Past club Presidents

Past-presidents attending the 70th anniversary celebration of the Rotary Club of Granville were, from left, Andy Wildman, Jim Gordon, Dr. John Weigand, Doug Helman, Tom Martin, Amy Huddleston, Rob Drake, Steve Thaxton, Seth Patton, Chuck Peterson, Don Jones, Tony Skufca and Mike Whitehead.

Glasses of Champagne were raised celebrating camaraderie, history, and achievement at the 70th anniversary party in December for the Rotary Club of Granville.

 

Ninety-two were present for the occasion at the Cherry Valley Hotel, where the decades of the 70s, 80s and 90s along with the first 19 years of the 2000s were reviewed.

 

Granville Rotary was chartered on Nov. 25, 1949, by the Newark Rotary Club with 24 charter members.

 

Membership grew to 43 members during the 1950s, to 62 during the eighties and just over 100 during the nineties, according to a timeline included in the evening’s program.

 

Standing at approximately 70 members today, club projects include raising funds for five college scholarships, Junior Achievement Biz Town for fifth-graders, Families Helping Families during the holiday season, an Ethics and Leadership Conference for high-school students, Food Pantry Network of Licking County, book donations to Granville Public Library, inbound/outbound international exchange students, international projects including water wells in Haiti, and hosting Red Cross Community Blood Drives.

 

In a review of the 1970s, Rob Drake, one of the club’s longest-serving members and a past present, recalled his first weeks in the club.

 

“The most salient thing that I noticed was this was a really happy crowd of people,” he said. “Granville Rotarians really had a good time at their meetings.”

 

Drake remembered a somewhat different role for the Sergeant at Arms position, the Rotarian who at each meeting fines members a dollar for so-called “infractions” — all to raise money for the club.

 

“The fines were not general but were personal,” he noted as one difference from today, based on silly things such as college sports loyalty or political party membership. “I can tell you as a Michigan graduate that cost me a lot of money. Noting his own political leaning, he added, “I was one of five Democrats.”

 

Dave Rutledge, who joined the club in 1985, reviewed key changes during that decade, not the least of them admission of women. Mary Jane McDonald, a vice president at Denison University, was the first to arrive in 1987. She was joined shortly after by Ann Kennedy, a local attorney, and Marcie Francis, a local community leader.

 

“These three ladies were quiet trailblazers for women in Rotary,” he said, with Kennedy becoming the club’s first female president in 2000.

 

Rutledge also recalled the first of the club’s Polio-Plus fundraiser late in the decade, after Rotary International launched the effort in 1985 that has reduced the incidence of the disease to just three nations worldwide. 

 

“Our own club had our own campaign in 1988 led by the late, great Lou Ream,” Rutledge said of the late Taylor drug store owner. He said the goal of $75,000 or $85,000 was “far exceeded. “We’re still raising money for Polio-Plus – certainly one of Rotary’s greatest accomplishments,” he added.

 

 “We’re still raising money for Polio-Plus – certainly one of Rotary’s greatest accomplishments,” he added.

 

Past-president Seth Patton described the 1990s as a period of transition. 

 

“I think one of the greatest things that happened in Granville Rotary was the remarkable generational hand-off that occurred,” he said, “one of the hardest things for clubs to do.”

 

“It was also the end of a much more formal period,” Patton said, recalling that tuxedos were required for the 1999 anniversary party. He said Rotary International realized the need to grow membership, which led to a loosening of limits on the number members per profession and 100 percent meeting attendance. 

 

Leading up to that, however, were prominent citizens who made the club go, he said, including Harold “Buck” Sargent, Carl Frazier, Jim Gordon, Bill and Elizabeth Gray, Jack Heller, Wally Chessman, Les Hicks, Lou Mollica, and Charlie Metzger.

 

“There were a lot of fun characters at that time,” Patton said. “Dr. Dick Main was just funny. You didn’t want to miss when he was Sergeant at Arms.” He also recalled Ted Barclay as sergeant at arms with his “behavior report” on members running afoul of the imaginary Granville Decency Society. Patton added one other weekly sergeant’s responsibility: “The duties were incomplete until they fined Carl Frazier. Carl got fined at every meeting.”

 

The first two decades of the new century saw more changes, said Amy Huddleston, president in 1995-96, including major projects and donations. 

 

She noted that the club donated $40,000 for the Frazier-Sargent Softball Complex at Raccoon Valley Park. The downtown Granville Clock in front of the Village Offices became another “legacy project” as was the Rotary Bridge project led by then-president John Weigand. It linked the T.J. Evans bike Path with Raccoon Valley Park.

 

Also noted were the creation of new Rotary Clubs at Pataskala and New Albany led by former Granville Rotarian Dee McSweeney. 

 

Membership and attendance rules were further relaxed, she said, resulting in a lower average age for club members, and  “We added more girl power!”

 

Rotarian Steve Schneider, a chief organizer of the anniversary party, led a toast.

 

“The theme for Rotary this year is Rotary Connects the World. For 70 years we members have been connected to our community and the world through Rotary. We’ve helped make others’ lives better in ways we could never have done by ourselves, to be part of a group where one become a few and a few become a lot. It’s amazing what we’ve been able to do fore this organization.”

 

“May it continue observing Rotary’s motto of Service Above Self for at least another 70 years,” he said.