Celebrating 90 years of Rotary

90 years of Rotary

Rotary International granted the Rotary Club of Hays an official charter May 23, 1923.

In our 90 years, the club has grown and reduced in size. It's now at 76 members, but Rotary's importance to the community as the oldest and largest collection of service clubs in Hays has grown over the nine decades since those 23 men (Rotary was all male at the time) met in the dining hall of Trinity Lutheran Church that first spring Monday Noon. It remains the second largest in Rotary District 5670, representing clubs in northwest and north-central Kansas.

The charter president was William Alexander Lewis, the second president of Fort Hays State University. The roster of club membership over the years reads like a who's who of the last 90 years of community history, with past presidents across all fields of the business, governmental and professional life of the city.

Lewis (1929-30) along with Hugh Burnett (1947-48), Homer Schwarz (1974-75), Donald Stout (1990-91), Virgil Howe (1998-99) and Charles Reese (2003-04) are club members who have served as governors of Rotary International District 5670 and its predecessors, giving luster to the club's history by placing themselves in service to the wider Rotary family.

Yes, the Noon Rotary Club still functions in some respects like that club of 90 years ago, still meeting Mondays at noon. Over the ensuing years, meetings were held at the Lamer Hotel (now Emprise Bank) and the Vagabond Family Restaurant. In July 2007, the club moved its meeting location to the Heritage Room of The Bakery Shop, located in the Hadley Center.

The club's service projects stretch far and wide, from Rotary's global challenge to eradicate polio from the face of the Earth, along with bringing good health through availability of medical care, clean water and adequate sanitation to the poorest of the poor, to assisting people when natural disasters strike by giving them temporary shelter.

Closer to home, Hays Rotary works to make our parks safe and fun places for our kids to play, strives to educate them through our donations of books that children can call their own, and awarding scholarships for local students to FHSU and NCK Tech. Joining with Tigers In Service, Rotary paints and restores the homes of needy elderly.

On April 29, 2010, realizing that a new generation of community leaders sought their own type of venue in which to serve, the Noon Rotary Club extended a charter to a new club, the Rotary Club of Hays (Sunrise), which meets Thursday mornings at 7 a.m. in the Victor E. Lounge at FHSU's Gross Memorial Coliseum.

Besides being the most enduring service club in Hays, the movement that is Rotary remains the largest of its kind in the community. This is a testament to the multiple generations of citizens who have made Hays, Kansas USA their place to live the Rotary motto "Service Above Self."

I and my fellow members of the Rotary Club of Hays (Noon) ask that you join with us as we recognize our 90th anniversary while we continue to pledge our best efforts to do good in the world and in our town.

If you are interested in this movement, please join us for lunch on Mondays, or join our friends at the Sunrise club on Thursdays.

Larry Dreiling, Hays, Rotary Club of Hays historian