The GBOA was founded in 1956 by a group of maverick officials who saw the need to break away from another group that just didn’t seem to fit their needs. The initial meeting was held in the basement of Tony Forst. Officers were elected at this meeting with Don Geyer being named the inaugural president. At a following meeting at the Industrial Towel Warehouse where Kit Kassube worked, the group decided to move forward. Mike Maranocha, Pid Dymond, Frank Vandersteen, Hugh Allen, Chet Miller, Don Tilkens, Ralph Schwartz, Bud Tozier, and Stan Woznkiak were some of the other original founders. The group was off and running. Early sports included football, basketball, and baseball.
Some of the things that led to the early success of the group were evident at this time. Veteran officials rarely worked as teams or partners. They were always willing to work with and break in new officials. For the first time, direct contacts were made by the GBOA to commissioners and Athletic Directors in an effort to secure games for the officials. Lee Ansorge of the WIAA often attended GBOA meetings and banquets, and his familiarity with the association was instrumental in helping officials reach the state tournament level.
The group was a close-knit organization. Mandatory rules meetings were held often and were well attended by the membership. Annual banquets were looked upon as the celebration of the season where camaraderie and commendations were the order of the day. Dick Lindstrom was regularly the Master of Ceremonies at such events. During the late 1970s and early 1980’s, the GBOA and Northeaster Wisconsin Officials Association held merger talks. It was eventually decided that members of the NEWOA were welcome to join the GBOA, but a merger would not be acceptable.
Many members joined, and the NEWOA disbanded a few years later, leaving the GBOA as the only group in the area. Volleyball and softball were added as sports in the 1980s. During this time, the GBOA drew members from all reaches of northeastern Wisconsin, including Appleton, Shawano, Marinette, Two Rivers, Cecil, Bonduel, Door County, and elsewhere. The GBOA has continued to be a pipeline to sectional and state tournaments in all sports with members being chosen on a regular basis. Officials over the years have also worked college, semi-pro sports, and even the Olympics. Members have belonged to national governing bodies, WIAA and WISAA committees, and have server as rule interpreters for the WIAA in all sports. Currently, the GBOA has nearly 300 active members.