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Growing up in Richmond, everyone knew there was a Rotary Club but many of us didn’t know much about what it did. We would see the club’s logo around town and read about events in the newspaper, but who were they and what do they do besides meet once a week for lunch?
Every Friday at noon, the Richmond Rotary Club meets at the Richmond Bowl bowling alley to share lunch and fellowship. This past Friday I had the pleasure of being a guest of my friend Milford Wyss.
There is always a 20-minute program that follows lunch and on this day, Milford was the guest speaker. He started out by telling us that he is the only person in America that is named Milford Wyss. Then he took us back to Switzerland and introduced us to Christian Wyss.
We traveled through time to a Swiss colony in Missouri and found out how our friend made it to Richmond and why he was not named Christian Wyss. It was a journey full of stories and laughter. I have heard many Milford tales and I must say he was primed on Friday and had us all enjoying his family tree.
I was totally surprised when he checked his watch and wrapped it up in 20 minutes because his wife, Clara Ann, and I heard the dress rehearsal on Thursday night. It was two hours long.
The Richmond Rotary Club started 89 years ago at the Richmond Hotel with 17 charter members. In May 1923, two local newspapers told the same story and unlike other events in our past, they agreed on this one.
The Richmond News, May 9, 1923: “Organize Rotary Here. Ralph E. Brown elected president of organization at meeting in Richmond Hotel. Final steps in the organization of a Rotary Club for this city were taken last night by a group of representative business men …”
The Richmond Missourian, May 10, 1923: “Form Rotary Club. Final step in the organization of a Rotary Club for Richmond was taken Tuesday night by a group of representative business men of the city at a meeting held in the Richmond Hotel.”
On July 8, 1923, The Missourian followed up with more details: “The charter for the Richmond Rotary Club was formally delivered to President Ralph Brown at a banquet held in the dinning hall of the Richmond Methodist Church Friday evening
“The presentation was made by Will Keath of Chillicothe while 70 Rotarians and Rotaryannes shared in the evening’s program. It was a festive event. As the members and guests arrived, they assembled in the room adjacent to the dining room and at seven-thirty the doors were thrown open. For the occasion, the wall had been decorated with the Rotary colors of blue and gold, and the color scheme was carried to the tables with their candle shades of yellow and the blue candlesticks.
“At one end of the dining room a large U.S. flag was displayed. The program was opened with the singing of America. The ladies of the church fixed a meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, rolls, salad, cake and ice cream, tea and coffee. After dinner, a songfest was led by Rotarian Price Collier.
“When Will Keath made the charter presentation, he gave a short history about how the Rotary was formed in 1905 by Paul Harris, a Chicago businessman. Will pointed out that the object and ideal of Rotary was “Service Above Self” and that ‘He Profits Most Who Serves Best’.
“The Chicago founding members chose the name Rotary Club because they rotated the location of their weekly meetings to be held in each other’s offices.”
A few years ago, I read where Rotary International has a world-wide campaign to help erase polio. To honor its contribution to this cause, we are creating a memorial to polio victims at the Ray County Museum. When we recently cleaned up a storage room in the basement of the museum, we found many old wooden crutches from the early days of polio. We are going to display them with a story about how Rotary International has donated so much time and effort to this cause.
Our Richmond Rotary Club is very active and contributes to many community projects and organizations. For the past six years, they have hosted a Reverse Raffle as a fundraiser for many groups they support.
If you are interesting in becoming a member of the Richmond Rotary, you can contact one of the current members. You will find a wide variety of people who share their Friday lunch time and fellowship while helping make Richmond a better place to live. There are currently 41 members who represent many different careers and age groups.
This diversity is what makes the Rotary unique and guarantees that they’ll always have new ideas for each coming year. Yes, we live in a modern world because now women can be Rotarians and not just “Rotaryannes”. In 1995, Margie Bowman, Jean Greenlee and Linda Kruse became the first female members of the Richmond Rotary.
While looking over the Richmond Rotary’s 75th anniversary book, I found some wonderful words of wisdom. It’s called the “4-Way Test”: “Of the things we think, say or do, No. 1, Is it the truth?; No. 2, Is it fair to all concerned?; No. 3, Will it build goodwill and better friendships?, and No. 4,Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
If we use these four questions in all matters of our everyday life, the world would be a much better place. I think this “4-Way Test” will make a great addition to any New Year’s resolution list. Look out 2012, here we come!
You can contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org or see her at Ray County Museum during business hours.