For the Weekly Record Herald
WEST MILTON — The West Milton Rotary Club program on July 20 was a presentation by program host and Rotarian, Jon Neitzke.
Jon’s interest in history led him to give a presentation on the “History of Rotary.” He used the resources from Rotary International website and other sources from his research to provide an excellent summary of the key points in the development of the Rotary Club, first in the United States and then internationally.
He told the Rotarians of the early years of Rotary from when Paul Harris and friends held the first Rotary meeting on Feb. 23, 1905. The first Rotary president was Silvester Schiele.
He then shared the evolution of the Rotary emblem over the years, from a basic wagon wheel to the present symbol used internationally.
Jon also mentioned the first time singing became a part of Rotary. This was the result of some prolonged discussions during a meeting and a Rotarian decided to jump up on a chair and begin singing to lighten the mood. This is significant since we are a “singing club.”
Rotary mottoes were also developed in the early years around 1907 to 1910. “Service Above Self” was one of the early mottoes that we still use.
During the decade between 1910 to 1920, community projects were developed with one of the first being a “public comfort station” in Chicago. In 1932 the 4Way Test was formulated by a member.
During the 30’s, the number of Rotary clubs grew to over 5000 in the United States. Paul Harris died in 1947 and the first Interact Club was started in Florida in 1962.
In 1987 the US Supreme Court ruled that women could be members of Rotary. In 1990 the Rotary Club of Moscow chartered first ever club in then Soviet Union. In 1994, the western hemisphere is declared polio free. In 2006, only four countries remain polio-endemic: Afghanistan, India Nigeria, and Pakistan. India was removed from the list in 2012.
In 2007, the Rotary foundation celebrated the millionth Paul Harris Fellow. More than 199,000 women are members of Rotary worldwide, with an increasing number serving as district governors.
Jon mentioned that in our southwest Ohio district #6670, the first club was started in Cincinnati in 1910 with one in Dayton started in 1912. The first club in Miami County was in Piqua in 1915 followed by Troy in 1918. Our West Milton club began in 1945.
Jon concluded his presentation by showing pictures of famous Rotarians, either active or honorary. Among those mentioned were Harland Sanders, J.C. Penny, Sam Walton, Dr. Charles H. Mayo, Neil Armstrong, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, Warren G. Harding, George W. Bush and Gerald Ford.