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They gathered in Richland's Jefferson School on a chilly November 16, 1949. Twenty-six men ready to serve. Members of the Rotary Club of Yakima stood by as sponsors. District Governor Roscoe Sheller of the Sunnyside Rotary Club conducted the formal charter ceremony. And, the Richland Rotary Club of District #153 was created.

An inauspicious beginning, perhaps. The Richland Rotary Club was but one of many chartered worldwide and was the second in the Tri-Cities with Pasco-Kennewick being the first. But their desire to make a difference through service would soon distinguish the club.

Mel Swain served as the club's first president. Other officers were: Les McIntosh, Vice President; Bert Sellin, Secretary-Treasurer; and Frank McCune, Jim DeLong, Roy McCartney, Henry Thurston, Milt Grimsrud, Board of Directors.

Their first annual report in 1951 recounts their early years. "Our Club is not very old and it has taken us this long to actually realize how broad, how great, and how important the principles of Rotary are, especially to this community which today produces all the plutonium manufactured in our country. There must be a counter-balance in the minds of our citizens to stabilize their thinking when they are involved in the production of so much destruction, and we realize that Rotarians have a new and special responsibility to not only live Rotary principles, but to see that these ideals are broadcast community-wide."

In their first year, the 26 members found themselves heavily involved in 18 committees organized under the four avenues of service. For Club Service, Program Committee developed programs in advance for the entire year. For Community Service, the Handicapped Children Committee explored helping the Richland School District with special needs children. In Vocational Service, club members received copies of the Four Way Test. And, members began contributing to the Rotary Foundation for their International Service. Clearly, involvement was essential that first year and members were encouraged to "get on, get off, or get run over" because "Richland's Rotary Wheel is rolling."

That wheel has rolled into another five decades due, in large measure, to the character and commitment of those 26 men who stood ready to serve.