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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Mar. 28, 2019 1 year ago

Stag Club of Winter Park creates social connections

The club creates a space for older gentlemen to make new friends.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

A local club in Winter Park built on friendship and fellowship still is going strong after more than 55 years.

The Stag Club of Winter Park brings gentlemen together for weekly lunch gatherings, giving them a chance to share jokes, hear short historical lectures on items of interest and talk about personal experiences.

Stag Club Executive Vice President Jim Fitch said the group keeps it simple: no solicitations, no business promotions and no petitions, all while trying to avoid politics and religion as much as possible.

It’s all about making friends, he said.

“It’s just to get together and get out of the house once a week,” Fitch said. “It’s a bunch of old farts that just enjoy each other’s company. I just look forward to it every Thursday, and I set my schedule up around it.”

The group was formed April 19, 1962, by a group of men whose wives were attending a different weekly function.

The Stag Club originally met in the old Langford Hotel for 38 years. During that time, the club ballooned to more than 80 members. When the hotel was sold and demolished, the club moved to several different locations over the years before settling on its current meeting location at the Country Club at Deer Run in Casselberry.

The club has at least 40 members today — a group of retired men that range from their 60s to late 90s who worked long careers as engineers, doctors, lawyers and other professions.

Members are generally older, but there aren’t any age restrictions, Fitch said. All that is required is that members have time available for the meetings, are able to pay for lunch and can transport themselves.

Stag Club member and past president Bob Cullis said he’s made numerous friends through the group over the years, and he’s thankful for the social circle.

“I think it’s great, and it’s a place for people of all walks of life,” Cullis said. “It’s socializing — that’s what it’s all about. … It keeps you up to date on everything, and you really do establish friendships.”

The Stag Club has its share of traditions, including a Ladies Night held in February on the Thursday closest to Valentine’s Day. It is an annual gathering that has taken place since 1963.

There is also a special Christmas luncheon every year.

Stag Club Vice President of Entertainment Jim Arnold, who organizes the various events for the club, said perhaps the most exciting part is simply hearing about the many life experiences each member has had — the stories are endless.

“Telling stories is more of what I think all of us enjoy,” Arnold said. “We all have people that are capable of telling life stories that are very interesting. We have a lawyer here who’s told us about some of the cases he had to deal with that are totally entertaining. … We have a combination of people. … At our age, we should get out and be sociable.”

Tim Freed is the Managing Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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