Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post number 5632 was organized in January 1946 with 116 (25?) members, led by Commander Truman Hedwall and Cyril C. Doyle, adjutant. The motto of the group is “Honor the Dead by Helping the Living,” which they fulfill with community service.
The VFW Auxiliary was instituted on March 10, 1946, with 33 charter members.
Members first met in the band room of the Senior High School (Central) in 1946-47.
An article from the July 25, 1947, issue of the Dispatch read:
Grand Opening is Planned for VFW Clubhouse
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and their Auxiliary are eagerly awaiting the completion of their new clubhouse at the corner of the Belt Line and W. 36th Street. The laying of blocks was to be completed this week on the 32 by 80 foot building. An 8 x 14 room will be built at the side, according to present plans.
As soon as the basement is completed, the VFW plans to hold a grand opening and to use the basement as a meeting place until materials become available for completion of the club.
Members are working on the club and hope to receive permission to do their own plumbing work.
Meetings were held in the basement of the Village Hall until 1948 when the basement of the building at 5605 W. 36th Street was completed.
In March 1948 the VFW requested a permit to hold boxing exhibitions.
In 1949 and 1950 the VFW held carnivals, the money to go to their building fund so they could put a second story on their basement clubhouse.
In March 1954 they received a permit to complete the building, and it opened on September 16, 1954.
Membership went from 49 members in 1957 to 104 members in 1961, to more than 1,600 members in 1983.
Unfortunately, many members moved away or passed away, and the newer veterans were not as interested in the group. After dwindling to about 350 members, the time came for the group to disband. The charter was surrendered on June 30, 2009, and rifles used for rituals were returned to the Federal Government at Fort Snelling. Many of the members transferred to the Golden Valley club, which has about 600 members in 2013.
The VFW had remodeled their building in 2004, adding office space to rent, but could not afford to keep it, and turned it over to the American Legion, which had been meeting at the VFW building for about ten years, on July 1, 2005. The VFW retained some space in the building until it folded in 2009.
Many thanks to Refugio “Cookie” Rivera for salvaging items from the VFW and donating them to the St. Louis Park Historical Society!