Local club learns evolution of Rotary


BUCKHANNON — The first meeting of Rotary was held on February, 1905; however, it wasn’t until 1987 that women were allowed to become Rotarians—prior, it was for males only. Rotarian Rich Clemens discussed 50 things every Rotarian should know about Rotary during their regular meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

A wheel, has been the symbol of Rotary since their earliest days and was designed by Chicago Rotarian Montague Bear. Clemens noted the wheel was said to illustrate “Civilization and Movement.” In 1922, the club had to adopt a single design as the “exclusive emblem” of Rotarians. Therefore, in 1923, the current gear wheel that illustrates 24 cogs and six spokes, was adopted by the Rotary International Association. He added that a group of engineers recommended that the geared wheel was mechanically “unsound” and wouldn’t work without a “keyway” in the center of the gear to attach it to a power shaft. Thus in 1923, the keyway was also added which holds as the current design that was formally adopted as the official Rotary International emblem.

One of the most widely printed and quoted statements regarding business ethics in the world is the Rotary “4-Way Test,” which reads, “Of the things we think, say or do: 1. Is it the TRUTH? 2. Is it FAIR to all concerned? 3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? 4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?” This motto was created by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1982 when a business he was asked to take over was filing bankruptcy. In efforts to save the struggling business, Taylor created the 4-Way Test, which became the “guide for sales, production, advertising and all relations with dealers and customers.” This simple philosophy was credited for the survival of the company. The concept was adopted by Rotary in 1943 and has since been translated into more than 100 languages.

Rotary also has four avenues of service, which refer to the four elements of the Object of Rotary. These include: Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service, and International Service. Club Service includes any and all activities necessary for Rotarians to perform to make their club function successfully. Vocation Service is described as the opportunity each Rotarian has to represent the dignity and utility of one’s vocation to other members within the club. Community Service includes activities that Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life within their communities. Most commonly, this refers to assistance to youth, elderly, and/or handicapped. International Service refers to programs and activities which Rotarians assume to advance international understanding, goodwill and peace. Most International Service projects aim to meet humanitarian needs of people from many parts of the world.

In most of the Rotary world, fellow Rotarians refer to each other by their first name. In areas such as Europe, they refer to club members in a more formal style. However, in Asia, they assign nicknames that relate to some personal characteristic of the person or one that is descriptive of the member’s business or occupation. For example, one member nicknamed “Oxygen” is the manufacturer of chemical gas products. Regardless of how a Rotarian is addressed within the club, “the spirit of personal friendship is the initial step which opens doors to all other opportunities for service,” Clemens stated.

The name Rotary is derived from an early practice of rotating meeting among members’ offices. Following the club’s inception in 1906, it was in popularity and by 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents. From this, the organization adopted the name Rotary International a year later. As the club grew, its mission did also—expanding beyond serving professional and social interests of club members, Rotary is best described by their principal motto: “Service Above Self.”

One of Rotary International’s most popular program is their Rotary Exchange Program. This program’s purpose is to promote international understanding and develop lifelong friendships. Since its inception in 1927, it has expanded around the world with more than 7,000 young people participating annually in Rotary-sponsored exchange programs. It was noted that, “Students usually spend a full academic year abroad, although some clubs and districts sponsor short term exchanges of several weeks or months.”

Rotary also provides opportunities for fellowship during their weekly meetings, which are considered a special privilege of Rotary membership. It provides Rotarians the opportunity to visit with fellow members, meet new visitors and share personal friendships. Rotarians are encouraged to talk and sit with different members each week to build goodwill and better friendships with fellow members.

To join Rotary, an individual must be recommended by a current member who plans to be their sponsor. Current president of the local club is Kathy McMurray. The Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur meets the first and third Tuesday of every month.

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