The Rotary Club of Ventura was chartered by Rotary International on May 1, 1919.   We were sponsored by the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara.  We are Rotary Club number 691. 

That is not really the beginning of the story.  A meeting of Ventura business people and Santa Barbara Club Rotarians took place in the week of June 3, 1918, where the seeds were sown for the establishment, immediately, of an unchartered Ventura Rotary Club.  The first meeting of the Ventura Rotary Club took place on Wednesday, June 12, 1918 at the Hotel De Leon in downtown Ventura.  The Santa Barbara club had received it's charter in January, 1918, after three years of deliberate efforts. James Briscoe, retiring President of the Santa Barbara Rotary Club, and Byron Terry, a charter member of  Rotary Club number 1, (Chicago Rotary Club, Mr. Terry knew Paul Harris),  were present and explained the purposes of Rotary.  Twenty prominent Ventura members of different professions joined that day, electing J. Hyde Chaffee President and L. P. Hathaway Secretary.  A committee was formed and instructed to formulate a Constitution and By Laws.  Wednesday at noon was fixed as the date and time of the weekly meeting, which holds to this day.

Before receiving its charter our club was very active, recruiting more members and working for Rotary International approval.  On January 2, 1919, the Club speaker was William Dalliba, an American in Paris that organized the great American Ambulance during World War One and received the highest honor of the French Republic, the Chevalier Legion of Honor.  On February 12, 1919, by unanimous vote, our club voted to affiliate with the International Association of Rotary Clubs.  At the time Rotary International had 429 Clubs and a membership of 38,800, located in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Cuba, China and Uruguay.  Through this affiliation our club had to raise its annual dues from $5.00 to $10.00.  That's a big jump!

The Ventura Star reported on April 1, 1919, that Dr. F. F. Nalder of the University of California gave a talk on the popular Rotary idea of "Pulling Together."  Club singing was a prefered method.  "If any Rotarian knows another Rotarian who has nerve enough to sing in that bunch of highbinders, an opportunity may be given at an early meeting."

Our Club received its Charter from R. I. on May 16, 1919, and appropriately celebrated together in song.  Please refer to the original song sheet from that Charter Session in the downloads section of this website, which also contains other historical documents from our archives.  Our Club heritage and its activities today truly reflect the history of our County, the events that have shaped the lives of many generations, the individual and cooperative contributions of our many members and the purposes of Rotary Internatonal. 

This was compiled with invaluable assistance from Tim Schiffer, past Executive Director of the Museum of Ventura County, MVC Librarian Charles Johnson, and other sources.  Thank you, Charles and Tim! The Club Family Tree is courtesy of and with permission from our parent, the Santa Barbara Rotary Club.  Thank you Club # 351!

John McConica II,  June 13, 2008 
Revised October 07, 2012 by Larry Emrich