Vintage Orlando Street Portrait

Adapted from the book:

THE COURAGE OF A COMMUNITY Creating the Central Florida YMCA 1885–2004

Authored by Pamela Bayles

Pamela Bayless, the author, wrote The YMCA at 150: A History of the YMCA of Greater New York, 1852-2002 (Fordham University Press, 2002). She also served the YMCA of Greater New York as the Vice President of Communications and led its 150th-anniversary planning.

Minda Novek, the picture editor and researcher, specializes in cultural history, including multi-media exhibits, books, and documentaries. She worked on the PBS School series, Voices & Visions, and the Academy Award-winning documentary “Ten-Year Lunch: The Wit and Legend of the Algonquin Round Table.” She was a picture editor and researcher of The YMCA at 150.

Rock Lake Orlando 1885

Chapter 1

Pioneer Years

Chamber of Commerce

Chapter 2

Boom and Bust

Jones Tri-Hi-Y 1956

Chapter 3

War and Post-War Years

Walt Disney Dispatches Personnel to Assess Property

Chapter 4

Building Up

Downtown Orlando Businesses Suffered

Chapter 5

The YMCA of Central Florida Emerges

Tangelo Park Needed a Gym

Chapter 6

Planting the Flag

Cocoa YMCA in Brevard County

Chapter 7

Partnerships Take Precedence


The author acknowledges her great indebtedness to historian Eve Bacon and her two-volume history of Orlando. She is particularly grateful for extensive conversations with former Association chief executives Bev Laws, Bill Phillips, and Jerry Haralson, and with the late Jack Barber’s children, Betty Lou Barber McClure and John Barber.

Dottie Asquith, Clark Baker, Barbara Cheney, Ernestine Embry, Joseph S. Guernsey, Walter Pharr, Happy Sterchi, and Geraldine Thompson provided invaluable perspectives. Mike Dungan, Lori Kifer, and Mark Russell of the Central Florida YMCA gave willing assistance on many occasions.

Mark Andrews of the Orlando Sentinel was most helpful, as were Dr. Tana Porter, research librarian, Orange County Regional History Cemer; Dean Padgett, librarian, Winter Park public library; Jane Roney and colleagues, First Presbyterian Church archives; Wenxian Zhang, archivist at Rollins College; and Ann and Kenneth Murrah of Winter Park. Many thanks go to Minda Novek, picture editor and researcher, and to editor-in-residence Jim Rubins.

The author especially wishes to thank Jim Ferber and Jim Downing for having the vision and perseverance to bring this history to light and to life.

— Pamela Bayless

The picture editor thanks the staff and volunteers of the Orange County Regional History Center’s Library and Photo Archives, who patiently provided support in accessing the Center’s extensive array of images, especially Photo Librarian Cynthia Cardona and Research Librarian Dr. Tana Porter.

The Heritage Committee of the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, in particular member Jane Roney, provided invaluable information and portraits from the Church ‘s archives. Thanks also to Ginny Porter and Melinda Clark. Wenxian Zhang, head of Archives and Special Collections at Rollins College, was especially helpful in locating the complete visual record of the Rollins YMCA.

Joanna Norman, Adam Watson, and Amanda Booth helped provide photographs from the extensive collection of the State Library and Archives of Florida. Audrey Reichert went out of her way to provide us with materials from the Jones High School Historical Society. Linda George-Eure, Sales and Marketing Coordinator for the Orlando Sentinel, enabled us to use the newspaper ‘s great YMCA photographs; The Orlando Public Library allowed us to photograph directly from its collection; Stephanie C. Haas, assistant director of the Digital Library Center, University of Florida Libraries, helped in navigating the deep waters of the U.S. Geological Survey Collection.

Thanks also for kind cooperation from Susie Pindell, vice president of marketing and community relations, SunTrust Bank; Sheila Goulder, promotions coordinator, Orange County Convention Center; Diana Nemchick of the Apopka Historical Society; Stan Piet, archive director of The Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum; Gil Pietrzak of the Pittsburgh Photographic Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh ; Mike Saunders, church administrator, and Carter Howe, archivist of the First United Methodist Church of Orlando; and Geraldine Thompson, director of the Wells’ Built Museum of African American History and Culture .

These individuals graciously contributed personal photographs: Rev. John Anderson, Dottie Asquith, Jack Barber, William Bowen, Rufus C. Brooks, Barbara Cheney, Mercerdese Clark, Anne Mitchell Felder, Vickie Felder, Frank Hubbard, Bev Laws, Walter Pharr, Bill Phillips, Barbara Roper, Harris Rosen, Happy Sterchi, and Geraldine Thompson. Photographer Jeffrey Camp generously donated use of his photograph of Harris Rosen.

Last but not least, thanks to the staff of the Central Florida YMCA, especially Tongelia Milton and Lori Kifer in the communications department.

— Mina Novek