History of the Vandalia Rotary Club

Rotary is a worldwide service and social organization founded by Paul Harris in Chicago in 1905. Because he wanted to include professional men from different backgrounds, each member has a different classification. Women were not admitted until 1989.

Senator Ed Long from Bowling Green presided over the first formal meeting of the Vandalia Rotary Club on October 1, 1943 held in the Presbyterian Church basement. One hundred six Rotarians and Rotary Anns from eight surrounding towns came to Vandalia that night to help get this new club started.

Nineteen charter members and their classifications were: Bruce McIntyre (newspaper), Dr. Ray Dougherty (physician), Paul Bennett (Lawyer), Otis Williams (hardware store), Claude Collier (Western Auto owner), Will Amfahr (clothing store), Dr. Tom Dwyer, Mark Elzea (grocer), Carl Goodin (variety store), Walter Hafner (conservation agent), Lincoln Kilby (rural mail carrier), Earl Richards (hardware store), Fred Schwetye (brick plant superintendent), Glenn Smith (funeral director), O.G. Wilson (drug store), Raymond Wright (oil distribution), Russell Zorn (superintendent of Ely Walker), Walter Zorn (Ely Walker) and Oval Spenny (sawmill). Todays club has 25 members.

Rotary has been involved in many projects over the years including building shelters in Vandalia Parks, restroom in Daniels Park, planting trees, installing lights at the south school ball fields, making downtown curbs handicap accessible, helping install playground equipment at Play Care, building a handicap ramp at the library, scholarships for Van-Far seniors, annual dinner to welcome Van-Far school teachers and personnel, hosting Rotary Exchange students and Group Study Exchange teams, helping stamp out polio worldwide, sending students to Government Day and Rotary Youth Leadership camp, flag display program, MoDot trash pickup and much more. Our Rotary Motto is “Service Above Self”.

Submitted by Earl Cordry and Donna Wilson