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Garner Rotary Club - History

This article is taken from the Garner Centennial book published in 1970.  For some more details about our club's history, read about Prairie View as one of the club's past projects.

On several occasions, during the year 1939, a group of Garner business and professional men gathered in the balcony of the Garner Cafe for preliminary meetings for the purpose of organizing a Rotary Club. Much of the credit of the organization of the Garner Rotary Club should go to Dr. G. A. Bemis and Dr. E. H. Phillips, who worked closely with the Clear Lake Rotary Club until the Garner Rotary Club was properly and completely organized.
At an organization meeting held November 23, 1939, the club’s officers for the first year were elected, namely: Cholm Houghton, President; B. C. Berge, Vice President; W. L. Baggs, Secretary-Treasurer; and Lawrence McGinness, Sergeant-at-Arms. 
The Garner Rotary Club received its charter as of December 14, 1939, which was officially presented to the Garner Rotary Club, at a Charter Night meeting held January 3, 1940, at the Garner High School Auditorium. At that meeting, the Clear Lake Rotary Club, sponsor of the Garner Rotary club, invited members of numerous other clubs in the district to attend the Charter Night meeting. The Auditorium was filled to capacity and the charter members of the Garner Rotary Club were initiated into the big family of Rotary International. “Service above self – he profits most who serves the best” for 66 years has been the motto of Rotary International and for 30 years the motto of the Garner Rotary Club. 
Charter Members of the Garner Rotary Club were: 
Dr G.A. Bemis, Dr. B.E. Missman, W.L. Baggs, Dr. E. H. Phillips, B.C. Berg, Don C. Roe, C.H. Bethke, Maynard Schoneman, D. E. Flood, R. W. Sinclair, V. L. Hein, Wm. Wichelman, Cholm Houghton, L.M. Wood, C.J. Johansen, W.S. Pritchard, Jr., Lawrence McGinness 
The first year was spent in getting acquainted with Rotary, getting members and trying to get the new organization off to a successful beginning. This club commenced with a membership of 17. Membership increased gradually from year to year until the time of World War II. At that time, several members were called into service and other members moved away. During the said war, the membership swindled to 9 active members. Thereafter, the membership increased and the club enjoyed a healthy growth. It now maintains a membership of not less than 35 and not more than 50 active members. The club produced a District Governor, N.E. Brear for the year 1950. 
On many occasions, the club has received numerous recognitions, plaques and honorable mentions for being an outstanding Rotary Club. Rotary has always encouraged its members to be active in civic affairs. The Garner Rotary Club has taken an active part in many community service projects. 
During the year 1950, the club was casting around for some good International Service program that could be used and that could be continued from year to year. It realized that many college and university students from foreign countries were unable to be with their families and friends for Thanksgiving vacation. Each year invitations are extended to some university students from many foreign countries to be guests of the members of the Garner Rotary Club. Through the cooperation of the faculty of the Iowa State University, the students are transported to Garner on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, where the hosts and guests meet. The guests are taken into the Rotarians’ homes for Thanksgiving dinner. The Friday following Thanksgiving is usually spent sight-seeing and Friday evening is a banquet for both the students and Rotarians. Saturday morning the students return to the University. 
The Garner Rotary was a sponsoring group for the promotion of Prairie View apartments. All executive offices from the beginning to date are Rotarians. 
Other Rotary activities include:  
  • Bought 4-H calves
  • Sponsored Boy Scouts
  • Sponsored Girl Scouts
  • Entertained high school honor students
  • Entertained senior students
  • Parked cars for high school football games
  • Golden Independent Basketball Tournament for four years
  • Held cake sales for Girl Scouts
  • Held travel series pictures for two years
  • Put an Indian girl through a full nurses course in India, paying all costs
  • Gathered books of all kinds and mailed to students of foreign lands  
  • Rotarians did a great deal of work on the Memorial Building
  • Sponsored annual rural-urban meetings for many years
  • Sponsored annual employer-employee banquets for many years
  • Sponsored a WHO Town and Country Quiz
  • Rotary gained prominence by having 100% attendance at a district conference
  • Sponsored outstanding International panel discussion with students from India, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Austria
  • Assisted in helping clean up after the Duncan tornado and raised funds to help rebuild the church
  • Sponsored the background work for the formation of the East Hancock Country Community Chest
  • Served chuck-wagon dinners on several occasions
  • Sponsored and sent basketball teams to Drake Relays
  • Collected money and gave same to Radio-Free Europe
  • Collected clothing for relief agencies
  • Sponsored a campaign to encourage people to write letters to men in service during World War II
  • Helped sponsor two high schools boys to Boys’ State which is sponsored by the American Legion
  • On many occasions, the services of outstanding speakers were obtained, covering many subjects pertaining to common good of the community and invited representatives of organizations interested in same
  • Sponsored Rotary-Intercity Institute, where an exchange of ideas was promoted for the common good of all
  • Garner Rotary is a 200% supporter of the Rotary International foreign student exchange program
  • Collected funds and sent care packages to Korea
  • Sent $10.00 per month to a student in Germany and one in Austria for three years
  • Contributed to the 4-H Club winners, a trip to Chicago, 1955 to date.
  • Helped with expense of sending two crippled children to Sunny Side Camp, Des Moines, Iowa
  • A supporter of the Town and Country Planning Committee
  • Give services to the youth of Garner-Garner-Hayfield Community Home-coming parade prizes, supporter of the Teen Center, and awarded two $250.00 scholarships 
Yours for service, 
The Rotarians of the Garner Community 
  Contact the Garner Rotary Club

The Garner Rotary Club meets
every Tuesday at Noon in
Mat's Place in Garner.  

For more information,
please contact

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