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Brief histories of the "First 100" Clubs

Rotary Club of Milwaukee 57

Rotary International District 6270

 

Somehow a Milwaukee banner shows up at the 1910 organizational convention of Rotary.

 

 

THE HISTORY OF

THE ROTARY CLUB OF MILWAUKEE -

CELEBRATING OVER 90 YEARS OF

FELLOWSHIP AND COMMUNITY SERVICE

 

Milwaukee Rotary was described by a non-Rotarian as "the greatest concentration of civic and executive talent in the State of Wisconsin." One can visualize the impact of this influential group at the economic and professional level on a city the size of Milwaukee and a state the size of Wisconsin. So how did it begin?

 

Milwaukee Rotary was born on January 29, 1913 at the Milwaukee Athletic Club (then the Wells Building) and was officially accepted two months later as Club Number 57 of the Rotary International movement.

 

The first meeting listed the following charter members, twelve in all:

 

E.D. Haven               Adding Machine

Paul J. Stern            Wholesale Baker

W. J. Zimmers          Attorney

A. C. McDonald        Business College

M.C. Rotier               Printing

G. C. DeHeus           Tags, Paper Goods and Jewelers’ Supplies

Hugo Borchert          Hot Water Heaters

B. W. Fueger            Rubber Stamp and Seals

John LeFeber            Dairy

H. P. Andrae            Electrical Supplies

A. C. Downing          Boxes - Paper

Caesar D. Marks       Surety Bonds

 

In its early years the club met on Wednesdays at Ray Smith’s Pfister Hotel and the usual fare was an excellent sit-down 6-course meal for $0.75.

 

Although in those days, undisguised business reciprocity was inherent in the Rotary movement, Milwaukee Rotary at the outset decreed a set of ideals and objectives which were several cuts above the norm of the day.
 

In fact, the small starting nucleus of members was so insistent upon this ethical approach to the whole movement that Rotary International ultimately adopted a higher set of standards. The first International Convention in 1913 was attended by two Milwaukeeans, Caesar Marks and Bill Zimmers. The latter led the fight from the floor of the convention "to abandon the principle of reciprocal relations for each member" to substitute the slogan "Service Above Self".  This, of course, has been the primary reason for its universal success throughout its history. Thus, Milwaukee Rotary was very closely associated with the idealistic foundations of Rotary International.

 

The location of the weekly Milwaukee meetings was changed through the years to the Milwaukee Athletic Club, the Astor Hotel, and finally in 1957 to the War Memorial Building.


 

RCM MILESTONES

CELEBRATING OVER 90 YEARS OF

FELLOWSHIP AND COMMUNITY SERVICE

 

December 10, 1912 - Organizational meeting to establish Milwaukee Rotary Club, A.C. Downing, Paul J. Stern, H. P. Andrae, A. C. McDonald, W. J. Zimmers, Edgar D. Haven, B. W. Fueger, M.C. Rotier, Hugo Brochert, John LeFeber, G. C. DeHeus and Caesar D. Marks were the chartered members.

 

January 29, 1913 - First official meeting, Milwaukee Rotary Club. Edgar D. Haven, president; G. C. DeHeus, vice president; Paul J. Stern, treasurer; Caesar D. Marks, secretary; A. C. McDonald, . . . . Sgt.-at-arms. Among the goals expounded: 1) to promote progressive and honorable business methods; 2) to encourage civic pride and loyalty; and 3) to promote civic, commercial and industrial development of Milwaukee.

 

December 20, 1914 - First Christmas dinner for impoverished Milwaukee boys. A Milwaukee tradition that continued for 14 years.

 

1916 - President M. C. Potter proclaimed that, henceforth, members were to use first names in addressing one another.

 

1917 - U. S. entered World War I. Milwaukee Rotarians were active. May 11, 1917 - Milwaukee Rotarian presided at installation of new Rotary Club in Racine.

 

1919 - Moved meeting place to new Milwaukee Athletic Club.

 

1920 - Established Rotary Fund for Educating Worthy Boys. Rotarian Oscar Stotzer urged Rotary Club to participate in formation of Civic Alliance.

 

1921 - Milwaukee sponsored formation of new Rotary Club in Waukesha.

 

1927 - Established College Educational Fund.

 

1931 - Past President Laflin reviewed accomplishments of Club during past 18 years. "In every community undertaking, Rotarians were in preponderance." Rotarians were leaders and workers in Community Fund campaigns; members served on Boards of Directors of Boy Scouts, Y.M.C.A. and Association of Commerce.

 

1936 - Past President’s Club formed.

 

1939 - Better Business Bureau of Milwaukee established by Milwaukee Rotary and headed up by Rotarian Richard Jordan.

 

1941 - Rotarians Oscar Stotzer, Richard Jordan, Charles L. Wirth, Jr., Otto R. Kuehn, Frank W. Greusel, Clifford A. Randall and Walter G. Mayer approved a resolution supporting a sports stadium in Milwaukee, with the intent of obtaining a major league baseball team franchise. When the U.S. entered World War II, Club members actively supported troops stationed at General Billy Mitchell Field and in aiding victims of bombing raids on Britain.

 

1945 - Milwaukee Rotarians assumed major responsibility for the

post-war development and modernization of Milwaukee. The 1948

Corporation was formed in 1945 to organize activities celebrating

Wisconsin’s centennial as a state. Subsequently, the focus of the

Corporation was expanded to include the promotion of projects such

as an expressway system, a sports arena, a new museum, city

administration building and Union Terminal.

 

1948 - The 1948 Corporation changed its name to the Greater Milwaukee Committee. Rotarians were deeply involved in the origins of this community-focused organization. Rotarians Clifford A. Randall, William Pollock, Irwin Maier, Joe Heil, Don Abert, Otto Kuehn, Howard Stark, Ed Gerhardy, R. C. Zimmerman, Bob Baird, Ralph Friedman, Ted Friedlander were its leaders.

 

1953 - Efforts of Clifford A. Randall and the Greater Milwaukee Committee resulted in the transfer of the Braves baseball team from Boston to Milwaukee.

 

1957 - Milwaukee Rotary Club provided funds ($12,000) to construct a winter cabin for Boy Scouts of Indian Mound camp. The new West Milwaukee Club was sponsored and Chartered by the Milwaukee Rotary Club. On October 22, 1957 the Milwaukee Rotary held its first meeting at the new War Memorial Center. Rotarian Will Ross was a leader in the development and building of this major GMC project on the lakefront.

 

1958 - Clifford A. Randall elected president of Rotary International, Rotary’s highest office. (RI President 1958-59) The Club assisted businessmen in Cudahy and South Milwaukee in forming the Mitchell Field Rotary Club, the 10,000th club in Rotary International, during Cliff Randall’s term as president of Rotary International. Rotarian Richard Teschner advocated the development of a major music center culminating in the building of the Performing Arts Center.

 

1960 - Milwaukee Rotary developed and supported the Music for Youth program in Milwaukee.

 

1962 - Milwaukee Rotary Club continued to facilitate formation of additional Rotary Clubs in the area, including Brookfield. Members volunteer as Bell Ringers for Salvation Army Christmas Appeal.

 

1963 - Funded and established Low Vision Clinic at Curative workshop. More than 100 patients were treated during the first year.

 

1965 - International Student Center established by Rotary.

 

1968 - Charitable Trust established to support local projects.

 

1969 - After more than a decade of effort, Milwaukee’s Performing Arts Center opened on September 17. Richard Teschner, chairman of the War Memorial Development Committee, with fellow Rotarians Irwin Maier, Dr. J. Martin Klotsche, Stanley Glen, A. D. Robertson, Cliff Randall, Ed Gerhardy, Ralph Friedmann and William Menehan made this magnificent building a reality for Milwaukee.

 

1974 - Rotarian Jack Lindsay implemented the Reading Is Fundamental program.

 

1975 - Camp Enterprise established. Proposed and advocated by Rotarian John Roethle to provide means to educate high school students in the role and operation of our free enterprise system. First camp was held in May, 1976. In 1980, the Club was recipient of a Freedom Foundation Award for this program.

 

1976 - Implemented Golden Buy Pass Program, a discount program for senior citizens.

 

1978 - Established the RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) program for

sister club in Patna, India. Also provided funds for cardiovascular

pacemaker for the Medical College Hospital in Patna.

 

1979 - 7,000 books shipped to Patna for the RIF program.

 

1980 - DISEC (District International Student Exchange). Through

this program, high school students in Milwaukee interchange with

students from foreign countries.

 

1982 - Second Harvesters, a community food bank, is established by Milwaukee Rotary.

 

1987 - Jean McKey, daughter of Past President and Past District Governor, is welcomed as the Club’s first female member.

 

1988 - Milwaukee pledges $96,503.00 to Rotary International’s Polio-Plus campaign to eradicate the disease throughout the world. Milwaukee Rotary Club celebrates the 75th anniversary of community leadership and service in Milwaukee.

 

1989 - Rotary’s continued cooperation with Milwaukee Public Schools results in the "Milwaukee Youth Survey" and the Greater Milwaukee Education Trust. Board of Directors increased to 15 members – to serve 3-year terms.

 

1990 - Health Education Center is approved by the membership as a joint project of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, Junior League of Milwaukee and Rotary Clubs of Wisconsin. Members pledged $500,000 to kick off the fund raising phase. An Executive Director is hired for the Center and a Board of Directors established.

 

1991 - One-On-One Mentoring Program established with Webster Middle School. School Partnerships developed with Riverside University High School and Webster Middle School.

 

1992 - The "Valentine’s Gala" raises $10,000 for the Rotary Club of Milwaukee Community Trust. Past President Rick Luedke serves as District 6270 Governor and Milwaukee Rotary hosts the District Conference at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee.

 

1993 - The River Revitalization Foundation formed as a joint project of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee and the Kiwanis Club of Milwaukee.


 

1994 - Milwaukee Rotary Club joins a partnership with the City of Milwaukee Health Department and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in an "All Kids Count" Immunization Project.

 

1995 - Construction of the Health Education Center neared completion, and students begin attending summer classes in July.

 

1996 - More than 22,000 school-age children from this area have passed through the doors of the Health Education Center and been empowered with the knowledge to make healthy lifestyle decisions.

 

1997 - After 10 years of the "Fair Share" giving plan and other generous donations, the RCM Foundation achieved its initial objective of $1,000,000. While the Foundation will continue to grow, the Club can now provide more financial support to Club projects and other community and international efforts.

 

1999 - Launched our commitment to Wisconsin Lake Schooner Education Association and Great Lakes Future; sponsored new Rotary Club; donated two sun ovens to Honduras; drilled water wells in India; sponsored Future Milwaukee Gateways mentoring; continued support for the Children’s Health Education Center, Reading is Fundamental and Second Harvest; began review of membership policies.

 

2000 - Task Force established to insure maintenance of 400 members emphasizing greater diversity of membership. Increased size of Tuesday lunch attendance. Sponsored a two-day public display of Denis Sullivan and three other tall ships.

 

2002 - The Rotary Club endorses the creation of Pier Wisconsin and purchases the naming rights to the Rotary Club of Milwaukee Amphitheater. The Club continues strong membership growth and increased attendance. Media coverage of Rotary programs grows and the Club is recognized as THE forum for discussion of important issues of the day. America’s Second Harvest honors the Club with their ‘Hunger Humanitarian Award’ for their years of support and service.

 

2003 - Club celebrates its 90th anniversary. Membership returns to more than 400. Successful Polio Eradication Campaign raises over $30,000. New head table banners enhance club’s professional image.

 

2004 – Club reinvigorates committee participation. After an extensive review of community needs and Rotary resources, the Club initiates a new partnership with the Milwaukee Village, the middle school at North Division High School.

 

(provided by RGHF member Ray MacFarlane)

"On Wisconsin"

Superior 40

Milwaukee 57

Madison 71

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