Fayette, Missouri 65248
Fayette Rotary Club
75th Yr History by Jim Steele
70th Anniv 2007
8th Decade 2007 by Jim Steele
60th Anniv 1997
Letter -JHS 1997
Walking Tour 1981
First 225 - 1980
75th Yr RI 1980
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 leader.
The club actually had its beginnings with the old Fayette Kiwanis Club, which had been active in the early 1930s and then folded. Several of the former Kiwanis club members were instrumental in organizing the newly-formed Rotary organization.
Rotary had been founded in Chicago in 1905 and today is the oldest of the nation's traditional service clubs --- with Kiwanis, Lions, Optimist and others coming along in later years. Thus, the parent organization (Rotary International) already was 32 years old when Rotary came to Fayette.
Although the Fayette charter was granted on Feb. 18, 1937, the big day to kick-off the new club actually came about a month later (on March 23) 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 Rotary Club, which had sponsored the organization 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 Fayette superintendent of schools. 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 in CMU's Student and Community Center. Several musical and dramatic presentations by Central students were part of the kick-off event.
About a dozen other Rotary clubs from across Missouri sent representatives to that 1937 gathering. Represented, in addition to Rotarians from Boonville and Lexington, were members 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 recently-closed Brickhouse Sports Bar & Grill at Main and Morrison. The armory occupied 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.
Club 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, Central 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 former member is John Hert. No charter members are alive today. The last charter member to pass away was Jim Weathers who died in the late 1990s.
Fully 76 persons have served as club president over the years. Of that number, 20 are still active in the club 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 point the office was divided. In the years since 1998, Don Cullimore and Charles Moore have served long tenures as secretary and treasurer respectively.
The club's only member to ever become a Rotary district governor was the late Dr. Ralph L. Woodward who served as governor 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.
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." But those days are but a distant memory (now the singing is confined to the opening rendition of "America").
For many years the club met each week at a restaurant known as Mrs. Clifford's Tea Room which was located in the Sam Major home, now owned by the Fayette Main Street organization. The tea room later moved to Main and East Davis, the current location of Inovatia Laboratories. Present member Martha Holman waited tables in the venerable Mrs. Clifford's establishment and on occasion was among those who served the Rotary Club. Later locations for club meetings included the Gas Light Inn, housed in the now-closed Pizza Hut site on the west side of the square. Also, Cornbread's, the location of the former Cafe Mosaic on the south side of the square, 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 multitude of topics and, on occasion musical and dramatic presentations. Many of these speakers and presentations have been outstanding; others less so. In some instances, Rotary talks and discussions have been the catalyst for community improvements. Central Methodist presidents, Fayette mayors, county commissioners and others have brought updates on the state of the college, the city, the county, or whatever --- in addition to the 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 members and friends have become Paul Harris Fellows which has supported work of the international organization. Proceeds from the Rotary budget each year underwrite a wide array of community projects, scholarships and events. Other monies from dues and contributions enhance the worldwide work of the international organization, including the significant Polio-Plus program which has nearly eradicated the disease across the globe.