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Turning 90: Rotary hits milestone

Although no one was on hand bearing diamonds or emeralds to mark the 90th anniversary, Ironton Rotary members said praise from the community for nine decades of service was all the reward they need.

The civic club celebrated this milestone at its regular meeting Wednesday — moved to Ohio University Southern this week — with the camaraderie, good humor and passion for the community that members say have given the club its longevity.

“Ray ‘Doc’ (Payne), I wanted to congratulate you for attending all the Rotary meetings over the past 90 years,” member Jay Zornes said to roaring laughter from the more than 30 members in attendance. “That is quite an accomplishment.”

Zornes was exaggerating a little but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to chide his friend. Payne was honored in the meeting for 22 years of perfect attendance.

“I’ve been shot at a lot times. One more won’t hurt,” said Payne, the club’s sergeant-at-arms who has a legendary reputation for giving members a hard time and levying fines for things like not wearing a Rotary badge or pin.

Others recognized for perfect attendance were: Kenny Hughes with 30 years; Ed Rambacher with 26; and Mark Compston with 10.

Marking the history

Current Rotary President Joe Jenkins told the group it was important to recognize all those who had served over the years. Jenkins read a list of charter members and talked about the historic element that surrounds the club whose motto is “Service Above Self.”

“Sometimes, I think it easy to lose sight that there is a legacy. We get caught up in the things we are doing but forget that there is a legacy, one of service first and foremost,” Jenkins said. “In the time I have been president, I am amazed at the effort you guys, and ladies, put forth, locally and internationally.”

But Ironton’s Rotary had humble beginnings.

The year was January 1920. World War I was over but still fresh on Americans’ minds.

And Ironton was booming.

The Marting Hotel had just opened on Park Avenue and downtown was prospering.

A group of businessmen decided to form a local Rotary Club, an organization that had roots in Chicago just 15 years prior.

Who was Paul Harris?

Chicago attorney Paul P. Harris had visions of a group for professionals that would cultivate business ties and develop friendships. On the evening of Feb. 23, 1905, Harris invited three friends to a meeting and planted the seeds of the world’s oldest and arguably most prestigious service club organization.

As the club continued to meet and add members, meetings “rotated” among offices and the group began to call itself the Rotary Club of Chicago. Although the group first focused on fostering friendships among themselves, soon the group began forming its basic tenets and principles.

A simple donation of a horse for a local doctor was the club’s first act of community service, followed by coordinating efforts to construct a public lavatory in Chicago. The group’s ideals began to resonate across the country and soon a second Rotary Club forms in San Francisco. Within a few years clubs had sprung up all over America and into Canada and finally into Europe.

Here at home

The first Ironton Rotary meeting was Jan. 24, 1920. The Ironton Rotary Club was sponsored by the Chillicothe Rotary Club and formally chartered on March 20, 1920.

Charter members included E.B. Adams, F.A. Bixby, A.B. Brumberg, I.P. Blanton, Williams A. Crawford, E.S. Culbertson, Charles L. Collett, H.J. Doty, D.C. Davies, S.G. Gilfillan, A.R. Johnson, Dr. A.C. Lowry, F.R. Henderson, W.P. Lewis, A.D. Markin, C.H. McClung, E.J. Merrill, E.F. Myers, Dr. N.K. Moxley, William F. Phipps, Oscar Richey, I.A. Ryan, Joe A. Rogers, A.C. Steece and C.D. Townsend.

Strict Rotary rules prohibited more than one person with the same job classifications from being a member causing some problems in trying to find enough classifications for the great number who wanted to join.

By 1923, the membership of the Ironton Rotary Club reached 90.

Ironton was such a booming city, the Rotary District Conference was held in the river city during 1928, at the Hotel Marting.

More than 600 Rotarians attended the district banquet held at the then-new Ironton High School building.

Back to the present

“Today is a historic moment and a special moment for all of us that are here to celebrate this historic milestone,” Ram Gawande, Rotary District 6690 governor, told the club members at the Wednesday meeting.

While recognizing the past but looking toward the future, Gawande talked about the challenges facing the world in places like Haiti and Chile.

Gawande also read a letter from Rotary International President John Kenny.

“Today, as you reflect on past accomplishments, I ask you to lead Rotary in a new century of service,” Ram read from the letter.

Ironton resident Don Edwards has been a member of the club since 1974 and was in the Ashland club even before that.

What keeps him coming back?

“Just the fellowship we enjoy and the community activities we are involved in,” he said.

Edwards said he recently had the privilege to share the values of Rotary with a prospective member.

“I was talking to a young man a couple of weeks ago, an accountant in Huntington who is joining the Barboursville club,” Edwards said. “I encouraged him to always live the 4-Way Test and participate in the community activities and just enjoy it.”

Today, approximately 1.2 million people belong to Rotary, more than 33,000 clubs span the globe with Rotary International clubs in 200 countries.

History of service

Throughout its history, the Ironton Rotary Club has been involved in countless community projects including:

Assisting the Ashland, Ky., Rotary Club in sponsoring the creation of a club in Russell, Ky.

Joining with The Ironton Tribune and Jack Wolfe Chevrolet Motors in sponsoring a soap box derby during the 1939-1940 Rotary year.

Sponsoring a Boy Scout Troop in 1942.

Establishing a scholarship for nurse training at Holzer Hospital in Gallipolis in 1953.

In the 1970s, the Ironton Rotary Club became active in Rotary International’s Youth Exchange Program by hosting homes and programs for students from around the world. Students from Brazil, Rhodesia, Japan, Sweden and Australia visited Ironton. While Ironton area students traveled to Spain, Sweden and Australia.

In the early 1980s, the club took on a monumental project: renovating a downtown building for use as a Junior Achievement facility.

Since the mid-1970s, the Ironton Rotary Club has held an annual Rotary Pancake Day as a fund-raiser. The event has continued each year providing a welcome break from the gray skies of winter to allow residents to get out and fellowship with one another while enjoying a hearty breakfast.

Today, the club continues to provide dictionaries to every third grade student in Lawrence County, continues its long-standing nursing scholarship for local students, is leading the renovation of the Center Street fountain in Ironton, sponsoring an expansion of a library in Belize and donates to a variety of non-profit organizations such as the City Welfare Mission and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, just to name a few.

Rotary: At a Glance

The 4-Way Test

One of the most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics in the world is The 4-Way Test. It was created by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1932 when he was asked to take charge of the Chicago-based Club Aluminum Company, which was facing bankruptcy.

Taylor drew up a 24-word code of ethics for all employees to follow in their business and professional lives.

The 4-Way Test became a guide for sales, production, advertising and all relations with dealers and customers.

The 4-Way Test was adopted by Rotary in 1943 and has been translated into more than 100 languages and published in thousands of ways.

The message should be known and followed by all Rotarians:

Of the things we think, say or do:

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?


4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Paul Harris Fellows

Rich Mountain

John Albrink

John Lupton

Neil Dufore

Art Ferguson

Phyliss Ferguson

Jerry Greenwood

Jim Montgomery

Kenton Jordan

Earl Dale

Joe Christner

Al Barr

Laurence Wolfe

Clarence Clements

Doris Clements

Roger Haley

Don Edwards

Emory Burkhardt

Ben Ginsberg

Dick Thompson (2)

Pam Thompson

Mary Saunders

Don Mayne

Arch Richmond

James Payne

Danny Bentley (4)

Rod Depriest

Bill Dingus

Mark Compston

Edith Dearfield

Ed Rambacher

Jim Stead

William McIlwain

Mike Hurley

Kenny Hughes

Jim Kennedy

Ray “Doc” Payne

Ed Rambacher

Chris Clonch

Patricia Clonch

Jerry Kirk

John Kennedy

Carl Darling

Darwin Haynes

Jay Zornes

Ironton Rotary Presidents

F.R. Henderson 1920

Albert C. Steeve 1921

Edmund Culbertson 1922

F.A. Bixby 1923

Art Hayes 1924

Harry J. Doty 1925

William Jeffreys 1926

John Daughtery 1927

Ernest Merrill 1928

Edwin Edwards 1929

C.D. Townsend 1930

Walter Clardy 1931

Edward Corn 1932

Leonard Howell 1933

Walter Conkle 1934

Fred A. Ross 1935

Homer Edwards 1936

Charles Golden 1937

Vier P. Clary 1938

William Brooks 1939

Clifford Crance 1940

James Collier 1 1941

William H. Merrill 1942

John Miller 1943

Guy H. Brown 1944

Henry M. Stanley 1945

Paul McHugh 1946

Art Davidson 1947

George Hunter 1948

Charles Cloran 1949

Ed Billing 1950

Homer Edwards 1951

Marshall Griffith 1952

John F. Lupton 1953

Robert C. Wilson 1954

Elmer Lane Jr. 1955

Mort Pensinger 1956

Homer Felty 1957

Floyd Hune 1958

John Harding 1959

Bill Baker 1960

John Goodwell 1961

Clarene Clements 1962

B.B. Mills 1963

R.G. Rouse 1964

Bob Carddock 1965

Tex Parris 1966

J.B. Collier 1967

Dave Dean 1968

Lloyd Moore 1969

Bernard Edwards 1970

Tom Hooker 1971

Dale Christner 1972

Bill McIlwain 1973

Don McGinnis 1974

Earl Dale 1975

Gale Baldridge 1976

Don Edwards 1977

Larry Wolfe 1978

Dick Thompson 1979

Jim Hayes 1980

Jim Steed 1981

Tom Keeney 1982

Mike Whitehead 1983

Roger Haley 1984

Jerry Greenwood 1985

Neil Dufore 1986

W.W. Ridenour 1987

Ray “Doc” Payne 1988

Ed Rambacher 1989

Jerry Kirk 1990

Edie Dearfield 1991

Jim Montgomery 1992

Arch Richmond 1993

Bill Dingus 1994

Kent Jordan 1995

John Kennedy 1996

Art Ferguson 1997

Curtis Sellers 1998

Danny Bentley 1999

Tim Parnell 2000

Mark Compston 2001

Rod Depriest 2002

Jay Zornes 2003

Mike Wirzfeld 2004

Kevin Cooper 2005

Bret Hensley 2006

Darwin Haynes 2007

Carl Darling 2008

Joe Jenkins 2009

Jeff Clark (Elect) 2010

Current members

Brigham Anderson

Stephen Dale Burcham

Mike Caldwell

Wes Cassidy

Jeff Clark

Mark Compston

Carl Darling

Rod Depriest

Bill Dingus

Dan Evans

Don Edwards

Darwin Haynes

Bret Hensley

Kenny Hughes

Mike Hurley

Joe Jenkins

Ken Meadows

James Miller

Rich Mountain

James Murphy

T.J. Parnell

Mike Patterson

David Payne

Ray “Doc” Payne

Ed Rambacher

Dick Thompson

Tyler Walters

Marsha Wikle

Bill Willan

Jay Zornes