Elkhart Rotary Celebrates
100 Years of Service
(Click the "read more" link below for more about this historic meeting.)
Eight new members are inducted:
Matthew Bennett, Cora Norvell, Erin Wagler, Erin Kinzel, Howard Edwards, Glenn Peterson
Elkhart Mayer, Tim Neese, makes a special proclamation to the club.
Honorary Rotarian, Art Decio, offers some words to the club.
100th Anniversary Committee Co-Chair, Fran Conner, cuts the "Birthday Cake"
Rotarian Sherm Hanson speaks as part of a 9-member panel discussion
recalling some of the highlights of Elkhart Rotary's Service to the community

Meeting Highlights

At the March 13th meeting, the Elkhart Rotary Club celebrated its 100th anniversary.

When the club first met on March 14, 1917, at the Hotel Bucklin, lasting for 100 years seemed like quite a feat. Only five percent of all Rotary clubs will survive for that long, according to chapter president Scott Puckett. 

Not only has the club survived a century, it has thrived – guiding projects and causes that Puckett says have a $3 million annual impact on the community. 

Hundreds attended a birthday celebration on Monday afternoon to recognize the club's accomplishments and to encourage people to look forward to the next 100 years. They listened to stories from years past and were shown the big picture of the impact they are having on the community and the world. 

"There is no monetary value for what this club has meant to the city and really to the county, as well – the thousands of dollars they have poured into good causes," said Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese, who read a proclamation to the club marking the event. "This is a significant milestone and I was honored to be here." 

Throughout the years the club has been involved in numerous community projects, including the construction of Hotel Elkhart, the original Lerner Theatre, the Princeton Center, which is now a part of ADEC, and the club is the originator and sustainer of the Wellfield Botanical Gardens. 

The club is also responsible for bringing the Boy Scouts of America program to the area and has sponsored numerous other Rotary clubs, including the Elkhart Morning Club and clubs in Warsaw, Goshen and Concord. The club also has secured the title of the oldest, largest service club in the c Puckett said celebrating milestones like this gives clubs a chance to celebrate their accomplishments and look to the future. He said the future of the club will be determined by how well it can engage young professionals in the benefits of being a member. 

"We need to show them how important we are to the community," said Puckett. "We also need to challenge ourselves to be plugged in to what they are passionate about. We need to ask questions and join with them." 

The club is even involved internationally, funding a library in Costa Rica and a hospital in India for the deaf and mute. 

The charter date for the club was Aug. 1, 1917, Puckett says the club anticipates celebrating that date as well. They also plan on holding special events throughout the year to ring in the club's centennial.