Paso Robles, CA, USA
The Early Years
In early 1922, J. Valentine Wachtel Jr., president of the Paso Robles National Bank, became interested in forming a Rotary Club. He initiated an exchange of correspondence with Homer Hayward of the Salinas Rotary Club, John Williams of the 2nd Rotary District and Guy Gundaker, the President of Rotary International. This culminated in a formal application to Rotary International on November 13, 1923. The original charter for the Paso Robles Rotary Club (#1602) was dated January 15, 1924 and was formally presented at a special banquet at the Paso Robles Hot Springs Hotel on March 15, 1924. This affair was attended by the 19 charter members and their wives as well as members from the Rotary Clubs of Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and the sponsoring club, Salinas. “Val” Wachtel became the first president with Directors, Ellsworth Harrold (secretary), R.C. Heaton, Ray B. Lyon and Frank Booth.
Originally the weekly meetings were held at the Taylor Hotel. In 1929, they were moved to the Paso Robles Hot Springs Hotel. Meetings returned to the Taylor Hotel in 1931 and back to the “new” Paso Robles Inn in 1942. In 1978, requirements for more space triggered a move to Joshua’s Restaurant at 13th & Vine. Following the closure of Joshua’s, the meeting place was moved to the Paso Robles Golf Club. In 2004, the meetings were brought back to the historic Paso Robles Inn Ballroom after this facility had been restored. In July 1963, the Paso Robles Rotary Club was incorporated under the Law of the State of California. In July 1988, Paso Robles Rotary Service, Inc. was organized as a separate corporation to administer, the charitable activities of the Rotary Club. The IRS, granted this corporation Tax Free Charitable Organization status the same year.
Our Membership History
By the end of the 1928-29 presidential term the membership had grown to 36 and increased steadily throughout the years until 1987-1988 when it hit 112. Since that time, it has remained fairly constant around 120. Among other charitable works, Paso Robles Rotary Service, Inc. regularly supports youth of the community through grants to students and school projects, and awards numerous scholarships to Paso Robles High School students to further their education after high school. The Rotary Club is a charter organization for Boy Scout Troop 60 and is the trustee of a property used by the Boy Scouts for their meetings. The club is very active in local and world community service projects and is one of the few Rotary Clubs in the United States that participate in the Open World Program and their Harlow Ford Scholarship Foundation continues to thrive with successful fundraising events such as the Annual Rotary Winemakers Cookoff.