Sunshine District History
Historian – Bill Boll
1938 – SPEBSQSA Inc. was founded in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 11th.
1945 – Tampa Chapter was chartered on May 29th. The founder was Bob Aldrich, a Barbershopper from Tulsa who came across the Florida Four (Dick Jackson, Beal Siler, Sam and Fred Breedon) and expanded them into the first Chapter in what would ultimately become the Sunshine District. At this time the Society had 169 Chapters and 8,064 members.
1948 – The 13th District, The Dixie District, was formed on February 21st, composed of 10 chapters in 9 states. What came to be know as the Citrus Region included only Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Miami. Membership was at 424 out of 22,348 in 439 Chapters. Warren Zinsmaster of Miami became our first President and in 1949 our first International Bard member.
The first Parade (show) in the South was held by the Tampa Chapter in February.
Eleven quartets (8 from Tampa, St. Petersburg, Miami, and West Palm Beach) competed in the First Regional Preliminary hosted by Birmingham, Alabama on November 28th. This first Dixie Championship was won by Tampa’s Florida Knights (Kit Carson, Sam Breedon, Fred Breedon, and Bill Bond).
1949 – The Florida Knights went on to become the first quartet to represent our Southern states at the 11th International Convention, where they competed against 39 quartets in Buffalo, New York. The winning quartet was the Mid-States Four.
1951 – The Antlers from Miami (Junior Morton, Barry Brooks, Wally Swentzel, and Bill Schindler) became the first medalists, taking 4th place in Toledo, Ohio.
1952 – Sam Breedon, of Tampa was the first Citrus Region member to qualify for the permanent Judges Panel.
1953 – What became the first of many Labor Day Jamborees was hosted by the Venice Chapter, attended by 14 of 17 chapters.
After dropping to 6th place in 1952 in Kansas City, Missouri, The Antlers medaled again with a 5th place Detroit, Michigan finish.
1954 – The Suncoast Chorus of St. Petersburg, directed by Glenn Boring, became the first Citrus Region chorus to compete internationally at the Society’s second annual contest, held in Washington D.C.
1955 – Miami hosted the 17th International Convention, chaired by Bill Hall.
1957 – Miami, with 188 members, became the second largest chapter in the Society.
1957 – The Citrus Region dropped it’s Southern accent by seceding from the Dixie District to become the Society’s 15th district on April 18th. It’s 15 chapters had 699 members leaving the Dixie District with 788 members to effect it’s second period of reconstruction. The birth was fathered by Joe Griffith of St. Petersburg, who was honored by our first presidency. Sam Breedon was elected to serve as Immediate Past President.
The Short Cuts from Miami (Junior Morton, Charlie Johnson, Jesse Dean, and Bill Muhn) won 5th place medals at the International Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
Ft. Lauderdale’s Chorus, under the direction of Bob Boemler, represented both Dixie and Sunshine Districts at the International Convention.
1961 – The Suntones (Gene Cokeroft, Bob Franklin, Bill Cain, and Harlan Wilson) of Miami and West Palm Beach, became International Champions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1964 – Joe Griffith became our first International Vice President.
The Miamians, directed by Bob Boemler, took 2nd place in San Antonio, Texas.
1965 – Bob Boemler took the Miamians to Boston for a first place Trophy.
1966 – The Coastmen of West Palm Beach, directed by Harlan Wilson, became medalists in Chicago, Illinois with a 4th place finish.
1971 – Sunshine District hosted the first of many International Mid-Winter conventions via a cruise from Miami to Nassau.
1974 – After 15 years Sunshine had grown to 1,254 members and 24 Chapters in 4 Divisions, Goldcoast, Suncoast, Gateway, and the Panhandle.
1976 – The Coastman, of Palm Beach County competed in San Francisco, California. This marked an unprecedented 8th International Convention appearance in an eleven year span, all under the direction of Harlan Wilson.
1977 – Sunshine District hosted the Mid-Winter Convention in Orlando.
1979 – Sunshine District hosted the Mid-Winter Convention in Sarasota.
1980 – Hank Vomacka, of Sarasota, was elected an International Vice President.
1983 – Hank Vomacka was elected International President.
Sunshine District hosted the Mid-Winter Convention in Sarasota.
1984 – Sunshine District celebrated 25 years with 33 chapters and 1,694 members in 6 Areas, Goldcoast, Suncoast, Gateway, Panhandle, Central, and Gulfcoast.
1985 – On July 31st, Sunshine District became the 11th largest district, outgrowing it’s mother district, Dixie District. If the Dixie split had never taken place, we would today be the 3rd largest district in the Society. **
1987 – Sunshine hosted the Mid-Winter convention in Sarasota.
1988 – Society and Sunshine District celebrate SPEBSQSA’s fiftieth birthday. **
1989 – The Sidekicks, (Bill Billings, Randy Loos, Harold Nantz, and Dave LaBar) medal by finishing 4th at the Kansas City, Missouri Convention.
Sunshine District celebrated 30 years with 35 Chapters, 85 registered quartets, and 1778 members in 6 areas.
Sunshine District’s “Mr. Barbershop” Sam Breedon passed away shortly before the Spring Convention, after 50 years singing in Harmony.
Keepsake (Roger Ross, Joe Connelly, Tony De Rosa, and Don Barnick) medaled by finishing 2nd at the convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
1991 – Sunshine District hosted the Mid-Winter Convention in Tampa.
1992 – Keepsake (Roger Ross, Joe Connelly, Tony DeRosa, and Don Barnick) became International Quartet Champions in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Dick Shaw became an International Vice President.
1993 – Tim Hanrahan became an International Vice President.
1994 – Sunshine District hosted the Mid-Winter Convention in Sarasota.
Sunshine District celebrated 35 years with 34 chapters, 71 quartets, and 1757 members in 6 areas.
1995 – Miami hosted the International Convention in Miami Beach, chaired by Gene Cokeroft.
Dick Shaw became International President.
Backbeat (Harold Nantz, Sean Milligan, Randy Loos, and Bill Billings) became 5th Place Medalists at the Miami International Convention.
1996 – Tim Hanrahan became International President.
The Mid-Winter International Convention was held in Jacksonville.
1997 – Tim Hanrahan repeated as International President.
1998 – Sunshine District hosted the Mid-Winter International Convention in Tampa.
2000 – Platinum (Gary Lewis, Joe Connelly, Kevin Miles and Tony De Rosa) become International Quartet Champions in Kansas City, Missouri.
2001 – Sunshine District hosted the International Mid-Winter Convention in Jacksonville.
2004 – Sunshine District hosted the International Mid-Winter Convention in Jacksonville.
2010 – Sunshine District hosted the International Mid-Winter Convention in Tampa.
Historical Links & Documents