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81st RFA Annual Reunion

On October 12, 2007 in Meeting Room C of the Allen County, IN Public Library (Fort Wayne), President William L. King called the Annual Meeting to order at 9:24 AM.

Under RFA bylaws the quorum sufficient to conduct our Annual Meeting is seven members present in person or by proxy. Present in person were: William L. King; Helen King; Marilyn J. Newton; Ern Reynolds; Gary W. Reynolds; Cynthia I. Nason; Don Merrill; Ray Collins; Betty Ann Collins; Curtis Reynolds; Betty Cox; James Reynolds; Dr. Glenn G. Reynolds; Barbara Reynolds; Geraldine Brown; and her sister Janetta Wilson. A quorum of members was determined to be present. No proxies were offered or received.

The minutes of the October 10, 2006 Annual Meeting as taken by Mr. W. F. Merlin were read aloud, and approved without amendment. It was noted that the only submission to the Secretary of a written inventory of RFA-owned books and documents held in the custody of individual members has been thusfar submitted only by Ern Reynolds.

Two members not present in person have agreed to help RFA with any task not dependent upon hearing well, such as work amenable to electronic mail. The two are Bill Marshall, and Melody Reynolds. The latter has some residual hearing ability for lower registered voices.

The growing use of forensic DNA has opened a large new entryway for genealogical research. One impact of this scientific advance has been reflected in the discussion draft of amendments to RFA's corporate by-laws being discussed and voted today. New duties have been added to those of the Vice President for Line Coordination. Gary W. Reynolds has agreed to serve in this enlarged position as metacoordinator for genetic linkages.

The board to be elected this day October 12th must agree to the proposed Revised By-Laws, and once approved must disseminate their content to the membership. Since six dense pages of text plus more for the Corporate Charter would squeeze out and supplant the archival usefulness from an entire issue of Reynolds Recollections, the Revised By-Laws Adopted as Amended October 12, 2007 will be sent by electronic mail to all members having an e-mail address. A supplemental less costly postal mailing will be done outside the newsletter only for those lacking an e-mail address. Our dues are not sufficient to cover many such out-of-the-ordinary postal mailings.

Our Treasurer Rosemary Markham being unable to attend in person from Provo, Utah, her report was read aloud by Bill King. We began the fiscal year October 1st, 2007 with $8,110.10 on hand. The same figure a year later is $268.13 higher, that is, $8,378.23. However this figure will be reduced by any expenses arising from the present meeting, as well as by three newsletters mailings to come, costing $300 each. Therefore, our ending bank balance for 2007 will show us with less on hand than one year previously.

Our VP/Registrar Marilyn Newton gave the Membership Report. All dues we may reasonably anticipate receiving in 2007 have come in, so no more income ought to be expected for the remainder of this year. Our membership has risen by five to a total of 232 dues paid members. This includes eight new members for 2007/ as well as 35 non-renewals. There have been no known deaths to report.

A contact list of RFA members such as those published for previous annual meetings was discussed. In the past it was printed as a private booklet, such as the one with a purple cover distributed at the Annual Meeting in 2006. Each listing consists of name; address; telephone number; and RFA Line Number. Mailing costs pump up its costs prohibitively. It is unsuitable for internet dissemination or newsletter content, since such personal information opens up too many possibilities of invasion of privacy. The Board of Directors will consider how to make a current contact list available, including perhaps the option of charging extra to any member desiring one.

Addressing the decline in our RFA membership numbers is an ongoing challenge. The trend has been down since the 1976 peak of 500. The proliferation of genealogical data coming via the Internet seems to suggest face-to-face gatherings like ours lack importance. Where we as a group insist upon some rigor being applied to dubious and doubtful claims of ancestry, the promiscuous embrace of untestable hearsay on Internet websites seems much more informative, friendly, and inviting. (For example, there are 122 people on the subscription portion of rootsweb.com claiming descent from our Line 17's Christopher Reynolds. Perhaps a dozen different origins for him are on offer there, perhaps none of which are truly accurate and several of which have been rebutted in Reynolds Recollections years ago.) Specifically we must articulate our strengths, figure out our selling points, and get them findable on a more prominent web page that search engines like Google will locate. Newsletter mailing labels announce the expiration date of the membership, and those people who do not renew receive a postal reminder to do so that is separate from the newsletter. Despite these devices many members simply find it hard to remember a $10 expenditure that does not come with a monthly bill. We have no means to accept prepayment by credit card.

One selling point is our getting together at least once per year at a research location. Volunteers to arrange such gatherings have been few, and frustrated by what barriers they encountered. Our modestly sized group has been bumped on a recent occasion when a much larger organization needed scores of hotel rooms. Two motivations among our potential attendees seem at cross purposes: those people who are still searching to identify their own line have less incentive to attend a family get-together with those who know from whom they are descended. The latter category of people are also more interested than the former in "out-trip recreation", i.e., touristy destinations. Intensive research requires a person to take a break, or else fatigue will let errors creep in.

Locations for future Annual Meetings were discussed. The RFA has never tried, or been invited, to hold a conjoint meeting with any other genealogical group. Other family-name groups have done so at locations we have never tried, such as Kansas City MO. There are large numbers of Reynoldses in Texas and Missouri, but we have never been able to get a volunteer to arrange a meeting in any location such as Houston or Kansas City.

In connection with out of town locations, the Reynolds Family Association needs to identify a place to serve as the repository of its records, an archive of our materials. Once the Centennial Collection was published in 1992, the northern portion of our information was deposited by Sue Clement with the New England Genealogical Society that same year. Mrs. Lee Taylor likewise sent some materials there, though no such depository was found for the bulk of our southern portion materials. The remainder of what Mrs. Lee Taylor had on hand for the southern portion up to 2006 is currently in the possession of either Ern Reynolds (printed publications inventoried) or Marilyn Newton (the harder-to-identify materials which are much more difficult to inventory). Two possibilities from the R.J. Reynolds branch are (a) the Reynolds Family Homestead in the remote rural Patrick County, Virginia hamlet of Critz; and (b) Reynolda House, an art museum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The former is operated by Virginia Tech, and the latter by a foundation. Neither is considered an obvious destination for genealogical research.

Election of officers to serve for the coming year came forward on the agenda. The floor was opened to nominations for any office. No member put forward a name. All officers currently serving indicated their willingness to continue for another year in their same posts. Don Merrill moved and Curtis Reynolds seconded the motion that incumbents continue to serve. The vote was all present in favor, and none against.

The Annual Meeting for 2007 adjourned at 11:20 AM.