Paul Harris founded Rotary with the first Club in Chicago, Illinois, on February 23, 1905, and became the first President of Rotary International when he formed it in 1910. In 1913, the Rotary Club of Washington, DC formed the 69th club of Rotary International in Richmond, Virginia (which then included our present district). It, in turn, founded the Staunton Club in 1920 and in 1921 the Staunton Club founded the Winchester Club. In 1926 the Rotary Club of Winchester sponsored The Rotary Club of Front Royal.
At that time this was District 37 and had 25 Clubs. It became District 56 and grew to 31 Clubs by 1937. By 1949 it had become District 186 and grown to 42 clubs. From 1949 until 1957 it grew to 45 clubs and became District 275. In 1957-58 it became District 757 and had 64 clubs in 1991. For administrative/computer reasons, a zero was added to all districts in 1992, and District 7570 currently has 80 Clubs.
THE FIRST 25 YEARS 1926-1951
An organizational meeting was held on March 30, 1926, and soon thereafter application for membership was submitted to Rotary International. Charter #2329 was issued for the Rotary Club of Front Royal, and a Charter Night Banquet was held at Updike Hall on May 20, 1926.
The April, 1936 edition of the Warren Sentinel reported that the Rotary Club had celebrated its’ tenth anniversary at the Afton Inn with 66 people present. In those early days, the Club was busy establishing its’ role in the Community…promoting the ideal of service as the basis of all worthy enterprise and high ethical standards in business and the professions. Ramsey Hardware was selling Sherwin-Williams paint for $1.07 a quart, Stokes Grocery had Amour Star Bacon for 34-cents a pound, and a 1936 Ford V-8 was a whopping $510. Already the Club had given leadership to promoting the efforts for the Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Park, encouraging the organization of the Chamber of Commerce, and putting their influence behind efforts for the construction of John Marshall Highway and the East Side Highway (Route 340). The Fish Hatchery at Waterlick was established because of Rotary’s efforts, and the Club’s endorsement and support lead to building of the new Town Hall and Courthouse.
Warren County, founded in 1836, was celebrating its 100th birthday while the Club was establishing a leadership role. Working in, with and through the community on behalf of its many needs, Rotary supported everything from football to soccer; from scouting to little league; and from student loans to student exchange. It was involved in improving the High School, restoration of Randolph-Macon Academy after the first fire, beautification projects for the Town and development of the Front Royal Country Club. The Rotary motto of “Service Above Self” has always been the driving force behind the Rotary Club of Front Royal.
The late 30’s and early 40’s were a busy time. We had become embroiled in WWII. The Club changed its meeting place from the Afton Inn to the new Hotel Royal; American Viscose started production of rayon in its new plant; construction was started on the new Riverton Bridges and the new High School was dedicated. Many younger Rotarians had gone off to war, but by 1941 the Club had 38 members and was involved in helping to create and bringing to fruition important community events.
During the 1944-45 Rotary year a move to erect and equip a new hospital began, the Charter was issued for Warren Memorial Hospital and plans for construction were finalized. By August, 1945, Rotarians around the world were celebrating the end of World War II and young men were returning home.
THE SECOND 25 YEARS 1951-1976
During its’ first twenty-five years the Rotary Club had established itself in the Front Royal Community as a leader. This strong foundation would serve it well in the years ahead. WWII was over, but the Korean Conflict, the Cold War and Vietnam all would make for a difficult time. The nation was feeling a new sense of social responsibility familiar to Rotary with its’ motto of “Service Above Self”, and a commerative eight cent stamp was issued by the Post Office to honor the occasion of its’ fiftieth birthday.
The thirtieth birthday of the Club in 1956 was celebrated by hosting the District Conference at the Homestead; winning the District Attendance Award; and holding its’ first fundraising project for a profit of $7,000 for the Warren Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Room. Later that same year, funds were approved for an additional 22 beds at the hospital, bringing it to a total of sixty-nine.
In 1966, the Safeway had boneless chuck roast for 53-cents a pound and the First Baptist Church finished its’ new educational building. The Front Royal Volunteer Fire Department purchased a new ladder truck for $62,500. and once again the Front Royal Rotary Club championed the Salvation Army “Kettle Drive”. By this time, the Club was holding its’ weekly meetings at the Virginia Gentlemen Restaurant.
In addition to its’ community involvement, the Club was able to support the international community through the Rotary Foundation with it’s goals of peace, goodwill and world understanding. The Club was represented by an Exchange Student to Poland in 1963, and has played a major part in Rotary International’s programs including individual study exchanges, group professional exchanges and eradication of polio around the world.
Front Royal Rotarian Q. Damon Gasque served as our District Governor for the Rotary Year 1970-71.
THE THIRD 25 YEARS 1976-2001
July 4, 1976 was the 200th birthday of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. In Front Royal, Rotary was proud to be fifty years old on April 26th of that year. In 1987, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that organizations like Rotary must allow women to become members. With few comments and no fan fare the Club extended membership to deserving business and professional women in Front Royal. Today, women members are a welcome addition, and the Club is a much better place. Obviously, this was an exciting period.
After various fundraising efforts, the Club sponsored a college baseball game in 1977. Over the years it involved the University of Virginia and a variety of their traditional opponents. Tickets were sold in the Community, and many were given to area youth to encourage their attendance. This event was very popular and raised thousands of dollars for the community, but after being “rained out” for several years in a row, the Club decided to go indoors, and switched to a “Car Fare” (raffle). Later (due to the popularity of money over a vehicle), this became the “Cash Fare” with a first prize of $10,000.00, and many other prizes.
The Cash Fare also proved to be very popular and remains as one of the Clubs’ main fund raising events, but it has been joined by the “Vacation Gala” (a more sophisticated raffle type dinner dance); “Hawgs & Dawgs” (food for the community festivals); a Golf Tournament; an Auction; Polio Plus; a Bowling and a Billiards Tournaments and a 50/50 for our Operating Budget. Today, we have a total annual budget in excess of $110,000, with about $30,000 in operations and $80,000 in charity.
In 1986, the Club celebrated its’ 60th anniversary, Warren County had its’ sesquicentennial, the Town approved phase two of the Downtown Revitalization project, and the Front Royal-Warren County Amphitheatre was dedicated at the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center. Rotary changed its meeting place to the Quality Court and later to Deans’ Steak House.
During this period the Club adopted a policy of making its’ major annual donation to a community organization voted on by the membership. The following organizations have each received $5,000 from Rotary for a total of another $135,000, but in 1999 & 2000 we voted to allocate these funds to our 75th Anniversary celebration of donating a duplex house to Habitat For Humanity. In 2002, it was assessed for real estate taxes at $133,700.00.
1976 – Warren Memorial Hospital 1977 – N. Virginia 4-H Center 1978 – RMA Parents County Lab Fund
1979 – Samuels Public Library 1980 – Downtown Redevelopment 1981 – Front Royal Rescue Squad
1982 – Bing Crosby Stadium Lights 1983 – Front Royal Daycare Center 1984 – High School Band Uniforms
1985 – CAP/Salvation Army (flood) 1986 – Council On Domestic Violence 1987 – Big Brothers/Big Sisters
1988 – Satellite Workshop 1989 – Middle School Score Bd. & Unif.1990 – Humane Society of Warren Cty
1991 – Linden Fire Department 1992 – Happy Creek Fantysand Land 1993 – High School Band Uniforms
1994 – Little League 1995 – Habitat For Humanity 1996 – St Luke’s Clinic
1997 – C-CAP 1998 – St. Luke’s Clinic 1999 – Habitat For Humanity
2000 – Habitat For Humanity 2001 – Warren County Workshop 2002 – FR/WC Skate Park Committee
2003 – Shen. Area Ag. on Aging 2004 – Salvation Army 2005 – GSA T-486, WC Workshop Ren.
We have become more active with youth in the Community and actively sponsor Interact Clubs at Warren County High School, Randolph Macon Academy and Royal Christian Academy. An annual Youth Leadership Conference for our area is also very successful.
Front Royal Rotarian Eric A. Adamson served as our District Governor for the Rotary Year 1995-96. Our International Service has increased considerably. Over 100 of our members have become Paul Harris Fellows as a result of a $1,000 donation to the Rotary Foundation. We have a number of Multiple Paul Harris Fellows, Sustaining Members and Benefactors.
The Club has hosted individual, year-long Youth Exchanges of high school students from Denmark, The Netherlands, Venezuela, Belgium and Costa Rica while sponsoring Front Royal students in Turkey and The Netherlands; and we participated in short term Youth Exchanges (6 week summer programs) with the Soviet Union, France, Costa Rica, Australia, Sweden and Mexico. We participated with other clubs in District 7570 to host Group Study Exchanges for six weeks of professionals from South Africa, The Philippines, Australia, Brazil, Sweden and Fiji. Our members have led Exchange Teams from our District to Argentina, Fiji and New Zealand, and we have sent non-Rotarian Team members from Front Royal to Argentina and Turkey. We also hosted a Friendship Exchange of Rotarians from Western Australia.
The Club has been involved in all five phases of “Project Read” which sent educational books, computers and games to the Philippines and South Africa, and “Project H2O” which provided fresh water wells in Bangladesh. The Club undertook its’ first self-initiated World Community Service Project by repairing and re-furnishing four hurricane damaged schools in Costa Rica.
In 2001 we celebrated “75 Years of Building Community” with a book by that name, a gala dinner at the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club and the duplex for Habitat For Humanity.
THE FOURTH 25 YEARS 2002-2026
We entered the electronic/internet age when our District 7570 established it’s own website (www.rotary/7570.org) and offered each club in the District a related Homepage with its’ own URL for $60 a year (we are www.rotary/7570.org/frtryl). This will simplify administration and should greatly improve many aspects of Rotary, such as communication, training, reporting, sharing information and keeping records up to date.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was added to the list of charities we support; we formed a “sisterhood” with the Club Rorario San Pedro Curridabat of District 4240 in Costa Rica; and we designated the community “Skate Park” to be the recipient of our next $25,000 grant (including this years’ $5,000 gift), and to be our “Centennial Project”.
In 2003, we sponsored a section of local highway to keep “Litter Free” as a community project and took over the “Doc Smith Basket” program at Christmas time to provide food for needy families. To raise funds for our charities, we exchanged a Super Bowl Ticket Raffle for our Auction. And we donated $5,000 to the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging for a new program to provide assistance for caregivers of altimer patients.
Front Royal Rotarian David Moreman was inducted on June 4, 2004 to serve as Governor of District 7570 for the Rotary Year 2004-05, and on June 25th Carol Dodson was inducted as President of the Front Royal Club. We added poinsettia sales at Christmas to our fund raising activities and this year our members voted to award our $5,000 to the Salvation Army. We hosted the “Centennial” District Conference at the Homestead on March 18th-20th where Front Royal received the Banners for Club Service, Public Relations and Bulletin; were 1st Runner-Up for Club Attendance and the Zulu Stick for World Community Service; 2nd Runner-Up for International Service, Community and Website (3-way tie). Our Club Display was judged the best and the judges favorite. Carol gave her year-end report on June 24th, and Alan Wilmer was inducted as President the following week.
During 2005-06 we added a billiard tournament, a bowling tournament and a horse show to our fund raising efforts and initiated a program of giving a dictionary to every third grader in Warren County. President Alan also started having members give a short bio (by luck of the draw) so we’d “get to know” more about some of our members, particularly the older ones. At the District Conference the Front Royal Club received the banners for Club Service and Community Service, and were mentioned in most other categories. This year our $5,000.00 grant went to Girl Scout Troop 486 for a much needed renovation of the Warren County Workshop.
In 2007-2008 the Club had a very successful year meeting many of its pre-established goals including: Increasing membership from 108 to 114, increasing the number of sustainers from 48 (42%) to 67 (61%) and increasing attendance to 94%. The Club was recognized at the District Conference with the International Service, Club Service and Club Bulletin banners. The Club also finished second in attendance, conference attendance and was recognized as second place for annual giving per member to the Foundation. The Annual Grant was increased from $5,000 to $7,500 this year and it was awarded to the local Chapter of the American Red Cross to purchase a disaster trailer to house disaster relief supplies. The County of Warren received a $2,000 grant for the accessible park addition to Fantasyland Park. Total contributions to the local and global community for the year totaled $55,720. The Club was recognized by Governor Byron Brill with the Presidential Citation.