March 2021 Newsletter

Bingo! at The Resort

A Visit with Allan Wilcox

By Dale Dauten
When we visit with folks who lead organizations at The Resort, they tend to quickly turn the conversation to the critical role of volunteers, and that was true when we talked with Allan Sonfilippo Wilcox, the new head of bingo at The Resort. One of the first things he said was,

“It’s really all about the volunteers. It wouldn’t happen without them. We have about 40 people involved but this year we don’t have our Canadian volunteers. Because we’re missing the Canadians, we were running our people ragged. We finally had to take a two-week break because we were asking too much of them.”

 (Photo: A few of the volunteers the night bingo returned—left-to-right—Shirley Baker, Todd Temperly, Susan Becker, Becky Panter and Paula Straub. Not to worry – masks were lowered just long enough for a photo.)

But that break ended in mid-February and bingo is now scheduled for every Thursday, through March. (Photo: The return of Bingo, February 18)

Speaking of leading organizations, we asked Allan how he got introduced to his new role. “My wife, Teresa, volunteers at the Activities office and she’s a big bingo fan. I saw Jeff Christensen [former head of bingo] out walking in the park; he stopped and asked me if I’d take over. Jeff still calls bingo for me, but he’s turned the reins over to me. He foresaw that he’d be out of town quite a bit and he wanted to make sure that he kept it running smoothly.”

(Photos: Allan Wilcox and Jeff Christensen)

That all seemed perfectly logical until Allan happened to mention, “I don’t play bingo.” However, as Teresa, a bingo regular, pointed out, Allan isn’t new to the game. “When our kids were in Catholic school he used to call bingo every week and we both volunteered. I think he got a little burned out, back then.” Now, though, Allan is glad to be back in the room: “I enjoy being there. People love playing and it’s a fun atmosphere.”

If you’d like to join in, bingo is Thursdays and will go through March. The kitchen has a meal beforehand, and there are concessions – popcorn, sodas, candy and the like – during play. The bingo is from 6:30 to 9:00PM, with sales starting at 5:00. While Covid has decreased turnout, and prize money with it, Allan says, “We don’t have the Early Bird, but we have 16 games. I’d like to see 70 or 80 people playing. Even with smaller crowds the last Coverall will have a nice payout [$425 on the week we spoke with Allan], and the Moneyball will have a thousand-dollar payout.”



We always like to learn something about the people in the park, so we asked Allan about his background. Turns out he’s a “Space Age Baby,” born on the day the Soviets sent the first Sputnik into space, October 4, 1957. While Sputnik was in space, back on the ground Allan was being born in Lansing, Michigan. He said of his childhood, “I was born there and it’s where I lived all my life, till the Navy.”

He served 14 years in the Navy as a communications electrician, working on systems inside ships. He spent time on the USS Guadalcanal, which carried helicopters and Marines, and the USS Briscoe, a destroyer and submarine hunter. His service ended not long after he represented the USA in the NATO Games, a track and field competition. Allan competed in the shot put and during the event blew out a knee. “It was my very first throw and I didn’t get the other two,” he recalled, “but I still took third place. I gave my medal to my grandson.” The Navy decided that while Allan was likely to recover (and he eventually did), their protocols declared they couldn’t be sure of that, so decided to give him a medical discharge.



If you’d like to volunteer to be the subject of an article, or have someone you’d like to learn more about, please let me know.

Or, if you have photos you’ll like to share in upcoming newsletters, please send them.

Dale Dauten



Text: 480-297-6244