Brief histories of Rotary's First 100 Clubs
Rotary Club of Springfield, OH 98
Rotary International District 6670
The Springfield Rotary Club was first suggested by Harry S. Kissell, a local
businessman, to several of his friends. On January 14, 1914, a meeting of local
business men was called by W. E. Copenhaver to discuss the advisability of
organizing a Rotary Club in Springfield, Ohio. The idea was greeted with
enthusiasm by the thirteen men who attended: Warren D. Alexander; Robert C.
Bancroft; E. W. Baxter; Harry V. Bretney; Charles F. Buchholz; W. E. Copenhaver;
Fred J. Green; Harry S. Kissell; Warren A. Myers; Wilbur J. Myers; Murray
Ramsey; Gus Sun; and James S. Webb.
Six days later, a meeting was held to make the organization a permanent one
and officers were elected. Harry Kissell was the first speaker for the Club. His
topic was “Rotary.” A formal application for a charter in the International
Association of Rotary Clubs was filed on February 13, 1914, with a list of
twenty-five members. By July 1, 1914, forty-one members were listed in the
report to Rotary International.
Some early speakers and activities included:
December 3, 1914—Springfield Rotary entertained the City Managers Association
of America. January 8, 1915—Rotarian Frank L. Mulholland, President of Rotary
International visited. March 13, 1916—Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary spoke on “Who
Says That Invasion of the United States is Impossible?” He predicted that battle
cruisers are no longer a question of ‘if but when,’ and that in the development
of aeronautical appliances “it will be possible for a nation to send out a fleet
of swift and powerful battle planes that will be able to cripple, if not
destroy, a fleet of battleships.” March 17, 1916—Rotarian Sir Harry Lauder, a
renowned Scottish comedian, talked of the good that was being done by Rotary all
over the World, and spoke of the old lamplighter in his native country, who came
along the street, placing lamps at intervals, and leaving a light behind. Sir
Harry emphasized that one of the purposes of Rotary is “to leave light behind.”
During the first year, Rotarian George Kelly called attention to a
subscription being taken for the purchase of artificial arms for a young boy who
had lost both arms under a train. The Club subscribed $50 and turned it over to
the boy’s parents on April 22, 1915. In January, 1915, the Club turned over $100
to the Probation Officer to be distributed as Christmas gifts to the needy, and
in 1916, the Club contributed $1,000 for needy families of National Guardsmen
who were serving on the Mexican border.
In 1919, the Club appointed its first Welfare Committee, with Harry Kissell
as Chairman. This became known as the Crippled Childrens Committee which met
each month with Mrs. Margaret Fisher, a Rotary Case Worker. In addition,
Rotarians Dr. C. W. Hullinger and Dr. Francis Link, assisted by other
orthopedists in Springfield, contributed generously of their time and services
to the work of this Committee. In 1992, it was renamed the Service to People
with Disabilities Committee and expanded its mission to focus on children but
serve all ages. Since 1919, using donations and fines from Rotarians and sales
of Easter Seals that started in 1944, the Springfield Rotary Club has expended a
sum of about $1.5 million to assist people with disabilities in Springfield and
Clark County, Ohio.
A Clinic for Crippled Children was held at Memorial Hall on May 10, 1922. It
was an all-day Clinic with orthopedists from Cincinnati consulting with Dr.
Joseph Link. 163 children were contacted by Rotarians and furnished
transportation to the Clinic. The direct outcome of this, and a similar Clinic
held in August 1922, was the hospitalization of 24 children for surgery between
October, 1922 and December, 1923.
On December 24, 1922, the first Christmas party was held at the Shawnee Hotel
where forty crippled children were entertained, each receiving a gift. Christmas
parties have continued each year moving to Covenant Presbyterian Church for a
number of years where wives of Rotarians acted as committees to prepare and
serve dinner to the crippled children and Rotarians. During recent years, the
Christmas party has been held at Wittenberg University. It now entertains
125-150 disabled children each year.
During the October 7, 1940 meeting in Shawnee Hotel, President Roy H. Clark
announced a Junior Rotarian program. An outstanding student was selected by a
local school to attend weekly meetings for one month and to report at the fourth
meeting of the month on impressions of the Club and on Rotary ideals. Charles
Endter of Springfield Senior High School was the first Junior Rotarian. The
program continues to this day.
Since its formation in 1914, two members of the Springfield Rotary Club have
become District Governors—Bert Downey, 1938 and Charles Fry, 1964—and the Club
has hosted three Rotary District Conferences—1926, 1942 and 1964.