The History of St. Andrew’s of Tampa Bay, Inc.
By William C. McLean, Jr.
Interest in our Scottish heritage began to blossom in January of 1969, when several people organized the Bay Area Pipes and Drums. It was organized as a non-profit Scottish Bagpipe Band, military in structure and dedicated to promoting Scottish music and culture throughout the Tampa Bay Area. We incorporated the band and changed its name to the Tampa Pipe Band.
The band adopted the ancient Douglas tartan which was used for the kilt and the plaid. Its uniform was pattered on that of the traditional Scottish military regiment.
The band always operated independently, i.e., it has never been under the sponsorship of any other organization, public or private. However, as it developed and became better known in the State and the Southeast, some felt that Tampa needed a support group to broaden the cultural interest of those of Scottish descent living in the area.
Champ Tunno, a Haines City member of our society, formerly lived in Savannah, where he was a member of the St. Andrew’s Society there. On several occasions, he invited us to attend the Savannah St. Andrew’s dinner. On reflection, this seemed to be the kind of organization we needed.
We obtained a copy of the charter of the Savannah society, and through Gordon Campbell, a copy of the charter of the Illinois St. Andrew’s society. Gordon was well known as the president of the Exchange Bank of Tampa. We also knew Bill Weber, a well known Tampa architect and a native of Glasgow. In February 1976, the three of us met with about 20 guests at St. Mary’s Episcopal church. About half were band members. We organized our present Society, structured the corporation, and enlisted nine Governors to constitute a board. We incorporated on July 1, 1976.
The proceeding discussion about the Tampa Pipe Band is so that our members will be aware that it was the original support structure of the St. Andrew’s Society of Tampa Bay, Inc. Our Society does not sponsor the band, but because of its role in our creation, the band and its individual members were honorary members of the Society. The Tampa Pipe Band continues its support by responding when the Society requests its services.
We take great pride in the success of both the Tampa Pipe Band and the St. Andrew’s Society. The Society now has a commendable history of growth, activity and success in promoting the area’s consciousness of Scottish history, culture and contributions to the Tampa Bay communities.
Presidents who have led these initial efforts were: Gordon Campbell, Bill Weber, Bill McLean, Phil Thomas, and John McWhirter. Throughout the years, we have been blessed with the help of fine Boards of Governors. The St. Andrew’s Society of Tampa Bay has taken its place among the country’s best and most effective organizations of its kind.
Visit the website for St. Andrew’s Pipes and Drums of Tampa Bay.