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I spy what makes the town go ‘round: Our Rotary and Kiwanis clubs

By Linda Emley

2014 was a very busy year for me. I’ve been working on a story that recaps the events of last year, but I’m having a hard time putting this story down on paper.

As most people know, I lost my father a few days before the Battle of Albany last October and my life has changed in so many ways since then. I’ve been reviewing my life and I’m very lucky to have so many interesting people and events be a part of my world.

Last Saturday, I started a new adventure, I joined the Elliott Scouts, which is a Civil war re-enactment group. Since I don’t see myself wearing a Civil War dress, I’m working on another possible job for me with my new group.

I told them I would be a PR person and help with an information booth at special events. I still need a title, so I told them I would be a Civil War spy. Yes I live on the edge and my dream has always been to be a James Bond-style spy girl, so here’s my chance.

As I was thinking about this new part of my life, it dawned on me that I’m already a double agent who lives a secret life everyday in Richmond. There is only one person that shares this life with me.

Every Tuesday at noon, I go to the 19th Hole  and have lunch with the Richmond Kiwanis Club and every Friday at noon I do the same thing with the Richmond Rotary Club. I’m proud to say that I’m a member of both groups and love them both. Sometimes I feel like I’m leading a double life because these two clubs have a bit of a rivalry.

I do share this secret life with my dear friend, Jo Ellen Dale. She’s a member of one group, but also attends the other group as a guest each week. I also have a friend who attends Rotary with me and her husband is a member of Kiwanis. Another local family has a father in one group and a son in the other, so Jo Ellen Dale and I are not alone.

The Kiwanis and the Rotary are hosting big events in the month of February so I would like to share some of the details about them both. On Saturday, Feb. 7, the Richmond Kiwanis is having a Chili and Soup Dinner from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the United Christian Presbyterian Church. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 the day of the event. Tickets can be purchased from any Kiwanis member. We will also be delivering meals if anyone is interested.

The Richmond Rotary Club is hosting it annual Reverse Raffle on Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Ray County Veteran’s building. Tickets are $125 and you will be eligible for many prizes, which include a grand prize of $7,500. These tickets can be purchased from any Rotary member. Due to a limited number of tickets, you will need to buy them in advance. So now everyone knows where I will be on the 7th and the 21st days of February.

A few years ago I wrote a story about the Richmond Rotary Club and it follows. I’m currently working on a story about the Richmond Kiwanis Club and will share it in a few weeks …

Growing up in Richmond, everyone knew there was a Rotary Club, but many of us didn’t know much about what they did. We would see the club’s Rotary seal around town and read about their events in the newspaper, but who were they and what do they do besides meet once a week for lunch?

In 2012, I had the pleasure of being a guest of my friend Milford at a Rotary meeting. 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 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 that 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 the night before and it was two hours long.

The Richmond Rotary Club started 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.

I read an article about how Rotary had a worldwide campaign to help erase polio. To honor their contribution to this cause, we are creating a memorial to polio victims at the Ray County Museum. When we 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 local Richmond Rotary Club is very active and contributes to many local community projects and organizations. For the past few years, members 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 over 50 members that 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: #1,“Is it the truth?” #2,“Is it fair to all concerned?”  #3,“Will it build goodwill and better friendships?” #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.

It’s hard sometimes being a “double agent” for two of my favorite groups. But I know that all is good because I love them both the same and in the end, we all have the same goals of making Richmond a better place for everyone.

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