By KEVIN CONNELLY
More than 50 yeas ago, Jim and Bette Dunn were toying with the idea of building a pool in the backyard of their Boardman-area property when a neighbor approached them with a timely alternative.
“He said if we will give $25, they’re gonna do a study to see whether they can put a pool out here,” Jim Dunn recalled Friday afternoon. “Bette’s dad said, ‘You’d be better off letting them have a pool than you having one in your backyard.’ ”
Jim agreed and put up his share.
The study turned out to be a success and on July 4, 1963, the Boardman-Canfield Swim Club officially opened. But what the Dunns — and the rest of the original members — didn’t know at the time is what their investment would eventually become.
What is now known as the Boardman Tennis and Swim Club will mark its 50th anniversary on July 6. Its rich history won’t be forgotten either, with a few original members around to share its story.
“If you look at the grounds,” said Jeff Barone, who has been President of the Board for the past four summers, “it takes members, it takes dues, and if you have a little bit of capital, this is what you get.”
Over the years, the club has added seven tennis courts — three hard and four clay — and expanded the pool to Olympic size. But the original members still recall its beginning stages.
“We all had our children here and it brought everybody closer together because we spent the afternoon with all of the families,” said Aileen Keppler, who is member No. 17. “Our kids all rode bikes here and I just remember the bike rack was always filled.”
More than $100,000 has been put into the club over the last four years, according to Barone. Now, the club is home to 400 families and has been at membership capacity for the past three years.
Although the club has experienced some adversity through the years — multiple recessions and the opening of a YMCA nearby — the commitment of its members has led to the sustainability.
“It’s always been well kept, with good managers who kept the kids in shape, and everybody enjoys it,” Betty Thompson said. “We would certainly be bored without it now.”
Fifty years later, Thompson, Keppler, Margie Seidner and other original members, take their place under a shady tree by the pool to play their daily game of bridge.
“It’s been wonderful,” Keppler said. “Now the children are gone and have their own families, but we old people still come and sit here every day.”
The Boardman Tennis and Swim Club is as much a part of them, as they are of it.