2021 Year in Review

2021, we again had to cancel the Fondue event and the annual meeting – but thankfully we were able to hold the Swiss Picnic on August 1st in Brighton and the Christmas Party at Carpathia on December 12th.

The Swiss National Day Picnic was attended by 50 to 60 people – a great success after almost 2 years without events.  We enjoyed great food brought by the members plus the club supplied grilled Swiss sausages. At the event we also had some board elections as Alice Boos retired from the VP of Membership position and Urs Boeckli wanted to retire from his position as President of our club.   The members present elected Sylvia LaPratt for the VP of Membership and Thomas Lozser to become President of the DSS.

The Christmas Party was also a success and attended by about 70 people.  Members enjoyed the nice Carpathia buffet, and everyone received a bag of Swiss Christmas chocolates.  We had a visit from Santa, which was especially enjoyed by about 10 children at the event – plus we once were able to listen to our very own Sylvia LaPratt play her harp.  We also welcomed our new Honorary Consul for Michigan Frank Mueller and thanked his retiring predecessor Walter Wegmueller for his 12 years of valuable service for Switzerland and the Swiss in Michigan.  For this event, we tried to use electronic ticket purchase option for the first time.  It was very well received and 46 of the 70 tickets sold were purchased online.

Membership signup after the long covid caused hiatus became a main focus after the August picnic.  We are happy to report that by the end of the year the club had once again over 100 paid members plus 5 honorary members.  27 of our members are first-time members.  Our membership mostly lives in 4 counties, Oakland with the most members, Washtenaw next, then Wayne and Macomb.
Thank you to all who helped contact old members and got them to rejoin – especially Doreen Wegmüller worked hard helping get this done.  We do want to continue grow membership and we believe there is potential to get to over 150 members by the end of 2022.   A good membership level not only helps to fund the club, but helps get more people more events, and well attended events are more fun.

Our club finances are strong. In 2021, total receipts were about $3,770 – $2,100 from due payments, $1,670 from events tickets. Our expenses totaled about $3,140 – $2,560 for event expenses and $580 for other expenses.
Because of Covid, we decided that everybody who paid membership for 2020 or 2021 would also be members for 2022.  This also means that we will only collect dues for one year over 3 years, and very little in 2022.  Our club cash reserves allow us to absorb the reduced revenue. 
We plan to offset that with corporate sponsorships of events.

We have a very active Facebook group page with about 130 followers that provides regular updates and interesting information.   Our email list is followed by about 12 people.  To be part of at least one of these systems is important to stay updated – if you are not following us on Facebook or via email, we encourage you to do so.   We also want to stay in touch with members who don’t have Facebook or email – please mail to Thomas Lozser at 47914 Beckenham Blvd., Novi if you want to receive updates via the mail system. Another key initiative for 2022 is to update and upgrade our web page http://www.detroitswiss.com

Thomas Lozser, President DSS, March 2022

Detroit Swiss Society Origins

On August 4, 1868 a group of patriotic Swiss united and founded the Grütli Verein in Tinnettes Hall. They named themselves the Grütli Verein of Detroit. This city was then just a good-sized village with plenty of forest, wild life and farms. This uniting was a necessary response to the adversities encountered by new immigrants and gave credenz to the motto “In members there is strength”. These members dedicated themselves to assist each other in time of need, both, materially and spiritually. The Verein’s history books list the first President George Rilcher, VicePresident Felix Wohlgemut, Secretary Johann Rilcher and Treasurer Johann Weibel. Under their leadership the Verein met biweekly and prospered. In 1868, the membership decided to change of name to the “Helvetia Club”, the Grütli Männerchor remaining -a branch of this club. The first peninsular Sänger-Fest in that year developed into a patriotic occasion in the then “Arbeiter Halle”. In 1918, another name change took place, to “Swiss Society of Detroit” under which a Singing Society and a Gymnastic Club, the best in the Midwest, flourished. The depression of the thirties did a great deal to decimate the Singing Society and Gymnastic Club. World War II further aggravated the growth of the Swiss community since no new immigrants appeared on our shores. The main purpose of this Society was to always foster spiritual, moral and cultural development among its members. It paid sick and death benefits. In the 1960’s, the present name of “Detroit Swiss Society” was adopted and remains to this day. Undoubtedly the Detroit Swiss will undergo changes again but will adjust as in the past. The Society is comprised of people from all walks of life and it can be said that in the absence of discussion of religion and politics, good harmony prevails. Sectionalism too never enters our decisions and all Swiss language groups are welcome to join and are in fact encouraged to do so. In the year of 1868, the week after the founding of the Grütli Verein, the membership voted to affiliate with the National Fraternal Organization, the “Grüetli Bund der Vereinigten Staaten von Nord-Amerika” today known as the “North American Swiss Alliance” (NASA). The’ bonds with this national organization are still intact and are beneficial to both groups. The Detroit Swiss Society meets normally the 3rd Sunday of the month at the German-American Cultural Center, of which the Detroit Swiss Society is a full-fledged affiliate member. The meetings are congenial; the Gastfreundschaft of the GACC is admirable. The activities of the Swiss Society include an Alpine Festival in August, a Fall Dance, Jass and Film evenings and a Christmas-Party, also charitable considerations. Together, the Swiss will endeavor to make earnest contributions of cultural aspects, which we brought to this country as Immigrants or descendants thereof.

Joe Schraner

The Detroit Swiss Society Story
by Josef Schraner

Josef Schraner, 1994
Margaret Schrepfer, Editor
1090 Gulick Road
Haslett, MI 48840