Rotary Club of Statesville, 1921-1941
While in Chicago for a meeting in 1921 a Statesville businessman, W. A. Thomas, was a guest at a meeting of the original Rotary Club. This incident had a great impact on Thomas and he foresaw the value that such a club would offer the Statesville Community. With the help of several members of the Charlotte Rotary Club and sixteen local businessmen he started The Rotary Club of Statesville, thecommunity's first service club, which was chartered on 22 November, 1921. The original charter members were: W.A.Thomas, Frank Johnson, Charlie Hope, L.S.Gilliam Sr., C.V. Henkel Sr., D.M. Ausley, C.H. Turner, P.A .Bryant, J.M. Moore, Garland Shelton, J.F. Carlton, T.N. McElwee, Louis McKesson, F.F.Steele, Avery Johnston, Dorman Thompson and B.L. Sronce. A short time later Wal Hoffman and Paul Barger joined. Early meetings were held in the community house on Meeting Street.
By 1929 the club had grown to about 50 members but the membership declined rapidly during the depression years to a low of about twenty. Meetings were held in member's homes and other locations where no cost was involved. Sandwiches were served at a cost of 25 cents but some members brought their own lunch, saving even that modest cost. In many ways, especially companionship, the club prospered during these trying years. It was said by one member that "the club did some of its best work" during this time.
Local Rotarians were also instrumental in the establishment of the Mooresville Rotary Club.
During the latter part of the 1930's membership started to rise once more and by 1940 was almost 60 however the outbreak of World War II saw many members leave for national service with a resultant decrease in membership once again.
Rotary Club of Statesville, 1941-1999
The end of the war many club members returned to Statesville, having served honorably in America's military. The war had changed the country, the world and our Rotary Club. The maturing effect on the returning members was evident in the new outlook and opened many possibilities for the club which had been unforeseen before that time. As we entered the decade of the fifties many new industries and companies were either formed or moved to Statesville and the Rotary club experienced an influx of new members, especially some of the leaders and executives of the new industries. By the middle of the 70s membership had reached 100 and at one time reached 115. It was felt that our club was getting too large to be effective. Rotarian Bill Mills and Senior Rotarian Jim Sample were charged with the organization of a second club. The Rotary Club of Greater Statesville, was thusestablished.
About this time meetings were moved to the Carolina Hotel which stood on South Center St where we enjoyed the finest food prepared by Mrs.George Eaton. After her retirement the club moved to the Vance Hotel with mixed results. Later meetings were held at the Ramada Inn, the Holiday Inn and finally at the Statesville Country Club.
Rotary has always been a service club and has supported many community projects since its inception. In the early days, however, there were no fund raising projects, each member
making a cash donation as needed. In the late 1950s this procedure was changed and the club began to explore different avenues to finance those projects deemed worthy of Rotary
support. In 1958 the club decided to put on a minstrel show entitled the ROTARY JOLLIES to raise funds. Every Rotarian participated in some fashion and the results were outstanding. With the Cooperation of Rotarian Fuller Sams and the Statesville Theater Corp. the production was given in the Playhouse Theater to sellout crowds each night. Directed by Rotarian Tubby Hanks it featured many outstanding local artists and some not so talented. The Jollies were so successful, and so much fun for the participants, it was presented again in 1959 and 1960. The last production was directed by Wesley Jones and was dedicated to Rotarian "Tubby" Hanks who had passed away shortly before. Among the featured performers were Joan Lowry, Harold and Corelli Wilson, Gordon Urban, Gene Baker, Lawrence Blanton, Garner Bagnal and many others, both Rotarians and non-Rotarians. The total cast exceeded 100 persons.
In 1961 the Rotary Fundraising Chairman Garrett Allan, embarked on a new project, an historic presentation of the history of Statesville and Iredell County, a 64 page tabloid edition of the Statesville Record and Landmark, written by Julie Henkel. Prior to this publication little of our history was available at any single source. Mrs Julia Hall, an english teacher and Homer Keever, a local historian, also participated in the production. Mrs. Edrie Knight, a local artist provided drawings of places and events described by written descriptions of long past activities. The archives of Ben Stimson, a deceased Rotarian and local photographer provided many valuable illustrations. Many local businesses purchased ads or otherwise participated in this very successful project. The paper was well received and even today remains a valuable source of information about our area. Other projects during this era were golf tournaments, ACC All Star basketball games, auction sales and others. These were very successful and Rotarians participated in them with enthusiasm.
During the 50s & 60s Rotarians sent many handicapped youngsters to Camp Sky Ranch near Blowing Rock as one of several youth sponsored activities. Other programs included midget football and baseball, sponsoring youth exchange and calf raising for 4-H and FAA. One of Statesville Rotary's least known, but most valuable efforts, was our Student Loan Program, an original idea of Rotarian Paul Barger. Money was loaned to prospective students for their college educations, Paul provided most of the funding, ran the program himself and no-one knows today how much effort and money he invested in it. This was a Rotarian who truly believed in "Service Above Self". Paul celebrated his 103rd birthday
at a Rotary meeting.
The Rotary Foundation, started in 1917 By Arch Klumph, president of the then International Association of Rotary Clubs, provides funding known as Rotary Foundation Fellowships for International Understanding to students from many countries to allow the continuation of their studies abroad. Any club may propose a student for these grants during its district's year of eligibility. As of the late 1960's over $6,000,000 had been contributed voluntarily by individuals and clubs throughout the world and some 1,300 young people have gone from their homelands to study medicine, engineering, language and as well as a multitude of other subjects. The Rotary Club of Statesville has participated in this program since its inception and as of this date has provided $71,578 indicating their active support of this exceptional program. In the middle 60's Mitchell Community College, under the leadership of Mitchell President and Rotarian John Montgomery, was planning the construction of a new library. The need for a small auditorium which could serve as a lecture hall and for other purposes was to be included in the building. Hanna Kutteh, Rotary President, suggested that the Rotary Club furnish and equip the auditorium as a community project. As a result of Hanna's leadership the club raised the sum of $75,000 in 1964 and the project was completed. In gratitude the space was officially named the "Rotary Memorial Auditorium" by the college. Rotarian Andrew Pendleton was the architect for the
library building and the auditorium. In 2004/2005 The Rotary Club of Statesville, along with the two other local clubs, is engaged in a program to raise funds for the renovation and modernization of the auditorium.
In 1974 Rotary President Bob Foster envisioned a location where local farmers could sell their farm produce directly to the residents of this area. With strong support from the club and others the Farmer's Market was established. From the start it was well received and has since become a fixture in our community. With the cooperation with the City and the Police Department the market was located on the parking lot adjacent to the police station. n 1989 a grant from the State of North Carolina permitted construction of a shelter accommodating about 30 trucks. This needed improvement added considerably to the efficiency of the operation. All went well until 2004 when, due to the City's need for the previously used parking area, the market was forced to move to a temporary location behind the City Civic Center. For many years the market has proved a boon to the farmers and the local community and a money maker for the Rotary Club's charitable projects and it is hoped that by the summer of 2005 a new and better permanent location will have been found and developed.
For over eighty years now The Rotary Club of Statesville has served its community with many projects which have added to the well being of all our citizens. These projects have been undertaken without fanfare nor has the club sought any recognition. The members of the club are proud of their efforts in the field of community service and their club's commitment to this worthy cause.
In 1992 Rotarian Jim Hazen, proposed the formation of an endowment fund, modeled after one which his previous club had established with great success. The proceeds from the fund would be used to further our club's community projects. In this way volunteer contributions by Rotary members and others would be used to establish a capital account known as "The Rotary Club of Statesville Endowment Fund" to be invested through "The Foundation of the Carolinas." Only the income and appreciation from this capital account would be used for club projects, thus preserving the basic fund. Many of our club's
members have contributed to this very worthy cause, both in gifts and memorials, some in excess of $8000. At this time the capital fund stands at approximately $231,000 and is growing every year. Over the years we have distributed $25,509 to various Rotary projects. The Endowment Fund remains as one of our most noteworthy achievements and stands today as a compliment to the Rotary Club's farsighted leadership.
Members of The Rotary Club of Statesville have, over the years, achieved some memorable honors including two District Governors, Tom Lambeth 1953-1954 and J. Russell Hanson 1960-1961. Notable among these unusual members are Paul Kennedy, 43 years of perfect attendance: Lee Kiser, 46 years, Bob Rickert and Hermann Kappler who had a record of many years although the exact figure is unknown. For outstanding service to Rotary and their community Rotary awards the honor of being a "Paul Harris Fellow". Others who have served faithfully over the years include Paul Morgan who was instrumental in the establishment of the "Forget-Me-Nots", an organization of widows of Rotarians, in 1995. He was also instrumental in the organization of Statesville's third club, The Fourth Creek Rotary Club.
Although for many years we have reported on any illnesses or deaths within the membership and families, a more formal committee was organized by Rotarian Paul Morgan more than 25 years ago, himself serving as chairman. Paul recognized each member's birthday and anniversary each month. He sent birthday cards from the club, signed by the president, to each Rotarian. Today the club carries on Paul's tradition with various members reporting on the health and happiness of the members each week.
Among our members we have had several Mayors, City Councilmen, Chairmen and members of the County Commission, a Vice Admiral of the Navy, an Air Force Major General, two Brigadier Generals, many other service related persons, veterans of WWII, Korea, Viet Nam and other conflicts. We also claim several state officials, two college presidents, a college dean and other educators, many merchants, doctors, lawyers and one architect.