In October of 1978 a group of business and
professional men began meeting on Fridays at noon at the
Red Lion Inn in Blacksburg for the purpose of forming a Rotary Club.
These men were residents of Blacksburg and Christiansburg and the
surrounding areas. Some were members of the Rotary Club of
Christiansburg-Blacksburg and some were prospective members of the
proposed new club. The meetings were held with the support and
sponsorship of the Christiansburg-Blacksburg Club.
The discussion and planning for these
meetings at the Red Lion Inn had begun almost a year earlier and were
triggered by at least two important factors. The size of the “Evening
Club” was outgrowing the available facilities for meetings and there was
a belief that a club meeting during the lunch hour would attract many
good potential Rotarians for whom an evening meeting was inappropriate.
There was some disagreement, initially, in
the Evening Club, but, after full discussion, the club concluded that
the most desirable decision for the community and for Rotary
International would be to sponsor a new club and this was the action
taken. The late Andy Reynolds served as the liaison member from the
sponsor club to the proposed club. Andy’s leadership, recruiting and
planning were vital to the beginnings of the new club. The club
historian is in possession of a videotape in which the founders discuss
the birth of our club.
Under the leadership of its Charter
President and his immediate successor the club began almost at once to
experience a healthy growth and to make its mark among the clubs of
We Remember the Charter Members
Under the sponsorship of the Evening Club,
a charter was granted to the new group by Rotary International on
January 25, 1979. Charter night was held on February 15, 1979 at
the Continuing Education center on the Virginia Tech campus. The club
had 51 initial members and its official name was the Rotary Club of
Blacksburg-Christiansburg Noon. The first officers and board of
directors were Bane Atkinson, President; Bob Sullins, Vice President;
Ken Martin, Secretary; Gordon Winbery, Treasurer; and Lew Shelor,
Sergeant at Arms.
The initial members of the new club as
listed in its first bulletin were:
* These members marked with an asterisk
were (are) “Charter Members” of the club meaning their names are listed
on the Charter by R.I.
|W Earl Acuff*
||Bill Craft Jr.*
||Bill Flowers Jr.
||Jack Robinson Jr.*
||Ed Simpson Jr.*
||Harry Hunt III
A Decade Later
Ten Years after being chartered, two
significant events took place. In 1988 the club voted to accept women
into full membership and In February of 1988, Joyce Hoerner was elected
as the first woman member of the club. Many women have accepted
membership since then. Also, just a decade after the birth of the club,
the club officially changed its name to the Rotary Club of Blacksburg.
The earliest community support project
aided by the club acting as an organization may have been the YMCA
Garden Project for senior citizens. The seniors have small garden plots
for themselves in various locations, which are seeded and worked by
other people except for those who want to do this themselves. The club
began early putting $300.00 each year into this program.
Two other programs, which began early in
the club’s existence, were the Christmas Store and the Club’s Fine Arts
Awards to high school students. The Christmas Store, which had its start
in Montgomery County in 1982, received significant support
from the club and its members from its very beginning. One “Noon”
member, Dan Guin, played a substantial role in its origin and
development. Today the Christmas store is continuing to thrive and grow.
They served over 1,400 families during recent holiday seasons.
The Fine Arts Awards are a purely “noon”
phenomenon and are due largely to two members, Dan Schneck, with his
spouse, Judi, and to Dave Widder. Recognition and cash awards are given
each year to the outstanding high school students in the Visual Arts,
Instrumental and Vocal Music, and Dramatic Arts. The awards are now
recognized as playing an important part in improvement in these studies
in the county’s schools. Also in the high school award area the club
recognizes an Outstanding Senior from each county high school each year
and has these students speak to the club as part of a program. A
worthwhile side effect of this activity is having club members see and
hear some very promising future citizens.
In the past the club had a program of
cooperation with high school guidance departments through which a
Vocational Service Directory was available to each school and in which
some 65 club members volunteered to share vocational experience /
expertise in career development activities with students and faculty.
For many years the Excellence in
Vocational Education has been awarded annually by our club. Several $500
vocational scholarships are given to high school students for the
college of their choice. Another award, the Stuart Beville Memorial
Rotary Scholarship Fund at the New River Community College
started in 1994. Each year $1,000 is awarded to a qualifying student.
Stuart was a member of this club and the club has funded the entire
scholarship. Our club gives support also to the Montgomery County 4-H
The University Office of International
Programs at Virginia Tech has established a scholarship fund for Tech
students wishing to participate in study abroad programs. Our
participation in this project will be one of our most recent
contributions to the community.
The Four-Way Test /Vocation Service Award
is presented each year to a citizen of the Montgomery County area who
through his or here business practices, character, and lifestyle, best
exemplifies Rotary International’s Four-Way Test. The award has now
become the Citizen of the Year Award. 1998’s award recipient was Ben
Crawford, a full time volunteer, Boy Scout, 4-H member, beekeeper, and
leader in our community.
This list alone would be considered worthy
by any club. But we are not done yet. Planning for the
Talbot Memorial Park on the Huckleberry Trail is now almost complete. It
will be a fitting tribute to a past president that served our club well.
Broomin and Bloomin, an event held citywide has become an annual event
for our group with cooperation from so many of us. The Prices Fork/Route
460 By-Pass Exchange Cleanup has been conducted since 1991 with many of
us taking part several time a year.
As the years have gone
by, other support activities have been added as needs have appeared and
interest developed. Sponsorship of the Bloodmobile visits several times
each year; sponsoring high school students’ attendance at Rotary Youth
Foundation Leadership Conferences are some of these activities. The
club’s financial needs for these activities are supported by such things
as its yard sale in early autumn, the aluminum-recycling project, as
well as by individual giving where necessary.
Our club’s history would not be complete
without mentioning our involvement in sponsoring other clubs. In 1985
the Blacksburg Rotary Club joined with the Christiansburg-Blacksburg
Rotary Club in sponsoring the new Rotary Club of Montgomery County which
meets as a breakfast club. Our sponsorship of the Giles County Rotary
Club came in 1997 and Don Clements agreed to take on the leadership
Our former President, Dick Talbot, in 1993
said it best and it is our truth still today. “Our primary objective
will be to focus on local community service. Our strategy for this is to
provide as many noon programs as possible on community
issues and to design one project aimed at better communication and more
We no longer participate in all of the
above mentioned programs. The truth is that some programs have worked
and some have not. But our club continues to blaze new trails in
community service, searching for ways we can best serve those in our
society. We constantly keep watch for those in need of support or
recognition, with the further intention of grooming our future leaders.
We know our community needs any help, our help, and our service.
Support for Rotary
Our club’s support for Rotary
International can be summed up in two words: The Foundation. This does
not mean that there has been nothing else because there have been many
other things. A number of activities to which the club has regularly
lent it aid are: District Conferences, District meetings for a variety
of purposes wherever they may have been held, and report submissions in
full and on time which takes the unsung but dedicated time and energy of
hard-working members. The club has given freely of its money and time
from members to District Programs like “Reach Out to
Haiti”. We contributed to the project for creating wells in Bangladesh
in 1997. The “Polio Plus” campaign was another successful campaign for
us with our specific target being Nigeria in 1998.
Project R.E.A.D. SA (Rotary Educational
Aid Donation South Africa) was initiated to provide needed educational
books to the public schools in Rotary District 9320 South
Africa. We as caring Rotarians have a dream that all children of the
world should have an adequate educational experience to enable them to
have useful, productive, and happy lives. In striving to achieve this
dream we responded by collecting textbooks. In 1998 we shipped 140
sizable cartons of books to South Africa.
The club has from its very beginning and
under the dedicated leadership of its First President, Bane Atkinson,
led the district in club-wide giving to the Foundation and in proportion
of its members who are Paul Harris Fellows. The membership has come to
believe strongly in the programs of the Foundation. In 1982 it began its
Foundation Month Raffle for raising money. This tradition continues
today with success proven by the consistently increasing giving of its
As the club is ending it’s 25th
year of existence it can count 190 names of members, other family
members or friends who have been named Paul Harris Fellows. This club is
a leader in District 7570. This record of support demonstrates the
club’s commitment to Rotary International and the worthy causes they
Rotary International updates our club
monthly on projects worthy of our attention and efforts. One of the
latest announcements involves youth programs and matching funds with
Rotary International to offer up support. It is only natural that Rotary
would look for ways to start with our young people of the world. To
develop a sense of concern and caring in their hearts would mean
insuring a future of service for the world.
The club has sponsored students and young
adults to go to many different nations. The members have regularly
received, thoroughly enjoyed and learned, too, from exchange visitors
from such diverse places, as England, Holland, Sweden,
South Africa, and Australia. In the fall of 1994 we had student visitors
from Tamworth, Australia, Amy Louise McLean, Sarah Louise Bissett, and
Kelly-Anne Tait. We sent three students, Nathan Kyle, Elizabeth Newcomb,
and Matt Belay there in exchange during the summer of 1995. Then again
from Australia during the fall of 1995 we had Robyn Byrnes, Kate
Lollback, and Hayley Whitten. And we last sent during the summer of 1996
John Davis, Corinne Brown, and Brent Powell. The club then had the
opportunity to learn from each of these delightful young people. This
has been repeated many times because the members believe in the abundant
educational exchange created by the experience.
This focus on Rotary International’s
Exchange Programs with Americans visiting other countries and other
nationals coming here has given the membership a motivation they might
not otherwise have had. It allows our club to bring even more new and
innovative ways to benefit our community while keeping ever mindful of
Rotary International’s motto - Service Above Self.
All of us enjoy the visits with the
coaches from Virginia Tech including football, basketball, wrestling as
well as the “Voice of the Hokies,” Bill Roth.
Offsite visits include
Corning, Montgomery Regional Solid Waste Authority and Wong Park.
Our club’s own members have given us
excellent programs to remember. Buzz Shaw and his demonstration on
Virtual Reality was a chance to show our club the newest and latest in
computer technology and engineering. Tamara Stinson discussed with us
what being a Junior
Achievement volunteer is all about. Terri Walker’s program featured a
puppet show and told us about the Summer Reading Program.
We held a reverse raffle to raise money
for the PolioPlus Program. We raffled off a new car that we bought from
Holiday Ford for the dealer’s price. That year we raised over $26,000
for the program. Actually the raffle programs were so popular we started
holding them twice a year. In the spring money raised at the raffle goes
toward the benefit of community programs. Our fall raffle always
benefits a project sponsored by Rotary International.
All our awards programs were notable. Dan
Schneck came up with the idea of the Fine arts Awards for our high
school students for music, painting, and drama. Achievements in
academics and sports receive wide recognition but little attention was
ever given to those students who excelled in the Arts. So our club
decided to do something about that. Carl McDaniels came up with the idea
of the Vocational Awards. And the Stuart Beville Scholarship Award was
established at the New River Community College to honor a
former member. Half the fun from these awards is the opportunity to
listen to what they have meant to the recipients.
Sponsorship of the Breakfast Club and the
Giles County Club were notable programs, too. We recognized the need to
share Rotary and saw an opportunity to expand its influence in the
community by starting two new clubs.
Exchange visitors always entertain us
Russia, Korea, Australia and more.
The club continues to grow and benefit in
its view of young people and the world. Hearing its youth report their
trips abroad on Rotary Exchanges contribute to our wealth of knowledge
and stimulate our desire to provide service.
No matter who the speaker, no matter what
the topic, each member present can honestly say that some point of
relevance was revealed that day. More than that, you can always count on
one thing. If you visit our club you will hear voices raised in unison
to welcome each and every person. Saying “Hi!” really makes visitors and
guests feel warmly welcomed. Dan Schneck started the tradition of saying
“Hi, (Name)” to our visitors and guests. The welcome that we have
extended to speakers and visitors has always been and will continue to
be a spirited one.
It seems that the “Rowdy Table” (what a
tradition) started just about the time that Page Warner joined the club.
Every guest speaker is dually warned prior to their engagement that we
harbor a table of critics. Constructive
criticism is the term we like to use to describe what this group
brings to the club. But you must arrive early to secure a seat in this
Sometime during the presidency of Dick
Bohlin or Dave Reemsnyder the tradition of gift giving started.
Specifically, a Rotary Cup was presented to guest lecturers. That gave
way to giving the Jefferson Cup. And this led to the present day
practice until 2004 when began giving brick pavers, in the name of our
speakers, that will be put in the walkway along Wong Park--- Blacksburg
Rotary’s Centennial project. We offer this token of appreciation to each
speaker for having shared with us.
In 1987 under the leadership of President
Jim Moore and his Board the club voted to accept ladies into full
membership. Federal Courts had mandated that Civic clubs could no longer
exclude females and Rotary did not choose to contest the decision. In
February 1988 Joyce Hoerner was voted into full membership as the first
female of this club and several others have since joined.
Mary Miller became our first woman president in 2002.
In 1991 Rotary International changed our
designation from District 757 to 7570. They did so to accommodate the
ever-increasing number of clubs. Surely this speaks well of Rotary in
general. Our membership count now stands at 125 give or take a few. This
is a pretty outstanding number for a lunch club. Meeting attendance
goals are always an issue. But we are doing great. We can boast of a
level of 81 to 82%, which for our District is very good.