In the late summer of 1911, 31-year old Harry W. Stanley, an agent for the
Equitable Life Insurance Company, traveled to Chicago for the company's
convention. While there, a fellow agent mentioned a new organization he had
joined. His enthusiasm intrigued Stanley sufficiently that he sought out the
organization's founder, Paul Harris, to discuss the club's merits. Convinced
that Rotary's blend of acquaintance making, business success and community
service would benefit his hometown, Stanley returned to Kansas dedicated to
bringing Rotary to Wichita.
11 other businessmen, Stanley founded the Rotary Club of Wichita, which soon
swelled to 72 members. The club was admitted to Rotary International that
November, and received its Charter two years later in June 1913.
During the early years, the club was largely a booster or
chamber of commerce-type organization with a single mission: to let
important men of all nations know about Wichita, Kansas, and the products
produced here. As the organization grew, however, Wichita Rotarians became
more involved in the community, spearheading city beautification efforts and
providing recreation and training programs for boys. In 1916, the group
championed a plan to enact a city manager form of government in Wichita,
successfully petitioning both the state government and Wichita residents for
approval. Rotarians were also instrumental in reforming the Law and Order
League into the Greater Wichita Civic League. Also in 1916, the first issue
of the club's bulletin, Round and Round, was published.
Founder Harry Stanley and others board ship for the 1921 convention in
Since that time, the Rotary Club of Wichita has been instrumental in
bringing a number of important organizations to Wichita, including the Boy
Scouts of America, Easter Seal Society and the Big Brother organization.
Rotary continuously committed its time and efforts to aiding and improving
Wichita and, in particular, the city's youth, with a variety of activities.
when a plan was hatched to build Century II with municipal bonds, the club
supported the effort and presented the case to the city.
Today, Rotary Club of Wichita is a thriving organization that takes its
responsibility to the people of Wichita quite seriously. Each year, members
ring bells for the Salvation Army and encourage blood drive donors during
the holiday season. With the creation of the Wichita Rotary Charitable Fund
in 1983, the club amassed sufficient funding to take on even greater tasks,
such as sponsoring the
was instrumental in establishing the Students In Free Enterprise (S.I.F.E.)
program at Wichita State University, which provides students with the tools
they need to succeed in today's competitive business environment.
The Wichita Rotary Charitable Fund also provides scholarship funding for
high school students to attend the annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards
(RYLA) camp, sponsors the Rotary Interact Club at Wichita's East High
School, and supports the Rotary Inter-country Teacher Exchange (RITE)
program, sending teachers abroad for 4 to 6 weeks while their counterparts
experience American teaching techniques. In addition, a substantial 5-year
grant was donated to
Place which allows elementary school children to visit the facility at
greatly reduced rates.