Category Archives: Centennial Celebration

Celebrating 100 Years: How Our Club Celebrated Earlier Landmark Anniversaries

Rotary Club of Madison-Centennial LogoAs we celebrate our 100th anniversary, our History Sub-Committee is taking a look back in our club’s rich history and is sharing highlights from the past century.  This week’s message is shared by committee member Jerry Thain:

How Our Club Celebrated Earlier Landmark Anniversaries
Our Club has been celebrating its 100th anniversary this year in a variety of ways that look back on the Club’s past accomplishments and forward to future goals. The Club newsletters inform us how earlier significant anniversaries were celebrated. The 20th anniversary occurred in the depths of the Great Depression in 1933. The meeting marking that occasion honored Milo Hagan for serving as Club treasurer for all 20 years of the Club’s existence; Louie Hirsig for perfect attendance for those 20 years; and Charles G. Campbell, then of Kewaunee and formerly with the Chicago club, for planting “the Rotary seed in Madison.”  A birthday cake, four feet in diameter in the shape of a Rotary wheel, was served and the meeting ended with the singing of Auld Land Syne.

25 Anniversary CakeFive years later, the economy was improving although war clouds were gathering over Europe. The Rotary News of March 22, 1938, a week before the anniversary meeting, was printed with a silver cover befitting a 25th anniversary event and pictured the twelve surviving original members to honor the “class of 1913.” The newsletter followed with a very nice summary of the accomplishments of the Club in its first 25 years and noted that the Club was the largest Rotary Club in any city of less than 100,000.  Charles G. Campbell again was present as was Rotary’s founder, Paul Harris.  In his brief remarks (Rotary News, March 29, 1938), Harris said he “had tried to send more foreign Rotarians to visit Madison than any other city because it was such an ideal American city and one of the best clubs” in any city of its size in “all of Rotary.”

It would be fascinating to know how future Club anniversaries will be noted. Perhaps some of our current members will be present for one of them?

Highlights from Rotary SummerPalooza June 8, 2013

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It was a picture perfect day for our club’s inaugural SummerPalooza event on the Capitol Square!  There was music and entertainment outside of the Madison Children’s Museum and free admission to the museum throughout the day.  A parade started at noon and looped around the Capitol Square.

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We had 39 Rotary volunteers and 20 BMO Harris Bank volunteers who helped out during the event.  There were 16 community grant organizations and 14 other groups that participated in our parade.  The Madison Children’s Museum welcomed 3,187 guests inside the museum which is a record number for the museum.

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It is estimated that the event drew 4,000 attendees, 300 parade participants, and there were about 2,000 additional people watching the parade on the square.

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It was a success on many levels, and we thank Steve Goldberg for chairing the planning committee within our club, and thanks also to all of our volunteers.

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Our thanks to the following sponsors for making the event possible:  BMO Harris, MGE Foundation and UW Health & Unity Health Insurance. 

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Celebrating 100 Years: A Look Back in our Club’s History on Member Classifications

Rotary Club of Madison-Centennial LogoAs we celebrate our 100th anniversary, our History Sub-Committee is taking a look back in our club’s rich history and is sharing highlights from the past century.  This week’s message is shared by committee member Carol Toussaint:

One thing I’ve learned from looking back to the beginnings of our Rotary Club is how the classifications have changed.  Here are few we don’t see today as documented in a book covering membership from the years 1913-28:

Adding Machines (Alfred Rowlands)
Barber Shops (John Runkel)
Bookbinder (Frederic Brandenburg)
Butter, Manufacturing (Rubert Steinhauer)
Charity Associations (Charles Wirt, Community Union)
China & Glassware (Robert Douglas)
Cigar, Tobacco (William Fisher)
Coal (Emil Frautschi)
Eggs, Distribution, Retail (Theodore Montague)
Eggs, Wholesale (William Power)
Farmer (John S. Donald, College of Agriculture, UW)
Furniture (Irving Frautschi)
Hardware, Distributing (George Britten)
Hardware, Retail (Louis Hirsig)
Hardware, Wholesale (Albert Strang)
Heavy Hardware (Theodore Wiedenbeck)
Insurance, Adjusting (Paul Rehhfeld)
Insurance Agency (Reuben Neckerman)
Fire Insurance (Arthur Schulkamp)
Fraternal Insurance (Stephen Oscar)
Physical Education (Glenn Thistelthwaite, football coach)
Public Defense Service (Joseph Barnes, U.S. Army)
Steam Railroads (James MacDonald)
Undertaking (Art Frautschi)
Underwear, Manufacturing (Lester Watrous)

The Classification Committees in these early years deserve credit for creativity in getting four members each into the Hardware and Insurance categories!

In the early years of Rotary, there could only be one active and one additional active member per classification.  Several years ago, however, our classification system was revamped to a much broader classification system, and we can now have up to 10 percent of our membership within each classification (see pages 47-53 of our membership roster for the current classification listing).

Celebrating 100 Years: A Look Back in Our Club’s History: Happy Birthday to Us!

Rotary Club of Madison-Centennial LogoAs we celebrate our 100th anniversary, our History Sub-Committee is taking a look back in our club’s rich history and is sharing highlights from the past century.  This week’s message is shared by committee member Rich Leffler:

Founders Photo

From left: John McKenna, C.R. (Rex) Welton, Art Schulkamp and Bob Nickles

These days 100 years ago were momentous for the Rotary Club of Madison. As you all know, the first meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a Rotary Club here was held on March 13, when Bob Nickles invited three fellow businessmen to have lunch at the Elk’s Club. In addition to Nickles, those in attendance were John C. McKenna, Art Schulkamp and C. R. (Rex) Welton.

On March 20, ten men met and probably discussed a letter and some Rotary literature that Nickles had received from Chesley Perry, secretary of the International Association of Rotary Clubs in Chicago, that explained what Rotary was all about. The group apparently was interested, and they decided to form a “temporary organization,” anticipating that they would affiliate with the IARC. They also elected McKenna as “acting chairman” and Welton as “acting secretary.”

On April 3, nineteen members of the Rotary Club of Madison met at the old Madison Club, adopted a constitution and bylaws, and voted unanimously to affiliate with the IARC. They then elected their first officers, including as president, John C. McKenna, who appointed a membership committee to recruit appropriate people for the Club. Perry had sent Nickles some suggestions on how to recruit members. He advised that forty or fifty business leaders of different lines, many already known to Club members, should be called upon and that it should be explained to them that the Club was “something new and unique which would be a benefit to the city and to them as individuals.” He advised, “Make sure that those who join with you have caught the spirit of Rotary and exclude those who see in the Rotary club naught but possible commercial advantages for themselves.” He also invoked the concept that “He profits most who serves best.”

Typically for this Club, although the Club had voted unanimously on April 3 to affiliate with the IARC, there seems to have been some ambivalence about a relationship with the greater Rotary organization. Welton told Perry of these doubts: “Many of the members, in fact most of them, have somewhat hazy ideas of what the Rotary Clubs are really doing and of the lines along which they are working.” Perry would have liked to have sent more explanatory literature to the Madison club, but he explained that “As the whole Rotary movement is in a process of evolution–not only as to its philosophy but as to its literature, we are not able to send out just the printed matter we should like you to have.” Instead, Perry appeared personally before the Club on April 17. Finally, on May 16, the Rotary Club of Madison formally applied for affiliation.

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On June 10, Perry wrote to the Madison club that “We are pleased to advise you that your application for membership in the International Association has met with the approval of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors by whose vote [on June 2, 1913] the Rotary Club of Madison has been made an affiliating Rotary Club.”  Perry enclosed with the letter The Charter, making Madison, with thirty-three members, the seventy-first Rotary Club in the world.

Celebrating 100 Years: A Look Back in Our Club’s History During the Vietnam War

Rotary Club of Madison-Centennial LogoAs we celebrate our 100th anniversary, our History Sub-Committee is taking a look back in our club’s rich history and is sharing highlights from the past century.  This week’s message is shared by committee member Jerry Thain:

For people of a certain age, any reference to the decade of the 1960s will certainly invoke memories of the nation’s divided reactions to the Viet Nam War and the turbulence that swept over many colleges and universities   Opposition hersheyto the war and to the draft of young men that provided large numbers of the men who fought in it, was quite strong on the UW-Madison campus. When our Club, in May, 1968, had Lt. General Lewis B. Hershey (left), Director of the Selective Service System, as its program speaker, the anti-war demonstrations reached the entrance to the meeting that day.

Although there had been efforts to keep the identity of the speaker secret prior to his appearance, it was learned beforehand and the Rotarians who attended the meeting were greeted by chanting demonstrators, many throwing eggs, as they approached the door to the Lorraine Hotel that day. Police kept the line of demonstrators moving and outside the hotel proper.  “A large turnout” of members attended the meeting and apparently reacted favorably to Hershey’s talk, which, of course, defended the draft and criticized those who opposed the war, especially students.

Future demonstrations and protests escalated during the rest of the decade, reaching watershed marks with the fatal shooting of students by National Guardsmen at Kent State University and the subsequent bombing of Sterling Hall on the Madison campus.  Eventually the draft ended, the war ended and UW-Madison and other campuses became calmer places.  However, none who lived through that period will ever forget it.

Celebrating 100 Years: A Look Back in Our Club’s History During the Progressive Era

Rotary Club of Madison-Centennial LogoAs we celebrate our 100th anniversary, our History Sub-Committee is taking a look back in our club’s rich history and is sharing highlights from the past century.  This week’s message is shared by committee member Rich Leffler:

The Rotary Club of Chicago was founded in February 1905. The Rotary Club of Madison began in 1913. Both were products of the Progressive Era, a period marked by a terrible depression and war. Huge corporations and trusts came into existence. It was a time of brutal competition among businesses and business people. Labor and capital were locked in violent, bloody conflict. It saw an ever-increasing and rapid change from rural to urban America, the growth of cities in not-so-wholesome ways, leading to terrible living- and working conditions. It was also a time when people were searching for ways to control and channel all of these developments. Progressivism, which sought to use government to control these forces of change, and the Social Gospel, which sought to modify economic life and social conditions with the gentle influence of Christianity, had an important effect on Rotary.

The Social Gospel was “Built on the premise that social justice and Christianity were synonymous,” and it “emphasized the humanity of Christ, especially his concern for the poor and the destitute.” Advocates of the Social Gospel “called for major social reforms to achieve a more equitable, a more Christian society.”1

rosenberry 3An Address given by Madison Rotarian and Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Marvin B. Rosenberry (left) in 1917, “The Spirit of Rotary in Business,” demonstrates the powerful effect of combining the Social Gospel with the imperative of Service, and it explains what Paul Harris meant when he said “Rotary’s supreme purpose is to serve.”2

You will notice in the Address that Justice Rosenberry was not a supporter of service by checkbook, which is the predominant way of service for our club today. But in 1922 he became one of the founders of that quintessential checkbook service, what is today the United Way of Dane County, and he was the first chair. The size of our Foundation at $8.5 million, our annual fund raising at $130,000, and our annual giving at $500,000 suggest that service, always important to our club, has become a passion. I think Justice Rosenberry would approve.
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1. Lewis L. Gould, “Introduction,” The Progressive Era (Syracuse, 1974), p. 13.
2. Paul P. Harris, My Road to Rotary: The Story of a Boy, A Vermont Community and Rotary (Chicago, 1948), p. 253. I should also point out that while Justice Rosenberry’s ideas were obviously informed by the Social Gospel, he was not a Progressive. Actually, he was a “Stalwart” Republican, strongly opposed to the La Follette Progressive Republicans. In fact, La Follette referred to Rosenberry as “a rank reactionary,” which is clearly not true. See Ann Walsh Bradley, “Marvin B. Rosenberry: Unparalleled Breadth of Service,” Wisconsin Lawyer 76 (October 2003), online edition