Courtesy of  Ray Leisy, Club Historian
As you may note by the occupations of the original twenty-four members of the Wooster Rotary Club and their contacts throughout the Ohio business world, the Wooster Rotary Club held the promise of great things to come with special emphasis on  “Service Above Self”. By 1924, the Wooster Rotary Club had grown to 55. That same year a Motion was made to pay the expenses of a Wooster Delegate to the National Rotary Convention. The second Wooster President, Charles Gary was sent as Wooster’s Delegate to the St. Louis Convention. Also, at that time the fiscal year for each Rotary Club ended on March 31st.
1924 was a very active year for the Wooster Club, contributions were made to the Boy Scouts and our first relationship with the International Society for Crippled Children resulted in an average donation of $4.00 per member to that organization.
In 1925, after an address by the Chaplain of the Ohio State Penetentiary, Wooster Rotary adopted a Resolution sent to the Ohio Legislature that prisoners be encouraged to further their education through correspondence courses organized by the State of Ohio. The Wooster Club was also recognized by the Crippled Children Foundation for buying an electric chair for a local Wooster citizen. This is the first time that Wooster used funds to support a local citizen. This also was the first time that the membership held a picnic at the newly opened Wooster City Park, known now as the Christmas Run Park.
In 1928 the Club made a conscious effort to promote giving for specific causes on a regular basis instead of reacting upon requests. For that reason special funds were established for Christmas Seals, Crippled Children, Boy Scouts, Youth and a special fund for individual needs of assistance.
For the last few years that Wooster Rotary published a booklet listing all members, a list of Past Presidents starting with 1930-1931 was included. Below is a list of the Presidents from 1921 to 1929:
L. Albert Woodard 1921-1922
Charles M. Gray 1922-1923
Ira Neely 1923-1924
Joseph W. Hooke1924-1925
Carlos Williams 1925-1926
Edmund Secrest 1926-1927
Michael Moriarty 1927-1928
Fred Howard 1928-1929
John Weiser 1929-1930
Also, just so you know our oldest living President of Wooster Rotary, Robert P. Bogner, 1971-1972, will be turning 100 shortly and has 69 years of Service Above Self to the Wooster Rotary Club and Wooster Community.
The year 1931 marked the completion of the first decade for Wooster Rotary and the 25th anniversary of the founding of Rotary itself which had reached 200,000 members worldwide. Wooster Rotary had grown from 24 members to 80 members. The Wooster Rotary Secretary at the time, George Coffey, called the 1930s the “Years of Stress” due to the worldwide Depression and the beginnings of fascism in Europe and militarism in Japan.
The Depression did not spare Wooster Rotary; quite a few members were unable to meet the financial requirements of Wooster Rotary and had to relinquish their membership. Rotary International lost 2,000 members and 27 Clubs were terminated in 1931. Wooster Rotary took action that year by saying “It is the desire of the Board of Directors that everyone of the present membership maintain his affiliation with the Club during this period of stress. Under no circumstances should a member resign because he feels that he cannot afford to carry on. If necessary, in individual cases, we will declare our own holiday and let you eat your lunch at home, if you but come to the meeting afterward.”
In 1933, as matters began to deteriorate both at home and Internationally, Wooster Rotary President John Houser chose to adopt the four-way test on behalf of Wooster Rotary and the use of the teapot, first used in 1924 as a result of the Teapot Dome affair, to remind all Wooster Rotary Members to support what was right and essential for the support of the financial efforts for the charities of Wooster Rotary.
In 1934, after a vote of Wooster Rotary members, the meeting day was changed from Wednesday to Monday. It was also decided a Wooster Rotary pin would be given to all new members. It was also decided that current members who had joined before 1934 would be given a pin as well. The Fellowship Committee decided that badges showing the members name and classification would be used. To further encourage fellowship, the Fellowship Committee decided to use only round tables for meetings.
In 1936 matters began to deteriorate in Europe rapidly with effect on Rotary International. In that year 42 German clubs disbanded, 11 clubs in Austria and 34 clubs in Italy.
In 1938 Wooster Rotary met with other Wooster Civic Clubs and formed the Community Chest resolving that many individual drives for funds should unite for just one drive per year for all members. However, the fears of all people for peace were dashed in 1939 as the war in Europe began with closing of many more clubs as countries began to mobilize for war or defense.
Wooster Rotary entered the 1940s with nothing except more bad news from Rotary International and the quickly declining world-wide membership.
“In a small dark malodorous tunnel of Corregidor, shortly before its fall (May 6, 1941), seven Rotarians met. Remnant of the Rotary Club of Manila.”
Soon a call went out from the American Red Cross for help. Under the Presidency of James Rahl, Wooster Rotarians began to respond.
Numbers in Rotary International began to decline rapidly with the encroaching occupation by The Axis powers of more countries. By the end of 1941, 214 clubs and 7,500 members were counted as inactive.
The focus on the Wooster Club for the next four years was on assisting in the war effort. That effort began with granting leave status to eleven members for service in the military including Harold Beeson, John Cox, Harold Freedlander, George Jacoby, Arthur Kaltenborn, Thomas Landes, Bob Nash, William Schultz, Robert Schultz, S.B. Vaughan and Carl Woods. Thankfully, all returned to the Club. But, the tension of scanning the weekly lists of missing, killed or injured for Wooster Rotary members, family and friends was almost unbearable. There was still a little room for humor though as the Woosterian of January 13, 1943, carried this quip “Even with rationing Wooster Rotary will still have its ‘Coffey,' but it looks like it is up to the individual to bring his own ’Sugar.’ "
On June 26, 1944 membership in Wooster Rotary stood at 118 including 5 Honorary Members and 11 Military Members.
“Gala Party Marks Wooster Rotary’s 25th Anniversary” was the headline of a special insert of the Wooster Daily Record dated Friday, March 22, 1946. Of course, it helped that E.C. Dix, Editor of the Wooster Daily Record, was still a member of  Wooster Rotary. Of the original charter group of 24 members, eight still remained as members: Emmett C. Dix, Herman Freedlander, George C. Maurer, James B. Rahl, Guy Richard, Robert Woods, Clarence Allis and Alvin Rich. Officers for the Anniversary Year were Ray Dix, President; Hobart Henry, Vice President; Harry Sands, Secretary; and Harry Domhoff, Treasurer. Board of Director members were Blake Battles, Dave Edwards, Oscar Martin. Dick Mayberry and Don McGuire.
A Banquet honoring the occasion was held on the evening of March 22,1946. It is hard to tell from the picture, but it seems to be mostly for Wooster Rotarians with a few Rotarians invited from neighboring clubs. The speaker for the evening was Herbert J. Taylor of Chicago, Vice President of Rotary International who spoke on the topic of “A Test for These Times”. He was introduced by District Governor George S. Baldwin of Cleveland. Wooster Rotarians also made short presentations: Emmett Dix, Judge John Weiser, Guy Richard, Vernon Smucker and Ray Dix.
Most of the attention was given to the reported  “high spot” of the evening, a presentation of the Wooster High School cast and chorus of the high school operetta directed by Wallace Franks and Miss Lucille Gant. Prior to the meal, guests were entertained by the music of Mr. and Mrs. Dan Parmalee and William DeVeny.
The 1945-46 Wooster Rotary Year took off where our 25th Anniversary Year ended. It was an ambitious year as Ray Dix became President with our returning service men and new opportunities for service.
The request of the Wooster, Dalton and Orrville Clubs to change Districts from District 157 to 158 was granted by Rotary International. The request was made because of easier travel arrangements. Unfortunately, the new opportunity for local service became the polio outbreak. A Wooster Rotary member quietly gave President Ray Dix $500. to aid another Wooster Rotary member to care for his child. The member returned the entire sum to President Ray as he was able to handle the finances of his family on his own. The money was then given to a local family whose son had become partially paralyzed by polio to purchase a wheel chair and for other needs. No one ever knew who had donated the money or how it was finally distributed.
The year 1947 was also a busy year for Rotary International. Paul Harris died in Chicago on February 27, 1947. With the end of the war and liberations, 24 countries had their clubs readmitted to Rotary International. However, with the outbreak off the Civil War in China 23 clubs were dissolved, leaving only 6 active clubs in China. That left 6,932 active clubs worldwide with 332,000 members. On September 27, 1947 WWST went on the air thanks to the efforts of Emmett and Ray Dix.
That same year, Dan Parmalee conducted a scientific survey to assess the popularity of songs sung at our weekly lunch meetings. How many of our current members can remember when we sang before our meal? The winner was “Home on the Range” followed by “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” As usual, all singing was led by Dan Parmalee.
From 1947 to 1950, the Wooster Rotary continued its charitable operations with the exception of the 1947 Childens Home Christmas Party due to the scarlet fever outbreak at the home. In 1947, the Wooster Club was awarded a citation for “Vocational Service” by the District Governor. In 1948, thanks to the efforts of Herman Freedlander, Art Miller and Joe Cohan the new Christmas Run pool was dedicated and turned over to the City of Wooster free of debt.  The weekly meeting was deferred from Monday to Wednesday on August 24, 1949 for an address by Charles F. Brannan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ohio Governor Frank J. Lauche was also in attendance.
The year 1950 was a very busy year for Wooster Rotary beginning with the election of William C. Craig as Wooster President. Soon after his election the Wooster Rotary hosted its first District Assembly. The daytime sessions were held at Taylor Hall on the Campus of The College of Wooster. The evening session was held in the assembly hall of the Wooster Methodist Church. Wooster Rotary was also awarded the Governor’s Award for being the outstanding club in District 229.
In 1950 the Wooster Club also restructured Community Service Committees to include:
Easter Seal Committee under the leadership of Charles Sauder. This committee was charged with raising funds for the Easter Seal Campaign for crippled children.
The Youth Service Committee under the leadership of Louie Carter was charged with the Rotator Program and the Christmas Party for the Children’s Home and other projects which benefit local children as the need arises.
The Child Welfare Committee was headed by Bill Schultz and was to benefit local youth who were in need of services. “Probably no committee in the Club so typifies the spirit of Rotary.” The committee is charged with obtaining glasses, braces for teeth and any other aids necessary for life that cannot be obtained by their families.
The Rural-Urban Committee is charged with the annual Farmers’ Day program and strengthening the relationship between the agriculture and urban committees which make up the Wooster Community. No Chair was listed in the announcement.
The Community Projects Committee was under the direction of the Board of Directors and was charged with response to requests that better the community or seeking out projects that appeal to the spirit of Wooster Rotary. The Committee was also charged with presenting specific programs to the membership which highlight and promote public and private agencies which serve the Wooster area.
The year 1951 was another special year for Wooster Rotary. The 30th Anniversary Party was held at the First Presbyterian Church in Wooster on Monday night, February 26th. The Woostarian had this to say after the event: “A most delightful combination and excellent program, combining recognition and entertainment…and  a very full attendance. An occasion like this reminds us of how we are indebted to other people. The anniversary of our Club reminds us of Paul Harris and all the other Rotarians who have made Rotary what it is today. It also reminds us of the founders and charter members of the Wooster Club and of what Rotary had done for us and of what it has enabled us to render in the way of service to others.”
The next year, 1952, was an equally excellent year for speakers at Wooster Rotary, including George Graziado, International President of the 20-30 Club, Otto Graham, and Miss Etta Freedlander (sister of Herman) who painted a grim picture of the new country of Israel’s struggle for survival.  A rather unique program was presented by Vic Dix and Scott Craig, two sons of Wooster Rotarians. They spoke about their trip across the North American continent from Wooster to the far west and then north to Alaska as far as they could go. Their trip was published as they went because of the vehicle in which they were making the trip, a hearse. It would have been interesting to have Vic recount the story before he left for permanent residence in Florida.
In 1954 Harold Freedlander became the 34th President of Wooster Rotary. 1954 was also the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Rotary International. The occasion was celebrated with the laying of the cornerstone of a new headquarters in Evanston, Illinois. Engraved on the cornerstone was, and is, “Service Above Self - He Profits Most Who Serves Best”.
At his “swearing in”, Harold Freedlander  arranged to have the six surviving charter members of Wooster Rotary seated at the front table. They were: Herman Freedlander, George Maurer, James Rahl, Harry Reiman, Guy Richard, and Robert Woods. Actually there was a seventh person seated at the table, Walter Foss, who was not actually a charter member, but whose efforts resulted in the formation of our Wooster Rotary Club.
The above information and most of the material from which we have prepared the past weekly series is contained in a booklet written by Wooster Rotary Historian David L. Edwards in honor of the International’s 50th Anniversary and detailing the Wooster Rotary Club history 1921-1955.
Ford Ross became the 1955 Rotary Year President. Harold Freedlander pinned the President’s Pin on Ford. This was the same Pin bought by George Coffey for himself twenty years earlier and which had been passed down by each succeeding President since then.
One of the more interesting programs for the year was presented by Albert Dix, brother of Ray Dix. But, the presentation almost did not happen. Ted Evans had arranged to fly from Wooster to Martins Ferry to pick up Albert Dix on the morning of the meeting. Because of poor visibility, Evans was forced to land in Cadiz on the trip back. They borrowed a car and began to drive towards Wooster. As the visibility improved, they borrowed another plane and landed in Wooster only a few minutes late. Talk about service above self!
The noon meeting of November 18th was canceled in favor of the Ladies Night meeting at the Methodist Church sponsored by the Rotary Anns for Thanksgiving.
On a sad note, the passing of Alvin Rich was noted by The Woosterian in October. "The valuable library received his support and the museum is largely the work of a very few men led by him. These, and the contributions to the common life of Wooster are things of which any one might be proud. The Lutheran Church, which he loved, and whose liturgy he cherished, found him in his place week after week; its beautiful alter was a tribute to his wife. We already know what he was to Rotary; how, as a business man on the square, his store was a place where people from anywhere could meet or wait for their transportation home without obligation. He was a man of culture; a perfect gentleman, devoted to Wooster. We shall miss him.”  He was a Charter Member of Wooster Rotary.
The Wooster Rotary Year 1956-1957 began as J. Garber Drushal took the helm as President of Wooster Rotary. Dr. Drushal, PhD., was, at the time, Professor in the Speech Department at the College of Wooster. Membership in Wooster Rotary at that time stood at 161.
A very active topic for discussion at the September 21, 1956 meeting was the use of Weitzel Hall as a noon meeting place for Wooster Rotary. President Drushal began the discussion because of the poor attendance recently at Wooster Rotary. It was noted that the main reason seemed to be the inaccessibility of the stairs to the Hall for many of Wooster Rotary’s aging members. Earlier, Paul Weitzel had been approached about installing a small elevator, but he evidently declined. Another possibility floated for discussion was buying a building on the ground floor for Rotary’s exclusive use. This would permit larger meetings such as Ladies’ night. That idea also evidently went nowhere. The Masonic Lodge was approached as well to rent their ground floor room out, but they declined. The Board of Directors was directed to continue the search for a suitable ground floor meeting place. As an added to note to this issue, we hope everyone had a chance to read page A8 in the 7/2/2020, Sunday Daily Record. There you would have noted Dr. Edward Brown, a polio survivor and Wooster Rotary member, being carried up the stairs to Weitzel Hall by Ivan Steiner, Jr., also a Rotarian.
The speaker highlight of the Fall season for many was the speaker on October 26th; Branch Rickey, graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University. He was, of course, a baseball manager who won eight pennants and four world championships, His greatest legacy was that he hired Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
It was announced that  November 9th would be declared “Fellowship Day” for Wooster Rotary as would the first meeting of every month. The purpose was to promote Wooster Rotary Fellowship by members sitting somewhere other than their usual seat so that they could meet new members and learn more about each Rotarian. It is hard to tell how long that program lasted, but we still struggle today with that issue.
The Wooster Rotary Year 1957 to 1958 began with the passing of the gavel to President E. B. “Ted” Evans. The noon meeting for July 22nd was cancelled in favor of Family Night at 6:30 pm held at the Wayne County Fair grounds where 270 Rotarians, family members and guests enjoyed a wonderful meal prepared by Mrs. Lawrence and her staff followed by a Little League Baseball game.
The speaker highlight of the fall program schedule on September 22nd was Lou “The Toe” Groza from the Cleveland Browns who “…made it clear that brains as well as braun are a prime prerequisite in professional football.”
On December 23rd many faithful Wooster Rotarians attended the Christmas Party at the Children’s Home. They went bearing gifts for every child from the members of Wooster Rotary.
On Sunday, June 6th, Wooster Rotarians were prominent at the dedication of The “William Miller Little League Park”. The new Park was organized and built by Rotarians Art Miller and Joe Cohan with “strong” financial support of Wooster Rotary. It was another example of the “silent” work behind the scenes by Wooster Rotarians. Throughout the history of Wooster Rotary it was traditional that Wooster Rotary provided so much service and financial assistance to so many projects without seeking public recognition for their financial support and service.
The Wooster Rotary year concluded on June 23rd with the program presented by World War I flying ace Colonel Roscoe Turner. He had been actively identified with the National Air races from the beginning and was an executive at the Indianapolis and Terra Haute Airports.
The Wooster Rotary Year 1958 to 1959 began with Howard Yoder as President. Charles Franks also became a member of the Club on June 2, 1958. He is still a member!  The Annual Family Picnic was held on Monday, July 28 at the Walter Jones residence.
The speaker at the Rural-Urban Annual Program was Med Maxwell from Maxwell Productions of Forth Wayne; introduced by Clyde Moore. Another notable program for the year include J. Homer Winkler of the Batelle Memorial Institute. Other social programs for the year were Ladies Night, the Thanksgiving Party and the Annual Children’s Home Christmas Party.
With the building of the new YMCA, a long standing problem for Wooster Rotary was solved. The first Rotary meeting was held in the YMCA the first Monday of January, 1959. Rotary continued to meet at the YMCA until moving to the Presbyterian Church.
The February 13, 1959 Woosterian carried the following article:
1. I won’t take it for granted that Rotary club work will “get done” by somebody: but will take it for granted that it won’t “get done” unless I do it.
2. I won’t hope for 100% club attendance while I stay away myself.
3. I won’t expect my Rotary club to be a cheerful place while I retain the liberty off growling.
4. I won’t expect the club to be fair in financial condition while I fail to do my part financially.
5. I will never forget the club consists not only of a president and its officers, but of me and all the other members, responsible together of the fulfillment, in this community, of all phases of the Object of Rotary.
The 1959-1960 Wooster Rotary Year began with new President, Sam Shapiro. President Sam encouraged Wooster Rotarians to nominate a deserving young person to apply for Rotary Foundation Scholarships. During the International Rotary Year 1958 to 1959 scholarships for advanced study abroad in the amount of $2,600 each were awarded to 83 young men and 39 young women for study abroad. Since the program was inaugurated in 1947 to honor Paul Harris, 1,318 scholarships had been awarded up to 1959.
On Tuesday, February 9, 1960, Wooster Rotary hosted a Benefit Bridge Tournament at the YMCA to raise funds for a building for a school to benefit handicapped children, later to be known as the Ida Sue School. As usual for the times, the Woosterian did not report the sum raised.
The meeting on May 3, 1960 reminds us of a name well known at the time to many but which has faded into the past, featured a presentation by Tom Field, Cleveland newscaster and TV personality. His presentation was part of the District Convention noon luncheon program, which was held at the Presbyterian Church.
The highlight of the Wooster Rotary Year 1959 to 1960, and for which much planning had taken place, was the District Conference held in Wooster May 1, 2 and 3. The meetings included at least one member from each of the 36 clubs in the District. Wooster's own Amos Buchman was District Governor that year and the concluding address for the closing banquet in the evening of May 3rd was given by Dr. Howard Lowry, President of the College of Wooster.