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Bellevue Club's 35th Anniversary

Date
August 2014

Collected by
Lauren Hunsberger

Category
Member Moments

S.W. Thurston, 1985In 1977 the core of Bellevue was Bellevue Square, as is the case today; but at that time, it was distinguished by Fredericks, F. W. Woolworth and the Crab Apple, among other shops.    Bellevue was just a small town, and our only high-rise office was the PACCAR building. Our leading hotel was the Holiday Inn. Importantly, Overlake Hospital was meeting the needs for our Eastside residents as an alternative to Seattle.    

In Hidden Valley on 112th, the roots of the Bellevue Athletic Club were planted by some 1,000 early members who felt that the concept in place today would be a valuable resource for our community and the Eastside. In salvaging this interest, when we subsequently opened, the response from the community was overwhelming and we started with 3,000 memberships. Families and businesses were eager to participate in a community resource for recreation, wellness and social needs. This endeavor was unprecedented and soon became a unique community landmark.  
    
Providing the leadership to make this possible was the enthusiasm of youth who desired to provide a unique community asset. Upon opening, the learning curve was steep as we began with membership fully subscribed. Fortunately, members understood the challenges and with their support and patience, the operations of the Club began to take stride. Supporting the structure upon which the Club was founded, were a group of special partners who shared this bold vision.  Many of these are with us today.       
    
At the heart of our operations are some extraordinary staff members, many of which have been with us since the start. Klaas Schenk started our Aquatics Department and continues to coach today. Charlie Russo, our Facilities Manger, began as a painter. Brian Nash, our Director of Tennis, started as one our pros. Who does not know Beth Curtis? She started with the Club as a marketing manager but turned to operations when we opened and became our General Manager from 1990 to 2010. Part time, she still serves the Club on special assignments.   
    
To keep pace with the changing interests of members and the growth of the community, facilities are continually adjusted. The capacity of our resources today is 70 percent more than when we started.  The success of the hotel not only served the interest of members, but also has substantially supported many other adjustments to the property. With added facilities, we have been able to support new membership that is today 80 percent more than when we started.  
    
The Bellevue Club today, like Overlake Hospital or Bellevue Park, is a unique community resource that can not be replicated. The core of this mission will continue to be serving families for social, recreation and wellness needs. As evidenced in our history, adjustments will always be made to support added capacity in this venture.    

Many Thanks,

S.W. Thurston
President, Bellevue Club

member moments

A lot of memories have been made over the years at the Bellevue Club, so we asked our members to share a few of their favorites. We also dug through the Reflections archives to find the photos that perfectly capture the spirit of the Club through the decades. 

Bellevue ClubName: Steve Massey
What does the Club mean to you and your family? Thirty-five years is a big slice out of a human life. We joined as a family as charter members when I was middle-aged, athletic, healthy, working full-time and raising a family. Upon joining, I entered into all the competitive events offered, such as racquetball, tennis and pickle ball. The rest of the family immersed themselves in the pool for learning and fun, and we gathered for dinners in the evening. The children have flown the nest to other climes. Now retired, I take my 79-year-old body with multiple artificial joints and repaired tendons to the Club for therapeutic purposes and socializing with my old geezer friends. It is truly a club for all seasons. Keep up the good work. 

Name: Maija and Al Eerkes 
Number of years at the Club: 25 
What is your favorite memory made at the Club? Many of our best friends we 
met through the Club, particularly through Ladies’ Night tennis on Monday nights in the 1990s. We have a large group of friends called the TGs (the Tennis Girls) and spouses. Although now we often call ourselves the Chardonettes instead. Most in the group still play tennis, although we’ve gone in different directions with our tennis and seldom play together. However, we still get together frequently for wine and fun.
What is the funniest memory made at the Club? For a number of years in the ’90s, my husband Al and I were taking weekly doubles lessons (from Kenji) with our good friends Richard DePosit and Ann Trimble. Dick was always aggressive at the net. Once, he returned the ball with a bouncing slam, and we could not find the ball. It had gone up the backside of Al’s tennis shorts and was lodged there (and he didn’t even know it). We still laugh out loud every time we recall that point. I don’t remember how we scored it.
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had at the Club? They are usually “small world” stories, six degrees of separation, and how frequently we discover we are connected to one another in various ways.
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? The fabulous fitness classes. We are great fans of John McKinnon and Nancy Black, who teaches Pilates.
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? After reading Younger Next Year, my husband and I decided we needed to focus on group fitness classes, rather than working out on our own (which we did for many years). Our commitment to group exercise classes over the past couple of years has definitely improved our strength and endurance. 

Bellevue ClubName: Tara Kalian Agostinelli
Number of years at the Club: I’m not sure, but I was very young; maybe 32 years?
What is your favorite memory made at the Club? I remember feeling very grown up because I could hang out while my parents worked out and play video games and foosball and order chocolate milkshakes on my own card!
What is the funniest memory made at the Club? Christin Hogg has been my friend since she first starting working at the front desk. She is all of my funniest club memories wrapped into one. I always laugh with her.
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? I continue to be a member, even though I live in Chelan half of the time, because there is no better place to bring a family. You can do everything—take classes, eat, meet friends, swim, shop, go to the spa and sleep—everything. One-stop shopping at its finest. It has become a thread in the fabric of our lives.
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? I love knowing I can go whenever I’m in town—anytime—and catch a great class or do my own thing. That allows so much flexibility in maintaining a fitness routine. And the quality of fast, grab-and-go food at Luna is so helpful.
How has the Club benefitted your social life or professional life? We bring all our Eastside clients to the Club for lunch meetings, and they love and we love it. Great food, service and our clients always feel taken care of. Very professional staff. 

Bellevue ClubName: Jeff Otis
Number of years at the Club: six months
What does the Club mean to you and your family? We joined because it was a great environment for families and for kids. The highlight of our four-year-old’s week is going swimming at the Bellevue Club. He absolutely loves the water and really enjoys his swimming lessons each week. Plus, my wife likes that the safety of kids is such a priority, where she didn’t see the same commitment level at other gyms. We plan on sticking around for years and years. 

Name: Genie Mickelson
Number of years atthe Club: 22 
What is your favorite memory made at the Club? My teams winning two tennis trophies in the Women’s Cup Tennis League.
What is the funniest memory made at the Club? Singing songs at our tennis parties, where we roasted a couple of the tennis coaches.
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had at the Club? Learning the journey taken by one of our members who came to the United States from Poland.
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? Physical health is my No. 1 reason; mental health is a close runner-up.
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? It has kept an aging body in much better shape than I probably would have achieved otherwise.
How has the Club benefitted your social life or professional life? So many friendships have emerged from socializing over tennis, and countless contacts have led to relationships on a professional level, as well. 

Bellevue ClubName: Kit Wright
Number of years at the Club: 32
What is your favorite memory made at the Club? For a friend’s birthday one year, we reserved one of the private rooms and hired a disc jockey; everyone dressed in cocktail attire. There were about 80 of us. It was such a great party.
What is the funniest memory made at the Club? When I joined the Club, I thought it would be fun to play racquetball and enter a tournament. I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was a bit taken back when I looked up to see we actually had spectators watching the game. My opponent was a man about 30 years older than me, so I thought, This will be easy; he is hardly moving. Was I ever wrong. That man could place the ball wherever he wanted. One ball came right at me, and I was not prepared, so I caught it between my knees. There was applause and a few laughs from the crowd. A little later on, a high lob came my way, and I slammed it into the corner, then stood there in the corner, back against the wall, wondering where the ball went. The crowd was silent . . . no ball in sight. I stepped away from the corner, and it dropped behind me, between my legs, and rolled out onto the floor. That got them really laughing. Needless to say, I did not win the game!
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had at the Club? Actually, it was just today. I was having lunch in Polaris with a dear friend. We had not seen each other for three weeks, because one of us was always traveling. It is such a great place to sit and enjoy friendships. And she is a friend I met at the Club. There are so many nice members.
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? You cannot beat the beauty services, amenities and all that the Club has to offer. You just feel great every time you walk in the door. I am proud to say that I am a member.
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? Both my physical and mental health are improved. There is such a variety of things to do, and the instructors are all very professional and welcoming.

Bellevue ClubName: Jeff Levy
Number of years at the Club: 21
What is your favorite memory made at the Club? Winning the men’s B tennis tournament a while back. 
What is the funniest memory made at the Club? I laugh and kid around every day that I am there with my buddies. 
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had at the Club? Talking to Beth [Curtis] about how the staff was so professional and caring about the members. 
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? Other than family, it is the center of my universe. 
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? I play tennis three to four times a week. Keeps me young! 
How has the Club benefitted your social life or professional life? My best friends are at the Club. The prestige of the Club makes me feel good to have earned the ability to be a member.

Name: Mason Smith
Number of years at the Club: 33
What is your favorite memory made at the Club? Winning the BAC squash tournaments in the early ’80s.
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? Gave up squash but still like the Club for social and dining opportunities.
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? Kept me in shape for many years.
How has the Club benefitted your social life or professional life? Met one of my best friends at the Club, and he became an important lifelong business associate and special friend. 

Bellevue ClubName: Laurie Jacobson
What does the Club mean to you and your family? We have been members for four years now. We joined initially because we were looking to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle during the rainy months and wanted a place for our kids to learn to swim and play tennis. We have made great friends through the tennis program and teams. The food is delicious and reliable, the fitness classes (especially Booty Barre and Pilates) are amazing, and the staff is friendly and helpful. Life in the Pacific Northwest would not be the same without the Bellevue Club. Thank you!

Name: John Hannah
Number of years at the Club: 35
What is your favorite memory made at the Club? Meeting my beautiful wife.
What is the funniest memory made at the Club? The Honey Badgers.
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had at the Club? It was so interesting that I don’t recall.
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? The Honey Badgers.
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? More than I can say.
How has the Club benefitted your social life or professional life? The Club has been a great source of entertainment both socially and professionally. 

Bellevue ClubName: Bill Neil
Number of years at the Club: 20+
What is your favorite memory made at the Club? Working out with my great personal trainer, Amy Clarke, when recuperating from a very serious knee injury; without her help and enthusiasm, I may not have fully recovered.
What is the funniest memory made at the Club? Once, when working out with Amy, I had a funny “needle pricking” sensation in my jockstrap! Upon examination, I found that my wife had been repairing one of the straps and there was, indeed, a needle in the garment that was poking me! Amy about died laughing!
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had at the Club? Speaking with a retired doctor who referred me to an infectious disease specialist when he overheard me telling someone that I must have had a spider bite that wasn’t healing properly. Sure enough, the specialist he referred me to knew exactly what it was, diagnosed some ointment, and the rash immediately went away. This was after a dermatologist had no idea of how to take care of the situation.
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? Great facility, great staff and wonderful, interesting members.
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? Without it I’d be a sloth, unhappy and unchallenged.
How has the Club benefitted your social life or professional life? I work out and sit next to friendly competitors and potential new clients on a daily basis; it keeps me at the top of my game. 

Bellevue ClubName: Rick Leavitt
Number of years at the Club: 35
What is your favorite memory made at the Club? There are too many to name, and they are all good.
What is the funniest memory made at the Club? Probably playing racquetball with someone who thought that they could whip me. Did I have the last laugh? I left him on the floor exhausted.
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had at the Club? I have had so many wonderful conversations over the years with other charter members. There are just too many to name.
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie with all the old-timers. We have grown older together and have seen how we have changed in body and with less hair. 
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? I have used the Club for tennis, racquetball, weight training, aerobics, cardio elliptical and a hot Jacuzzi after a hard workout. My physical being is in top-notch condition, says my cardiologist. Need I say more?
How has the Club benefitted your social life or professional life? I have met many wonderful and friendly people at the BAC, remember that name? Through the Club, my home-building company was able to obtain clients. I had many meetings in the library with clients and other professionals in my business circle. The atmosphere was upscale as was my clientele. A first-class operation. 

Bellevue ClubName: Max Lohn
Number of years at the Club: Founding member
What is your favorite memory made at the Club? My late wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, October 31, 2002, in the Olympic Ballroom at the Club. 
What is the funniest memory made at the Club? Seeing a 77-year-old billionaire walking sans clothing to the showers. He looked just like the rest of us.
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had at the Club? After Men’s Night tennis, we meet at Round Table Pizza and solve the problems of the world. 
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? The camaraderie and playing tennis year-round. 
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? I am 81 years old and still in pretty good physical condition. Amazingly, I often play with older players.
How has the Club benefitted your social life or professional life? I don’t use it for business, but I have made many good friends here. 

Even some of our youngest members had memories to share. Below are some answers from our BC kids.

Bellevue ClubName: Guy
Number of years at the Club: 7
What is your favorite memory made at the Club?  Tennis lessons.  It is really fun.  The instructors teach me a lot.
What is the funniest memory made at the Club? Swimming at my birthday party.  They tried to flip us over on the water runner.
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had at the Club? At Splash, I really liked the conversation I had with my brother.
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? It is fun; every part, sports, everything at the BC is, well, fun.
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? Doing sports, tennis lessons, and swimming builds my muscles.
How has the Club benefitted your social life or professional life? I met some nice people who are now my friends.

Bellevue ClubName: Steven
Number of years at the Club: 7
What is your favorite memory made at the Club?  Playing tennis. I am hitting balls around. I am getting really frustrated. I find my courage and am getting better at playing.
What is the funniest memory made at the Club? The voice actor for kid and mom night. He was funny and made funny stories like “Honk Your Horn.”
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had at the Club?  With Jordan (staff).
What is the No. 1 reason you continue to be a member? Because it is fun doing all of the sports and activities.
How has the Club benefitted your health and wellness? In tennis, when I have to run to the ball to hit it, it helps me get exercise.
How has the Club benefitted your social life or professional life? I get to know people from other schools, my own school and from places I didn’t know was there.

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