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    The First Decade

    1955 - 1965

    The Statewide Gerontology Committee met on March 25, 1955 in St. Petersburg. This committee was charged with preparing a proposed charter and planning an organizational meeting in Miami, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Conference on Social Welfare. The organizational meeting took place in Miami on May 13 and "Florida Council on Aging" was selected as its name. By-laws were adopted and trustees were elected for a 1-year, 2-year, or 3-year term. Sidney Entman was elected president, Samuel Gertman, vice president, Irving Webber, secretary-treasurer, and trustees from several areas of Florida were elected as well.

    The objectives of the Florida Council on Aging were established as follows: to create a common meeting ground for all those interested in aging; to create better communication among professional groups; to focus public interest in the welfare and well-being of the aged; to promote and encourage the scientific study of aging; to take action, including legislative recommendations that would achieve the aims of the Council; to cooperate with existing local and national groups; and to stimulate the formation of new groups throughout the state. 

    FCOA's first conference was held in Tallahassee October 16 - 17, 1955, with Governor LeRoy Collins greeting over 200 delegates attending. Dr. John Allen of the University of South Florida gave the keynote address. Sessions were held covering different areas of concern in aging. The FCOA Conference stimulated interest and resulted in many delegates returning to their local communities wanting to get something done. The Florida Council on Aging also offered leadership and speakers to local councils. 

    It was during this period that a great deal of interest was generated into developing grass roots interest and a modus operandi for local affiliations. FCOA appointed a legislative committee to review legislation affecting the aged as well as to make recommendations. Dr. Carter Osterbind was authorized to prepare a facts book on aging. The first issue of AgeWise, FCOA's newsletter, was published in January, 1959.

    FCOA became involved in the first Governor's Conference, which took place in Tallahassee in 1960. The Council participated in the planning and execution of the Conference and continued to do so for future Governor's Conferences as well.

    FCOA also helped plan for Florida's part in the first White House Conference on Aging, which took place in January 1961. Each state was requested to examine the problems of aging and report their findings at the conference (many members of FCOA were appointed delegates). FCOA participated and gave leadership in the local and statewide meeting conducted before the national conference in order to prepare Florida's delegates to the Conference. After the Conference, FCOA participated in plans for the dissemination of the recommendations that came out of the Conference. The findings of this Conference set the guidelines for development of better programs for the aged throughout the country.

    In 1963, FCOA withdrew from the Gerontological Society (due to a difference in the stress and emphasis of the two groups) and affiliated itself with the National Council on Aging.

    The February 14, 1964 FCOA annual meeting, held in Gainesville, proved to be momentous due to FCOA achieving one of its major goals. A Commission on Aging had been approved by the legislature and three FCOA past presidents were appointed to the Commission. A joint meeting of both boards was held to work out non-conflicting roles for each organization.