Celebrating 100 Years: A Look Back in Our History

Rotary Club of Madison-Centennial Logo

As part of our celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Rotary Club of Madison, Jerry Thain and Rich Leffler are today beginning a series in which we will publish original documents from the Club’s archives. We hope that these documents will recall for you the rich history of the Club and the times during this momentous century.

Here is our first posting for the series:

Paul F. Hunter, Sr.

On September 1, 1939, the German Army and Air Force attacked Poland. After diplomatic efforts failed to end the invasion, on September 3, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. For the second time in a generation, the lights were going out all over Europe. The essay, almost certainly written by Paul F. Hunter, Sr., the longtime Club secretary and the editor of The Rotary News, appeared in the News issue of September 12, 1939 (volume XXIV, no. 18, p. 3).
The essay is beautifully, lyrically written and also suggests the broad  international connections our Club had at the time. It presciently fears  “what may be the worst war in the history of the world.” Even that  understated the horrors that were to come. It also speaks of a halcyon America,  which was perhaps a rose-colored vision of the reality of 1939. But it may have  been true of Madison, Wisconsin. Even then, in the last days of the Depression,  Madison was a special place.

–submitted by Rich Leffler

3 responses to “Celebrating 100 Years: A Look Back in Our History

  1. This is fascinating. Thanks. Rich and Jerry. Today I heard the producer speak about the WPTV doc – Wisconsin’s Nazi Resistance: The Mildred Fish-Harnack Story. I wonder what connection Rotary may have had to her story? Linda Baldwin

  2. It’s certainly a testament to the Rotary philosophy that personal relationships lead to international understanding. This causes me to wonder how our club is connected to Pakistan, Syria and Libya to pick three nations from the front page of the NY Times today.

  3. Thank you, Jerry and Rich! I look forward to your future posts.

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