District 47 History

ABOUT District 47: 

District 47 was created in 1955.  The Commonwealth of the Bahamas joined us in 1973.  District 47 became the largest district in the Toastmasters International organization in 2008. District 47 has been split twice, in 2008 and in 2012, resulting in the creation of Districts 84 and 48.  District 47 currently represents the southeastern portion of Florida and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.   We belong to Region 8 that consists of the Southeastern USA, the Caribbean and South America.

With almost 4,000 members in 176 clubs located in Southeastern Florida and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, we are highly rated in the Toastmasters International organization.  District 47 has been a President’s Distinguished District 12 times.   In August 2011, District 47 received the Leadership in Excellence Award for being a President’s Distinguished District for 3 consecutive years.    As of August 2020, we are ranked # 1 for number of Distinguished Clubs and #32 for number of paid Clubs from a pool of over 16,800 clubs in the Toastmasters International organization.

(Source: 2012 District 47 Annual Conference Book, District 47’s Distinguished Recognition Program Dashboard reports and Anthony Longley DTM, ID)


District 47’s History – How District 47 was created
In 1952, Marine Sergeant Ira Callman formed Staff NCO Toastmasters Club #1423 in Miami.   In August 1954, Sergeant Calman and Sergeant William Kuck attended the Toastmasters International Convention in Washington, DC.  At the International Convention, they met B.M. Wherrette who was from Club #28 in Orlando, the first Toastmasters club East of the Mississippi River.   Although there were 14 Toastmasters International clubs in existence in the state, Florida did not have its own District.  Several clubs located in Florida’s Panhandle in the northwest of the state were already assigned to District 29.


“Why doesn’t Florida have a district?” was posed by Sgts Callman and Kuck during the International Convention in August, 1954.  Ted Blanding, Executive Secretary of Toastmasters International (President of Toastmasters International from 1942 to 1943) replied with the question, “Why don’t you do something about it?”

Ted explained to them that ten clubs had to petition Toastmasters International to form a new District. The District then must be in a provisional status for one year, with no funding from Toastmasters International.

Sergeant Callman handled all correspondence to obtain the ten required petitions from the Florida clubs. The Toastmasters International Board of Directors met in February, 1955 and approved provisional status for District 47.  District 47’s organizational meeting was held in Orlando in March, 1955 with Ira Callman becoming its District Governor and B. M. Wherrette, its Lieutenant Governor.  The first new club of the District was the Coral Gables Club, chartered in July, 1955.

The first Toastmasters International club in the Bahamas was formed in Nassau, New Providence Bahamas in January 1969.  The club was created by Ernest T. Strachan and named the First Bahamas Branch of Toastmasters #1600. During the 1973 International Convention, four un-districted clubs in the Bahamas joined District 47 as Area 19.   In 1981, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas attained Division status.

From 1955 to 2008, District 47 grew to be the largest district in the world.  On July 1, 2008, District 47 was split into District 47 and District 84. On July 1, 2012, District 47 was again split into District 47 and District 48.

(Source:  1955 article written by Ira Callman, the 2012 District 47 Conference Handbook, District 47’s Distinguished Recognition Program Dashboard reports  and Anthony Longley DTM, ID)

“History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘See you later.”

District 47 through the Years


1955-56 Ira Callman, DTM, Miami, FL (Provisional District) (deceased)

1956 B.M. Wherette, Orlando, FL (Provisional District) (deceased)

1956-57 Owen Parrish, Miami, FL (deceased)

1957-58 Donald M. Larson, Miami, FL (deceased)

1958-59 Norman S. Pallot, Miami, FL (deceased )

1959-60 Donald F. Muller, Jacksonville, FL (deceased)

1960-61 Charles M. Swann, DTM, Sarasota, FL (deceased)

1961-62 Dean Risher, Cocoa Beach, FL

1963-64 Larry Q. Webb, Jacksonville, FL

1964-65 Viggo C. Christiansen, Jacksonville, FL (deceased)

1965-66 John Diaz, DTM, Cocoa Beach, FL (deceased )

1966-67 Winslow Chesley, DTM,*** Plantation, FL (deceased)

1967-68 Charles Avery,* Cocoa Beach, FL

1968-69 Fred G. Thompson,* Miami, FL (deceased)

1969-70 Hugh T. Burgay, DTM,*** Orlando, FL (deceased)

1970-71 John Bowman, DTM,* Miami, FL (DTM Badge #1) (deceased)

1971-72 Michael G. Shane, DTM,*** Ft. Lauderdale, FL (DTM Badge #14) (deceased)

1972-73 Charles L. Jones, DTM, Winter Haven, FL (deceased)

1973-74 Karl E. Righter, DTM, Orlando, FL (DTM Badge #51) (deceased )

1974-75 Carleton Smith, DTM, St. Petersburg, FL (deceased)

1975-76 S. R. Dunn, DTM,*** Jacksonville, FL (DTM Badge #99) (deceased)

1976-77 David Meeks, DTM,* Tampa, FL

1977-78 R. Floyd Sewell, DTM,* Jacksonville, FL

1978-79 Robert Gelfand, DTM, Plantation, FL (deceased)

1979-80 Val Croskey, DTM,* Melbourne, FL

1980-81 Virginia Heddinger, DTM,* Ft. Lauderdale, FL (deceased)

1981-82 Frank Tillman, DTM,** Gainesville, FL (deceased)

1982-83 Jim Stanley, DTM,* Tampa, FL (deceased)

1983-84 Ray Floyd, DTM,* Ft. Lauderdale, FL

1984-85 Dr. Ann Tillman, DTM,* Gainesville, FL (deceased)

1985-86 Clara Gelfand, DTM, Plantation, FL (deceased)

1986-87 James E. Martin, DTM,** Clearwater, FL

1987-88 Lou Funk, DTM,*** Brandon, FL

1988-89 Fred Miller, DTM, St. Petersburg, FL

1989-90 Rosella Bonham, DTM,* Lake Mary, FL

1990-91 Sara Meeks, DTM,* Tampa, FL (deceased)

1991-92 Ed Waters, DTM,* Jacksonville, FL (deceased)

1992-93 Steven A. Bard, DTM, PID, Lauderhill, FL

1993-94 Louise Y. Boyd, DTM, Sanford, FL

1994-95 Rusty Best, DTM,*** Titusville, FL

1995-96 Samuel P. Bain, DTM, Nassau, Bahamas

1996-97 Rex P. Lehman, DTM, Miami, FL

1997-98 Laura Reed, DTM, Tampa, FL

1998-99 Timothy Pesut, DTM,* Sarasota, FL

1999-00 Jack Jamba, DTM, Cocoa Beach, FL

2000-01 Paul Meunier, DTM,*** Orlando, FL

2001-02 Cathy Epler, DTM,* New Port Richey, FL

2002-03 Eileen Sarris, DTM,* Sarasota, FL

2003-04 Margaret Wan, DTM,*** St. Petersburg, FL (deceased)

2004-05 Jim Ocque, DTM, Longwood, FL

2005-06 Godfrey Springer, DTM, Nassau, Bahamas

2006-07 Loretta Sandy, DTM,*** Palm Bay, FL

2007-08 Wanda Brown, DTM, St. Johns, FL

2008-09 Antionette Fox, DTM,*** Nassau, Bahamas

2009-10 Kristina Kihlberg, DTM, *** Pompano Beach

2010-11 Richard Furbush, DTM, *** St. Petersburg

2011-12 Pamela D. Rolle, DTM, Nassau Bahamas

2012-13 Matthew A. Kinsey, DTM, Coral Springs, FL

2013-14 Francis I. Molina, DTM, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2014-15 Anthony J. Longley, DTM, Nassau, Bahamas

In 2015, the title District Governor was changed to District Director

2015-16 Jeanine C. Kinsey, DTM, * Coral Springs, FL

2016-17 Lynda Hammond, DTM, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2018 Antionette Fox, DTM, Nassau, Bahamas

2018-2019 Maurice Fuller, DTM, * Hialeah, FL

2019-2020 Leonardo Burrows, DTM,* Nassau, Bahamas

2020-2021 Barbara Strasdas, DTM, Port St. Lucie, FL

2021-2022 Shakira Taylor, DTM, Sunrise, FL

          2022-2023 Austen Canonica, DTM, Wellington, FL

* Achieved Distinguished District
** Achieved Select Distinguished District
***Achieved President’s Distinguished District


1971 Arthur Diamond

1983 William Miller (deceased)

1988 Tommy Richardson, DTM

1994 (Fall) Pauline Shirley, DTM

2001 (Spring) JoAnna McWilliams, DTM (deceased)

2008 (Spring) Chris Ford, DTM

2013 (Fall) Mohammad Murad, DTM (President-Elect)

2015 (Spring) Jim Kokocki, DTM (President Elect)


1986 Frank Tillman, DTM, PDG (deceased)

1988 Dr. Ann Tillman, DTM. PDG (deceased)

1989 David Meeks, DTM, PID

2001 Karl Righter, DTM, PDG (deceased)

2002 Mark Majcher, CTM/CL

2015 Kristina Kihlberg, DTM, PID

2016 Anthony J. Longley, DTM

2017 Steven A. Bard, DTM, PID

2021 Antionette Fox, DTM, PRA


John Bowman, DTM, Miami, District 47 Governor, ‘70 – ‘71, DTM #1 (deceased )

Mike Shane, DTM, Ft. Lauderdale, District 47 Governor, ‘71 – ‘72, DTM #14 (deceased)

Karl Righter, DTM, Orlando, District 47 Governor, ‘73 – ‘74, DTM #51 (deceased)

R. Dunn, DTM, Jacksonville, District 47 Governor, ‘75 – ‘76, DTM #99 (deceased)


’10 – 11 Antoinette Fox, DTM, PRA


‘63 – ‘64 – Charles Swann, DTM, PID (deceased).

‘68 – ‘70 – John Diaz, DTM, PIP  (deceased)

‘71 – ‘73 – Winslow Chesley, DTM, PID (deceased)

‘79 – ‘81 – Hugh Burgay, DTM, PID (deceased)

‘83 – ‘85 – Dave Meeks, DTM, PID

‘87 – ‘89 – Ray Floyd, DTM, PID

‘91 – ‘93 – Evelyn-Jane Burgay, DTM, PID (deceased)

‘95 – ‘97 – Steve Bard, DTM, PID

‘02 – ‘04 – Paul Meunier, DTM, PID

‘06 – ‘08 – Margaret Wan, DTM, PID (deceased)

‘12 – ‘14 – Kristina Kihlberg, DTM, PID

‘16 – ‘18 – Matthew A. Kinsey, DTM, PID

’18 – ’20 – Anthony J. Longley, DTM, PID

’18 – ’20 – Carol Prahinksi, DTM, PID (Region 6)



1974-1975 John Diaz, DTM, PIP (deceased)


2020-2021 Matthew Kinsey, DTM, PID,  1st VP


*  1968 – Miami Beach

–  Outgoing President – Lothar Salin, DTM

–  Incoming President – Earl M. Potter, DTM

* 1984 – Orlando

–  Outgoing President – Eddie V. Dunn, DTM

–  Incoming President – John S. Latin, DTM (deceased)

* 2000 – Miami Beach

–  Outgoing President – Tim Keck, DTM

–    Incoming President – JoAnna McWilliams, DTM (deceased)


2017 Godfrey E. McAllister, DTM
2018, Anita Fain Taylor,  3rd place winner
2021, Errol Leandre

     Key to Abbreviated Credentials

CL – Competent Leader

CTM – Certified Toastmaster

DTM – Distinguished Toastmaster

ID – International Director

PDD – Past District Director

PDG – Past District Governor

PID – Past International Director

PIP – Past International President

PRA – Past Region Adviser