Club History

The Olympin Collectors Club was formed in 1982 -- after the Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid -- by Don Bigsby and a group of fellow pin collectors. After modest beginnings in the Albany area, Olympin slowly grew and began to attract Olympic hobbyists from all over North America. As the Olympic memorabilia hobby balloooned after the Los Angeles Games in 1984, the Club continued growing and became known globally.

Today, Olympin boasts over 500 members worldwide, and the Club works hard to encourage the establishment and growth of other clubs around the world.

After an early focus on just Olympic pins, club activities and shows today have expanded to include other memorabilia, such as apparel, badges, diplomas, mascots, medals, paper, patches, torches and other collectibles.

Board of Directors History

In the beginning (June 1982), there were only seven of us (Donna McKean, Roberta Knowles, Kay Hoffman, Judy Ogborn, Mike Goss, Claude Rousseau and I). Probably because I suggested it and gathered the group in Herkimer, New York, I was named president. At a future meeting, about a year later, new member Ed Beaupre volunteered to be secretary/treasurer. He lived but five miles from me, so we could work together in those early years.

For the next 15 years, I was the decision-maker, and Ed and I jointly handled all the related tasks of managing and growing the Club. In the spring of 1985, Craig Perlow came up from New York City to visit and to attend one of our periodic member meetings. Craig proposed that we have our next pin show in NYC during the New York City Marathon weekend. (We did!) I remember asking the 25 or so people to vote on his idea, and the general consensus was that whatever I decided was fine. At that point I became “Dictator” Don! Our Club membership had reached 300 by the end of 1985.

We grew fast, with the membership peaking at 888 members due to the tremendous interest in the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics. Poor Ed, the “volunteer,” was perfect as our secretary and treasurer. I was a working stiff then and without him, I doubt we could have grown so fast! Over the next decade the Club membership shrunk in quantity, but grew in quality. We hosted annual pin shows in Lake Placid (plus one in 1991 in West Hollywood organized by Donna Arnott) and issued smart-looking member pins showing five colored stars instead of the rings. We had over 700 members when the 1998 year kicked off. Our big coup that year was getting permission to use the Nagano 1998 Games logo on our member pin, and Martha Stewart showed and traded one on the “CBS This Morning” show.

The “Dictatorship” was soon to end. In November, 1998, for the first time the IOC World Olympic Collectors Fair was held away from Lausanne - in Rio de Janeiro. It was during that event that I learned of the IOC’s intent to form a collectors’ organization associated with the IOC. I was excited for that possibility and asked Manfred Bergman, Coordinator of the IOC Commission for Philately, Numismatics and Memorabilia, if Olympin could be a member. He told me Olympic collecting clubs of all types could apply, but they needed to have a Board of Directors and published By-laws. Whoops! No dictatorships! This was fine by me; I could use the help. I submitted Olympin’s application while there in Rio and selected four people who were at the show whom I thought highly of to form our initial Board of Directors: Jon Becker, Jim Greensfelder, Jim Lally and Pete Wade. At last, the burden of the Club no longer fell on me alone! From 1998 until 2004, those four and I were the Olympin Collectors Club Board of Directors. During this time, Ed Beaupre retired from active secretary/treasurer duty, and I took on all of the day-to-day management of Olympin. (Ed passed away just before the Rio 2016 Games, and at our next Olympin Festival in Atlanta that October, we named our show—supporting fund raiser the “Eddie Auction” to honor Ed for his many years of service to the Club.)

In 2004, we held our first annual Olympin Festival away from Lake Placid – in Los Angeles. Richard Murray and his committee put on a marvelous show, which led the Board to appoint Richard Murray and Sid Marantz to make us a seven-member Board. They both showed a willingness to work on making the Club even stronger.

For the last 16 years, Olympin’s Board has consisted of seven members, though some of the names have changed. In 2007 Jim Lally resigned, and Don Hollis was appointed to fill his spot. Then in 2010 Richard Murray resigned, and Scott Reed was elected to the vacant seat, beginning in 2011. In the summer of 2011, after guiding Olympin’s successful hosting of the IOC Fair in Chicago, Jim Greensfelder resigned. Since a future show coordinator was needed immediately, John Kinnaman was appointed to take Jim’s place. A year later, following Don Hollis’ resignation, Craig Perlow was elected to the Board. When Pete Wade retired from his position, Ian Tait was elected in 2014.

2014 was a busy year. John Kinnaman passed away suddenly, and Karen Rosen was appointed to replace him. Then Ian Tait resigned, and Pam Litz was appointed his successor. Since then the changes have slowed down. In 2016, Karen had to resign for personal reasons, and Ingrid O’Neil was elected to her seat. In 2018, Craig Perlow unexpectantly passed away, and Hou Kun (Justin) was appointed at the 2018 Long Beach IOC Fair. The final piece of the current Board was completed after Scott Reed had to drop his responsibilities for a few years, and Ron Finnigan was elected to fill his spot.

Today, your seven-member Board of Directors consists of: Don Bigsby (38 years), Jon Becker (22 years), Sid Marantz (17 years), Pam Litz (6 years), Ingrid O’Neil (4 years), Hou Kun (2 years), Ron Finnigan (1 year).

These seven have served the Club a combined 90 years on our Board, while totaling almost 220 years of membership!

There are others who have stepped forward to assist in making the Club stronger. In 2011, Mark Maestrone came on board as our webmaster, and you can see the obvious impact he has made if you go on-line and use our website!

Nowadays, instead of just Don (me) preparing the newsletters, there is a “Newsletter Team” made up of Don, Sid, Pam, Ron and Mark. If you read the newsletters, you know what a big improvement the Team has made. Many members have written wonderful newsletter articles the past few years, and they have made the newsletters much more entertaining. If you have an idea for an article to submit, please contact anyone on the Newsletter Team.

Finally, a shout out to the many others who make significant contributions to the ongoing success of our Club. We would not have lasted 38 years without so many contributors!