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Tim's "A Century of Rotary..."

1913 to 2013
by Tim Granzeau

The Rotary Club of Springfield, Illinois
Rotary Club of Springfield South
Rotary Club of Springfield—Sunrise
Rotary Club of Springfield—Midtown
Rotary Club of Springfield—Westside

Highlights from A Century of Rotary in Springfield
  • 1913—Rotary Charter #83, fourth Illinois Rotary club
  • 1930—First Rotary International Director from West Central Illinois Rotary District 6460
  • WWII—$3.7 million War Bond purchases by Springfield Rotarians
  • 1958—Second Interact high school club in USA
  • 1966—Springfield first Illinois city to support two Rotary clubs
  • Eight District Governors from Springfield Rotary
  • Two Rotary International Directors from Springfield; only three from District 6460
  • 1987—Springfield welcomed first female Rotarian in District 6460
  • 1992—Springfield elected first woman as Rotary Club President in District 6460
  • 1994—Springfield Park District’s Rotary Park
  • Springfield supports five active Rotary clubs
  • 341 Paul Harris Fellowships awarded by Springfield Rotary clubs
  • Over $900,000 contributions given to Rotary Foundation by Springfield clubs since 1976
  • Over $1,900,000 contributions for local community services by Springfield clubs since 1976
  • 2013—Unveiling of Rotary Centennial Sundial Garden as a gift to Southwind Park
  • 7,000,000 pounds of citrus sales-and still lifting!

1913 to 2013

The Rotary Club of Springfield, Illinois
By: Tim Granzeau

Rotary Club of Springfield South
By: Patricia McLaughlin

Rotary Club of Springfield—Sunrise
By: Brian Barstead and John Forbes
Rotary Club of Springfield—Midtown
By: Lisa Ellis

Rotary Club of Springfield—Westside
Find us on Facebook at Rotarian West
By: Ed Hart


© Copyright 2013 by Tim Granzeau
Springfield, Illinois
All rights reserved

Published June, 2013
Springfield, Illinois

The Rotary Club of Springfield, Illinois
Attn: Tim Granzeau
P.O. Box 615
Springfield, Illinois 62705

Introduction..................................................................................... ii
The Rotary Club of Springfield, Illinois..............................................1
Becoming a Rotary Club........................................................ 3
Familiar Names—Forgotten Vocations ................................. 5
The Roaring 20’s .................................................................. 6
The Great Depression............................................................ 8
War Years and Post-War Recovery...................................... 10
Return to Growth and Prosperity .......................................... 12
A Decade of Social Change ................................................. 15
Transforming Our Club Mission............................................ 18
Closing the 2oth Century....................................................... 21
The New Millennium............................................................. 27
Avenues of Service—International and Community...............  36
Fundraising—Citrus and Catfish............................................ 42
Springfield Rotary Foundation .............................................. 46
Service to Rotary District 6460..............................................48
Service to Rotary International.............................................. 50
Rotary Club of Springfield South..................................................... 53
Rotary Club of Springfield—Sunrise................................................ 55
Rotary Club of Springfield—Midtown ............................................ 58
Rotary Club of Springfield—Westside .............................................60

This history provides an overview of the first century of Rotary in Springfield, Illinois. We focus on club events reflecting changes in our society by highlighting significant events and their impact on our community. We also spend time revealing the human side of Rotary through the personalities that have given life to our club history.

The historical narrative through the 2oth century follows changes in our economy, society and community. The change and growth in our club mission over the past century makes us proud of our contributions to our community.

Recent history is seen through the eyes of our club presidents. They propose the agenda, goals and objectives for their terms in office. Presidents imprint our club with their intelligence, energy and personality. We have been graced with wonderful character and humor, much being provided by our presidents. We thank them for their service, leadership, fellowship and fun.

We also include information about our club’s impact through avenues of service, fundraising, Springfield Rotary Foundation, Rotary District 6460, Rotary International and Rotary International’s Foundation (RI Foundation).

Finally, we include history provided by Rotary South, Sunrise, Midtown and Westside. You will be impressed with their contributions to Springfield. They magnify the impact of the Springfield Rotary experience.

We also must thank our editorial staff for their professionalism and guidance. These include my very own Lib Granzeau, Marilyn Kok, Gerry DeWulf, Mike Plog, Nancy Huntley, Brian Barstead, our past presidents and most importantly, Naomi Lynn. Their writing, formatting and publishing skills, as well as welcoming shoulders, have given me wings.

-Tim Granzeau

By: Tim Granzeau

What does Rotary stand for? What differentiates Rotary from other service organizations? Our own Bob Stuart was eloquent in 1988 providing an oral history of our Rotary club, saying:

“Any institution that you have respect for over time really stands for the same thing. It is love and respect for your fellow human beings. I am pleased that Rotary can go out and say that it truly represents that respect for human beings. There is no discrimination barrier whatsoever in Rotary.

“The more I take time to learn what other clubs and individuals are doing, the more I am amazed at what Rotary is all about.”

These principles and values were central to the thinking of Paul Harris and his three founding fellows. They were from different religious backgrounds, representing Protestant, Catholic and Jewish faiths. Their Rotary club had no ethnic discrimination. The creation of our club proudly documents those same values which continue today.

The Springfield Rotary Club was the idea of local retailer Louis M. Myers, following discussions with Milton Goldman, a clothier from Des Moines, Iowa, and a Rotarian. In the spring of 1913, Mr. Myers and Mr. Goldman traveled to Evanston to request assistance from Rotary International (RI).

Charles E. Howe, a Rotarian from Houston, Texas, was assigned to hold an organizational meeting in Springfield. Mr. Howe was a Franklin Life agent temporarily working in Springfield. He prepared a petition for membership in May, 1913. This petition was signed by 42 local businessmen.

A meeting of 23 prospective members was held on June 24, 1913, with the RI Secretary in attendance. Officers and a Board of Directors were elected at the second meeting.

The Rotary Club of Springfield club applied for a Rotary charter at an organization meeting on August 8, 1913, presided over by Chesley R. Perry, RI Secretary, who later presented Charter #83 to the club.
RI had begun in 1905 in Chicago and already had clubs in 38 states, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland. We were the fourth club organized in Illinois and began with approximately forty members. The club welcomed 35 additional members within the first month of our charter.


Our first president was O. G. Scott. His vocational classification was coal. Initiation was $5 and dues were $6 per year. Charles S. Dineen, the Governor of Illinois, attended an early meeting of The Rotary Club of Springfield to formally accept his honorary membership.

In late 1913, a meeting was held at the Leland Sun Parlors to discuss formation of a state association of Rotary clubs. The meeting included representatives from Chicago, Peoria, Joliet and Springfield clubs. While the group agreed to formally incorporate a Rotary state association, objections by Rotary International halted the legal incorporation of the proposed organization.

In the first few years, our club met sporadically, usually at members' homes. We also met at the Leland Hotel, the Sangamo Club or the Illini Country Club. There were no meetings during the summer months.

Within a few months of organizing, the club began responding to community service needs. We “passed the hat” for underprivileged boys, the Home for the Friendless and for student scholarships in early 1914. A few years later, the club requested donations to clean up a “spot of vice.” During the war, funds were collected for the Home Guard. For over fifty years, club members were asked to make contributions for specific needs at club meetings.

Our club acted quickly in its participation with Rotary International. We elected a delegate to attend the 1914 Rotary International Convention in Cincinnati. The very next year, we sent three delegates to the RI convention in San Francisco.

The first visit of a RI President came in 1917. E. Leslie Pidgeon from Manitoba, Canada, the first RI President from outside of the United States, was the principal speaker for an intercity meeting on October 17. No other mention is made of his visit.


The earliest member names remain familiar to this day and include Barber, Barker, Dallman, Franke, Herndon, Maldaner, Reisch, Troxell and Wiggins. By the early 1920’s, we had added other members whose names may be familiar such as Armbruster, Brinkerhoff, Buckley, Bunn, Henson-Robinson, Lanphier, Nelch, Tobin and Vachel Lindsay.

While the names of many early members remain visible today, the vocations of the early years have been lost to the ages. A different vocational classification for each club member was built into Rotary’s founding principles. Over the years, our member vocations have provided a record of economic growth with developing industry, technology, science and society.

Our founding members' vocations include bill posting, billiards, Canada lands, cigar manufacturer, concrete posts, express, form letters, homeopathic physician, multi-graphs and poultry dealer.

By 1920, classifications included ice, coal, launderers, photo engraving and vulcanizers. Later classifications included abstracts, ammonia, butter, boilers & tubes, explosives, foundries, interurban, TB sanitorium, tractors, zinc and 5¢ & 10¢ store. It would be difficult to find members with these vocations today.


Economic recovery and industrial expansion after WWII brought changes to Rotary. Prosperity allowed the club to double its dues to $50. The club’s first newsletter was published and edited by Will Taylor in November 1920. The Rotary Review was printed on heavy 18” by 6 1/2" paper.

A club meeting during the presidential campaign in 1920 included a mock political rally with humorous speeches presented by members masquerading as candidates. Fun filled the evening until John A. Barber, portraying Warren G. Harding, delivered a serious and fiery Republican “Grand Old Party” campaign speech.

By 1921, club membership exceeded 100, and the club decided to hold weekly meetings at the St. Nicholas Hotel each Monday evening. After three months, with the attendance rate dropping to 80 percent (far below the Chicago club’s 99 percent attendance), the club decided to return to bi-weekly meetings.

Edinburgh, Scotland, hosted the first convention outside North America in June 1921. Member Arthur D. Mackie was elected by the club membership to attend that convention. In those days, that trip may have entailed about two weeks of travel time.

Will Taylor became our President in 1922. The club published its first yearbook with pictures with only one beard among the members and lots of starched collars. In 1923, the club adopted the Rotary Constitution. Membership was limited to men engaged in any worthy and recognized professions. Elected officials were not allowed membership although there was an exception for school officials and honorary membership for the Governor of Illinois.

In the early years, Rotary clubs were heavily involved in vocational service. Our club held an “Every Member Visit Every Member Contest” to promote acquaintance among members. For the contest, individual members visited fellow Rotarians at their place of work. Eight members called on over 100 Rotarian work places, with a total of over 10,000 visits by all members.

The 1923 RI Convention was held in St. Louis, Missouri. This convention resulted in over 700 Rotary International visitors to Lincoln sites in Springfield. The club hosted a picnic at Washington Park. Guests included past RI President Russell Griener and other dignitaries from around the world.

Also in 1923, the club held a fund drive collecting $835 in ten minutes for the high school band. In total, we provided over $1,000 for band instruments that year.

In 1924, our club hosted its first District Conference meeting. The club began holding weekly meetings in 1926.

During the 1920’s, there were frequent joint meetings with other central Illinois Rotary clubs and other Springfield civic clubs. Some noteworthy meetings were broadcast by WCGS radio. These included a Rotary-sponsored meeting to organize the Inter-Civic Club of Springfield. The legendary explorer Commander Richard Byrd delivered the address to 700 attendees. At a subsequent joint meeting, famed musician John Phillip Sousa was present with his marches being played by the Watch Factory Band.

In 1928, Will Taylor became our club’s first District Governor, and in 1930, we hosted a jubilee meeting of nine Rotary clubs to celebrate Will Taylor’s election as a Director of Rotary International. He was the first RI Director from our Rotary district.


During the depression, our club’s experiences reflected the major changes affecting our country. The club newsletter was revamped with lots of humor from old jokes. The first mention of club singing appears with “Happy Days are Here Again.” It was a good time to “pack up all those cares and woes.”

In 1932, a guest night party was held at the Sangamo Club. It cost $1 for a chicken dinner and featured the Allis-Chalmers Orchestra. During the depression, dues were reduced to $25.

Even with the depression, Rotary continued to expand around the world. By 1934, Rotary International had 3,659 clubs with 147,600 members. During the 1930’s, members Roy L. Conn, Sr., and Ray Graham served as District Governors. In 1935, we hosted RI President Edward R. Johnson with a full day’s activities involving nine other Illinois Rotary clubs.

One member presented a meeting with a movie about flying American Airlines from Chicago to New York City. The program was titled “Two Hundred Miles per Hour on a Flying Carpet!”

In 1936, our club had the singular honor of hosting two of the four founders of Rotary International. Our guests included founder Paul Harris, who gave birth to Rotary by hosting a meeting of four business associates on February 23, 1905. He was accompanied by fellow founding member Sylvester Schiele who became the first Rotary President in 1905. During their three days in Springfield, Henry Horner, the Governor of Illinois, hosted a lunch for 96 members and 253 visitors from 35 Rotary clubs.

In 1937, our club sponsored two new clubs in central Illinois. Roy Jefferson worked with the Auburn Rotary Club which received its charter on February 16, 1937. The Rotary Club of Rushville held its charter night on April 1, 1937, with 22 charter members. Roger R. Troxell and other members of our club assisted with the Rushville organization.

In January 1938, we held an intercity Rotary breakfast to honor Maurice Duperrey, President of RI International, who was visiting with Madame Duperrey. Mr. Duperrey was the first RI International president from continental Europe. Our Silver Anniversary meeting was held in September of that same year.

In 1939, meetings were moved to the Leland Hotel. The Illinois Governor, Henry Horner, attended the Ladies Night Party at the Leland. New member Conk Buckley, flower grower, joined his father in the club. He remained for 69 years and was a member until passing in 2007.


In March 1940, with war raging in Europe, RI President Walter D. Head visited and delivered a stirring Rotary message. That year, two members attended the 1940 Rotary International Conference in Havana, Cuba. There were only 3,700 attendees due to “hectic world conditions” and the loss of many European Rotary clubs.

In 1941, our club raised $1,000 to build a boathouse for Springfield’s Rowing Club. In 1941, many club meetings were still being held at members' homes and other Springfield locations. The club membership totaled 133 with ten original members. Two members had perfect attendance for over twenty years.

Rotary International lost 369 clubs during WWII. The only European board member was from Switzerland. In 1943, we hosted RI President Ferdinand Carbajal of Lima, Peru, with an event at the Leland Hotel. There were 32 clubs from five Rotary Districts in attendance.

The Four-Way Test was adopted by Rotary International in 1943 and later became Rotary’s principal motto. The test was created in 1932 by Herb Taylor, newly appointed President of Club Aluminum. The Chicago cookware company was facing bankruptcy, and his first priority was to change the ethical climate in the company. Taylor penned four questions as a code of ethics for his employees to follow in their business and professional lives. Club Aluminum prospered, and Herb Taylor became the President of Rotary International in its 50th anniversary year, 1954. 

The Four-Way Test questions:
Of the things we think, say or do
    • Is it the truth?
    • Is it fair to all concerned?
    • Will it build good will and understanding?
    • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
In January 1944, the club held a fundraising event that was so successful it holds the record for donations at a single event. The club held an auction for individual club member services with proceeds going for US War Bonds. One active member, Illinois Governor Dwight Green, offered to mow the lawn of the highest bidder. Allis Chalmers paid $460,000 to have our Governor cut the sizeable grass lawn in front of their factory. The club collected over $1 million for War Bonds at this single event. Club records document a total of $3,700,000 in US War Bond sales during WWII.

RI President Tom A. Warren visited in September 1945. A noontime intercity meeting included clubs from four Rotary Districts. In 1949, Adlai Stevenson, the new Illinois governor, was inducted into our club and provided the program. Twenty Rotary clubs attended that historic meeting of 300 attendees.


With the end of wartime rationing, Rotary club activities became more entertaining with a new focus on social events. We still had five original members with Roy Jefferson achieving perfect attendance dating from 1918. Of note, Bill Montague joined our club in November 1952, with the classification of pressure sensitive tape. Yes, Scotch Tape. Bill was a member for over fifty years.

For the 1954 Ladies Night, the club served spiked punch at one end of a long table and non-alcoholic punch at the other end of the table. More than two decades after Prohibition, Rotary continued to embrace modern traditions reflecting changes to societal values.

Another new member in 1954 was a clinic manager named Francis Wenzel. Francis was employed by Springfield Urban and Rural Clinic. Francis served as our president in 1958-59 but is best remembered for his many years of managing the business of running our club. Many of our past presidents owe the success of their terms to Francis Wenzel’s knowledge and
guiding hands. We all remember his telephone calls with gentle reminders about Rotary deadlines, impending responsibilities and “unspoken” assurances of support. His legacy with the Rotary club endures to this day.

The growth of modern technology provided a significant opportunity in 1955. Franklin Life Insurance Company invited our club to see and learn about their new UNIVAC computer system. This was among the first dozen UNIVAC computers sold. This huge 2-1/4 megahertz water-cooled computer with 12.1 kilobytes of memory cost $1 million. Though considered a marvel of technology at the time, a modern computer chip is about 32 million times faster. In fact, the UNIVAC was not as smart as today’s garage door opener.

One 1955 meeting was interrupted by two Jacksonville Rotarians pulling a smelly billy goat. The District Governor had the idea of passing the goat around to all of the clubs. Our club generously donated the aromatic goat to the Auburn Club the very next week.

In the 1950’s, the Rotary orchestra played for special events. The Music Masters featured Joe Pehlman on drums, Zeke Worthington on saxophone, Wendell Kennedy on piano, Herb Wiley on banjo and Bill Montague on washtub bass. In June 1955, the author of the Four-Way Test, RI President Herbert J. Taylor, was introduced to our club by honorary Rotarian Governor William J. Stratton. He spoke to Rotarians representing thirty clubs. He also made an appearance in the Illinois House Chamber which required interrupting a long filibuster. The filibuster resumed after his remarks and presentation of plaques.

Events in the middle 1950’s included stag picnics at Bill Schnirring’s farm, offering fishing, trap shooting, horseshoes, shuffleboard and food. Golf tourneys at the Illini Country Club cost $2 for greens fees and $3.50 for a steak dinner. A request for a State of Illinois flag by a Montana Rotary club was approved “…since we found we could obtain one at no cost from the Governor’s office.”

In 1957, the newsletter shows lots of Rotarians smoking cigars. The Rotary Wheel newsletter included a column by our club president called “Wenzel’s Nook.” During Francis’ term, the newsletter featured candid pictures during the meeting with very humorous and pointed comments about members sleeping during the speeches.

Our club was the second in the nation to sponsor an Interact club. In 1958, the “Wheel Club,” a forerunner of Interact, was sponsored at Springfield High School. High school club  sponsorship at Springfield High School continued into the 1990’s.

One member, Carl Franke, visited a number of Rotary club meetings on a trip through South America. He forwarded each club’s newsletter to Springfield for our members’ enlightenment with all of the articles in Spanish or Portuguese.

The Rotary Review began carrying a series of articles on “Rotary Club Etiquette.” Shortly afterward, the Review noted that forty members, of 200 total members, had not paid dues and added the comment: “We remind you of this little detail in the event it has slipped your mind.”


In 1961, Governor Otto Kerner visited and received an honorary membership. Past-President Stan Stern joined in September 1961. In the late 1980’s, he provided an oral history about our Rotary Club that was transcribed for the Sangamon Valley Collection at the Lincoln Library. Stan’s insights provide an overview of our Club which should make us all proud.

“It was a very active and good club, but it wasn’t as good a club as it is now. It was strictly an eating club. They didn’t do the good that this club does.”

In 1963, a young US Senator wearing a bow tie spoke. Yes, Paul Simon delivered his program while we celebrated our Golden Anniversary Year. We still had two active charter members. S. A. (Sam) Barker, classification ready to wear, owned the S. A. Barker Company at the corner of 6th and Adams. The other charter member, R. F. Freeman, called Butsey, had an original classification of form letters. He later formed an insurance agency.

During the 1960’s, two active members, Bill Menghini and Dick Hull, began a tradition of kidding each other during the meetings. Their good-natured barbs became the centerpiece of every meeting. Their example of good humor continues to infect and delight our club to this day.

By 1964, we had programs on the Four-Way Test and made the first mention of the Four Avenues of Service: Community, Vocational, International and Club Service.

John Montgomery joined our club in June of 1957 and became our president in July 1964. John placed his attendance motto in the club’s newsletter: “I make no engagements on Monday between 6:00 and 7:30 for I am a Rotarian and that time belongs to my community.” In 2007, John proudly achieved fifty years of perfect attendance.

In those days, club activities included the Springfield High Interact club and hosting foreign visitors to Springfield. An occasional fundraiser would be held when a local charity made a specific request. In 1964, John and Bill Montague began working on a two-year project that successfully opened a second Rotary club in Springfield. In appreciation, the Rotary Club of Springfield South honored John and Bill with lifetime memberships. Springfield was the first city in our district to support two Rotary Clubs.

John Montgomery’s real legacy was redirecting the mission of our Rotary club to service above self. The accomplishments of John’s presidency on our club reflected the 1960’s “War on Poverty” and continue to affect our club’s community support to
this day:
  • Sponsored the Rotary Club of Springfield South;
  • Named the 1964-65 Rotary District 646 Club of the Year;
  • Held the club’s first community fundraiser, an auction;
  • Club organized donations to local charities and
  • Established the Springfield Rotary Foundation.
The Springfield Rotary Foundation was incorporated on January 18, 1966, with every club member belonging to the Foundation. The mission statement read, “Contributions to the Foundation will be used to assist other charitable organizations in their work.” This set the stage for future community fundraising programs. From this date forward, the Foundation would make decisions on providing support to deserving community organizations.

Even with all of these changes, during the 1960’s the club remained primarily a dinner club. Community and international service continued to be provided when those opportunities appeared, but the club did not have a regular fundraising program. The Foundation was primarily a conduit for ad-hoc donations to charity. The club did not participate in any international service programs.


Following a decade of societal changes in our nation, our club was about to renew its mission of “Service Above Self.” Club records show over 190 members in 1970 with attendance rates above 80 percent. We began opening meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance. There were many club committees working on fellowship, programs, Interact and international service.

A new member, Mirl Whitaker, joined in September 1970. On December 7, 1970, we welcomed Blaine Ramsey, Executive Secretary of the Illinois Council of Churches as a new member. This was noteworthy as Blaine was our first African American member.

The club continued to evolve in its record of community support. The Rotary Review was scaled back to bi-weekly with new photo-copy printing methods in 1972. This single change was made to generate thousands of dollars of needed support for community outreach.

In 1972, Rotary sponsored the Harlem Globetrotters to raise funds. The legendary owner of the Globetrotters, Abe Saperstein, sent his brother and a player to meet with the club and to generate publicity for the game. The club earned $2,000 on the Globetrotters game. This success led to consideration of an annual fund drive, and the Globetrotters event seemed the perfect opportunity. The club was happy to invite the Globetrotters to return in 1973.

With Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal leading the Globetrotters, the Washington Generals lost that game as usual. Unfortunately, attendance did not materialize and we lost $2,000 on the event. Reflecting the times, the club continued to consider fundraising programs. Even with these setbacks, our club donated $3,000 to the Boys Club of Springfield.

Rotary lake outings were common in the early years and became organized in 1974. At that time, the Rotary yachting fellowship meant sailing Lake Springfield on E scows, slooprigged racing boats requiring athletic skill and stamina. Float boats became the norm in later years.

In 1975, Bill Montague proposed the sale of fresh navel oranges and grapefruit from Florida. The Collinsville Rotary Club had earned $3,000 selling California citrus, and Bill had made contact with a Florida citrus growers’ cooperative. The birth of our annual citrus sales began in earnest in August 1976, with profits projected at $2,000. That was about $1.5 million ago. Citrus sales have become our club’s legacy of support for community charities.

In 1976, a joint meeting celebrated Rotary South’s 10th anniversary at the Heritage House. We hosted meetings for foreign visitors and Chicago foreign exchange students. We also lost our home of many years with the St. Nicholas Hotel’s closing. After moving around for ten years, the club finally found a home at Maldaner’s.

The second year citrus sale of 92 tons of fruit generated $16,000 in profit. A separate fundraiser selling smoke detectorsearned $1,500, vastly short of projections up to $40,000.

Past-President Bob Uteg joined in January 1971. Bob is our most seasoned Paul Harris fellow, earning this distinction in 1980. Bob became the Vice President in 1977 with one year to prepare to begin his presidency. Bob became a fast learner since President Robert Stueck was constantly traveling for the Bell Telephone Company and was transferred permanently about six months into his term. Bob continued to lead the club and assumed the presidency for six months during 1978. That has been the shortest presidential term in club history.

Bob later earned well-deserved admiration for providing birthday recognition for members in the middle 1990’s. Each  member was recognized with a well-crafted limerick written by Bob. Always the gentleman, Bob was careful to eliminate potential offensive content. Nevertheless, the evolution of language in the new millennium has changed some of his architectural birthday-inspired poetry to double entendre!

By the end of the 1970’s, the club had established continuing success with citrus sales. Tom Kushak, a new member, developed a fundraising project in partnership with the Springfield Junior League to benefit Reading Is Fundamental. The first Rotary Roses for R.I.F. resulted in $5,000 in books going to grade school children and the beginning of the Springfield Rotary Foundation's continuing support for literacy programs.

In the 1980's, we began honoring our members each year for contributions to the four avenues of service: Vocational, International, Community and Club. These awards were meant to encourage and recognize membership for their pursuit of excellence in their various endeavors.

In early 1981, our club president, Raymond Lett, was offered a key role in the US Agriculture Department in Washington D.C. Within a few days, he left for Washington but had time to go to the house of the club’s vice president and hand off the Rotary files. That was Tom Kushak’s formal introduction to his presidency. Tom ended up serving our club as president for the longest term in club history. Tom describes his invocation ceremony and 18-month term as a “high point” or “low point” in his membership, depending upon one's perspective.

A very young Bob Stuart joined our club in June 1975. After serving in a number of leadership positions, Bob became club president in 1983. He considered his number-one priority to have been the quality of the programs. At that time, the club president did all the programming with the flow of the Rotary year reflecting the personality of the president. The meetings also included some kind of Rotary message.

During that year, our club hosted one of our early exchange students whose uncle happened to be the president of Rotary International. That gave Bob the fortunate opportunity to welcome and host RI President Carlos Conseco of Mexico. Bob continued his committed involvement in Rotary, serving in roles as Governor for the District and as one of the 17 Directors of the Rotary International. Bob is our club’s second Rotary International Director and only the third RI Director from District 6460.

Club activities included vocational projects in local high schools. International service was limited to an ethnic night. John Giavaras corresponded with Greek Rotary clubs to add authentic flair to a Greek night at the Top of the Arch. Community service included painting the floors of Goodwill. The major service project continued to be citrus sales and donations of citrus profits every June.

John Giavaras served as president of our club in 1985-86 and as District Governor in 1990-91. More importantly, John became the emotional (very emotional) heart and soul of our club delivering the message of the RI Foundation enabling advancements in world understanding, goodwill and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education and the alleviation of poverty. These heartfelt messages were delivered with passion and enthusiasm and with a cigar— always a cigar—close at hand.

A few years later, a Rotary Board meeting included discussion of a “no smoking” policy for meetings. John mustered up the same passion he felt for Rotary and proclaimed that he would be forced to leave the club. Thankfully that did not happen. We later learned from his wife, Nina, that John was not allowed to smoke at home so he treasured his after-dinner cigar at Rotary. We will always treasure the memory of John Giavaras as the spirit of Rotary.

A dramatic change came to Rotary on May 4, 1987, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Rotary clubs may not exclude women from membership on the basis of gender. The Rotary Club of Springfield—Sunrise was newly chartered in April, 1987, and became the first club in central Illinois to admit women to its membership. Patti Donsbach, the very first female Rotarian in Springfield, became a Sunrise member in July of 1987.

On October 5, 1987, our club installed four new members, Kate Steigerwald, Marge Campane, Carolyn Oxtoby and John Locks. This was the first installation of women into the  Springfield Rotary Club. President Bill Feurer dryly proclaimed the event as remarkable in that four members were installed at one meeting. One of those members, Carolyn B. Oxtoby, earned our admiration as “The Citrus Witch,” spearheading our Florida orange and grapefruit “fun” drive. Wearing her witching bonnet and holding a guard staff helped to propel Carolyn to the presidency of our club in 1992. We are proud to have elected Carolyn Oxtoby as the first woman club president in Rotary District 6460.

During Ed Sheehan’s presidency in 1988, the club celebrated its 75th Anniversary. In those days, club committees were involved in social outings including yachting, golf, baseball, ethnic night dinners and an annual senior citizens' dinner. These events and many club meetings were enhanced by wonderful stories from Ed that enlightened club members about the social mores of old Ireland. Not coincidentally, foreign exchange student committees began appearing for the first time.

In 1989, the club adopted Ridgely Elementary School. Club members tutor students, and the club provides funding for Ridgely programming needs. Ridgely has a high level of transient, low-income, single-parent family and at-risk students. This school has been blessed with a nurturing environment and caring staff. This important relationship continues to this day.

During Al Gardner’s year as president, the National Society of Fund Raising Executives selected our club as the “Outstanding Philanthropic Organization” in central Illinois. That was the same year that the RI Council on Legislation established Service Above Self as the principal motto of Rotary. That phrase was adopted because it best conveys the philosophy of unselfish volunteer service.

In 1992, Stan Stern chaired a Rotary Park project culminating in $15,000 being jointly donated by the three Springfield Rotary clubs to the Springfield Park District. Rotary Park was dedicated in August 1994 on the rapidly growing west  side of Springfield. This park includes plantings, trees and memorials to departed Rotary members.

In 1993, our club entered into a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to build a house for the Pat Boston family at 1028 Columbia Avenue. Our own Marty Baptist directed the project and personally provided much of the work. The Springfield Rotary Foundation contributed $15,000 for the project, and volunteers were recruited from the membership to assist in the construction.

In 1994, President Rod Buffington organized an Interact Club at Springfield High School. The club met every other week throughout the school year during the lunch hour. It was a very successfully run club with members becoming involved with community projects. Within a few years, the Interact Club began participating in citrus sales, earning significant money for school projects. Unfortunately the club had to be disbanded in 1998 when School District #186 adopted new policies eliminating outside sponsorship of school clubs.

In 1994, we again began selling roses for delivery on Valentine’s Day. These sales generated about $3,000 profit for three years. Unfortunately, competition in supply markets meant the demise of our supplier and this fundraiser.

Bruce Finne brought both his naturally infectious humor to our club podium and the idea of recognizing a worthy community member with a Paul Harris Fellowship. Our first recipient was Lisa M. Stone who was later recognized as Springfield’s First Citizen. This tradition continues to enrich our Rotary club experience and to recognize people in Springfield for their community involvement in the spirit of service above self.

In early 1995, Bruce brought in an executive from Rotary International in Evanston to deliver a motivational presentation to strengthen our club. He had reviewed club activities, community involvement and our membership programs. The room was silent as the speaker encouraged us to find a higher caliber of members and continued with a litany of condescending remarks. When the room became restless, Mr. Mumford, aware of the response, reminded us that April 1 was the perfect time to clean house. The membership, many of whom were “April fooled,” recognized that President BruceFinne stopped at nothing to have some fun.

When Past-President John Haworth died in 1997, his wife donated funds to the club to plant seventeen redbud trees in Rotary Park in his memory. This generous gift began a tradition for our club to provide over twenty living memorials to deceased members. In addition, District 6460 planted a tree at the entrance of Rotary Park honoring John Giavaras. The club also placed a memorial plaque on the park shelter with the names of departed members from the Rotary clubs in Springfield.

President Tim Granzeau wrote two nominations that garnered club awards from District 6460. In 1998, Rotary International announced the Jean Harris Award for significant contributions to the development and progress of women. Our Club’s nominee, Victoria S. Schmidt, was awarded the very first District 6460 Jean Harris Award for her long history of service to low-income women and for developing services for poor women in Springfield. In addition, member Robert M. Bellatti was given the District’s second Leader Bell Award for outstanding leadership achievements in all of the four avenues of service.

Dan Weisman introduced “Brag a Bucks” in 1998. These shared moments reveal our success, failures, mutual support, fun and humor, bringing out the personality of our fellowship. With this single idea, the fun-factor of every club meeting grew considerably and provided a new source for funding local scholarships to Springfield colleges.

Dan Weisman also spent considerable time promoting a downtown Springfield Presidential Museum development; in this case, his shameless promotion was for the Dan Weisman Rotary Presidential Museum. We still lament Dan’s predictable failure!

When Carlissa Puckett was nominated to become our second female president, the club Secretary asked her to present a slate of officers for her board. After submitting the proposed slate, she was informed that a woman as vice president should not follow a woman as president. The nominating committee, as provided in club bylaws, was resurrected and developed a new, “appropriate” slate of officers. This story demonstrates that our club continues adapting to evolving standards over time.

Carlissa’s trip to the RI Convention took her to Singapore. She described the convention in that exotic, beautiful country as beyond belief. “I never knew what Rotary really stood for or what it could accomplish until I attended this outstanding event.” Carlissa continued enjoying foreign-accented experiences by entertaining our club in 1999 as our “Macarena Mama,” dancing—with all the right moves—to promote swinging citrus sales.

Bob Lynn’s preparations to become our President in 2000 were interrupted with a surprise. While Bob was packing for the Rotary International Convention in Buenos Aires, he was called for jury duty on a capital murder case; yes, he missed the convention. The club newsletter reported these events as a sneaky excuse to avoid making a presentation to the club. Bob also decided that the murder trial would not provide for a compelling meeting subject.

At the same time, Bob was involved in preparing to receive a visit from the new RI International President, Frank Devlyn, from Mexico. The three Springfield Rotary clubs were honored to host President Frank Devlyn just 23 days into the new Rotary year.

Gay Davidson became our third woman as president in 2002. The International Convention was held in Barcelona, Spain, with smaller attendance than usual due to the aftereffects of 9/11/2001 on travel and visa issues. Gay remembers the unusual juxtaposition of convention keynote speakers, Mikhail Gorbachev and Jerry Lewis.

During her term, the club instituted a monthly community service opportunity for members' participation, an important tradition that has expanded our outreach in positive ways. Gay is best remembered for her love of hockey. She took the club to a Junior Blues game, wearing hockey gear and not a single fight broke out!

David Parsons’ presidency was filled with fun, fellowship and an abundance of humor, including self-deprecating humor and witticisms aimed at delighted members. For the 2003 Holiday Party, he presented a poster-sized Rotary yearbook picture of Vice President Bill Sturm, taken in 1979. This was an example of membership needing to update their yearbook pictures. The pleasure of this gift filled Vice President Bill Sturm with the spirit of the season.

David also had a presidential goal to have every member wear their Rotary pin. Following months of unenthusiastic response, President David issued a challenge to members. If all but three members would wear their pin to a single meeting, he would contribute $50 to our club’s Foundation. Always supportive, Vice President Bill Sturm wanted this goal to be achieved. Bill personally purchased $60 in Rotary pins and gave them to every member to wear on the same evening. Our president, who obviously enjoyed the experience, “begrudgingly” paid up.

In July 2004, the four Springfield Rotary clubs held a joint Rotary International Centennial Presidential Installation ceremony at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. Bob Stuart arranged for Ray Bredberg, Rotary International Annual Giving Officer Zones 29 and 30, to preside. This was the first joint installation ever held in Springfield.

Rotary Club of Springfield—Mid-Town        Lisa Ellis
Rotary Club of Springfield—Sunrise Brian    Dickerson
Rotary Club of Springfield South                  Vicki Stewart
Rotary Club of Springfield, Illinois               Bill Sturm

Bill Sturm presided as president during the opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Many Springfield Rotarians were volunteers for the opening events.

On February 23, 2005, all four Rotary clubs shared a special dinner meeting to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Rotary International.

In the spring of 2005, members of the club planted 800 daffodils at Rotary Park in memory of Ken Catchpole. The members who participated that day will never forget the sturdy tools, the incredibly hard soil and their sore backs.

During Sheila Mack’s term, our club began attending Cardinals/ Cubs games in St. Louis, a successful district fundraiser organized by District Governor Rod Buffington. Our club established a fund at the Sangamon County Community Foundation in memory of Bob Bellatti. We also installed a second memorial plaque at Rotary Park honoring deceased members for whom trees have been planted. As Sheila’s term expired, she was busy recruiting members to form a revolving Citrus Business Committee.

Bruce Strom attended the Salt Lake Rotary convention and was especially impressed with Bill Gates, Sr., co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation was granting $50 million to the RI Foundation for polio eradication. He also offered an additional $100 million to be matched by Rotary donations. That was the beginning of the Gates Foundation working with RI in the battle against polio. To date, the RI Foundation and the Gates Foundation have each funded over $1.2 billion for the eradication of polio.

Bruce Strom began his presidency with a joint installation dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel banquet hall. The installation included presidents of four Springfield Rotary clubs and new District Governor Dick Robinson of Rotary—Sunrise.

Bruce expanded Rotary musical horizons by bringing barbershop quartet to our meetings for entertainment and fun. Bruce also filled his spare time with a run for the Mayor of Springfield.

In 2007, Rod Buffington began a Rotary Circle Program which has grown to 33 members and given Paul Harris Fellow recognition to 26 members. The generosity of circle members allowed us to have 100 percent of our members with a Paul Harris Fellowship as of April 1, 2013.

During Bill Grant’s term, club projects included the Route 66 Mother Road Festival beer tent sales, Illinois State Fair parking  and Adopt-a-Street. We also painted the Senior Center in a single weekend. Ace Hardware—Springfield supplied the paint and dozens of Rotarians supplied smiles, willing hands and clothing to catch dripping paint. This was a fun and rewarding project which brought  fellowship and fun while improving our community.

Bill Grant and his board had to deal with the loss of our revered Executive Secretary Francis Wenzel. Francis had managed the business of running our Rotary Club and our club Foundation for fourteen years. He also directed all club communications with Rotary International. Our board scrambled to parcel out his complex responsibilities to a number of Rotarians.

Neal Miller’s term as president continued the task of replacing Francis Wenzel. Losing a strong Rotarian is unfortunate, and losing our full-time, underpaid, secretary/treasurer caused much anxiety during the transfer of significant responsibilities. The board agreed to name a separate treasurer and secretary for the Club and the Foundation. It was important to keep our organization billing and financial structure on a secure basis. The loss of Francis Wenzel was deeply felt by all; he left a legacy of Club Service that will never be matched.

During that year, Child Passenger Safety Instructor Lib Granzeau offered President Neal an opportunity for club staffing and funding involvement in a child safety seat event. Neal suggested a simplified District 6460 grant for purchasing child safety seats; Lib’s grant was approved. The event was cosponsored by our club, IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety, and SIU School of Medicine's ThinkFirst program. Mike Quimby of Green Hyundai provided significant advertising support and his new dealership facility for the event. Fifteen nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians volunteered their time with Rotary co-hosting the largest child safety seat event ever held in central Illinois. At the end of that year, District Governor Dick Passmore presented our club with the Best Cooperative Project Award in District 6460, signed by RI President Dong Kurn Lee.

One meeting in 2008 celebrated the 95th anniversary of the club. The program for the meeting was an irreverent look at the past 95 years with a script written by Tim Granzeau and presented by Tim and Dan Weisman.

In 2010, a committee appointed to research and suggest a new fundraising activity proposed the John Montgomery Memorial Catfish Tournament. The tournament, developed by Joe Ludke, has become a continuing source of pride and profit for the club. That same year, Karen Schainker started a major international commitment for a micro-loan program for women in Liberia culminating in $15,000 going to the Foundation for Women-Liberia.

Early in his presidency, Mike Plog met with the other Springfield club presidents to discuss common goals. Mike proposed the idea of a joint club meeting that would be separate from the normal club schedules and venues. The other presidents agreed and decided to pursue a major political speaker. Although no political speaker was available, the group became aware of Rotary International’s significant efforts for hurricane recovery in Haiti. Coincidentally, Rotary South member Lee Malany had a leadership role in this recovery program and agreed to make a presentation when he returned to Springfield. On March 11, 2010, all four clubs met at the Inn at 835 to hear about and recognize Lee’s important work in Haiti.

More importantly, the presidents of the four Springfield Rotary clubs had an opportunity to work together for seven months. This set the stage for improved joint club cooperation, expanded citrus business committee membership, joint citrus sales kick-off meetings and a celebration of the hundredth anniversary of Rotary in Springfield.

Good fortune smiled on our Club in 2010 when David Parsons was named District Governor. We had the opportunity to welcome our District Governor for his official visit. Traditionally, during this visit the District Governor would attend a board meeting, be formally welcomed with a standing ovation and deliver a program to motivate and inspire our membership.

Our irrepressible Ed Bedore arranged for a special nontraditional greeting to honor District Governor Parsons. When David was introduced, the members stood and quietly walked out of the room. Good manners prevailed when Rotariansreturned to give our laughing District Governor a standing ovation. We continue to have fun to a fault!

President Nancy Huntley wanted to encourage members to attend the RI Convention by offering a $1,500 stipend to members who had never attended. To qualify, members had to submit an essay explaining how the Rotarian would benefit from attending the convention. The trip was awarded to Karen Schainker who traveled to New Orleans with Gay Davidson. Their quaint French Quarter hotel had once been a home for wayward girls. We are told that our two “girls” never earned their beads.

In May 2011, our club hosted 24 guests for a prospective member open house at the Hoogland Center. It included a cocktail party with a brief presentation about our club. Thanks to Harry Mitchell’s creative approach, we now have a successful formula for meeting potential members in a casual setting.

President Bill Smith established a goal of developing closer relationships with the other Springfield Rotary clubs. He invited the clubs to join our Citrus Business Committee and participate in a joint fundraising kickoff luncheon at the Inn at 835. The event was extremely successful in building fellowship between our clubs and highlighting ways that our fundraising efforts improve our world and provide for community needs.

In 2011, our club members participated in Rotary South’s doughnut fundraiser providing twenty percent of South’s total proceeds to benefit the Salvation Army. That same year, we also partnered on a major painting job for SPARC in cooperation with Rotary South and Rotary—Midtown.

Past President Stan Stern was honored at the 2011 Holiday Party for fifty years of Rotary service and fellowship accompanied by Cece, his devoted wife of many years. This gave our club an opportunity to recognize and thank Stan for his many years of service to Rotary and this community.

Joe Ludke’s presidency is the last of our first century. In closing our first century, we are proud of completing a joint water reclamation project with a Rotary club in India. During this year, the club has been busy preparing for our century celebration.

On August 20, Springfield’s five Rotary clubs held an anniversary year kickoff dinner at the Inn at 835. The highlight of the evening was an inspiring speech from past Rotary International President Ray Klinginsmith from Kirksville, Missouri. It was the perfect beginning for this year’s celebration of a century of Rotary in Springfield.

Naomi Lynn and Vicki Megginson introduced the anniversary project at the kickoff dinner. Springfield’s five Rotary clubs have partnered with the Springfield Park District Foundation and designer Bob Croteau to install a sundial garden in Southwind Park.

The garden features three structures visually anchored by a soaring solar sunflower which casts a shadow marking the date. A human sundial allows an individual standing on a gnomon pad to note the time on the shadow. The Rotary wheel in the center of a circular garden has solstice equinox benches placed on the perimeter, aligned to the seasons. It is an installation  designed to give the visitor a sense of place and time in the solar geometry.

On June 10, at Southwind Park, we will publicly unveil the Springfield Rotary Centennial Sundial Garden with a groundbreaking ceremony. This will be followed by an evening celebrating the success of our first century. At this 100th Anniversary Celebration we are fortunate to welcome the 2013- 14 Rotary International President-Elect Ron D. Burton as our guest of honor.

At the end of this first century, members of the Springfield Rotary fellowship should take the opportunity to consider the future of Rotary and our community. It is our hope that we will always find ways to continue on the path we have followed for the past 100 years: growing in positive ways, supporting the needs of our community and seeking to build a better world. Looking ahead, we are poised for another century with excellent leadership assured from President-Elect David Stake and Vice President-Elect Harry Mitchell. We wish them well…


This chapter has yet to be written.


Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars:

This program promotes international understanding and friendly relations among people of different parts of the world. The scholarships sponsor undergraduate and graduate students, as well as qualified professionals pursuing vocational studies abroad.

Through the Ambassadorial Scholarship, Springfield Rotary has sponsored 16 students for this fully-funded year of postgraduate school study abroad. Our scholars have included thefollowing:

James E. Robinson         England             1970-71
Roger M. Smith         England         1973-74
Bonnie K. Quinn             France             1975-76
Karen S. Ackerman               Wales                  1976-77
Donald F. Elsass         New Zealand         1978-79
John Schleppenbach           Japan                 1978-79
Gregory P. Otten             Germany                 1979-80
John T. Shaw                 Australia                1982-83
Jonathan A. Knee           Ireland                 1983-84
Denise Minnis                 Egypt                 1984-85
Julie Brozio                 England                 1985-86
Frederick Ray                 Australia             1986-87
Samuel D. Chimento         Germany             1987-88
Susanne R. Gubano         England             1992-93
Erin A. Bishop                 Ireland                 1993-94
Haltan A. Peters                 England                1999-2000

While the Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship program will end in 2013, future opportunities will be available through the recently created William J. Menghini District 6460 Endowed Scholarship program. This was made possible by a $200,000 contribution from the Menghini family. The funding of this endowment allows for continuation of Ambassadorial Scholarships for students within our Rotary District.

The Menghini District 6460 program was announced in April 2013 to honor the memory of our much admired past president who served in 1941-42. In later years, Bill was treasured for his exhibitions of magic and wonderful humor which were always on display for our members' enjoyment. His remarkable legacy lives on through this extraordinary gift.

Central States Youth Exchange:

Our members Dan Milligan and Bob Bellatti provided years of service in managing our club and district youth exchange programs. In 1992, Bob Bellatti was named District 6460 Youth Exchange Officer, a post he held through 1998. Dan's and Bob’s responsibilities grew when they volunteered as board members for the Central States Youth Exchange program serving 16 Rotary districts in the Midwest and Canada. In 1999, Bob Bellatti became the Secretary-Treasurer of the program and held both positions until his final illness required his resignation. Dan Milligan took over as the treasurer and held the post for nine years.

When Bob Bellatti suddenly passed away in 2003, his Brazilian exchange student son, Luis Guimaraes, travelled from Indonesia to deliver the eulogy at Bob’s funeral, clearly demonstrating the respect and love Bob gained for his commitment to youth exchange programs. The Bellatti family has named Luis a Paul Harris Fellow.

In 2007, our club formed and funded the Robert M. Bellatti Springfield Rotary Youth Exchange Scholarship Fund at the Sangamon County Community Foundation. The fund’s purpose is to help underwrite the cost of hosting exchange students.

Rotary Group Study Exchange:

Springfield, Illinois, with its Lincoln sites and capital city attractions, is a popular destination for foreign visitors. Springfield Rotary began hosting incoming GSE teams to Springfield in the 1960’s. We have received GSE teams from  Korea, France, Japan, Italy, Brazil, Norway, Argentina, England, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sweden and others.

Rod Buffington led an outgoing GSE team to Sweden in 2000. That team included Maria Agneli, who was sponsored by our club. In 1998, we sponsored Doug Carr for a GSE trip to northern Italy. Doug has wonderful stories about Rotary multicourse luncheon meetings with wine pairings followed by grappa and a leisurely snooze on the GSE-provided touring coach.

Rotary Exchange Students:

Springfield Rotary began hosting foreign exchange students in the 1980’s. High school students came from Brazil, Costa Rica, India, Sweden, France, Czech Republic, Thailand and other countries. Bob and Sandy Bellatti hosted eight of these students. Bill and Sharon Smith have opened their home to five students.

Our club has also sponsored local students for the Rotary exchange program. The most recent was Neal Miller’s daughter, Rachel, who spent the 2009-10 school year in Australia. Rachel kept in touch with her sponsoring club through her proud father. Bob Bellatti’s daughter Beth, spent a year of high school in Spain beginning in 1988. Pamplona Rotary was an all-male club, and Beth did not feel welcome at their meetings. We all have changed in the intervening years.

Rotary International Grants:

In the 1990’s, member Mattilou Catchpole obtained a Rotary grant for an African trip to teach the administration of anesthesia in Ugandan hospitals.

Micro-Credit Loan Program:

In 2011, we donated $15,000 for the Micro-Credit Loan Program to provide business loans for the women of Liberia. This program is administered by the Foundation for Women.

Other Service:

In 1996, we hosted two Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars from Japan who had received scholarships for a year of study in the United States.

Our member, Dr. Vibert White, was given a University Professor Scholarship in 2001 to study for a year in Brazil.

In 2012, we purchased 71 hygiene kits for Hospital Sisters mission outreach. In 2013, we helped build a community waterwell in collaboration with a Rotary club in India.


Ridgely School:

Ridgely became our adopted school in 1991. We annually provide this low-income elementary school with monetary resources and volunteers.

We have funded Ridgely program needs with significant Springfield Rotary Foundation Grants for the past 15 years. Programming supplies have included books for students, reference books, computer equipment, educational software and related programming materials. In addition, the club annually provides dictionaries for Ridgely’s third graders.

Club members and families also provide tutorial support and mentoring to Ridgely students. Our own Dan Milligan has built a legacy spanning many years providing tutoring and mentoring support to Ridgely student that will never be forgotten. Three years ago, our departed Past President, Al Gardner, achieved incredible success by placing Rotary club tutors with needy students for over 20 hours every week.

A few years ago, our Rotary district began offering grants to fund literacy programming. Our club received two annual grants to fund a “Real Rotarians Read” program at Ridgely School. The funding provided for hundreds of books for third and fourth-grade students. Rotarian volunteers supported the program by conducting monthly reading sessions of each book for a classroom of students.

Our success in obtaining District 6460 grant funding allows us to extend support for Ridgely caring staff, enabling them to better serve their at-risk students. Our club foundation continues to seek other avenues to meet the many needs of these deserving students. Our membership is justifiably proud of the work of our foundation and the club’s relationship with Ridgely school.

Local College Scholarships:

For years, the club has provided scholarship funds to local colleges including University of Illinois Springfield, Lincoln Land Community College, Benedictine University and Robert Morris University. The John Giavaras Rotary Scholarship at LLCC is named in honor of our past president.

Over the years, we have provided tens of thousands of scholarship funds to these schools. Much of the funding is derived from our weekly “Brag-a-Bucks” session with Rotarians telling tall tales and humorous stories before reciting the Four Way Test, “Is it the truth?”....

Help in Small Ways:

For years, our club has provided assistance to our community in small ways. Members donate blood to the Central Illinois Community Blood Center in competition with other local Rotary clubs. Blood bank president and club member David Parsons pays one dollar to our scholarship fund for every pint donated.

In addition, we donate winter coats to SPARC and St. Martin de Porres, we ring bells for the Salvation Army, we provide holiday gifts for the Rutledge Youth Foundation, and we regularly clean a section of West Jefferson, our Adopt-a-Street. Helping in small ways adds up over the years and benefits our community


In 1975, Bill Montague attended the district conference and heard about the Collinsville Rotary Club’s successful California citrus sale which earned $3,000 in the first year. Bill called his parents who were living in Florida and asked them to contact a citrus grower’s cooperative. Within a few weeks, Bill presented his ideas to our club board, resulting in our first sale of oranges and grapefruit with projections for $2,000 in profit.

Members began selling forty pound cartons of fruit in October 1975 under the management of Bill “Zipper Skin” Montague. The very first “Citrus Queen” was Amy Butler, the young daughter of “Sales Boss” Jerry Butler. Within a few weeks, the profit goal was raised to $4,000. In that very first year, our club exceeded its goals and sold over 3,700 cartons of citrus; the club sold six acres of fruit that filled three trucks. The Springfield Rotary Foundation earned $9,500 for local charities. By 1977 citrus profits approached $20,000. Our citrus profits have continued to grow and generally exceed $35,000 annually.

Our success in selling citrus was built on the idea of direct purchase of citrus from a cooperative grower’s association in Florida. They provided Indian River navel oranges and grapefruit. We arranged for refrigerated trucks to transport the fruit to Springfield. In the early years, fruit was shipped immediately after picking with no processing for color or fruit preservation. In those days, the fruit arrived within a few days of picking. Our customers became used to eating sweet, juicy, fruit that didn’t look ripe. Green oranges were the norm and became a sales success every holiday season.

During the 1980’s, the Rotary citrus program grew to include sales to about twenty Rotary clubs stretching to Chicago. While higher volume yielded excellent profits, growing responsibilities and management burdens dictated restructured objectives.

A Citrus Review Committee chaired by Al Gardner successfully reorganized the program with our club choosing to process sales only for local Rotary clubs. The very next citrus sale was chaired by Rod Buffington and every member of the club participated in selling citrus. Over 4,000 cases, a club record, were sold that year. Citrus profits were averaging over $35,000 a year during the 1980’s.

Our club’s citrus program provided lots of opportunities for hijinks and fun. Sales incentives were the norm in the 1980’s and ranged from Rotary shirts to a glass of prune juice depending on the occasion. A Miss Citrus Contest with our men in coconut brassieres is, happily, only a distant memory. We also sang wonderfully silly citrus songs on old fashioned slides. Later, we passed out music and sang, mostly off-key, with lots of laughter. We also had fun themes for the sales campaigns including a Citrus Witch, A Big Orange, A Big Grapefruit, A Macarena Mama, Mambo Number Five and other hijinks. In 2007, one club member donated the Tim Granzeau Sales Award (“The Timmy”) for the top salesperson of the campaign.

In 1990, we established a relationship with Underfanger Moving and Storage. Owners Tom and Karen Paisley have graciously offered their warehouse, without cost, for a number of years. Their support of our major fundraising program has been a true gift for our club and foundation.

In the late 1990’s, we developed a partnership with Humphrey’s Market to improve the quality of our product. The citrus industry was changing with groves being closed for economic development and modern processing methods being adopted by gift-fruit growers. Our fruit is now processed for color, dried for freshness and attractively packaged prior to shipment.

In 2006, a rotating Citrus Business Committee was formed to manage all aspects of citrus sales. The committee adjusted product and pricing decisions to become more closely aligned with local retail markets. We began offering two case sizes and mixed fruit. The new pricing and packaging strategy was quickly embraced by customers. These changes have maintained citrus profits in the face of declining sales.


Joe Ludke suggested a fishing tournament to the club’s fundraising committee in 2009. His experience and knowledge were vital in creating this event. Sponsorship was obtained for a successful opening event in 2010. Club members staffed the event and enjoyed the fellowship of a day on Lake Springfield. We still enjoy hearing about President Nancy Huntley sliding down a slippery boat ramp quickly followed by her rescuer, Neal Miller, both landing in Lake Springfield.

The John Montgomery Memorial Catfish Tournament has been held on Lake Springfield for the last three years. Tournament proceeds have generated over $24,000 for funding of local literacy programs. Recipients of grants from the event include the Springfield School District, Lincoln Land Community College, Fishes and Loaves Outreach and public television station WSEC among others.

Our tournament has earned recognition as a “must attend” tournament among the local fishing community. Participants have come from Iowa and Missouri to participate in the event. Every year the tournament has awarded $4,000 in prize money, making it a top-prize event in the local fishing community. The tournament offers club members the opportunity to participate in the management and operations for the event. Rotarians perform a wide range of duties including registration, weighing of the fish, returning the fish to the lake and determining the winning teams.

The John Montgomery Memorial Catfish Tournament is an excellent example of the Club’s commitment to the local community and to fellowship.

Since 1974, the Springfield Rotary Foundation has donated in excess of $1,250,000 to over 100 charitable organizations serving our community. The Foundation earns income through club-sponsored fundraising events and direct donations. The annual sale of Florida citrus has been the major source of funding for over 35 years. Our catfish tournament will continue to generate revenue in the future, and the club will develop other opportunities to fund needed services in our community.

Every year the Foundation seeks applications for grants to address community needs. The basic focus of the Foundation has been on projects that address hunger and literacy although other meaningful needs are considered. The Foundationencourages applications which include requests for Rotarian Service Hours for community projects.

The primary beneficiaries of our foundation’s funding have been local charities that provide for human services in central Illinois. Since 1972, we have made over $720,000 in supporting these needs which include hunger, homelessness, poverty, youth development, disabilities and related social service needs.

Our foundation has also supported educational needs with over $220,000 in funding for local college scholarships, reading programs and support for our adopted school, Ridgely Elementary.

International programs funded by our foundation have included cooperative development projects in underdeveloped countries including clean water wells and micro-credit loan programs. We will also continue funding for foreign exchange, group study and educational programs for high school students, college students and young professionals. Support is also provided for Rotary International programs like Polio Plus, the RI Foundation initiative to eliminate polio world-wide.

Arts, cultural and humanities organizations have also received significant support from our club foundation. These have included our sponsorship and support for Rotary Park and funding for arts enrichment and educational programs.

We are proud of our foundation’s impact on our community.


Our Rotary District gives four annual leadership awards recognizing contributions to “Avenues of Service” including community service, leadership, literacy and youth service to new generations. Two of these awards are named for and honor members of The Rotary Club of Springfield.

The John Giavaras Community Service Award was created in 2001 to honor our late member who lived a life of service above self. The award goes to a Rotarian who has shown community service leadership outside of Rotary. Recipients have included four Springfield Rotarians including:

Robert A. Stuart         Downtown         2003
Bud Ramshaw         South         2004
Brian Barstead         Sunrise         2007
Bob Moore         Downtown         2011

The Rod Buffington Literacy Award is given annually to a Rotarian who has made significant contributions for literacy education programs. The first award was given to Rod in 2011, and named for him, in honor of literacy programs that he created and manages. In 2003, Rod began promoting “Rotary Day at the Ball Park,” a trip to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals play the Cubs. This game draws attendance from five Rotary District’s and has raised over $250,000 for literacy projects.

The District 6460 Ed Peterka Leader Bell Award was created in 1998 for outstanding leadership by a member in all four of Rotary’s “Avenues of Service.” Award recipients have included two Rotary Downtown members, Bob Bellatti in 1998 and Rod Buffington in 2001.

The Rotary District New Generations award, created in 2011, was given to recently deceased Dick Morse, Springfield—Sunrise member, for his significant contributions to youth. Dick and his wife, Nathela, have hosted many exchange students in their  home. Dick’s legacy of youth services was built as Chairperson of Rotary District 6460 Youth Exchange programs and board membership in Central States Rotary Youth Exchange. Referred to as “The Fifth Avenue of Rotary Service,” New Generations involves working with young people to help them become the next generation of leaders, visionaries and peacemakers. New Generations has recently been relabeled as Youth Service.

The following Springfield Rotarians serve on the Rotary District 6460 Leadership Team for 2012-2013:

Carl Affrunti           Assistant District Governor
Brian Barstead         Treasurer & Financial Review Committee
Bruce Strom            By-Laws & Constitution
Neal Miller              Vocational Service
Bill Sturm                District/Club Awards
David Parsons         Foundation Chair & Permanent Funds
Lee Malany             Group Study Exchange
Karen Hasara          Peace Scholarship
Naomi Lynn            Peace Scholarship
Barb Malany            Youth Exchange—Inbound Coordinator
Rod Buffington       Literacy Education
Dick Robinson        District Conference

The following Springfield Rotarian’s have served as District Governor:

Will Taylor                     1928-29
Robert L. Conn, Sr.         1932-33
Carl H. Weber                 1952-53
Ben D. Kinningham         1964-65
Robert L. Conn, Jr.         1972
John C. Haworth             1975-76
Robert A. Stuart, Jr.         1985-86
John Giavaras                 1990-91
John Forbes                 1998-99
Rod Buffington             2003-04
Richard P. Robinson         2006-07
David R. Parsons         2010-11


Our club members and their families have made over $780,000 in contributions to the RI Foundation. The club has 79 members contributing $100 or more annually to the RI Foundation as part of the “Every Rotarian Every Year” program.

In 2007, Rod Buffington introduced the Rotary Circle Program to our club. Each circle consists of up to five members who donate $200 annually for the purpose of naming Paul Harris Fellows every year. Our 33 circle members have contributed $26,000 to the RI Foundation and recognized 26 members as Paul Harris Fellows.

Our club members have made significant commitments to the RI Foundation:

  • On April 1, 2013, our club became a 100-percent Paul Harris Fellow Club.
  • Our members have funded 210 Paul Harris Fellowships. These recognize contributions of $1,000 or more to the RI Foundation.
  • Annual Fund Drive: Every year, the club gives Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship recognition to a deserving community member.
  • Four Benefactors have named the Rotary Foundation in their will.
  • Three Bequest Society members have pledged $10,000 in their wills/estates.
  • Three Major Donors have contributed a minimum of $10,000 to the RI Foundation Annual Fund Drive.

Two of our club members have served on the RotaryInternational Board of Directors:

Will Taylor joined our club in March 1920 and immediately created the Rotary Review which he edited for 30 years. Remarkably, Will was elected as the club President just two years after joining. He continued his growth in Rotary with a term as District Governor in 1928-29. He was elected as an RI Director for the 1930-31 year. In January 1947, Will represented our club at the funeral of Rotary founder, Paul Harris. He remained an active member for 32 years and was named an honorary member in 1952.

Robert A. Stuart, Jr., has a long record of service to The Rotary Club of Springfield, Rotary District 6460 and Rotary International. He served our club in a number of positions beginning in 1978 as Rotary Review Associate Editor and in successive years as Assistant Secretary, Secretary, Club Service Director, Vice President, President, Foundation Director and finally Foundation Chair.

Bob became the District Governor of District 6460 in 1985. He continued working on Zone Institute projects and representing the RI president in seven Rotary districts.

Bob also has an extensive resume of positions with Rotary International and the RI Foundation. Among other responsibilities, these include terms on the RI Ballot Committee, the RI Nominating Committee, the Council on Legislation, the RI Extension Task Force and the Regional RI Foundation as Coordinator.

Bob became a Rotary International Director in 2005, also serving on the Executive Committee for the 2005-06 term. In 2009, Bob was awarded the Rotary International Distinguished Service Award.

Bob’s opportunities in service to Rotary have included the following:

  • He has raised money for the seven global Peace Centers successfully funding a Heart of America Zone endowment of $750,000.
  • He participated in three Polio National Immunization Days in Nigeria and Benin.
  • He developed use of Donor Advised Funds for Disaster Relief following Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti Earthquake while working with committees overseeing the $4 million expended on hundreds of Rotarian supervised projects.
  • He has been able to open water wells, deliver wheelchairs and establish business through microcredit associations.
  • He helped establish the HOA Rotary Leadership Institute.
By Patricia McLaughlin

During the 1965-1966 Rotary year, members of The Rotary Club of Springfield decided another club should be organized in our community. To accomplish this, it was necessary that the downtown club relinquish territory to the new club and secure approval of District Governor Ernie Tosvosky and of Rotary International. Downtown Rotarian Bill Montague was appointed Special Representative of the District Governor to head a committee for this purpose, and he remained an honorary member of our club who visited frequently until his death.

Through the efforts of this committee, prospective members were interviewed, and an organization meeting was held January 27, 1966. The Rotary Club of Springfield South was admitted to membership in Rotary International on February 18, 1966, with thirty men of various vocations agreeing to become charter members, some of whom came from the downtown club to make this possible.

The unusually large number of thirty charter members and their wives were honored on Monday, March 28, 1966, at Hotel St. Nicholas at a charter night ceremony sponsored by The Rotary Club of Springfield. John Montgomery, president of The Rotary (downtown) Club of Springfield, presided over the ceremony along with Bill Montague. Springfield became the first city in District 6460 to support two Rotary clubs.

In 1987, women were first admitted to Rotary International, and Rotary South soon followed suit. Since 1996, five women have served as president and many more women have served, and continue to serve, as committee chairs, officers and directors of Rotary South.

Rotary South has also been involved in international projects such as assisting with an eye bank project in Brazil and a  pediatric clinic in Macedonia. Presently the South club is raising funds in partnership with Rotary Downtown for a water harvesting project in India.

Since the 1980’s, the Rotary South Foundation has provided financial grants to local charities totaling more than $450,000 from our annual citrus drive. In addition to providing miscellaneous financial grants to local charities, life-changing contributions also include the following:

  • Rotary South sponsors the Pawnee High School Interact Club and for the past few years has co-sponsored inbound exchange students.
  • Rotary South provides sweatshirts every year for every student at Douglas School.
  • Using literacy grants, Rotary South has funded library projects for Jefferson Middle School and for the terrific Capital College Prep Academy.
  • Rotary South collects toiletries that are distributed to a variety of local charities including Douglas School, Helping Hands homeless shelter and others.
  • Rotary South collects aluminum pop tabs to benefit Ronald McDonald House.
  • Rotary South collects plastic containers that are provided to St. John’s Breadline so that leftover food may be sent home with their clients at the end of the day instead of being thrown away.
By Brian Barstead and John Forbes

The Rotary Club of Springfield—Sunrise met for the first time on February 4, 1987, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel at First and Adams. Thirty-two charter members formed the club. Currently there are two charter members still in our club: John Forbes and Mario Perrino, who served as our first club president. Bob Stuart, Past District Governor (PDG) and Past RI Director, and the late John Giavaras, PDG of District 6460, were instrumental in helping form the club. On February 25, 1987, the club adopted its Charter and By-Laws.

The Sunrise club received its charter on April 7, 1987, becoming the third chartered club in the history of Rotary in Springfield.

The Sunrise Rotary Club became the first club in central Illinois to admit women to its membership. Patti Donsbach was the first female Rotarian in Springfield becoming a member in July of 1987. Eileen Montgomery served as our president for 18 months from January of 1997 through June of 1999 and was our first female club president.

We have two Past District Governors in our club. John Forbes and Dick Robinson and many others have served as district officers in other capacities.

In 2006, through the Springfield Green Adopt-a-Street Program our club adopted one mile of South Grand Avenue East from Taylor to Dirksen Parkway. We pick up trash four times per year.

In October through November each year, Sunrise raises thousands of dollars for local charities by selling citrus. For the past several years, our club has raised money by staffing a State Fair parking lot on Peoria Road. The proceeds are used to pay for literacy projects in our community.

The Sunrise club routinely hosts and sponsors inbound and outbound exchange students each year.

Sunrise is the Official Sponsor of the “This I Believe” essay contest for local area high school students in conjunction with local public radio, WUIS.

Sunrise partnered with two other Springfield Rotary clubs to donate $15,000 to the Springfield Park District to open Rotary Park in 1994.

Club members brought ingredients, prepared and served meals at the Ronald McDonald House. Our members also enjoyed dining with their guests.

Sunrise provided volunteers for the opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in April of 2005, helping with crowd control for the official visit of President and Mrs. George W. Bush.

Sunrise contributed to local charities that help kids, such as Camp Care-A-Lot, WSEC’s Early Childhood Learning reading program and the YMCA, to name a few.

We have also sponsored a books-in-the-schools program for Dubois Elementary School and Harvard Park Elementary School.

In 1999, we partnered with a Rotary district and club in the Philippines. We raised and provided funds, with district matching grants from our district, Rotary International and the district in the Philippines to provide over $6,000 that provided food for 125 children and nutrition education for their families in the worst slums of Manila.

It is estimated that our club has raised and donated over $250,000 in its history for local charitable causes and club projects.

We have also raised many thousands of dollars for Polio Plus, which has helped inoculate thousands of children in developing countries around the globe.

In addition, we co-sponsored, originated and coordinated the “Hats Off to Mr. Lincoln” public art project that put giant artist-painted stovepipe hats all over downtown during 2009 Lincoln bicentennial. Some of the hats have become permanent local art icons which have delighted locals and visitors alike.

By: Lisa Ellis

The Rotary Club of Midtown Springfield was the brainchild of Rotarian Bill Stokes and received its charter under the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Springfield—Sunrise on May 16, 2003. Stokes believed that a lunch-time club would attract local professionals who had family duties in the morning and evening, and time has proven that assumption to be correct.

Midtown was the fourth Rotary club chartered in Springfield, and met at the Sangamo Club in its early years. Meetings moved to The Inn at 835 in 2007. In order to share information and present a unified approach in the community, Springfield Rotary club presidents began meeting monthly after Midtown was chartered, a practice that continues to this day.

Early on, club members decided to focus on unmet needs at Washington Middle School (WMS). Midtown hosted a World Affairs luncheon in its inaugural year to benefit the school. Peoria Rotarian and then-US Congressman Ray LaHood was the featured speaker. Rotary-based activities at Washington Middle School include a landscaping improvement project, student mentoring, and school uniform and supply collections.

A real focus on reading and literacy began in 2006 when Midtown purchased new books for the school library. This led to the establishment of an annual recognition program at the school. Top readers from WMS are treated to a “Million Word Luncheon” at the end of each school year. These phenomenal young readers are greeted by the Mayor or his representative and provided certificates of achievement and gift cards to Barnes & Noble. The event grows larger every year and is a favorite event for the club and the school.

Midtown is also active in worldwide youth activities, having sponsored both outbound youth exchange students and hosting inbound students from Germany, France and Taiwan. Club  member Adrianne Swartz has led the youth initiative within the club and was recently awarded a Paul Harris Fellow for her efforts.

Community beautification is another area in which the club has focused attention. Club and district grant funds were used to renovate the Sixth Street/Stanford Avenue overpass in Springfield. Elbow grease has been applied and both the north and south facing beds are home to the Rotary wheel.

Fundraising projects for the club include annual citrus sales, working the parking gates at the Illinois State Fair and organizing/working local 5k runs.

Midtown Club Presidents:
2003-04             Dave Doetsch
2004-05                     Lisa Ellis
2005-06             Matt Waldhoff
2006-07             Kristine Smith
2007-08                 John Kelker
2008-09         Creighton Castle
2009-10             Junell Ransdell
2010-11                 Sally Quinn
2011-12                     Jim Dolan
2012-13                 Jon Monken

By Ed Hart

Our first meetings were held at Mariah’s in 2006. We were finally chartered on February 27, 2008. The members most instrumental in our being chartered were Jennifer Call, Kevin Taylor, Greg Birky, Josh Britton and Joe Kulek. During the first years leading up to our club being chartered, we were guided by Dan O’Brien of the South club.

Some of the more memorable projects that we have participated in are the following: We purchased a Digital Dental X-Ray machine for Saint Claire’s Clinic (part of Catholic Charities). With this machine, patients are able to have multiple services performed in house eliminating the need to be referred to other dentists in other parts of town.

For the past five years, club members have been mentoring students at Owen Marsh School. We have received two grants for the school, one where we donated a book for each student at the school and another where we donated iTouches to the school.

We volunteer at the Catholic Charities Holiday store each holiday season. We donate about $1,000 in coats, hats and gloves to the store. Also during the holiday season, we sell poinsettias for our major fundraiser.

Last year, we began our support of BUMP, a nonprofit organization that makes and distributes arms to limbless individuals in Guatemala. We initially partnered with the Waterloo Rotary club in this endeavor and were able to help deliver twenty arms this past year. We are now looking to partner with a Rotary club in Guatemala under the new guidelines of the Rotary Foundation.

This year, we have held two shoe giveaways for the students at Washington Middle School. The students were bused to Payless and allowed to shop for a pair of shoes they choose. We have provided shoes for over 200 students. This was with thehelp of a Rotary grant.

Conservatively, including grants, we have contributed well over $20,000 to the mission of Rotary in our community.