In 1976, the Corvallis Rotary Club, answered a request to expand Rotary. The lone Rotary club in Corvallis had grown to near 175 members and had seen extraordinary success.
Two highly respected members of the main club, Bert Wood and Jean Scheel, agreed to nurture the development of a new Corvallis club.
“Almost everything in town revolved around not necessarily the main Rotary Club, but the people in it. Rotary was at the epicenter of everything good in Corvallis. Period. And from this admirable base the main club wanted to maximize the good that Rotary can do,” explained John Dennis, a long-time Rotarian and one of the members willing to assist with the development of a new club.
Six Rotarians were recruited by Bert and Jean Wood as a pre-club executive committee. The group met for almost a year to plan. Lists of prospective younger members were reviewed religiously. Rotary’s rules and regulations were all but memorized. A strategic plan that would not interfere with the efforts of the main club was compiled. And a group of early leaders quietly emerged, among them John Swensen and Pat Lafferty.
“I do not recall our first meeting, but The Rotary Club of Greater Corvallis spent most of its early years and arguably its best growth period in the crowded back room of the Big O Restaurant on Fourth Street,” said Dennis.
By far the most important developments in the Greater Corvallis Club were the steady evolution to honor Rotary’s commitment to Service Above Self. It is no accident that over the years the club has become a major force for service projects, a commitment that under our current leadership has reached historic high levels, Dennis claims.
Among the many memories are the annual State off the City reports, some very moving opening prayers, wine tours, gymnastics events, all the First Citizens and Mayors of Corvallis who have come from the club, the single most unforgettable [actually, most forgettable] program about pet cemeteries, the weekly carwash winners, the large number of Paul Harris Fellows, Christmas and Changing of the Guard socials, Gary Campbell’s being elected District Governor, the chronically erratic Friday sound system, the cavalcade of fabulous exchange students, the smiles and hugs in the hallways, the trivia contests,
“When everything is said and done all of us are very fortunate to be members of The Rotary Club of Greater Corvallis, which in truth is as much an extended family as it is a club,” concluded Dennis. “And there is ongoing good news, because more good work waits to be done in the name of Rotary and more fun lies ahead as we move into what promises to be a rich and meaningful future for us and for Rotarians everywhere.”
John Dennis February 2012