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home : features : features April 29, 2016


5/28/2013 10:34:00 AM
Williams Rotary Club celebrates 90th anniversary
Rotary International only 18 years old when Williams chartered club
The Williams Rotary Club was chartered on May 31, 1913, making it one of the oldest clubs in the state of Arizona. Club members and guests pose for a group photo commemorating the club’s 90 years of service to the community of Williams. Submitted photo
The Williams Rotary Club was chartered on May 31, 1913, making it one of the oldest clubs in the state of Arizona. Club members and guests pose for a group photo commemorating the club’s 90 years of service to the community of Williams. Submitted photo
Bill and Sierra Miller prepare steaks and all the fixings for the crowd gathered at the Rotary 90th year celebration. Kevin and Shirley Young also helped organize the event. Photos and news clippings of club activities past and present were on display for members and guests to review. Submitted photo
Bill and Sierra Miller prepare steaks and all the fixings for the crowd gathered at the Rotary 90th year celebration. Kevin and Shirley Young also helped organize the event. Photos and news clippings of club activities past and present were on display for members and guests to review. Submitted photo

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


The Williams Rotary Club celebrated its 90th anniversary with a celebration May 21 at Cataract Lake County Park.

About 40 people showed up for the club's birthday barbecue.

"We had a nice turnout and everybody had a good time," said Steve Lovas, Williams Rotary Club president.

Club members said it was exciting for the club to turn 90.

"I think we're all proud to be part of something that's done so much good for Williams and even Rotary International," said Brian Prager, vice president of Williams Rotary.

Lovas agreed.

"Rotary was only 18 years old when Williams chartered their club," he said.

Lovas said he has enjoyed his five years in Rotary.

"There's just been a lot of good times, met a lot of nice people and we've done a lot of good things together," he said.

Williams Rotary History

Rotary started in 1905 and has 34,000 clubs internationally. The club's philosophy is "service above self."

The following information is from the Williams News archives:

E.J. Wilder, who was at the time manager of the Saginaw & Manistee Lumber Company in Williams, brought up the idea of starting a Rotary Club in town in early 1923.

Other community members had heard of Rotary Clubs in other cities, but doubted a place as small as Williams could maintain a club of its own, partly for financial reasons.

Other groups such as a chamber of commerce, a commercial club and a development club had not succeeded in town at that time, and many people thought a Williams Rotary Club would have a similar fate. Community members also doubted business people in the club would be able to get along.

However, twenty-one people were determined to start the club, and Rotary International officially recognized the Williams Rotary Club on May 11, 1923. The program for the first Williams Rotary Club meeting was fire prevention.

The members celebrated Charter Night on May 31, 1923. Several members of the Flagstaff Rotary Club attended the event.

The early Williams Rotary Club meetings took place in the Odd Fellows Hall dining room. Not long after the club moved its meeting location to the Sunday School room of the Community Church. After that, the club started meeting at the Harvey House until it was needed to house troop trains during World War II. Then the club met at the Methodist church until the members' wives got tired of providing the food for meetings. At that point, the club moved meetings to the Wagon Wheel Lodge.

These days the Williams Rotary Club meets Thursdays at noon at Doc Holliday's Steakhouse & Saloon. The club currently has 33 members.

In 1934, the Williams Rotary Club started a student loan fund. Today the club's main focus is raising money for scholarships. In the last 25 years, Williams Rotary has awarded more than $250,000 to graduating seniors to continue their education.

The Williams Rotary Club will put on its 14th annual Western Auction on Aug. 24 at Miss Kitty's Steakhouse to raise money for the scholarships.

"That's what it's all about, helping the youth in our community," Lovas said.


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