An assembled group of industry officials, AMOA board members and special guests spent the final night of the AMOA Mid-Year meeting in celebration of longtime chief executive Jack Kelleher. The group’s closing dinner, held Sept. 21 at the beautiful Biltmore Estate’s Lioncrest venue in Asheville, N.C., was dedicated to Kelleher, who recently departed the AMOA for a position with the National Dart Assn. (NDA).
During a raucous roast, an unprecedented assembly of past presidents of the AMOA who’d served during Kelleher’s 18-year tenure, ribbed, riled and raved about his uncountable achievements. They shared stories of his early struggles transitioning from the hardware industry into coin-op, his tireless work to ensure a fair industry for operators and how he had impressed many around him with his humility, kindness and work ethic. The loquacious group, lubed up with the occasional libation, kept attendees entertained and Kelleher himself blushing.
Speakers included Frank Seninsky, Mike Leonard, Russ Mawdsley, Gary Brewer, Andy Shaffer, John Pascaretti, Bobby Hogin, Jerry Johnston, lobbyist John Russell, Donovan Fremin (who sent in a video message), Chris Warren, Howard Cole, Gaines Butler, Richard Denton, and Lori Schneider. Don Hesch and Randy Chilton also wrote in to share their congratulations with Kelleher and thank him for his years of service.
“We went from a zero to a 10,” Frank Seninsky said, referring to the rough state the AMOA was in when Kelleher was hired. “And in that time, Jack became like a brother to me, a best friend.” Russ Mawdsley said: “Jack got on a sinking ship and he righted it.” Ohio’s Andy Shaffer said: “If we ever had a Mt. Rushmore for the AMOA, I wonder who I’d put up there?” adding that he’d include Kelleher’s name to a list of those he’d immortalize in stone.
“If you take a half of the intensity you brought to this job, there’ll be nothing but blue skies ahead,” said industry lobbyist John Russell. “Jack is leaving a great team, and that’s not an accident,” said Jerry Johnston. “He cares about the AMOA and he cares about people.”
Lori Schneider, Jack’s successor, helped close out the night by presenting him with a plaque signed by all of the presidents he’d worked alongside during his 18 years at the AMOA. After the assembly had finished roasting him, Kelleher addressed the “coin-op cartel of critics” and expressed his full confidence in Schneider’s ability to take on the role.
“I will always bleed AMOA red… It may only have been 18 years, but it seems like a lifetime of friends, memories and, of course, pictures,” said Kelleher, who’s camera, a constant companion, was the butt of a few jokes. “I’ve logged a lot of miles in my time, but this has been the best run of my life.”
In Other AMOA News…
The Mid-Year Meeting also brought new AMOA officers to the table, all of which are slated for terms commencing at the close of the Amusement Expo in March 2017. Below is a list of the newly elected officers.
2017-2018 AMOA Principal Officers
President – Rick LaFleur, I.F. LaFleur & Son, Devils Lake, N.D.
First Vice President – Jim Marsh, Hart Novelty, Bellingham, Wash.
Treasurer – Emily Dunn, Tom’s Amusement Co. Inc., Blue Ridge, Ga.
Secretary – Greg Trent, Beyer & Brown, South Daytona, Fla.
2020 Vice Presidents Class
Brian Brotsch, Knox Amusement, Rochester, N.Y.
Tracy Ferris, A & M Amusement, Augusta, Ga.
Tim Zahn, American Amusement Arcade, Bloomington, Minn.
In addition, Chip O’Hara (Midwest Coin Concepts, Waite Park, Minn.) will fill a one-year vacancy in the 2018 Vice President class. And Bruce Duncan (Future Targets Inc., Keswick, Va.) and Ron Hunt (Betson, Buena Park, Calif.) will each fill a two-year vacancy in the 2019 Director class.