RC of Butte#140 Montana

Rotary Club of Butte #140 Montana

Rotary International District 5390
Chartered 1 February 1915


President Davis's home page President's Bio

5390 DG in the early 20's

You and I know Rotary's limitations - but we also know its capacities. We know that we can do something. With a world full of reasons for pessimism, I am not pessimistic. For my faith in the ultimate triumph of goodness and kindliness is as deep as my faith in a Power infinitely greater than man's. Yet in that faith I find no excuse, no reason, for resignation.

Thomas Jefferson Davis 1888 - 1953 Tom J. Davis was born in Weir City, Kansas, in 1888, and came to Butte, Montana, as a boy with his parents in 1897. He attended the Butte Business College and later entered the University of Michigan Law School where he graduated with honors.

Tom Davis reached a high pinnacle in his profession, and was Counsel in Montana for several large business concerns, railroads and insurance companies, in some at which he was a director. He was twice honored with degrees at Doctor of Laws. He was formerly an acting professor at Law at the University at Montana, and was a past president at his local as well as the State Bar Association.

Tom was a former member of the President's Loyalty Review Board of the United States Civil Service Commission. In 1945, he was one at the Rotary International's consultants to the United States delegation at the United Nations Conference International Organization. Tom joined the Butte Rotary Club in 1916 shortly after its formation. He was President in 1919-20 and District Governor of the old 20th District of RI. in 1921-22.

1924 he was elected Director and Third Vice-President at RI. at the Toronto Convention, and served on Board Committees along with his other Board duties. He later served as member and Chairman at many RI. committees until he was called become President of Rotary International in 1941-42. Tom was a member of the International Executive Committee of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Aside from his Rotary activities, Tom Davis held many offices and memberships in community, state and national organizations.

He was a member at the executive committee of the Montana State School of Mines; Member of the Board at Trustees at Linfield College, Minnville, Oregon; Member Board of Trustees of Rocky Mountain College, Billings, Montana; Member Regional Executive Committee, National Council of Boy Scouts of America; Director Butte Chamber of Commerce and Butte YMCA., also Butte Boy Scout Council; Chairman, Salvation Army Advisory Board Butte; President, Northwest Society of Crippled Children; President, Montana Society of Crippled Children; Director, Montana Children's Home and Hospital.

Tom Davis was holder of the Honorary Legion of Honor conferred by DeMolay, and the International Service Cross of the Salvation Army. Tom Davis was a loyal and active member of the Baptist Church, and tar many years was one of the Trustees of his church. Tom was married in August, 1914, to Hester Christen. They had three children, Tom J. Davis Jr., of San Antonio, Texas; Peggy (Mrs. George Sarsfield), and Shirley (Mrs. B. F. Williams of Phoenix, Arizona). There are tour grandchildren in the family. He died October 22, 1953.
alpine scenery in Glacier National Park
In Memory of TOM J. DAVIS Butte, Montana
President, Rotary International,
The above inscription is engraved on the Tom J. Davis plaque which is embedded
an the west side of the Peace Park Memorial Waterton-Glacier International
Peace Park Montana, U.S.A. and Alberta, Canada Paul Harris'
comments on the Peace Park from "This Rotarian Age."

That Butte Rotary even got started is a tribute to the stout hearted! Like the history of the city itself, the history of the Butte Rotary club was, and is, unique, rough 'n tumble, individualistic, and fun loving. It's a tribute to the stout hearted that the organization ever got started in the first place considering its stormy beginning.

Former Butte Rotary Club president Bob Fletcher, one wrote, "In 1913 the Irish Free State and northern Ireland organized Rotary clubs. Whether this influenced Butte or not is debatable, but organization work began April 16, 1914, with the Spokane club acting as sponsor." The idea of Rotary Club in Butte began peacefully enough” and application for charter was made May 9, 1914 with 25 members enrolled.

Then the fireworks began! An anonymous disgruntled "Butte Businessman" wrote a letter to The Anaconda Standard alleging that the members of this new organization had bound themselves to the unethical stifling of competition in the lines of business they represented. The writer professed familiarity with what he designated as the "inner workings' of such nefarious clubs.

The tirade went on at length, and the newspaper published it.

Of course this caused quite a stir, and some of the original group of 37 interested Butte men backed off. Personal and professional integrity was involved. It was deemed that a Charter dated May 7, 1914 was received, although no such Charter was ever found.

Correspondence in that period from International President Russell F. Greiner and one of Rotary's all-time wheel-horses. Mr. Chesley R. Perry, (left) Secretary of Rotary International, encouraged the Butte club to carry on and to ignore the abuse.

Excepts from one of the letters sent to the Butte Rotary club on May 21, 1914 by RI President Greiner, said: "I am in receipt of newspaper clippings published in the Standard of your city, April 20th, 1914, attacking Rotary, and signed 'Butte Business Man'. Words are inadequate for me to express my contempt for a coward who will write an anonymous communication. He is the guerilla of business life, the hissing serpent of society.
No one can safeguard themselves against his attacks, and only his kith and kin will subscribe to his statements." In any event, thus encouraged, the remaining group of 25 men who did become charter members, carried through and the club's official charter carries the date, "February 1, 1915."

The delay was the result of investigation by RI authorities to make certain the Butte aspirants for recognition hadn't misrepresented the ideals of Rotary by setting up some sort of monopolistic merry-go-round or cartel in restraint of local trade.

It was a pretty serious matter at the time. Butte Rotary No. 140 thereby became Montana's first. Since then it has been privileged to sponsor clubs in Deer Lodge, Helena, Twin Bridges, Whitehall, Dillon, Philipsburg and White Sulphur Springs.

most famous member...

Thomas Jefferson Davis, Butte lawyer and civic leader whom Everett W. Hill called, a great man, a great friend, a great humanitarian, a great Rotarian who symbolized Rotary in every respect, " became a member of Rotary in 1915. was elected president of the Butte Rotary club in 1920, and District Governor of the 20th District (Montana, Idaho and Utah) in 1921. In 1926 he was one of two candidates for the Presidency of Rotary International but was defeated by Harry H. Rogers (left) of San Antonio, TX.

This defeat did not lessen Tom's interest in Rotary nor his service to the organization. He soon was on the International Board and became chairman of several important committees. By 1941 he was the unanimous choice for the President of Rotary International, and served in that office during the Rotary year 1941-42.

These were the early years of World War II and were a critical time in RI history. It's certain that without the cool-headed guidance of Tom Davis, his officers and board, Rotary International could easily have been split asunder by the nationalistic forces and pressures of the day.

Not even Paul Harris, who was a clear friend of Tom's, has had a greater influence for good on Rotary International. Torn Davis' untimely death in 1953 ended a brilliant career. (RC of Butte, the 140th in Rotary is also the first club in the state of Montana. This is just one page of 26 page history, written in 1975 by Butte Rotarian D. R. "Scotty" Campbell, Jr. Club President 1966-67)
Read about Tom Davis and his predecessor at the
1941 Convention.

District 5390 PDG Barry Nolan(left) presented Rotary Club of Butte with a home club banner in honor of President Tom Davis. The presentation was made in 2001. Joe Sologlub
(right) accepted for the Butte club.
(click to enlarge)

Rotary #140's 60th Anniversary History Book
Davis was instrumental in combining the Watertown Lakes National Park in Canada with Glacier National Park in Montana to form the Watertown-Glacier International
Peace Parkin 1932.
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