RI 100 Years Of Service

Warsaw Rotary Club Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Rotary International
 

BY TERESA SMITH, Times-Union Staff Writer

Rotary Club members gasped when Alan Alderfer dropped a valuable glass bowl during the organization's 100th Anniversary of Rotary International, held in the First United Methodist Church of Warsaw, Wednesday.

The bowl was a donation to be auctioned in May to raise funds for the Rotary Scholarship Program and RI Foundation.

A shaken Alderfer eventually composed himself, turned to the crowd and said "Got ya!"

Alderfer was reenacting a prank perpetuated on Rotary members attending the 1920 first anniversary meeting of the club when Frank Gilworth dropped a similar bowl.

What most members in 2005 and 1920 did not know was both bowls had been rejected by Warsaw Cut Glass because of flaws.

"We try to keep things fun," said current Rotary president Ken Locke about the local club and the bowl shattering incident. "That's what makes this club different."

Rotary is the country's first service club, established in Chicago April 23, 1905, by Paul Harris. The local club first met in Warsaw April 17, 1919, in the Hotel Hays. It was chartered as Club 3393, District 6540, June 1, 1919.

The meeting in 1920 also included a "guest" speaker, supposedly from South America, who couldn't recall his English, and who eventually "fainted."

This incident was followed by arrangements made with the two local papers, the Warsaw Daily Union and the Warsaw Daily Times. Both newspapers prepared advance copies of the program prior to the meeting.

Union newsboys distributed their special editions crying, "Warsaw Daily Union, extra edition, read all about the breaking of the great glass bowl at the Rotary Dinner."

Then newsboys from the Daily Times entered the meeting with their extra editions, pressing their newspapers into the Rotary members' hands. A mock fight ensued between the two publishing camps.

The contemporary club has an 86-year history of service to the community.

"In January we take all the Mobile Meals routes," Lock said, "and cover one route throughout the year. Last year we placed a plaque at Lake City Bank, marking their 100th anniversary. We distribute scholarships to local students in May. And we have a big fund raising push for the Salvation Army in December."

The Warsaw Rotary has supported 103 projects, organizations and speakers during its 86 years, always emphasizing the motto of "Service Above Self."

"Our members are encouraged to join boards in the community and help with youth-oriented organizations," Locke said.

Since the 1970s, local members have donated more than $136,000 to the Rotary International Foundation which funds projects around the world.

One way the club raises money is by fining its members. Carried out by the sergeants-at-arms (currently John Hall and N. Bruce Howe), the system has no rhyme or reason.

Typically members are fined if their name appears in a newspaper or mentioned on the radio. The sergeants will fine a member for arriving late or leaving early or for missing meetings. Fines are imposed for anniversaries and birthdays, especially the "zero" birthdays, when a dollar is assessed for each year of life.

"It's a tradition from way back," Locke said. "The seargents find things out about people or are told something. It develops a comradery within the club. You figure you'll get fined about half the time."

New people are considered for membership after an invitation by a Rotary member. The Warsaw club meets every Friday at noon in the Ramada Plaza Hotel. Current officers include Cindy Hampton, president-elect; David Jones, immediate past president; and Katy Hampton, secretary.