Palm Beach Civic Association 81st season logo

Protecting the quality of life since 1944.

The Founding of the Palm Beach Civic Association

By: R. Michael Brown, Communication Director, Palm Beach Civic Association — The Palm Beach Civic Association was founded in 1944 by a handful of civic minded Palm Beachers who wished to preserve, protect and enhance the special qualities of their amazing island.

John F. GunsterUnder the leadership of Alexander H. Rutherford, first Civic Association president; Joseph F. Gunster, Vice President and the namesake of the first law firm in Palm Beach; Page Hufty, Vice President; and famous Palm Beach architect John Volk, PBCA secretary, the association quickly grew its membership to over 300 members in the first two years.

Photo: Alexander H. Rutherford, First Civic Association President

Many of the issues in the 1940’s were very much like the issues of today:

  • Expanding development in the Town of Palm Beach with a coming Florida population boom. Parks, streets, development with post-WWII expected building boom.
  • Expanding development in the surrounding areas of West Palm Beach and the resulting traffic that would come to the Town of Palm Beach.
  • Port of Palm Beach expansion and keeping the inlet open by dredging.
  • Beach Erosion and installing groins.
  • Using DDT for mosquito control.
  • Lake/Intracoastal pollution/sewage disposal.
  • Taxes.
  • Gambling on the island.
  • Air transportation was hard to get. Not enough flights or tickets.
  • Using beach flags like they do up north – red for no swimming.

Joseph F. GunsterPhoto: Joseph F. Gunster, First Civic Association Vice President and later became President. Image and story research courtesy of Brenda Sokolowski at the Gunster Corporate Law Firm.

Today the Association continues to be guided by great leaders such as Bob Wright, chairman and CEO, Pat Cooper, treasurer, and Ned Barnes, president and an executive committee of strong community supporters – its membership has grown to well over 2,000 men and women who call this exceptional island home.

  • The Palm Beach Civic Association continues to embody the same basics that it was founded on over 70 years ago.
  • To protect and improve the quality of life in Palm BeachTo educate and engage residents on key town issues
  • To take proactive stands on civic affairs
  • To work closely with local, state, and the federal government
  • To encourage citizen involvement in this amazing community

Filed under: Palm Beach Civic Association History, Founders of the Civic Association, 1944, Alexander H. Rutherford, Joseph Gunster, Joseph F. Gunster