The Minnesota Breakfast Club has a long history beginning in 1964 when ten Minneapolis men started having breakfast together once a week, every Friday, while spending the winter months in Naples, Florida. Little did this group know that some forty years later this tradition would continue. It is well accepted that the late Al Leonard is considered the Founding Member because of his leadership and willingness to organize a list, find a location willing to host us, and put together a small roster of Minnesotans to invite while they were wintering in Naples. The first breakfasts were at the restaurant in the Edgewater Beach Hotel. Some of the founders were Heinie Albrecht, Art Bredesen, Bob Diercks, Paul Foss, Les Malkerson, Fred Herfurth and Bob Gisselbeck. The gatherings continued every Friday at the Edgewater Beach for approximately three years before moving to the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club, where we were for more than 40 years. At the time of the move more people began attending and brought along more Minnesota friends.
With distinction, it should be noted that this club has been an organization with no officers or a treasury. The “no reservation necessary – on your honor you pay if you show” has served the Club well for many years. From one mailing and word of mouth, the Club grows each Friday morning during the winter season to almost 200 Minnesotans. As most Minnesotans do, they thirst for companionship, fellowship and gossip from back home.
At the time of Al Leonard’s passing, Bob Bennett agreed to carry on the workload of keeping up the Roster, and Paul Albitz drew the “Hungry Gopher” Roster Cover. Bob formalized the process of locating speakers of interest each Friday. You could count on seeing Bob’s 1936 Ford at 7:00AM in front of the Hotel every Friday and he would be standing at the door greeting, collecting money, passing out name tags, and taking new names and address changes. With Bob Bennett’s illness, Gordy Alexander assisted in the transition to Art Klobe. With Art now gone on, the reins were passed to Gene Frey in 2002.