Program Report: Honoring Past Presidents

Dave Ross (President, 1973-74) kicked off a celebration of the 33 past presidents of Durham Rotary.

Don Stanger (2012-13) recognized the 17 or so past presidents who were at the meeting.  He then gave us a summary history of our great club.  As we surely all know, the first Rotary Club was formed when attorney Paul P. Harris called together a meeting of three business acquaintances in downtown Chicago, at Harris’s friend Gustave Loehr’s office in the Unity Building on Dearborn Street on February 23, 1905.  They chose the name Rotary because they had been used to meeting in rotation in each other’s offices. Soon the club grew big enough to require a single meeting place.

Rotary soon spread across the US and Canada.  A London club was formed in 1912.  In 1922 the name was changed to Rotary International and the club is now worldwide.

Rules in the Durham Rotary, as in all others, were tough at first and indeed for many years: attendance was strictly enforced, with fines for no-showers.  But as people became busier and more mobile, some latitude was permitted.

The Durham Rotary was founded in 1915, the second in NC and has grown to be the largest (and surely the best!) in the Triangle. The earliest meetings were held in the Malbourne Hotel, long gone but still remembered by a few current members.

The Durham club history through 1990 is summarized in Down Through the Years and More Down Through the Years.  The books are available on our website under the “About” tab.

A new history has been written to bring us up to the Centennial celebration and will soon be available. Don Stanger displayed a proof copy.  Our own retired professor of history, Allen Cronenberg did the bulk of the writing for the new book and he and Don edited and worked to get it in print. It will be for sale soon.  

The club met originally in the old Hotel Malborne on the northwest corner of North Roxboro and East Main.   The Durham club became co-ed in 1988 and now women make up 40% of themembership. Five presidents of Duke University have been cliub members plus two other notables, Eddie Cameron and Wallace Wade.

There is a Rotary Park in Durham and the club has had for some years strong ties to Bennett Place. The Central Carolina Bank (CCB) was once the DRC’s bank of choice.  Smoking, a tacit pledge of support for Durham’s economy, was once common during club meetings.  But then came “No Smoking” and the “City of Medicine”, which members were free to endorse by being healthy.  A successful project that elicits much passion as well as extravagant hats, is the Reading Rangers and Books on Break.

Past presidents attending the meeting from left to right are Susan Ross, Bob Yowell, Wade Gresham, Charlie Steel, Phil Hutchings, Guy Solie, Sam Miglarese, Arthur Rogers, Dave Ross, Bill Ingram, Toby Barfield, Kay Gresham, BC Dash, Don Stanger, Lois Deloatch and Newman Aguiar. 


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