Dennis Grabhorn, Chair

Patricia Christensen, Vice chair

Mary Dodge, Secretary

Christine Williams, Treasurer

Dianne Aguiar, Director

Jolien Caraballo, Director

Paula Lewis, Director and

Mission Statement
Articles of Incorporation

Port St. Lucie Historical Society, Inc., Story

The Port St. Lucie Historical Society, Inc. (the “Society”) is a non-profit organization whose members actively work to preserve the history of Port St. Lucie. The Mission Statement of the Society is to:

  • Stimulate greater government, business and public awareness and appreciation of the importance of the history of Port St. Lucie to our people.

  • Encourage and facilitate opportunities for Port St. Lucie residents to participate in the preservation of the history of Port St. Lucie.

  • Encourage local historic education in the public schools and other educational institutions of St. Lucie County.

The purpose and objectives of the Society shall be education, historical research, and study of items and objects of interest and value concerning St. Lucie County and the surrounding areas, and encouragement of interest in historical preservation

Looking back...

A small group of women who wanted to preserve the history of Port St. Lucie started meeting informally during their lunch hours in September 1995.  They wanted to collect and record information about the city and its roots and to eventually start a museum similar to the St. Lucie County Historical Museum in Fort Pierce.  Edward Swanson, director of the St. Lucie Historical Museum advised the group:  “Collect, research and have fun with it.  The history of Port St. Lucie is kind of a real challenge.”  He also advised them to “look at all the pieces of the puzzle before telling the history of a place.  Telling just part of the story isn’t true history.”



The Port St. Lucie Historical Society, Inc., was incorporated as a Florida Not for Profit Corporation under Section 617 of the Florida Statues on April 3, 1997.  However, the first meeting of the group took place at the Morningside branch of the St. Lucie County Library System in 1996. 

Founding Members (per Articles of Incorporation) were:

  • JoAnn Holcomb
  • Paula Lewis
  • Strelsa Schreiber*
  • Cynthia Trefelner (Crankshaw)

Initial Officers were:

  • Chair - JoAnn Holcomb
  • Vice Chair - Constance Richardson*
  • Secretary - Sandra K. Johnson*
  • Treasurer - Patricia Garthwaite

Initial Board Members were:

  • Nina C. Baranski
  • Bobbi Deemer*
  • Dolores W. DiOrio
  • Maryann F. Garthwaite*
  • Patricia M. Garthwaite
  • JoAnn Holcomb
  • Sandra K. Johnson*
  • Paula A. Lewis
  • Frances M. March
  • Constance Richardson*
  • DeeDee Roberts
  • Ed Swanson
  • Virginia Swanson
  • Strelsa Schreiber*
  • Cynthia Trefelner (now Cynthia Crankshaw)

Charter Members were:

  • Nina Baranski
  • Bobbie Deemer*
  • Delores DiOrio
  • Maryann Garthwaite*
  • Patricia Garthwaite
  • Sandra Johnson*
  • Frances March
  • Constance Richardson*
  • DeeDee Roberts
  • Ed Swanson
  • Virginia Swanson

Other Initial Members included:  John Carvelli, Lucette Chizik, Rachel Cook, Tomas Gonzales, Karol Kortier, Amy Kryak, Frances March, Lee Primerano, Peter Torelli, and Jovita Williams.

On September 27, 1996, they marked the founding of the New Pioneers.  In a letter dated October 21, 1996, Chair Jo Ann Holcomb outlined the accomplishments made in one year and acknowledged the people who helped bring the accomplishments about.

New Pioneers founded by Jo Ann Holcomb, Paula Lewis, Strelsa Schreiber and Cynthia Trefelner (now Crankshaw).

Strelsa Schreiber elected to represent the New Pioneers on the St. Lucie County Historical Commission.

By-Laws written and approved.

Officers elected:  Jo Ann Holcomb, Chair;  Connie Richardson, Vice Chair;  Sandy Johnson, Secretary;  and Pat Garthwaite, Treasurer.

Sandy Johnson worked on creating a not-for-profit corporation with a yet to be contacted attorney to assist, pro bono.

Participated in 35th Anniversary of City’s incorporation with a display in vestibule of City Council Chamber.

Cynthia Trefelner wrote and published a history of Port St. Lucie for distribution at the event.

Jo Ann Holcomb and Paula Lewis were interviewed on television regarding the founding of the New Pioneers and their part in the 35th Anniversary celebration.

New Pioneers’ display and participants were televised during the event.

Organized a field trip/tour to Spruce Bluff.

Worked on creating logos for the organization.

Jo Ann Holcomb resigned her position with the organization “for personal reasons” effective October 21, 1996.


The Spruce Bluff field trip was opened to the public to keep interest in the fledging society high and to quell the snickering and giggles they heard when they spoke about Port St. Lucie History.



  • Chair - Constance “Connie” Richardson*
  • Secretary - Sandra Johnson*
  • Treasurer - Pat Garthwaite

The law firm of Warner, Fox, Seeley, Dungey & Sweet of Stuart helped the New Pioneers draft their Articles of Incorporation that were filed on April 3, 1997.

Ed Swanson, superintendent of museums for the St. Lucie County Historical Society, spoke at a meeting of the Port St. Lucie Historical Society in August 1997.  He outlined a plan for starting the new organization.

Strelsa Schreiber was asked to introduce her book at a Society meeting.



  • Chair - Sandra Johnson*
  • Vice Chair - Maryann Garthwaite*
  • Secretary - Mary Manning
  • Treasurer - Pat Garthwaite
  • Directors – Nina Baranski, Dolores DiOrio and Constance Richardson

These officers were confirmed at a meeting on October 5th.  There was also some discussion about holding meetings at the Community Center in the hope that more city employees would become members.  It was also mentioned that, although there were 17 members on the Society’s mailing list, few if any members attended meetings.

Sandy suggested getting some early residents to speak and to record their recollections.

The Society conducted a second tour of both the cemetery and mound at the Spruce Bluff Preserve on May 2nd.   At that time the “Spruce Bluff Nature Trail” was under the auspices of the St. Lucie County Department of Leisure Services.  

The Society also sponsored a tour of the St. Lucie River on November 21storiginating at the Marina off Prima Vista Boulevard.



  • Chair - Sandra Johnson*
  • Secretary - Mary Manning
  • Treasurer - Pat Garthwaite
  • Directors – Maryann Garthwaite and Constance Richardson

At an Executive Committee Meeting on March 30th, the following four volunteers offered to assist the Society in cataloging and identifying photos, news clippings, etc.:  Ollie Lee, Marie Sarol, Bonnie Cruz and Greta Acton.  They agreed to work every Wednesday for 3 or 5 hours.  Sandy Johnson was to work on finding a suitable place for them to work.




  • Chair - Sandra Johnson*
  • Secretary - Mary Manning
  • Treasurer - Patricia Garthwaite
  • Directors – Maryann Garthwaite and Dolores DiOrio

The officers and directors continued to meet and continued to collect artifacts, looking forward to the day when more people would join and the Society would receive help from outside sources in the city and among residents.



  • Chair - Sandra K. Johnson*
  • Vice Chair - Maryann Garthwaite*
  • Secretary - Mary Manning
  • Treasurer- Patricia Garthwaite
  • Director – Dolores DiOrio

Members at the time of reactivation:  Mayor Bob Minsky, Sue Harrington Bird, Patricia Foreman, Christine Williams, Donna Gottschalk, Delores DiOrio, Nina Baranski, Tim Gomez, George Hanna, Greta Acton, Strelsa Schreiber, John Lamplough, Frank Knott, Martha York Clements, DeeDee Roberts, Patricia Selmer, Susan Kilmer, “Butch” Post, and Jane Rowley

City officials decided to help the reactivated Port St. Lucie Historical Society by offering space to store items that the Society collected and some advertising support.

The Society held a “Fundraising and Artifact Collection Event” at the Shell Bazaar on October 12th.



  • Chair - Sandra Johnson*
  • Secretary – Mary Manning
  • Treasurer – Pat Garthwaite
  • Directors – Pat Foreman* and Christine Williams

Thanks to support from the City, the Society had a permanent exhibit at City Hall.

The Society held a History Event on February 25th at City Hall dubbed “Cowhunters and Native Americans” highlighting the first settlers in the area that is now Port St. Lucie.  Pat Foreman, president of the St. Lucie Historical Society arranged for the noted author and historian Lewis “Nick” Wynne of the Florida Historical Society to speak at the event.  Complimentary tickets to hear him speak were available with a donation or membership.

Artist and Historian John Durham was also there in native costume with a chickee hut.

The Society held a “2nd Annual ‘ROUND UP” Yard Sale & ‘CHUCK WAGON” bake Sale at the Port St. Lucie City Hall on October 11th.



  • Chair - Sandra K. Johnson*
  • Secretary – Mary Manning
  • Treasurer – Pat Garthwaite
  • Directors – Dolores DiOrio, Patricia Foreman* & Christine Williams

Once again, the officers and directors struggled to keep the Society viable and looked for people with fresh ideas to join them and to help with the organization of their growing archives.



  • Chair – Sandra K. Johnson*
  • Secretary - Mary Manning
  • Treasurer – Patricia Garthwaite then Stan Hicks
  • Directors – Tom Minch, Dell Cook* and Christine Williams

The Society was engaged in planning a Reunion of Early Settlers (people who were in the Greater Port St. Lucie area in the 50s, 60s and/or 70s) to be held in October.

With the expert assistance of Dell Cook, Stan Hicks designed and developed an archive database to record historical items as they became available to the Society. 



  • Chair - Christine Williams
  • Secretary - Stevie Savage
  • Treasurer - Stan Hicks
  • Directors:  Tom Minch, Dell Cook* and Sandy Corriveau

  In November 2006, Richard McAfoos began a wonderful, comprehensive oral history program capturing on videotape recollections of longtime residents of the City, River Park and the surrounding area.

The Society “manned” a tent at the 45th Anniversary of the City.


Initial Officers and Directors:

  • Chair - Christine Williams
  • Vice Chair - Randy Green
  • Secretary - Stevie Savage
  • Treasurer - Stan Hicks
  • Directors: Tom Minch, Marge Organ and Richard McAfoos

Officers and Directors as of September 25, 2007:

  • Co-Chair – Richard McAfoos
  • Co-Chair - Randy Green
  • Vice Chair & Secretary - Joan Beyer*
  • Treasurer - Stan Hicks
  • Assistant Treasurer – Christine Williams
  • Directors:  Tom Minch and Marge Organ

Left to right, Tom Minch, Christine Williams, Randy Green, Mayor Patricia Christensen (guest), Stan Hicks, Joan Beyer*, Richard McAfoos, Marge Organ at Sept. 25, 2007 meeting.

The Society obtained its 501(c)3 status on June 22, 2007, retroactive and effective on April 3, 1997, the date the Society’s  original Articles of Incorporation were filed.


In August, Mayor Patricia Christensen announced the formation of the City’s “Celebration Committee” (later to become the “Celebration Executive Committee”), including four of our directors:  Joan Beyer*, Stan Hicks, Richard McAfoos and Christine Williams.  The Committee was charged with planning the 50th Anniversary of the City’s incorporation on April 27, 1961.


Through the initiative of County Commissioner Doug Coward, and with the cooperation and approval of the entire County Commission, St. Lucie County graciously made office space available to the Society in the new St. Lucie County Building on Walton Road.  The Society adopted the following new logo:


Guest speakers at the September meeting of the Port St. Lucie Historical Society, Inc. were PSL Mayor Patricia Christensen and Dr. Jeff Fox. Christensen, a member of the Society, emphasized the value of preserving Port St. Lucie’ss evolving history for future generations and the need of a high visibility role for the Society. Dr. Fox was the first dentist in Port St. Lucie, arriving here in 1976 when the population was only around 5,000. Christensen predicted the need for a future Port St. Lucie Historical Museum to complement other educational and cultural resources in our vibrant city.


Farewell to Strelsa Schreiber

On October 20, 2007, author, columnist, school board member, and Port St. Lucie Historical Society co-founder Strelsa Schreiber died at 92 years of age. 

She wrote The Early Years of Port St. Lucie, Florida, A Personal Memoir, which was published in 1998. 

In December 2007, the Society invited people interested in recording their recollections to participate in a special taping of a “Tribute to Strelsa Schreiber”.  Many people who knew and loved her eagerly responded to the invitation.

In addition to her other many accomplishments, Strelsa served 23 years on the Indian River Community College Foundation.  A conference center on the St. Lucie West Campus of what is now Indian River State College was built in her name.  A “Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Strelsa Schreiber” was held in the Schreiber Conference Center in January 2008.

Special copies of the “Tribute to Strelsa Schreiber” video were presented to Strelsa’s daughter Paula Gaylord at the Celebration.



Farewell To Dell Cook

Wendell (“Dell”) Cook died on August 15, 2007.  Some Society members had the following to say about Dell:

“Dell was very passionate for his love of history.  He will always be remembered for his dedication and hard work toward preserving historical records.  We will miss him but not forget him.  God Bless.”  Tom Minch
“Thank you, Dell, for all the expert help you gave me.  We will benefit from this for years to come.”  Stan Hicks
“Dell was a good friend to all that knew him, and a valuable asset to the Port St. Lucie Historical Society and will be greatly missed.  May he rest in peace.”   Christine Williams

“Few will recognize the depth of knowledge or the degree of commitment Dell had.  His gift was beyond measure and he will be sorely missed.  God Bless him.”  Allan King




  • Chair - Richard McAfoos
  • Vice Chair - Randy Green
  • Secretary - Joan Beyer*
  • Treasurer - Christine Williams
  • Directors:  Dennis Grabhorn, Tom Minch and Marge Organ

In conjunction with the Celebration Executive Committee, the Society announced that Nina Baranski, former Communications Officer with the City, had contracted to author a history book celebrating the city’s 50 year life; “Port St. Lucie at 50” , A City For All People.  Three businesses stepped up and said they would fund the book’s cost – Core Communities, Johnson Brothers, Inc. and Riverside National Bank.


In March, the St. Lucie County Commission first gave permission for the Society to use a 10x12 room in the County Annex on Walton Road to use as an office.


Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation and Amended and Restated Bylaws were adopted at the Board’s November 25th meeting.  The documents were later filed with the Secretary of State and St. Lucie County. 


Christine Williams organized a series of “Pioneer Gatherings” where members, guests and friends shared their recollections of Port St. Lucie before, during and since incorporation.  Pictured here are members and friends of the Society at Beth Gessner’s home.

Members of the Society participated in the Santa Lucia Day celebration in Fort Pierce on Santa Lucia Day, December 13th.

The Society acquired a “Certificate of Exemption” making future purchases for the Society tax-free.



  • Chair - Richard McAfoos
  • Vice Chair - Randy Green
  • Secretary - Joan Beyer*
  • Treasurer - Christine Williams
  • Directors:  Dennis Grabhorn, Tom Minch and Marge Organ

In conjunction with the Celebration Executive Committee, Chair Richard McAfoos negotiated a contract with a local production company, Treasure Coast Films, Inc., and began working on a full-length docu/drama motion picture to document and celebrate the City’s 50th Anniversary the week of April 27, 2011.

Richard McAfoos also conceived and supported work on an Eagle Scout Project for Erik Christensen to create an interactive map and photo section that will be a part of the Society’s web site.

Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Florida Secretary of State on January 12, 2009.

A plaque of appreciation was presented to former director and member Stan Hicks to thank him for his long time dedicated service to the Society.



  • Chair: Richard McAfoos
  • Vice Chair: Randy Green
  • Secretary: Joan Beyer*
  • Treasurer: Christine Williams
  • Directors:  Dianne Aguiar, Tom Minch and Marge Organ
  • Special Advisor:  Dennis Grabhorn

The new Board of Directors and Special Advisor were photographed at the home of Richard McAfoos.

Left to right seated:  Vice Chair Randy Green, Secretary Joan Beyer*, Treasurer Christine Williams and Chair Richard McAfoos.  Left to right standing:  Directors Tom Minch, Marge Organ and Dianne Aguiar, and Special Advisor Dennis Grabhorn.


With the able assistance of the City’s Communications Department, the Celebration Committee adopted the following logo that will appear on all City announcements and letters between April 2010 and April 2011:

Click for larger version

At the City Council Meeting on April 26, 2010, Mayor Patricia Christensen presented the Society with the following proclamation from the City acknowledging the Society’s significant involvement with and management of Port St. Lucie's 50th Anniversary Celebration on April 27, 2011.  The Society’s Officers continued to head up the history book, docu/drama movie and celebration week activities.

Click for larger version.


The Society was an active participant on the long-standing St. Lucie County Historical Commission, holding two seats, until the sun set on the commission early in 2010. The Society’s Chair and Secretary remain active with the St. Lucie Historical Society, Inc., that holds its meetings in Fort Pierce, the County’s first and largest such society.  




Joan Holly Beyer, 72, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, died unexpectedly November 29, 2011, at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, Fort Pierce, Florida.

She was predeceased by her parents, Henry Kuhlmann and Louise Kuhlmann.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, she resided for many years in Bergen County, New Jersey. Joan lived and worked in London, England, and Sydney, Australia, and travelled widely.

Joan received her Bachelor of Arts from Fairleigh Dickinson University and Doctor of Jurisprudence from Rutgers University School of Law, North New Jersey. She was an associate with the law firm of Bressler, Amery & Ross, and a member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Bar Associations.

She moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida, in 1999 and was a Realtor for 10 years and a member of the Realtors Association of St. Lucie.

Upon her retirement from real estate, Joan was an active member in many organizations including serving on the boards of the Port St. Lucie Historical Society, the Port St. Lucie Downtown Lions Club and the Port St. Lucie Council of Arts Corporation. She was a founding member of the Friends of the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens, a member of the A. E. Backus Museum and St. Lucie Historical Society and served as a volunteer at the St. Lucie County Regional History Center.

Memorial contributions may be sent to the Port St. Lucie Historical Society, P.O. Box 7146, Port St. Lucie, FL. 34985 or the Port St. Lucie Downtown Lions Club, 1967 SE Port St. Lucie Boulevard, Port St. Lucie, FL 34952. 


The Port St. Lucie Historical Society, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to encouraging the study and preservation of the history and artifacts of the region.

*These members are now deceased.