Peter Smykla was the speaker for the DuBocage Chapter of the American Business Women's Association monthly meeting held recently at the Pine Bluff Country Club.

Peter Smykla was the speaker for the DuBocage Chapter of the American Business Womenís Association monthly meeting held recently at the Pine Bluff Country Club.

Smykla spoke about the Ron Reagan Ranch in California since that would have been President Reaganís 102nd birthday. Smykla and his wife, Sylvia, visited the ranch in 2000, where they spent more than two hours touring with a guide. The ranch was originally built in 1898. The name of the ranch is Rancho Del Cielo (Skyís or Heavenís RanchĒ).

Reagan bought the ranch in 1974 and he and a state trooper built the fence themselves from old telephone poles. This state trooper is the only one besides family who stayed at the ranch. There is an adobe ranch house, guest house, stables, horse barn, and Lake Lucky that Reagan had built on the 688-acre ranch they called the Western White House because he vacationed there. There is a pet cemetery where Reagan carved all the pets names in rocks for their headstones and a locomotive bell he rang when he had Nancyís horse saddled for her.

After his term ended, President Reagan kept the ranch as a retreat. He added an L shaped room onto the house that is the only room people are allowed to see. The house contains Reaganís favorite painting of himself, a pair of Jackolopes on the wall, an antique recruiting poster of the Calvary, a wooden boot jack, a Liberty Bell shower hear, the Presidentís seal on the riding lawnmower, and a spur that went to space on the Challenger among many other interesting items. Mr. Smykla showed slides of the interior of the house and the scenery which was beautiful. The ranch has been sold to the Young Americanís Foundation who keep the ranch and a living monument to Reaganís ideas, values and lasting accomplishments.

Mr. Smykla was born and reared in Yonkers, New York, and graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Afterward he entered the Army and served in Taiwan with the Military Assistance Advisory Group to Chaing Kai-Shekís army. He came to Pine Bluff in 1959, and retired from Hoover Treated Wood Products as General Manager in 1987. He was then elected to the board of directors of the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad in Springdale, serving until 2000.

He has been married to his wife Sylvia for 50 years and has five children and 13 grandchildren. He has been a member of the Pine Bluff downtown Lions Club for 50 years. His interests and hobbies include railroads (he volunteers at the Arkansas Railroad Museum), military weapons, reading about World War II, politics, photography and traveling. Peter and Sylvia have visited all the continents except for Antarctica.

During the business meeting, Ruth Morris, chairman of the Woman of the Year Committee, read the letter about the new Woman of the Year who joined DuBocage ABWA in 2002 and served as president and recording secretary and is currently serving as corresponding secretary and filling in for the recording secretary. The new 2012 Woman of the Year is Judy Conn. Conn worked for 27 years for Arkansas Title and three years for Fidelity. She is currently retired. Morris presented Conn with a plaque and a Woman of the Year pin.

Education Chairman Rana McClain reported that both scholarship recipients, Sarah Grimes and Elizabeth Davenport, had maintained their grade point average to qualify to continue receiving the scholarships for the next year and had each written a letter requesting renewal of their scholarships. Both are very involved with their college life and extracurricular activities. The chapter also voted to sponsor Sarah Strahan for an SBMEF(Stephen Bufton Memorial Educational Fund) grant. To qualify for this grant, a student has to have at least 60 college hours and a certain grade point average.

Ways and Means Chairman Mary Baxter reported on the informal weekend in Hot Springs scheduled for March 30-April 1. There are no planned activities but to relax and have fun doing whatever. The cost is $50 for the full weekend or $25 for one night.

Scrapbook chairman Donna Kerr presented past president Diane Wilson with her scrapbook. There are at least two pages in the book for each meeting or event conducted during the year with pictures and newspaper articles.

Elaine Roan won the dollar pot. Renfro, Mary Coburn and Rana McClain won the birthday gifts and the door prizes were won by Tammy Hogue, Mary Baxter and Patsy Stone.