The year 1920 was the beginning of Prohibition and suffragists celebrated the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote. On New Year’s Day, Lebanon chartered a Rotary Club.
The club celebrated the century mark Jan. 31 with a gala themed The Roaring 20s with a special guest, the 2019-20 Rotary International president.
“Rotary started 115 years ago, Feb. 23, 1905,” Mark Daniel Maloney, national president, said. “Rotary got going and last year’s president could’ve gone to 93 (100-year anniversaries), but this year, there’s 235.”
Maloney will only get to, perhaps, 12 celebrations, but he will get to take in some of the world. Of all those chartered clubs, four were the first Rotary Clubs in their country.
“In fact, the Rotary Club of Calcutta received its charter on the same date as the Rotary Club of Lebanon,” Maloney told the sold out event at the Witham Health Services Pavilion at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds. “Two weeks from now, I will be in Calcutta to not only celebrate the anniversary of the Rotary Club, but 100 years of Rotary in India and South Asia.”
- After a speakeasy cocktail hour, guests were treated to a longstanding tradition. The Lebanon Rotary Club has always been a singing club. The members sang “God Bless America and the ROTARY Song, led by Allen Milburn.
Plans were for Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry to present Maloney with a key to the city, but Gentry could not attend because he and his wife delivered their first child. Lebanon Rotary Club president Becky McClure made the presentation in his place.
Rotary District Governor Charles Shumate then presented the club with a 100-year certificate. After the presentations, the naming of the Paul Harris Fellows, and recognition of the major donors, three club members were recognized for more than 50 years of service. They included Russell “Doc” Hardin for 69 years, Russell Roberts for 52 years, and Arthur Dickerson for 51 years.
There was a display about the club through the years. The club began meeting in late 1919 and was required to have 20 members before the organization would offer them a charter. Lebanon had 21. The first president was Lester Jones.
Originally, a men’s only organization, Lebanon Rotary’s first female members were former Mayor Ann Garoffolo and former Boone County Prosecutor Becky McClure, who were inducted in 1993.
The club has put out a weekly newsletter every week since the 1930s. Lebanon has produced four district governors over the years, McClure, the current president, said.
In 1970, the club celebrated its 50th anniversary at the 4-H Fairgrounds, just like this year.
Maloney, a Rotarian for 39 years, said Rotary International has stood the test of time because the organization is about service.
“There’s still an interest in providing community service, providing humanitarian aid, therefore, we’re still relevant,” the Alabama resident said. “That’s one of the reasons we still exist.”
There are 35,000 clubs and 1.2 million members worldwide in Rotary International. The organization has been working on polio eradication and immunized more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries since 1979. Polio cases have been reduced by 99.9%.
The Lebanon club has always been a lunch club. It meets every Friday at noon at Ulen Country Club. The club has met in the same location since 1924.