Rotary International
Fayette, Missouri 65248
Fayette Rotary Club


75th Anniv 2012

75th Anniv  2012


75th Yr History by Jim Steele

70th Anniv 2007

8th Decade 2007 by Jim Steele

60th Anniv 1997

Letter -JHS 1997

50th Anniv 1987
    History by
       Robert Bray

Constitution 1986

Walking Tour 1981

First 225 - 1980

75th Yr RI 1980
by Rob Barker

77th Yr Membership

Past Officers

Moments in Rotary History



 Fayette Rotary Club Begins Eighth Decade of Service


(The following are remarks delivered by Rotary member Jim Steele on the occasion of the Fayette Rotary Club’s 70th anniversary banquet Saturday evening, Feb. 24, 2007, in the CMU Student and Community Center. )

Fayette Rotarians are this month observing a significant milestone as this club begins its eighth decade of service to the community. So tonight we take a brief backward glance. A charter from Rotary International, was received here on Feb. 18, 1937 — this after several months of groundwork had been laid by local business and professional leaders. The club actually had its beginnings with a Fayette Kiwanis Club, which had been active in the early 1930s and then folded. Several of those former Kiwanis club members were instrumental in organizing the newly-formed Rotary organization here.

But Rotary itself, as you know, is more than 100 years old. Paul Harris and a handful of others founded it in Chicago back in 1905. So Rotary today is the oldest of the nation’s traditional service clubs — with Kiwanis, Lions, Optimist and so forth coming along in later years. Thus, the parent organization already was 32 years old when Rotary came to Fayette. While our charter was granted on Feb. 18, the big day to kick off the new club really came on March 23, 1937, when more than 200 Rotarians and their wives (it was all men in those days) and some friends gathered for a gala evening banquet in the Methodist Parish House basement on the Central College campus. L.E. Ziegler of the Boonville Club, which had sponsored the club here, opened the event that night and introduced the Rotary District Governor, Lester Wikoff, of Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington. After his remarks, Wikoff presented the new charter to the Fayette club’s first president, Anson B. Barber, who was then superintendent of schools here. Barber in turn pledged that Fayette Rotarians would serve the community and live up to the ideals embodied in the motto, “Service Above Self.” Central College music professor Frank Banyard led the group in singing of “America” which, to this day, opens each Wednesday noon meeting here in the Student and Community Center.

The 1937 banquet also included music by a Central College string quartet and a reading of poetry. About a dozen other clubs from across Missouri sent representatives to the gala affair. Represented, in addition Rotarians from Boonville and Lexington, were persons from Columbia, Kansas City, Moberly, Jefferson City, Fulton, Slater, Sedalia, Brookfield, Rolla and Chillicothe, among others. Later, the group adjourned to the Fayette Armory in the old Opera House, now the site of the defunct Country Stampede bar at Main and Morrison. The armory, which I know several here remember, was a huge room on the building’s second floor, including a third floor balcony. Rotarians and guests danced that night to the music of Charlie Armstead and his orchestra. The club’s charter members were a cross-section of the community’s business and professional leadership, including such well-known names as druggist Marvin Turner, ladies ready-to-wear shop owner Urless Clatworthy, men’s clothier Charles H. Lee, college Dean E.P. Puckett, and shoe store owner Robert Ricketts.

Other charter members included Dentist W.E. Ackerson, physician W.A. Bloom, undertaker Ralph Carr, Mac Mitchell, Fulton Moore, Walker Pierce, Nat Tracy, Howard Bruner, and Robert M. Fox. Surprisingly, prominent banker L.W. Jacobs Jr. was not a charter member, but joined shortly afterward. He was president in 1940-41. Other early-day presidents included James Weathers, Thomas S. Denny, Dan Miller, Irvin Schnell and Cordell Tindall.

Currently, the club’s most senior member is Ray Kimmel who served as president in 1953-54. No charter members are alive today. The last charter member to pass away was Jim Weathers, who died around seven years ago. Fully 69 persons have served as club president over the years, and only one was elected twice but that name immediately escapes me. Of that number, 16 are still active in the club today and several others live in the community and elsewhere, but are no longer members.

Nat Tracy and Fulton Moore were early secretary-treasurers. Fulton Moore served five years in the post — the beginning of several long periods of service which included Jim Sutton, 11 years; George Kline, 16 years; Jim Steele, 3 years; and then Robert H. Bray who served for a whopping 25 years until retiring in 1998. At that time the office was divided.

The club’s only member to become a Rotary district governor was the late Ralph L. Woodward who served in 1973-74. He was then the recently-retired president of Central Methodist College. Locally, women members were added to the rolls after the parent body gave the green light in the mid-1980s. Fayette’s first woman president was Julee Sherman in 1993. Six others have served since. Current local officers include Keith Keeling, president; Larry Leech, vice president; Don Cuillimore, secretary; and Charles Moore, treasurer.

For many years of the club’s existence, members would sing at each meeting, including such “memorable” tunes as “Roll, Rotary, Roll” and “R-O-T-A-R-Y - That spells Rotary.” Those days are now but a distant memory, and to that many respond, “Thank God.” One former song leader — who shall remain nameless — was known for wearing a rather obvious toupee, described by one club wit as a K-Mart blue-light special. It seemed the toupee got lower and lower on his forehead as he directed each week. Club members, with varying degrees of expertise, were called on to accompany the singing at the piano. One of these was John Hert, who tells me he did not relish the task and wanted it over as soon as possible. “I wasn’t very good, but I played fast,” he states. Now the singing is confined to the opening rendition of “America” which tends to proceed reasonably on tune as long as Jamie Page is on hand to get us started in the right key.

For many years, the club met each week at Mrs. Clifford’s Tea Room, which was located in the Sam Major home, which now houses the Main Street organization and later at Main and East Davis, the current location of Inovatia Laboratories. Two of our present members, Martha Holman and Jim Thogmorton, waited tables in the venerable Mrs. Clifford’s establishment and on occasion served the Rotary Club. Later locations included the Gas Light Inn (sometimes known as the Grease Light); it was housed in the now-closed Pizza Hut site on the west side of the square. Also, Cornbread’s, now the location of Cafe Mosaic; and at times the Methodist Parish House and other churches. In more recent years, the club — with a current membership of about 45 persons — has met every Wednesday noon on the Central Methodist campus, first in the Holt Hall East-West Room (later renamed Missouri Room) and most recently on the fourth floor of the Student and Community Center.

Then and now, weekly speakers have included those who have addressed a wide multitude of topics and, on occasion musical and dramatic presentations. Many of these have been outstanding; others may have told us more, perhaps, than we wanted to known about a given topic. In many cases, Rotary presentations have been the catalyst for projects and ideas for community improvements. Central Methodist presidents, Fayette mayors, county commissioners and others have brought us updates on the state of the college, the city, the county, or whatever — in addition, of course, the often less-than-memorable annual visit by the Rotary District Governor.

Through years, club members likewise have taken part in, or contributed to, countless service projects. A number of our members and friends have become Paul Harris Fellows which has enhanced the work of the international organization. In recent years, the annual Art and Wine Auction has been one of Rotary’s major fund-raisers. Proceeds from the Rotary budget each year support a wide array of community projects and scholarships. Other monies from dues and contributions support work worldwide of the International Organization, including the significant Polo-Plus program which has nearly eradicated the disease worldwide.

So now we take a deep breath and begin our eighth decade of “Service Above Self.” And while we may reflect on humorous moments such as off-key singing and less than memorable speakers, the Rotary experience in Fayette has been by and large a great ride which has brought good works, leadership, inspiration, service, knowledge and good fellowship to this community. And so it is my hope — and I hope yours as well — that the Rotary flame here will continue to burn brightly for another eight decades to come.

James H. Steele (February 24, 2007)