We invite everyone to come see how you can be apart of the wonderful growth and exciting future ahead.”

For more information, go to facebook.com/GonzalesPilotClub.