Roy Carson, a club officer of ALPCA and prominent member in Arizona, helped found the ALPCA Silver State Region for Nevada in 1981. He later decided to use that region for the launch of a new club in 1994, the Nevada Independent (later International) License Plate Society (NILPS). NILPS grew to have regions in several states, including Arizona, and Roy was an officer in both regions. Roy Carson alternated homes between Arizona and Nevada over the years giving him significant recognition with license plate collectors in these two states. Through Roy’s leadership, NILPS was originally intended to collectively represent license plate collectors on the west coast via a national convention and a newsletter called “The Miner.”
Since NILPS’ original inception in 1994 up through 2003, the Arizona region existed as a charter regional chapter of NILPS, then known in the hobby as the NILPS Grand Canyon Regional. Each March, NILPS would host the national convention in Henderson, Nevada (near Las Vegas). The NILPS convention at the time was a major focal point of the hobby on the west coast, and was attended heavily by Arizona members. Although Henderson stood on its own as a quality license plate meet, it had a decidedly different flavor than most meets its size: Henderson seemed to be much more in touch with the “fun” aspect of the hobby and the celebration of the friendships in the West and throughout the world.
Roy’s welcoming and cheerful personality as leader of the team made for more of a “family reunion” identity that resonated heavily with license plate collectors and made Henderson an event not to be missed if you lived in the West. Coupled with the close proximity of Las Vegas entertainment and (at the time) cheap accommodations made for a winning combination for many years. Since Roy Carson was active in both the Nevada and Arizona clubs, these two groups grew together and jointly recognized the Henderson convention as the premier west-coast license plate event of the year.
The many friends of Roy Carson were stunned by Roy’s untimely death just after the 2000 convention. After Roy, other volunteers (including many from Arizona) continued to run NILPS and the Henderson convention in the vision of Roy Carson. Initially, Henderson continued to gain popularity even though Roy was no longer in the mix. However, without a clear heir-apparent to Roy Carson, there became differing visions for the future of the club and factions began to develop within NILPS.
After a very close NILPS officer election in 2003, former Grand Canyon Region Treasurer Joel Kimmet became President with a clear direction for NILPS: restore the “fun and friendly” aspect of the meet that made Henderson such a success under Roy Carson. Part of this vision included a lasting monument to NILPS’ late founder – the Roy Carson Tribute. Joel worked very closely with Jeff Minard, a collector from Southern California and friend of Roy Carson to obtain Roy’s collection of #17 NILPS convention plates. Joel carefully crafted mounting boards in his workshop – each with a different shade and all with a professionally inscribed plaque honoring the 10 conventions from 1995 to 2004. In addition, a Roy Carson biography eloquently told the story of the man who brought joy to so many in the hobby, and passed along stories of the man loved by license plate collectors. Joel generously funded the Tribute personally, and the finished display was the centerpiece of the 2004 Henderson convention. The tribute was given permanent display space on the walls of the Henderson Convention Center.
Sadly, the divides within NILPS continued to grow ever deeper. As President, Joel was not allowed to see many of his visions become reality and in the end he did not choose to seek re-election. The subsequent administration had a different vision for NILPS, part of which did not include the Roy Carson Tribute. After the 2004 convention, the tribute was removed from the convention center at the direction of the new NILPS Board but was rescued by an alert Nevada member. The Tribute was returned to Arizona pending a decision on a permanent home, and was displayed at a couple of Arizona License Plate Society meets. Since 2004 however, the Roy Carson Tribute has mostly stayed in storage in the hopes it could once again be displayed to honor the man and the club loved by so many.
The Arizona region made the difficult decision to leave NILPS for ALPCA as the differences between the NILPS Board and Arizona region became too much to overcome. The Arizona group exists today as an ALPCA region and is now known as the “Arizona License Plate Society (ALPS).” NILPS continued forward for a couple more years but suffered from declining membership and was ultimately unable to recapture its past magic and disbanded shortly after the 2007 convention. The annual Henderson Convention still exists but functions under its original name: the “ALPCA Silver State Region.”
Joel Kimmet’s vision of once again having the Roy Carson Tribute displayed at a rejuvenated NILPS convention was never realized. ALPS was also ultimately not able to find an alternate suitable location in Arizona (Roy Carson’s other home) that could permanently host the Tribute, so the Tribute stayed in storage until 2008. The actual Tribute made two final appearances at ALPS meets in 2008 before being returned to Joel Kimmet in Ohio with an uncertain future.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, ALPS is proud to present the Carson Tribute right here on its new permanent “virtual” location on the ALPS website! Relive the many good years and memories from past Henderson meets! Although Roy’s magic is gone, you can still remember the happy times through the Joel’s Roy Carson Tribute. Please take a few minutes and honor the man who had visions to make the hobby better – Roy Carson. It is important also to recognize the significant contributions of Joel Kimmet, who persevered after Roy’s death to create a lasting memorial to Roy Carson, without which his name might fade as time passes. Joel also astutely recognized that the ideals of Roy Carson were key to building a successful club and worked to incorporate many of these ideals into the Arizona region and a post-Roy NILPS club. Many of the ideals started by Roy and furthered by Joel are key components of today’s Arizona License Plate Society.
Roy A. Carson
March 14, 1929 – April 19, 2000
Founder of the Nevada International License Plate Society in 1993.
Friend, Historian, Mentor, Writer, Archivist