Rotary Club Celebrates 100 Years

Paul Harris Fellow Awards were presented from left, Mike Roberts, Ken Lawton, Karey Lawton, Norman Merrill and Greg Jones.

CELORON — The Rotary Club of Jamestown recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of its charter at a gala dinner dance at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celoron with members, dignitaries and friends of the club attending.

Dennis Webster, master of ceremonies, began the evening with a special tribute to the 25 charter members of the club.

The local Rotary Club was chartered on May 31, 1919, as the 70th club in the world. Rotary International is the largest service club in the world with more than 35,000 clubs and more than 1,200,000 members in every corner of the globe. Each club is made up of business and professional leaders who are dedicated to humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help to build peace and goodwill throughout the world.

Rotary was founded on Feb. 23, 1905, in Chicago by Paul Harris, originally from Vermont but working in Chicago. As a stranger in the city, he conceived of the idea of inviting several other men of different vocations to join him weekly for fellowship and to discuss each other’s problems and business. The meeting rotated among the businesses of the members, thus the club was named Rotary.

The Jamestown club began with 25 charter members and over the course of its 100 years, more than 1,250 local people have held membership. There are 100 active members. Over the years, members of the club have founded Moon Brook Country Club, organized the Community Chest (now the United Way), organized the Boy Scouts, founded the Boys Club, remodeled the snack bar at Jamestown General Hospital, led the fundraising efforts for the Allen Park Ice Rink, donated the Portage statue for the dedication of the new City Hall and contributed many dollars to all sorts of projects throughout the community.

The club sponsored other Rotary Clubs in the area including Salamanca, Westfield, Dunkirk, Lakewood, Falconer and the Greater Jamestown AM Rotary Club.

Beginning in 1969, the club sent out local students to study abroad and welcomed foreign students to live and study in Jamestown. So far, more than 165 students have participated in the exchange program.

In recent years, the club has contributed extensively to the National Comedy Center, the UPMC/WCA Emergency Department, the JCC Capital Campaign, the Reg Lenna Civic Center remodeling and every year underwrites sending handicapped individuals to participate in Camp Onyahsa with The Resource Center. Funds totaling $1,082,211 have been donated to the community and district efforts over the past 100 years.

The Rotary Foundation, founded in honor of Paul Harris, assists with and sponsors projects all over the world in the fields of preventing disease; providing clean water; supporting education; growing local economies; saving mothers and children; and promoting peace. Rotary International’s major project since 1985 has been the eradication of polio from the world and to date the Jamestown Club has contributed almost $155,000 to that effort. There are only three countries in the remaining world that have had cases of polio reported. In addition, the Jamestown Club has contributed another $244,000 to the Rotary Foundation for their humanitarian efforts across the world.

A grand total of $1,479,593 has been donated by the Rotary Club of Jamestown.

Greg Jones, club foundation chairman, and Melissa Schrock, district governor of District 7090, presented new Rotary Paul Harris Fellow Awards to Ken Lawton, Karey Lawton, Mike Roberts and Norm Merrill.

Schrock presented Katie Geise, club president, with a special plaque commemorating the Jamestown club’s 100 years of membership in the International organization after Geise’s welcoming remarks.

Sue Jones, club historian, gave a review of the past 100 years and presented all in attendance with an historical booklet of the past achievements of the club.

The guest speaker was state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown and a member of the local club and a past president. He made moving remarks about Rotary and all it stands for. He then presented Geise with a commemoration from the state Assembly on the 100th anniversary of its founding.

Sponsors of the evening’s events were Clark Patterson Lee, Allied Alarm Services Inc., Gaylene’s, UPMC WCA Chautauqua, Kathy Burch, Daniel Overcash, Jamestown Gazette, Lakeshore Savings Bank, Amy and Adam Rohler, Rebecca Robbins, Jamestown Community College, Ann Hedin, Bret Apthorpe, Richard C. Johnson, James M. Smith, Judi Swanson, Mary Glatz, Patricia Kinney, Philip Cala, Russell E. Diethrick, Sharon Hamilton, Oliver Erickson, Michael Moots and Richard Dixon.