Oberlin Rotary History
1938 - 1998

On May 25, 1938 twenty-eight Oberlin business and professional men gathered at the Oberlin Inn to receive the Charter of the Rotary Club of Oberlin. Frank Dew was inducted as the Clubís first president with Ray Phipps as vice-president, Frederick Bentley as secretary, Gordon Dawley as treasurer and James McGrann sergeant-at-arms. Among the Charter Members were our current members Fred Comings and Carl Kinney.

Rotary International was founded in 1905 when on February 23 Paul Harris and three other men met in the office of Gus Loehr on Dearborn Street, Chicago to discuss Paulís idea for a new club where business and professional men could get better acquainted. Meetings would "rotate" from one office to another. "Each of us would be having some thought for the welfare of the other fellow." It was only a step from the business welfare of the fellow member to the social welfare of the community, a step that was first taken in 1907 when the new club led a campaign to install public comfort stations in Chicagoís city hall ñ its first service project.

The Rotary Club of Oberlin continues to seek to improve the human condition through participation in numerous local, state, national and international Rotary projects. Thousands of dollars have been contributed to provide eyeglasses, hearing aids, shoes and dental care for the less fortunate, scholarships for nursing students, camperships for handicapped children and to meet many other needs. Numerous special Oberlin school and community projects have been supported.

Through the Rotary Foundation the club participates in projects worldwide such as PolioPlus, Group Study Exchange and numerous exchange scholarship programs at the high school, undergraduate and graduate level. The club and its members have made special contributions to the Foundation each year by naming Paul Harris Fellows.

The Rotary Club of Oberlin established The Oberlin Rotary Memorial Fund in 1985 and it has grown to over $77,000. Income is used annually to provide college scholarships for deserving Oberlin Area high school graduates. The new program STRIVE, sponsored by the Oberlin Rotary Club in four area high schools (Oberlin, Black River, Wellington and Keystone), provides programs, mentoring and scholarships for students in the lower third of the senior class.

Today not only men carry on the traditions of Rotary. Mary Durling, Graphics Artist, and Rose Wolf, Director of the Public Library, became Oberlinís first female Rotarians in 1988.

The Oberlin Rotary Club meets every Friday at noon at the Oberlin Inn.