The First Hundred Years: Denver Rotary Celebrates a Century of Service

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The First Hundred Years: Denver Rotary Celebrates a Century of Service
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The First Hundred Years: Denver Rotary Celebrates a Century of Service
Stewart, John
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Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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The First Hundred Years: Denver Rotary Celebrates a Century of Service | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 11:14:58 AM] Home The First Hundred Years: Denver Rotary Celebrates a Century of ServiceThe First Hundred Years: Denver Rotary Celebrates a Century of ServiceSubmitted by nwharton on 12-6-2011 09:26 AMAuthor: Rosemary Fetter Publishing: Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Company Publishers, 2011. 192 pages. Black-and-white photographs, color photographs, sources, membership roster by seniority. 9 x 11. $75.00 hardcover Reviewer: John Stewart I have to admit to strong favoritism for this book from the very start. I am a proud twelve-year member of the Rotary Club of Denver, and this is a book about my club reaching age one hundred. Author Rosemary Fetter also included me in the group of Rotarians she interviewed. My contribution was on my favorite part of Rotary, its wonderful program of international service. So I judged the book on how much new I would learn about Rotary, and how it fits into the history of Denverand even the nation and the worldfrom 1911 to the present. The answer is, I learned a lot! Here is just a small sampling. Fetter uses the phrase movers and shakers not a few times in her book, and rightly so. While I could name some movers and shakers in current club membership, I was still impressed by the prominent Denverites who were Rotarians, and who in turn used Rotary connections to point the city toward greatness. Mayor (and early Rotarian) Robert Speer pushed Denvers City Beautiful projects, introducing impressive buildings, parks, and boulevards. Another long-term mayor and Rotarian, Ben Stapleton, oversaw the creation of Denver Civic Center, Stapleton Airport, and the Denver Mountain Parks, an expansion of a Speer project. The Good Roads movement was one of Rotarys first projects, and the theme continued. Louis F. Eppich, a club president in the 1930s, was instrumental in securing $50,000 in federal funding for construction of the Valley Highway (now I-25) through the heart of the city. Eppich was also the father of zoning for his role in creating the Denver Planning Department. By mid-century, Denver Rotarians could boast of a face on the U.S. Supreme Court in Justice Byron White. Attorney Stephen Hart, a pillar of the Colorado Historical Society, was a moving force behind historic preservation, a long-term interest of Denver Rotary. Elrey B. Jeppesen helped pioneer aviation, his name memorialized in the main terminal at DIA. Another Rotarian mayor, Quigg Newton, revitalized downtown Denver in the 1950s. Denver has always been a sports-minded city, and two Rotarians brought us toplevel professional teams. In 1959 owner Bob Howsam secured the American Football League charter franchise for his Broncos. Three decades later, Roger Kinney, director of the Colorado Baseball Commission, duplicated this feat in baseball with the Colorado Rockies. Rotarians through the years were interesting and colorful, but so were their guest speakers. Ken Burns regaled the group on how to make fine documentary films, while General Alexander Haig talked of foreign policy. Bill Daniels spoke on his pioneering work in cable television. Back in 1919, Russian leader Leon Trotsky told the Denver members about the development of the new Rotary Club of Petrograd (although EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanWhile on the Dominguez-Escalante expedition in 1776, Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco drew the first map of Colorado.


The First Hundred Years: Denver Rotary Celebrates a Century of Service | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 11:14:58 AM] both the leader and the club would soon be ousted by Communists). Another speaker of that era was straight-laced evangelist Billy Sunday. However, some later speakers departed from his strict morality. One of these, risqu actress Mae West, made a 1949 appearance. She called Rotary her kind of meetingAll men and all hungry. Mae West may have admired the all-male part, but in only a few years this exclusionary practice was out of touch. Although Rotarys Old Guard may have felt that hosting female speakers, outings with wives, and even a wives group called the Rotary Anns were sufficient, the move was on for gender equality. Denver Rotary welcomed its first female members in 1987. Since then four women have served as club president. Earlier, in 1966, Dr. Sebastian C. Owens, executive director of the Urban League of Colorado, became the first African American member. In 2009 Roland Thornton, executive vice president of Wholesale Markets for Qwest, became the clubs first African American president. Denver Rotary has always practiced philanthropy, especially looking to the needs of children. An early project was the Sunshine Rescue Mission at 18th and Larimer Streets. Charity for underprivileged boys began in 1921, continuing through the dark times of the Depression. After World War II, Rotarians founded Denver Boys, Inc., to look after boys who had lost fathers in the war. Other civic groups started Denver Girls, and Rotary lent its support. Later the two merged, forming Denver Kids, Inc. To benefit the new group, Denver Rotary inaugurated the Branch Rickey Award in 1992. Named for the farsighted general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who brought the first African American players into baseballs major leagues, the award honors baseballs humanitarians who best exemplify what Rotary stands forService Above Self. The first winner, Dave Winfield of the Toronto Blue Jays, set the example for future recipients. A World Series hero and 2001 Hall of Famer, Winfield created a foundation that deals with substance abuse issues and nutritional needs of young people. The award is now in its twentieth year. Those of us who were children in the 1950s can well remember our worst nightmare, contracting polio. Rotarians stepped into the fight. Led locally by Grant Wilkins, a polio survivor, Rotary established Polio Plus, which raised millions for research and immunizations. Rotarians are still at it, dispelling the myth that the disease has been eradicated. It still exists in nations such as Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. The fight against polio awakened Rotary to other health and humanitarian needs around the globe. Denver Rotarys World Community Service Committee, founded in 1987, can now boast a variety of projects encompassing six continents. The causes include education, clean drinking water, sanitation, medical and dental treatment, and the empowerment of women. Funding from Denver Rotary also trains and rewards young scholars in many fields, and sends them worldwide. Throughout the book, Fetter has interspersed all of these subjects with liberal use of pictures and art. The cover is a beautiful collage of Denver past and present, created by artist Barbara Froula. The photos depict prominent club members, events ranging from solemn dedications to an ill-fated Mexican bullfight (where neither Rotarians nor the bull were harmed), and the many tangible results of Rotarys philanthropy. One picture even shows a Denver might-have-been: architect and Rotarian Temple Buells 1940s plans for a magnificent Rotary International Headquarters to be located at the present site of the Denver Botanic Gardens. In the end Rotary International decided to stay put in the Chicago area, a rare defeat for Denver Rotary. This book is a must for all Rotarians, highly recommended for students of Denver history, and a great read for everyone else.


The First Hundred Years: Denver Rotary Celebrates a Century of Service | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 11:14:58 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us Reviewer Info: John Stewart is a Denver attorney and historian. He received his masters degree in history from the University of Colorado Denver in 2002. His thesis topic became the subject of his first book, a biography of Colorado mining millionaire Thomas F. Walsh. When not engaged in law or writing, John volunteers at the Denver Rotary Club and with various groups who promote the understanding of history and historic preservation. Add new comment