Founded in 1967 in Columbia, Missouri, the Pachyderm Club started as an informal gathering of citizens with their State Representative George Parker. Parker, the first Republican elected from Boone County since reconstruction, had a strong desire to keep in contact with his constituents. Parker invited his constituents to join him for lunch every Friday to create a consistent forum for the exchange of ideas. The gathering, held weekly at the Daniel Boone Hotel eventually earned the name “Noon at the Boone” group. In 1968, the members decided to incorporate and, after holding a naming contest, chose the “Grand Order of Pachyderm Clubs” as a play on the initials GOP.
In 1969, the second Pachyderm club was formed by US Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond, in his hometown of Mexico, Missouri. Over the next few years, Pachyderm Clubs spread throughout Missouri and in 1974 the National Federation of the Grand Order of Pachyderm Clubs was born. Expansion continued into additional states as members of the Missouri clubs took up residence in other areas of the nation. In 1992, after the Pachyderm movement had expanded into California, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, the National Federation of Pachyderm Clubs was granted official auxiliary status by the Republican National Committee.
George Parker died in 2009 at the age of 86 but his legacy, the Pachyderm movement, lives on. President Ronald Reagan once said, “Our freedoms are not safe unless we as citizens interest ourselves in government, inform ourselves about it, and involve ourselves in it. That is precisely what Pachyderms are doing.” Now more than ever, growing populations of Conservatives believe in President Reagan’s words as well as George Parker’s words, which are the Pachyderm motto “Free Government Requires Active Citizens.”