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Westerville Club History

A brief history

The world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, was formed on 23 February 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The name “Rotary” derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members’ offices.

Rotary’s popularity spread throughout the United States in the decade that followed; clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York. By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents, and the organization adopted the name Rotary International a year later.

As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving the professional and social interests of club members. Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need. The organization’s dedication to this ideal is best expressed in its principal motto: Service Above Self. Rotary also later embraced a code of ethics, called The 4-Way Test, that has been translated into hundreds of languages.

During and after World War II, Rotarians became increasingly involved in promoting international understanding. In 1945, 49 Rotary members served in 29 delegations to the United Nations Charter Conference. Rotary still actively participates in UN conferences by sending observers to major meetings and promoting the United Nations in Rotary publications. Rotary International’s relationship with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) dates back to a 1943 London Rotary conference that promoted international cultural and educational exchanges. Attended by ministers of education and observers from around the world, and chaired by a past president of RI, the conference was an impetus to the establishment of UNESCO in 1946.

An endowment fund, set up by Rotarians in 1917 “for doing good in the world,” became a not-for-profit corporation known as The Rotary Foundation in 1928. Upon the death of Paul Harris in 1947, an outpouring of Rotarian donations made in his honor, totaling US$2 million, launched the Foundation’s first program — graduate fellowships, now called Ambassadorial Scholarships. Today, contributions to The Rotary Foundation total more than US$80 million annually and support a wide range of humanitarian grants and educational programs that enable Rotarians to bring hope and promote international understanding throughout the world.

In 1985, Rotary made a historic commitment to immunize all of the world’s children against polio. Working in partnership with nongovernmental organizations and national governments thorough its Polio Plus program, Rotary is the largest private-sector contributor to the global polio eradication campaign. Rotarians have mobilized hundreds of thousands of Polio Plus volunteers and have immunized more than one billion children worldwide. By the 2005 target date for certification of a polio-free world, Rotary will have contributed half a billion dollars to the cause.

As it approached the dawn of the 21st century, Rotary worked to meet the changing needs of society, expanding its service effort to address such pressing issues as environmental degradation, illiteracy, world hunger, and children at risk. The organization admitted women for the first time (worldwide) in 1989 and claims more than 145,000 women in its ranks today. Following the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Rotary clubs were formed or re-established throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

More than a century after Paul Harris and his colleagues chartered the club that eventually led to Rotary International, Rotarians continue to take pride in their history. In honor of that first club, Rotarians have preserved its original meeting place, Room 711 in Chicago’s Unity Building, by re-creating the office as it existed in 1905. For several years, the Paul Harris 711 Club maintained the room as a shrine for visiting Rotarians. In 1989, when the building was scheduled to be demolished, the club carefully dismantled the office and salvaged the interior, including doors and radiators. In 1993, the RI Board of Directors set aside a permanent home for the restored Room 711 on the 16th floor of RI World Headquarters in nearby Evanston.

First Rotary club organized in Chicago, Illinois, USA


Second club formed in San Francisco, California, USA

First Rotary convention held in Chicago, Illinois, USA

The Rotary Club of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, becomes the first club outside the
United States to be officially chartered. (The club was formed in 1910.)

Endowment fund, forerunner of The Rotary Foundation, established

4-Way Test formulated by Chicago Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor

Forty-nine Rotarians help draft United Nations Charter in San Francisco

Rotary founder Paul Harris dies; first 18 Rotary Foundation scholarships granted

First Interact club formed in Melbourne, Florida, USA

Rotary Foundation launches Matching Grants and Group Study Exchange programs


Rotary announces PolioPlus program to immunize all the children of the world against polio


Council on Legislation opens Rotary membership to women worldwide; Rotary clubs chartered in Budapest, Hungary, and Warsaw, Poland, for first time in almost 50 years


Rotary Club of Moscow chartered first club in Soviet Union


Preserve Planet Earth program inspires some 2,000 Rotary-sponsored environmental projects

Western Hemisphere declared polio-free

Rotary Centers for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution established


Western Pacific declared polio-free


30,000th Rotary club chartered

Europe declared polio-free; first class of 70 Rotary Peace Scholars begin study

Rotarians raise more than US$118 million to support the final stages of polio eradication

RI’s largest convention with 45,381 attendees, held in Osaka, Japan

Rotary Celebrates centennial in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Rotary Club of Westerville, Past Presidents

2022-2023 — James Meacham

2021-2022 — Joe Meyer

2020-2021 — Ellen Cathers

2019-2020 — Tom Shaver

2018-2019 — Dave Krebs

2017-2018 — Lisa Janszen

2016-2017 — Mike Ronau

2015-2016 — Tom Staebler

2014-2015 — Tom Blackburn

2013-2014 — Aza Bittinger

2012-2013 — Bill McLoughlin

2011-2012 — Rock Lantz

2010-2011 — Tim Bullock

2009-2010 — Brad Smith

2008-2009 — John Powell

2007-2008 — Bill Tompos

2006-2007 — Steve Brown

2005-2006 — George Gummer

2004-2005 — Al Forsythe

2003-2004 — Carol Groseclose

2002-2003 — Russ Kiefer

2001-2002 — Brent Rosenthal*

2000-2001 — David Coffman

1999-2000 — Kirk Lawson

1998-1999 — David Bystrom

1997-1998 — Bruce Dew

1996-1997 — Edward Wilson

1995-1996 — Philip Brown

1994-1995 — Louis Magistrale

1993-1994 — Douglas R. Cline

1992-1993 — Wendell L. McCurdy

1991-1992 — Ralph B. Hoffman

1990-1991 — J. Ben Games

1989-1990 — Jim Augspurger

1988-1989 — Morris Briggs*

1987-1988 — Rich Siegel

1986-1987 — Bill Dolbier

1985-1986 — Jim Biven

1984-1985 — Joe Barone

1983-1984 — Ken Spicer

1982-1983 — Rich Seils

1981-1982 — David Lehman

1980-1981 — Jerry Elliott

1979-1980 — Billy Saltz

1978-1979 — C. K. Smith

1977-1978 — James Meacham, A. Monroe Courtright

1976-1977 — Dan Slack

1975-1976 — Elmer Yoest

1974-1975 — William Johnston

1973-1974 — Charles Dodrill

1972-1973 — Ralph Pollock

1971-1972 — Harry Papay

1970-1970 — George Beachler

1969-1970 — Edwin Roush

1968-1969 — Paul Askins

1967-1968 — William Freeman

1966-1967 — Craig Gifford

1965-1966 — Vincent DeFelice

1964-1965 — Bill Troop

1963-1964 — James Sheridan

1962-1961 — John Mowder

1961-1962 — Harry Newland

1960-1961 — Guy Bishop

1959-1960 — Arthur Schultz*

*Past District Governors

Contact Us

Rotary Club of Westerville
P.O. Box 595
Westerville, OH  43086-0595

Where We Meet:
The Medallion Club
5000 Club Drive
Westerville, Ohio 43082

Thursdays at noon (with Occasional off-site, evening socials)



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Founded in 1959, the Rotary Club of Westerville is a service club of business professionals and community leaders working to improve our community and larger world. Part of Rotary International. Find out more at #RD6690

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