After two years of planning and delays due to Covid, the Hartford City Rotary Club has finally been able to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Fifty-five members and guests attended the gala on Tuesday, November 30 at the Elks Club in Hartford City. Among the guests were 3 past presidents, two of whom had served twice: Maxie Malott, who served as club president in 1997-1998 and again in 2002-2003; and Dr. Tom Lee, who served as club president in 1988-1989 and again in 2000-2001. Al Connors who had served in 1983-1984 came from Ohio with his wife, Mary.
The very first Rotary Club was formed when attorney Paul P. Harris called a meeting of three business relations in downtown Chicago at the office of Harris friend Gustave Loehr in the Unity Building on Dearborn. Street on February 23, 1905. In addition to Harris and Loehr (a mining engineer and Freemason), Silvester Schiele (a coal merchant) and Hiram E. Shorey (a tailor) were the other two who attended this premiere. meeting. The members chose the name Rotary because initially they alternated weekly club meetings at each other’s offices, although within a year the Chicago club grew so large that it became necessary to adopt the now common practice of a regular meeting place.
From these humble beginnings were born many similar clubs which eventually became Rotary International, an international service organization with the stated purpose of bringing together business leaders and professionals to provide humanitarian service and advance goodwill. and world peace. It is an apolitical and non-religious organization open to all. There are over 35,000 member clubs worldwide, with a membership of 1.2 million individuals, known as Rotarians.
Because Rotary’s motto is “Service Before Yourself” and “It Benefits Those Who Serve Best,” the local club has always done an outstanding job in its four areas of service: club service, community, professional and international.
The highlight of the Hartford City Rotary Club’s 100th anniversary celebration was a PowerPoint presentation prepared by member Gary Cheesman and narrated by Ed Thurman that surely sounded as good if not better than Ken Burn’s favorite narrator Peter Coyote.
In April 1920, the Hartford City Rotary Club was formed. Cheesman included some great photos of what the city of Hartford looked like at the time with the InterUrban and the gravel streets. Nationally, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union has said that “lips that touch alcohol should not touch ours.” The Hartford City basketball team said around this time and the gas boom made a lot of people rich. Cheesman showed excerpts from several old newspaper articles about the Hartford City Rotary Club that were found by Sinuard Castello of the Blackford County Historical Society. A book containing much of the information from the powerpoint presentation was presented to Castello, and Ron Wolf was appreciated for the showcase he made for the copy of the book which will be placed in the Scouts Club House.
While the 20-minute powerpoint covering the Cub’s first century was the highlight of the evening, there were other significant memories. Jim Weiseman spoke of the $ 35,000 the club had invested in Hartford City over the past 4 years. This year alone, despite Covid, Hartford City Rotary has donated over $ 13,000 to numerous community projects. This does not include the nearly $ 14,000 for Rotary’s dress a child this year, a project that was taken over from the Kiwanis Club. The Rotary Club organized the project this year, but most of these funds come from generous members of the community.
Certificates of Appreciation were presented to three non-member couples who have supported several club projects over the past few years: Joyce and Louie Willman donated the sweet corn which enabled the club to raise nearly $ 7,000 to the club. in the past three years of selling the delicious vegetable; Barry and Mary Milholland collected many lightly used coats, hats and winter clothing for the Coat-a-Child project; and Jim and Julie Forccum have financially supported Rotary’s “beyond” projects over the past few years.
The evening ended with the famous Rotary Club 4-way test: 1) Is it the truth? 2) Is it fair to everyone involved? 3) Will it create goodwill and better friendships? 4) Will it benefit everyone involved?
The Hartford City Rotary Club has benefited many projects in the community during its first century of existence. They continue to help many local causes and organizations. Looking forward to their next 100 years of community service.