LUDLOW, Vt. – On Jan. 13, 2021, the Ludlow Rotary Club welcomed its 94th year as a member of Rotary International. When it was initially incorporated as a member club of RI in January of 1927, there was some doubt among residents as to its durability. According to one history of the club, “There were doubters in the town who said ‘No such club will last but a few months in this town.’”
As events and a stubborn determination have proven, the club has remained fully active and will probably be celebrating its centennial in 2027.
Much of the reason for this dynamic growth of the club is tied to its motto: Service above Self. This has been the driving force behind the club’s efforts to provide local and regional assistance to area groups and schools along with the development of national and international projects. Some of the latter included work in eliminating polio, helping nations develop clean water projects, supporting a child adoption program in Africa, and assisting countries suffering from floods.
Locally, the LRC has supported education with scholarships and literacy projects, helping local government and charitable programs, involvement with the RI Youth Exchange program, and supporting programs for seniors.
The initial club founded in 1927 had 25 members. Charter members in that founding group included Frank Agan, Jay Archibald, Jay Brown, Mitchell Carey, John Dorsey, Daniel Edwards, Leon Farr, Allen Fletcher, William Forkell, Louis Hope, James Gill, Leon Gay, Olin Gay, Isaac Goldberg, Lowell Hammond, William Lamere, George Levey, Carl Lawrence, William Phelen, Merrill Proctor, and Herbert Walker. Olin Gay was the first president of the club.
A sample of the future LRC presidents included: Henry Vail (1935), Dr. Everett Holmes (1939), Wendell Spaulding (1944), Daniel Kesman (1953), Norm Schmidt (1957), Frank Bixby (1960), Donald Ellison (1967), Paul Pullinen (1970), Earl Washburn (1977), Martin Nitka (1985), Ed Matulionis (1988), Barbara LeMire (1991), Glenn Heitsmith (2001), and Tesha Buss (2017).
One of the major events during LRC’s history was in the late 1980s when women were allowed to join RI. Barbara LeMire was the female member inducted into the Ludlow club.
In 2002, the LRC celebrated its 75th anniversary with a banquet at The Gables at Okemo. President at this occasion was Glenn Heitsmith who was passing the gavel to incoming President Jack Dortch at this event.
Kevin Barnes is the current LRC president. A recent club photo includes the late Robert Kirkbride who was active in the club for over 60 years and was the leading force in the annual Penny Sale, which raised funds for scholarship for area seniors graduating from high school.