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Histories of Clubs Hosting RI Conventions

Rotary Club of Atlantic City

Rotary International District 7640

Host of the RI Convention of 1920, 1936 1946, 1951, 1965

Spurned Luncheon Date Led to Founding of Atlantic City

Atlantic City Rotary not only is the second oldest club behind Camden in what today is District 764 - 75 years old this year - it historically has been one of the largest and unquestionably among the most active in terms of its civic commitment.

Dr. James S. Logue is credited with organizing the Atlantic City club after a reunion with an old college classmate from Seattle, Wash. in Philadelphia during a professional seminar in August, 1914. Logue asked his friend to join him at lunch that day. His friend apologized, saying he had been invited to attend a Philadelphia Rotary Club meeting and, since he was a Seattle Rotarian, would be obligated to go. It was the first time Logue had heard of Rotary. But when his friend described to him of the lofty ideals of the service organization and the close friendships that developed, Logue enthusiastically returned to Atlantic City and made some inquiries about starting a Rotary club in resort community.

Logue then contacted International Vice President Jack Berlet, a Philadelphia. Berlet discouraged Logue at their first meeting, noting that prior attempts to organize in Atlantic City had been defeated, but through their contact the foundation was laid for the birth of the new club.
Logue recruited Joseph A. McNamee and Edward A. Wilson as prospective members and they, in turn, came up with the names of about 10 others. Logue sent the list to Berlet, and within a few weeks Logue received a letter of approval from R.I. Eight men attended the first official meeting, Dec. 23, 1914, with McNamee named president, Wilson vice president, and Logue secretary. Logue And when the club was chartered Feb. 1, 1915, there were 44 on the original roster.

The club struggled during its early days, during War I, but has survived two,,,world wars and a near catastrophic depression to be one of the most successful in the district for three quarters of a century.

In fact, membership topped 100 during World War II even though six were on leave of absence and nine others serving in the armed forces.
Atlantic City has proudly supported four district governors: C. Edgar Dreher (1932-33), Arthur S. Chenoweth (1940-41), Francis J. Quigley (1954-55) and Ruben R. Blane (1986-87). Quigley went on to serve as a Director of Rotary International in 1976-78, the first in the District since Vineland's Charles Ackley in 1929.

The city, now the No. 1 tourist designation in the United States, also has hosted five International Conventions:
1920, 1936, 1946, 1951, and 196S.

Among the club's meeting sites through the years were the President, the Seaside, and Hackney's Restaurant. The club switched from the Seaside to the President in 1941 when all major beachfront hotels were appropriated by the Army Air Force. Atlantic City Rotarians spent many memorable years at Hackney's until the 1963 fire which destroyed all club records and other Rotary property and memorabilia.
Atlantic City has been a leader in community endeavors throughout the club's existence.

In the early days, the club helped create Camp Edge for the Boy Scouts; the new Union Railway Station; established the Student Loan Fund; and in 1919-20 presented an X-ray machine to the hospital. Thirty years later, the Rotarians proved they hadn't forgotten: They replaced the old X-ray machine. Atlantic City continues to be a pacesetter. During Michael J. DeRogatis' year as president in 1987-88, for example, the club not only welcomed 16 new members but also added 13 new names to the club's long lineup of Paul Harris Fellows. That same year, Atlantic City's scholarship fund reached an all-time high of $10,000 for the year, equating to five $2,000 grants for area students. And the club was able to provide assistance to more than a dozen local organizations such as the Atlantic City Education Foundation, the Police Athletic Club, the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, and the Boy and Girl Scouts.
Posted 1 May 2011 by Jack Selway
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