Brief histories of Rotary's
First 100 Clubs
of Springfield, IL 83
International District 6460
Club of Springfield, the largest and oldest Rotary Club in Springfield, has
a distinguished history of leadership in all areas of our society through
the work of its members, our charitable giving and our international
birthplace of US President Abraham Lincoln
HISTORY OF THE ROTARY CLUB OF SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS USA
THE ROTARY CLUB OF SPRINGFIELD was organized June 24, 1913 as
a result of a trip to Rotary International headquarters in Chicago by Louis
M. Myers, a local department store owner and the subsequent efforts of
Charles E. Howe, an agent of Franklin Life Insurance Company who had been a
Rotarian in Houston, Texas. Rotary International issued Charter No. 83 when
the club first met on the above date that was then presented to the club by
Chesley R. Perry, Rotary International Secretary, who was present and
presided at the organization meeting. Initiation fee was fixed at $5 for the
first 75 members and thereafter it would be $10. Monthly dues were 50 cents.
The club showed its inclination toward charitable work early, with the first
notation on December 22, 1914 stating succinctly: “Entertained 88 poor boys
for dinner.” Since then the club has been involved in numerous fund raising,
charitable and civic activities, from the Home for the Friendless in its
early years to the Home Guard during World War I. War Bonds during World War
II, and the extensive present day activities that have seen the club
distribute close to a million dollars in grants and scholarships. Most of
these funds derived in recent years from an annual sale of Florida citrus.
Among its proudest accomplishments has been the sponsorship
of three outstanding Rotary Clubs in Rushville, Springfield South and
November 18, 1920 the club commenced publication of the club newsletter, the
Rotary Review as a weekly publication but now is issued bi-weekly. Currently
this publication is being put on the Internet with the goal of eventually
eliminating hard copy.
In 1923 some 700 Rotarians traveled from the Rotary International Convention
in St. Louis to visit the Lincoln sites. While in Springfield this club
entertained many of them with a picnic at Washington Park.
In 1927 the club began sponsorship of a bowling team in the Civic Clubs
League. For many years it sponsored two teams.
Paul Harris and Sylvester Schiele, two of the four originators of Rotary
International, visited the club in 1936. In all, nine Rotary International
Presidents have visited this club as well as numerous former Rotary
International Presidents and several International Secretaries.
This club was the second in the nation to sponsor an Interact Club. In 1958
a club was sponsored at Springfield High School known as the “Wheel Club”
which was the forerunner of the Interact movement. The Springfield club was
instrumental in forming the Inter-Civic Club Council in Springfield, which
is a clearinghouse for all civic club projects as well as a vehicle to
accomplish joint projects. The first such project was a visit by Commander
Richard Byrd as its speaker at a joint meeting.
The club itself has brought such notable entertainment programs over the
years as Sir Harry Lauder, John Philip Sousa, the U S Navy Band and Harlem
Globetrotters basketball team.
Over the years this club has had eight of its members elected to the
position of District Governor and two subsequently elected as Directors of
Contributions to the Rotary International Foundation have amounted to nearly
$200,000.00 and created 126 Paul Harris Fellows as well as 12 benefactors.
1994 saw the club enter into a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to
build a house for a family at 1028 North Columbia Avenue in Springfield.
$15,000.00 in cash was contributed by the Springfield Rotary Foundation for
this project and volunteers were recruited from the membership to assist in
Three of the local Rotary Clubs jointly contributed $15,000.00 to the
Springfield Park District to assist in the development of a new park on the
West side of Springfield. It was subsequently names Rotary Park. The clubs
have continued to assist the Park District by planting trees and currently
have a joint club project to upgrade the playground equipment as our Rotary
In June 2003 the Rotary Club of Springfield celebrated its 90th year and
will be one of the clubs to receive the Centennial Bell making the rounds of
the first 100 clubs during the Centennial year of Rotary International.