100 years of service above selfOn Monday, April 1, 1912, the organizational meeting of the Superior Rotary Club was held at the old Commercial Club. Fifty members of Duluth Rotary Club 25 called the meeting to order, and after a favorable vote to organize, the 24 men from Superior were declared charter members of the Superior club.
By: By President Warren Bender with information compiled by Rotary Club photographer Jean Till, Superior Telegram
On Monday, April 1, 1912, the organizational meeting of the Superior Rotary Club was held at the old Commercial Club. Fifty members of Duluth Rotary Club 25 called the meeting to order, and after a favorable vote to organize, the 24 men from Superior were declared charter members of the Superior club.
E.J. Culbertson was elected the first president of the Superior Rotary Club, the first in Wisconsin and the 40th in the U.S.
There are now over 34,000 Rotary clubs worldwide.
The National Association of Rotary clubs granted the charter April 25, 1912, and incorporated Dec. 18, 1912.
Thus began the first 100 years of “Service above Self” for the Superior Rotary Club. It was the only service club in Superior at that time and it initiated a series of community improvement projects. They included plans for a municipal auditorium, lights for Tower Avenue, highways and roads, a bird sanctuary, a zoo. Projects include dredging three islands in the waters adjacent to Billings Park, planting flowers in Billings Park and 1,000 trees in the city, developing dairy farming in Douglas County, organizing a Made in Superior Exposition, working with Tri-State Fair officials to highlight quality farm animals at the fair, and finding a way to keep newsboys out of saloons.
The club also has a long tradition of youth-oriented projects such as a camp on Lake Amnicon for boys ages 12-16 started in 1915, before there were Boy Scouts.
The club provided skates for needy boys, land and seeds for young gardeners and established free dental clinics in the city’s schools.
In 1922, the Rotary Club established the Boy Scout program in Superior and accepted responsibility for the program. Camp Fidelity was built on Tomahawk Island, now known as Boy Scout Island, in Lake Amnicon. The club continues to support the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.
In 1960, Superior Rotary donated a new cabin to the YMCA camp on Lake Nebagamon. For many years, Rotary organized a large parade in May followed by a field day for boys. The club organized baseball leagues before there were municipal ones. It sponsored spelling bees and oratorical contests.
Many years before the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival there was the Dog Derby, featuring dogs pulling boys on sleds and racing down Tower Avenue. This event annually attracted 5,000 spectators and Rotary founder Paul Harris attended in 1929. The Rotary Band organized in 1922 and was the first band in the city of Superior. In 1923, at the International Convention in St. Louis, it was designated the International Band of Rotary.
Over the years, Superior Rotary has been involved in many, many programs such as the Student Rotarian program and an Interact Club (high school Rotary) at Superior High School. Visiting international students are invited to Rotary to speak about their native countries and cultures. Rotary Ambassadorial scholars have attended UWS and Superior Rotarians have participated in Group Study Exchanges to other countries. Superior Rotary has partnered with other area clubs to fund clinics and water reservoirs in Bolivia, water resources in Guatemala, and projects in Haiti.
The Polio Plus program has all but eradicated polio worldwide.
The club’s focus on literacy has purchased many children’s books for the library and the very successful Rolling Readers program. The Rotary Youth Leadership Award camp held in July. Rotary offers two scholarships for graduating students from Superior High School. The club sponsors the Friday Night Intramural High School Basketball League.
Think of Superior Rotary when you see the lookout and parking area on Wisconsin Point and the Rotary Pavilion overlooking the Superior harbor. Think of Superior Rotary when you hear about the Sunrise Rotary Club that it sponsored in 2005 and the Duluth Superior Eco Rotary Club it sponsored in 2008. Think of Superior Rotary, Duluth Harbortown Rotary, and Superior Sunrise Rotary when you hear about the 11th annual Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival. This free, fun community event has raised more than $542,000 that was given back to the Superior and Duluth communities through grants.
Dragon Boat teams raise additional funds for the Festival’s charitable partner. The festival has had a $1,214,500 economic impact on the Twin Ports since its inception.
Now, next Wednesday, July 11 is yet another example of Superior Rotary’s working for the betterment of the community — the Ami Friendship Garden. In 2011, Superior Rotary and its president Tom Wondolkowski and the city of Superior started the planning of the Ami Friendship Garden as a centennial gift to the community. The garden is “dedicated to the people of Ami, Japan and Superior who together promote world peace through friendship and service” 5-7 p.m. Wednesday. Come and join us for this community celebration.
To learn more about Superior Rotary Club, go to www.clubrunner.ca/superior or ask any Rotarian.
Service above Self: Here’s to another 100 years!