The Rankin Club
Gifts of $250 – $499
Dr. Walter Mead Rankin was a professor of biology at Princeton University. Dr. Rankin started the original student YMCA Town Club for boys in 1908. He was born in 1857 and studied at Williams College and the University of Munich. Under his guidance, the Town Club purchased a building at 16 Witherspoon Street where boys played basketball, baseball and other games. At that time, the Town Club was organized just for the white boys of the community because of segregation laws, but Dr. Rankin knew there was a need for African-American residents too. He helped to organize the beginnings of what would be the Witherspoon YMCA. He was very friendly with Albert Hinds and Howard Waxwood, Sr., two other very important leaders in our YMCA’s history. Dr. Rankin was also a charter member of the Historical Society of Princeton, and a Trustee of the First Presbyterian Church. When Dr. Rankin died in 1947, he was one of the university’s oldest faculty members and one of the town’s elder citizens. Dr. Rankin’s devotion to the YMCA in its earliest days created a strong foundation on which our Y is built. We are fortunate he had the vision and goodness in his heart to bring the Y mission to our community.
The Hinds Circle
Gifts of $500 – $999
Mr. Albert E. Hinds was practically celebrity in Princeton. Born in 1902, Mr. Hinds lived most of his life – more than a century – in Princeton. As a boy, Mr. Hinds loved sports, especially football. He was a star end on the Princeton High School football team. He went to Lincoln University and then graduated from Talladega University in 1934. Afterwards, he traveled to New Orleans where he opened a YMCA and established their first indoor basketball team. He then returned to Princeton and became the physical education director at the Witherspoon YMCA. He taught and coached all different sports, making a big difference in young people’s lives. His work in recreation meant the most to him. In an interview, he once said “I think I played an important role in the lives of several people I coached or taught.” He mentored hundreds of young people and a few adults too, and was admired by fellow citizens, neighbors and friends. When he turned 100 years old, he was overwhelmed with much deserved citations and accolades. Mr. Hinds passed away at the age of 104. We are so proud he was part of our YMCA’s rich history.
The Bowers Circle
Gifts of $1,000 – $2,499
Ray Bowers was born in 1909 and raised in Dutch Neck, a part of West Windsor Township. In 1912, his father help start a YMCA there, holding programs at the local elementary school and Presbyterian church. In high school, Mr. Bowers led programs for his local YMCA – and was a devoted Y supporter ever after. He attended Pennsylvania State University, inspired by the director of the Trenton YMCA, and as a student, he was president of the YMCA campus organization. After college, Mr. Bowers worked at the Trenton YMCA while he studied architecture at Princeton University. Eventually, he became a successful architect and builder in the community, but his ties to the YMCA always remained strong. He consulted on the design of the current Y facility, and helped raised funds for its construction. When the YMCA Day Camp was held at the Hun School in the 1950s, Mr. Bower’s nearby pool was the host for swimming lessons and recreation. He was active in a range of YMCA programs, including Indian Guides, now called Adventure Guides, and the Model UN program. When he died in 1986, Mr. Bowers left a bequest to purchase playground equipment for the preschool program. He truly believed in and embodied the YMCA mission throughout his life, and we are so pleased to remember Mr. Bowers as one of our greatest champions.
The Reeves Circle
Gifts of $2,500 – $4,999
George Reeves, Sr. was a well known civic leader in Princeton in the early part of the 20th century. Professionally, Mr. Reeves worked on the Avenue, or Prospect Street, at one of the eating clubs, but a big part of his life was dedicated to his civic activities. A highly respected community leader, Mr. Reeves was a devoted director of the Witherspoon YMCA, and a dedicated member of the Witherspoon Presbyterian Church. For many years, he spent his summers at the Princeton Summer Camp in Blairstown where he was the camp cook. He helped mentor and support the African-American boys who were the first to attend the camp in the late 40s. Mr. Reeves loved competition. He was a very skilled and graceful tennis player and always loved a good match. As a father, Mr. Reeves was kept busy with all kinds of youth activities, and his late daughter Fannie remembered that her father always had high expectations for her and her siblings. In 1951, shortly before he passed away, Mr. Reeves was presented with a YMCA award for his 47 years of dedicated service to youth. He was a man of great integrity and intelligence, and we are proud to remember him as one of our YMCA’s greatest leaders.
The Waxwood Circle
Gifts of $5,000 – $9,999
In the beginning, the board of the directors of the Witherspoon YMCA was made up of white men. In the early 1920s, a new board comprised of African-American leaders was created, and Howard Waxwood, Sr. served as its first chairman. Mr. Waxwood helped the Witherspoon YMCA become an even more vital part of the African-American community. By 1938, the Witherspoon Y had 300 members, and offered a wide range of activities, such as religious classes, debate, musical groups and sports leagues for men and boys. Mr. Waxwood’s son Howard Jr. joined the board in the 1940s when he was the principal of the Witherspoon School for Colored Children on Quarry Street. And did you know that his son Howard Jr. was married to Susie Waxwood who led the YWCA of Princeton? Mr. Waxwood’s leadership helped create the kind of community YMCA to which we can aspire today.
The Mason Circle
Gifts of $10,000 +
Mr. Ralph Mason was born in 1913 in Trenton. As a youngster, he spent time at the Trenton YMCA’s Cook Branch and went to Camp Wilson where he was a CIT and Leader. He attended Duke University and Princeton University and then studied law at University of Pennsylvania. Shortly after starting his law career, World War II broke out so he joined the army and earned a Bronze Star. When he came back from the war, he eventually decided to start a law firm, so he turned to his old friend from Y camp, Gordon Griffin. Together they started Mason, Griffin & Moore. Mr. Mason said that, “once the YMCA gets hold of you, it keeps you involved.” He helped find a new YMCA campsite in Blairstown for his childhood camp when it was flooded out in 1955, and then helped raise the money to build it. It’s now called Camp Ralph S. Mason. He served on the Trenton and Princeton YMCA boards and then took leadership roles with the YMCA statewide and nationally. He was elected president of the YMCA of the USA in 1974, and served for 24 years on the executive council of the World Alliance for the YMCA’s. He was also the mayor of Princeton Township and served on many other boards, including the hospital, the USO, the Rotary Club and the Hun School. Mr. Mason was as a very kind man, and he inspired many people to join the YMCA Movement. Our community benefited greatly from his leadership and friendship, and for this we are truly grateful!