Juneau Rotary's History


In March of 1955, Juneau Rotary presented "The Goldbrickers of '55" with a cast of 28 Rotarians doing "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

At the time of formation, Juneau Rotary was the northernmost club on the continent and second in the world to a club in Norway.

Juneau Rotary's "Golden Theatre of the Air" began a 13-week run on KJNO Radio on February 20, 1955, with Howard Stabler, George Sundborg, Bill Ellis and Floyd Guertin taking part to present the program.

Herb Hilscher, magazine writer, told members of the Juneau Rotary Club on September 2, 1941 that unless the residents of Juneau wake up, the capital of Alaska will be transferred to Anchorage within the next 10 years.  He pointed to the recent move of the Civil Aeronautics Administration to Anchorage and said, "Juneau has just two payrolls - the Alaska-Juneau and government, and the A-J isn't going to get any larger. Anchorage is growing rapidly and has little industry to support it and will soon start making raids on federal and territorial offices," Hilscher concluded.

District 5010 was created on July 1, 1991 as a result of renumbering of Districts by Rotary International.  District 501 had been created on July 1, 1987 and developed from a realignment of clubs in District 503, separating Alaska and the Yukon Territory, Canada, with 27 clubs total. 

When the first Alaska club was formed in Ketchikan in 1925, District 1 included Alaska, Northwestern Washington, and British Columbia.

Our district was 503 from 1973 until 1987, when District 501 was created and gave Alaska and the Yukon its own district with 27 clubs. The first District 501 Conference was held in Juneau, Alaska in May of 1988 and the first DG was Robert "Bob" Snyder.

District 5010 was created in 1991 when they added the "digit" 0 to three numbered districts to expand the possibilities worldwide.

The third DG from Juneau is Wanda Cooksey, Juneau Gastineau club and she served in 2001-02.

Early Rotary District Governors from Alaska included Ralph Bartholomew, Ketchikan, 1956-57; A. Holmes Johnson, Kodiak, 1962-63; Hurff Saunders, Juneau, 1966-67; and Lloyd Hines, Anchorage, 1970-71. 

On July 1, 1993, The Rotary International Board of Directors added that part of Russia East of the eastern boundaries of the Komi Republic and the Yekaterinburg/Svevdlovsk and Kurgan Oblasts to Rotary District 5010. 

It was on August 28, 1945, at a regular meeting of the Juneau Rotary Club that the Rev. Herbert Hillerman, the club president, announced that a library building would head the club's projects in the post-war years. It would serve as a memorial and tribute to the veterans of the World Wars.

Juneau's first model airplane meet, sponsored by the Juneau Rotary Club, was held November 1, 1949 in the Southeastern Alaska Fair Building at 11th and Glacier. Nearly 100 model planes were entered, built by more than 50 Juneau boys.

One early Juneau Rotary's projects was the sponsorship of Rotary Variety Shows called the Roaring Twenties Review, held at the Armory.

Juneau Rotary celebrated its second anniversary in 1937 with a dinner at the Methodist Church, with entertainment furnished by a tap dancer and a piano player.

In the early 1950s, Juneau Rotary sponsored the "book boat" -- a traveling library with boxes of books that visited 20 villages in Southeast Alaska.

Juneau Rotary's initial charter was issued on November 2, 1935, with an initial membership of 24.

In 1995, 18 Rotarians from Juneau participated in chartering three new clubs in Russia.  Juneau Rotary contributed $2,500 to help defray transportation costs.

In 1992 Juneau Rotary remodeled the Rotary Picnic Shelter in Cope Park.  The building that was remodeled was originally built as a bath house for the first swimming pool in Juneau, which was a much earlier Juneau Rotary project.

On August 4, 1987 125 Juneau Rotary members and guests held the weekly lunch meeting at Camp #17 on the Lemon Glacier, shuttling by helicopter to the research station.

Rev. O.L. Kendall gave the first classification talk at Juneau Rotary, on October 22, 1935.

Rotary came to Alaska when the Ketchikan club was formed on April 22, 1925, under the sponsorship of the Prince Rupert Rotary club.

The Juneau Rotary Club is the second club formed in Alaska, sponsored by the Ketchikan Club.

Wonder why the two of clubs is the lucky winning card in our weekly drawings?  It signifies that Juneau Rotary was the second club formed in Alaska.

Juneau Rotary sponsored the other two Juneau clubs - Glacier Valley in 1964 and Gastineau in 1988.

M'Iva Rickey was the first woman elected as President of Juneau Rotary, in 1997.

Howard Stabler was the first president of Juneau Rotary, in 1935.

On August 4, 1987, the Rotary Club of Juneau admitted the first women to the club.

Two members of our club have served as District Governor - Joe Alter and Hurff Saunders.  The third district Governor from Juneau was Wanda Cooksey from the Juneau Gastineau club, who served 2001-02.

Juneau Rotary has helped start six Rotary clubs in Alaska - Fairbanks (1940), Anchorage (1941), Sitka (1941), Petersburg (1941), Juneau Glacier Valley (1964), Juneau Gastineau (1988).

In the 1940s, Juneau Rotary sponsored the annual Soap Box Derby race in Juneau.

Juneau Rotary hosted the 1939 Rotary District Conference.  The club put up a huge circus tent at the glacier for a barbeque, but a heavy rain caused the tent to collapse.

Juneau Rotary led the effort to raise funds and build the Juneau Memorial Library, now the city museum.  The building was dedicated in the fall of 1951.

The first women to be named DG from 5010 was Carolyn Jones of Anchorage in 1997, who is now the first ever women in the world to be named to Rotary's Foundation Board of Trustees.

Our Rotary club is one of 72 clubs in District 5010 which encompasses over 6 million square miles and 11 time zones.  The district includes Alaska, the Yukon Territory and Russia - east of the Ural Mountains. 

Juneau Rotary's first meetings, in 1935, were held at the Terminal Café, where the downtown McDonald's is now located.

Over the years, Juneau Rotary has met at the Terminal Café, the Masonic Temple, the Methodist Church, Percy's Café and,, since 1939, the Baranof Hotel.

Juneau Rotarian Zach Gordon started the "Teenage Club" in a former USO Building on Seward Street.  He later raised the money to build the Youth Center named after him on Willoughby Avenue.

During Bob Rehfeld's term as president, the community service project he chose was to build a climbing wall at the Zach Gordon Youth Center.  Zack was an early Rotarian who worked with many young people and the climbing wall met an RI objective that year to help promote the new generation of young people.

Juneau Rotary has a long history of totem pole restoration and raising, starting with the Old Witch Pole, which originally stood by the public library.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Juneau Rotary was to meet aboard a cruise ship for the weekly luncheon.  The meeting was, of course, cancelled due the events of the day.

During President Scott Fischer's term in 2001-2002, the community service project was to remodel the offices of Big Brothers/Big Sisters downtown.

In 2004, District 5010 raised some $21,000 for the Wheelchair Foundation in Mexico, and purchased a container of 280 wheelchairs.  Club President Beverly Ward was co-chair of the committee, and traveled to Mexico to help distribute the chairs.