The Probus Club continues
its quiet sponsorship
of good works
VICTORIA BELYEU DIAZ
Special to The Jewish News.
orty-eight years ago in Detroit,
a small group of Jewish busi-
nessmen got together to form
a fellowship club. Called the Probus
Club ("pro" for professional, "bus" for
business and, in Latin, meaning "pro-
ven as worthy"), it was patterned
after Probus organizations on the
East Coast, founded in the mid-'30s.
Detroit businessman Claude
Grasgreen, Probus' first president,
brought the idea home to Detroit
after visiting one of the clubs in the
In the beginning,. Probus Detroit
functioned mostly as a social group.
Meetings were held, in the early days,
over lunch at the Detroit Leland
Hotel. A guest speaker was usually
featured — someone prominent in
Detroit's business community — and
members often participated in hotly-
contested games of bridge or gin
Then, in 1947, things changed.
That summer, during the height of a
polio epidemic, then-president Jack
Citron learned that, should a child in
need of an artificial respirator (or
"iron lung") come to Detroit's Grace
Hospital for help, he or she could not
be admitted, because the hospital had
The situation seemed made-to-order
for members of the Probus Club, says
Citron, since many of them had been
seeking for some time for a way the
group might effectively help Detroit's
sick or disabled.
"We raised all funds on a golf outing
for our group out at the Franklin
Hills Country Club one day;' says
Citron. "All the members were ap-
proached, and all the members con-
tributed. We got around $7,500, and
Grace Hospital got its iron lung!'
It was the start of what would be a
long and consistent record of philan-
thropy by the Probus Club of Detroit.
Though still a social group today —
current members and their wives
meet for lunch once a month at
Southfield's Furniture Club and also
take part in other social events such,
as wine-tasting parties, DIA tours
and square dances — the organization
manage, says newly-elected president
Herman Goldsmith. "We'll take
whatever amount of commitment a
member feels that he can manage to
give to Probus," he says. "A profes-
sional or businessman could do a
whole lot worse. The social aspects
and connections are remarkable,
although I would like to stress that,
if you're looking for some way to
make business connections, forget it.
Our group is simply not that kind of
Although one of Detroit's "quieter"
organizations, Probus is well-known
among the faculty and administra-
tion of Wayne State University
through its Academic Achievement
Awards program, established 25 years
ago. Given annually to two professors
or associate professors at WSU (one in
the sciences, one in the humanities),
the cash awards amount to $2,000
"One of Probus' goals is to serve the
community," explains Stone. "So, with
Wayne being Detroit's community
university, we try, through these
awards, to give recognition to young,
deserving professors and, by doing so,
encourage them to stay in the com-
The Probus Club's Reuben Isaacs, Stuart Bordman, Mal Schuster, and seated
Herman Goldsmith and Stuart Stone.
Named for this year's awards were
is also seriously committed to a tradi- Oak Park, according to JARC Ex- Dr. Donald P. Haase, associate pro-
ecutive Director Joyce Keller.
fessor of Romance & Germanic
tion of service to the community.
"Another of our projects has involv- languages, who joined the Wayne
According to outgoing president
Stuart Stone, at the forefront of Pro- ed working with the program for ex- State faculty in 1981, and Dr. Howard
bus' recent community service pro- ceptional students at Temple Beth R. Petty, associate professor of
jects is its work with Detroit's Jewish El;' says Stone. "Temple Beth El has biological sciences, who was also
one of the only (religious education) recently named to an Outstanding
Association for Retarded Citizens.
"We've established the Probus programs in the city for exceptional Young Men of America award.
Dr. Haase is the director of recent
Apartment Club, which has been real- students and, this year, we were able
ly a pet project of ours for about the to donate $750 toward the purchase seminars for high school students on
last three years," says Stone, "The of a video camera for the group. It's "Tales of the Brothers Grimm!' Dr.
Apartment Club is made up of about something that the students will be Petty is noted for research into cell
30 JARC clients who live in Detroit- able to use as a learning tool, and biology.
area apartments, and what we do is something that can also be used to
"Our panel of judges usually con-
make it possible for these clients to spread the news about the classes to sists of four members of the Probus
Club, and three prominent members
all get together and attend different other congregations in the city!'
Stone, who joined the Detroit Pro- of the community," explains Stone.
area functions like plays, concerts,
bus Club after attending a meeting as Serving as judges this year were Dr.
ballgames, things like that!'
Through Probus' help, members of a guest six years ago, emphasizes that Winifred Fraser, member of the board
the Apartment Club have taken part the group does not involve itself with of governors at Western Michigan
recently in such activities as a tour fund-raising events, and that all its University; Christina Lovio-George,
of the Holocaust Memorial Center, a community projects are sponsored president of the public relations firm,
play at the Birmingham Theater, solely through the $125 annual dues Lovio-George, Inc; and Neil Shine,
senior managing editor of the Detroit
visits to Oak Park City Council paid by each of its 81 members.
Because of this policy, the group can Free Press.
meetings and an annual Chanukah
party for Apartment Club members sustain whatever degree of involve-
"The selection of these people is a
at the Jewish Community Center in ment each member feels he can value judgment made from a layman's
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS