Oakland A Century of Service
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Oakland a Century of Service

By Linda Hamilton
It was pouring rain when twenty-five men from Oakland, Alameda, and Berkeley, California, gathered in the stately Metropole Hotel in Oakland on November 27, 1908. A lawyer from San Francisco named Homer Wood engrossed them with his description of the new club he just helped form in the city across the Bay. It was based on the original in Chicago, a club of business and professional men engaging in reciprocity, friendship, and, in the past year, civic service.

With enthusiasm, the East Bay men took their first steps that day to form the Tri-City Rotary Club, which would soon evolve into the even stronger Oakland Rotary Club, the third oldest Rotary club in the world!

The colorful book, The Rotary Club of Oakland, a Century of Service and Friendship reveals the groundbreaking sweep of history as Rotary took hold in Oakland. Chock full of photos, timelines, and anecdotes, profiles of Rotary's founders and its legendary leaders, the decades come to life set in the crucible of 100 years of world history.

How did Rotary’s concepts take hold in the face of wars, famines, natural disasters, and vast human need? How have the service projects and philosophies forged by the third oldest Rotary Club in the world affected Rotary International, its own city, and communities around the globe?

In The Rotary Club of Oakland: A Century of Service and Friendship, readers will journey through time to witness how the Club evolved and thrived over a hundred years. Like me, they may find new heroes amongst the amazing leaders and humanitarians that are Rotarians, and inspiration and hope in the face of so much Service Above Self.

I hope you will join us for the book’s release at the California Ballroom at 1736 Franklin Street, Oakland, at noon on May 31, 2012. In the meantime, watch our website, www.oakland-rotary.org, for information about how to purchase a copy.

In the coming year, I look forward to sharing with fellow RGHF members the joys and pitfalls of creating a club history book, as well as excerpts and more photos from Oakland’s!

People are often surprised when I tell them that our Rotary Club of Oakland is the third oldest in the world. They say, “Oakland? Really?!”

It’s true that our city faces many challenges that have resulted in some unfortunate bad press over the last four decades. But the folks who live here know that Oakland is a progressive, vibrant, beautiful city, with a history of cutting-edge innovation, passionate creativity, and social and political trend setting.

For example, Oakland once had the largest ice rink in the United States. It also had the best equipped typing school, the longest airport runway, the busiest port and rail depot, and the greatest production of ships and automobiles west of the Mississippi. Oakland has produced many great artists and leaders. In music, our city helped give birth to west coast blues, funk, soul, and hip hop. It was at the forefront of civil rights in the 1960’s and of technology in the 2000’s.

Oakland, along with its surrounding bay area, still glows with the spirit of pioneering boldness and the optimism of the golden west. Given this context, it makes sense that San Francisco became the second Rotary Club in the world, followed by Oakland only weeks later.

It also makes sense that the Oakland Club developed many firsts in Rotary. We were the first to hold weekly lunch meetings and the first to host an inter-city meeting. Oakland members formalized the custom of calling members by their first names and co-founded Rotary’s World Community Service project fairs.

Just as important, Oakland Rotarians for 100 years have recognized good ideas generated by other Rotary clubs and brought them back to Oakland. Ours is a Club of “doers,” so these ideas resulted in dozens and dozens of successful service projects and Club traditions. Over the century, as the needs and face of society changed, the Rotary Club of Oakland, No. 3 changed its focus to meet those needs.

Oakland Rotarians are truly passionate about making the world and their community a better place, by measuring decisions against the Four-Way Test and actively practicing “Service Above Self” in their lives. And, they make valuable friends and have fun doing it!

In The Rotary Club of Oakland: A Century of Service and Friendship, readers will journey through time to witness how the Club evolved and thrived over a hundred years. Like me, they may find new heroes amongst the amazing leaders and humanitarians that are Rotarians.

The opportunity to create this book has made me deeply proud to be a member of the Rotary Club of Oakland, the third oldest in the world.

I hope that within its pages readers find pleasure and inspiration and that this book will serve as a valuable resource about this Club, as well as Rotary International, for many years to come.


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