Meeting Information for Monday Nov. 19th  2018-11-12 06:00:00Z 0
Posted by Mary Jones on Nov 09, 2018
President Christy introduced John Gillespie, who along with his wife, Jan, founded the Rawhide Boys Ranch.
John Gillespie
John was offering his and Jan's new book, Our 351 Sons, for sale. The book recounts the first 35 years of Rawhide Boy's Ranch's existence. The book is for sale for on Amazon or ($30).  The book is subtitled "Helping Your Grow by Learning to Serve Others."  John noted that the book also contains lots of tips for raising kids. He added that there's lots of white space in the book, making it easier for older eyes to read. It's 330 pages long and contains 130 pictures.  351 is the number of boys who personally lived with John and Jan over the years. 
He recognized Chet Krause of Krause Publishers of Iola, WI and also Oshkosh Truck and the Mosling family for their support of Rawhide. He shared that a special fund has helped them provide copies of the book to all U.S. Senators and Congressmen, as well as all Wisconsin Senators and Assemblymen.
John recounted the story of how he and Jan got started hosting boys. One Sunday a boy named Jerry, age 13, showed up at John and Jan's church where they taught Sunday School. Jerry was very shy, but came back again the next Sunday and asked John and Jan if he could come to their house that afternoon. They replied that they'd have to check with his mom. Jerry told them his mom was working but that she had already said it was okay. John and Jay insisted upon calling his mom, and she said that she was fine with Jerry going to their house.  Then she said, "I'll bring some clothes by for him later."  John and Jan didn't understand what she meant.
At the time they were living in a 2.5 bedroom farmhouse, had one son, with a second on the way.  When the mom came by later that afternoon with a daughter in tow, she had a pile of clothes for Jerry and said, "I've recently remarried and my new husband has given me 30 days to get rid of 2 of my 3 kids. One son has moved in with another family; I need a place for Jerry to live."  And thus began John and Jan's foster care program.  However, they were afoul of the law because they didn't have a foster care license and were having difficulty getting one from the county.  John then shared an interesting story of how a local attorney with Madison connections introduced them to then Lt. Gov. Warren Knowles, who facilitated them getting a foster care license quickly.
John and Jan began to take in other boys, with an average of 10 at a time, and realized there was a great need for this kind of care in the Fox Valley region...and that they needed a bigger home to accommodate the boys. Through various sources they learned that Bart and Cherry Starr had expressed interest in "doing something for local youth" when Bart retired. (This was in 1967.)  Jan kept bugging John to call Bart and John was hesitant. Finally, one day she bugged him enough that he picked up the phone and dialed Information and was astounded that he was able to get Bart and Cherry's phone number.  He called it, Bart answered, John explained why he was calling and Bart said, "Can you come to Green Bay this afternoon."  Shocked, they quickly drove to Green Bay and the Starr home, where they were welcomed late in the afternoon. Cherry was making dinner and John said he'd make his story quick so as not to disturb their dinner whereupon Cherry said, "Well, if all goes well,  you'll be staying for dinner."
John explained their dream of a place like Rawhide but that they needed help in raising money to make their dream come true. John shared that their dream was: 1) that boys at this home would feel like part of the staff; 2) John and Jan planned to live there full time; and 3) it would be a faith-based program, but boys would not be pressured to adopt a religion.
After listening to their plans, Bart and Cherry said they'd like to be involved and asked them to stay for dinner.  The Starrs continued to be involved now, 34 years later, with Bart Starr, Jr. leading the effort today.
John recounted that he and Jan continue to be in contact with about 100 of the young men whom they cared for, with many of them now grandparents.
A Club member encouraged John to highlight the fish fry's that Rawhide holds on the third Friday from May through October.  Info is available at
Program for November 5, 2018 Mary Jones 2018-11-09 06:00:00Z 0