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   The North Port Arthur Rotary Club is a strong, vibrant organization, enhanced by nearly 50 active, enthusiastic members. Its leadership stresses worthwhile projects and dedication to the goals of Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation. Enthusiasm was a trademark of the club from its beginnings, 35 years ago.

   North Port Arthur Rotary grew from the germ of an idea and a lot of hard work. Fletcher Garner was president of Rotary Club of Port Arthur in 1960-61, when the club began a project to establish a new Rotary club within its jurisdiction. Earl Gregory led a committee to establish the new club and recruit members for it. Hubert Trahan, who became the Father of North Port Arthur Rotary, was the first green recruit. But he wasn't alone for long. He recruited Fred Huber, and together Mr. Trahan and Mr. Huber recruited Aubrey Raiford and Bob Wyde and the rest is history. The circle grew to charter strength, and the club was chartered April 20, 1961, at Port Arthur Country Club, with some 20 charter members. Bob Wyde was its first president, Bill Nelson was vice president and Fred Huber was secretary the first three years of North Port Arthur Rotary existence. In 1975, Hubert Trahan became the club's permanent secretary, a post he held until his death. L. J. Romero had helped him with his duties during Mr. Trahan's final illness, and became secretary after he passed away. Remember that word enthusiasm! It has sparked and strengthened the projects of North Port Arthur Rotary through the years.

   In 1976, the club heard a program presentation by Rotary Foundation Chairman Jerry Johnson, and club members took up a challenge from member Paul Pond that he would match their donations that day. Their donations were about $500, and with Pond's matching check were enough for the club to make Hubert Trahan its first Paul Harris Fellow. Two years later, the club's past presidents formed the first 10-10 club. Other 10-10 clubs followed, and, as of July 9, 2001 North Port Arthur Rotary has spawned 94 Paul Harris Fellows. All current members are sustaining Paul Harris donors of at least $100.

   Enthusiasm! It led to the first North Port Arthur Rotary fish fry in 1975. That first year it was outdoors at the site of an old spa/health club on the corner of Hwy. 73 and Twin City Hwy. Who could forget Roy Theriot breaking all speed limits from his grocery to the fish fry site to furnish the fish and other foodstuffs? The event moved to Thomas Jefferson High School the next year, and has grown and flourished for 20 years. Even in the earliest days, the funds were earmarked for scholarships for Port Arthur's students.

   Other projects included Sea Scouts, a handicapped ramp for Memorial Stadium, CavOILcade princess sponsorship and, in recent years, a school mentor program, the Aubrey Raiford Mini-Grant for teachers and donations to numerous local causes. Enthusiasm may have faltered slightly for some stalwarts in 1988, when the Supreme Court mandated that men's civic clubs admit women members. But a perfect first woman member was found in Ursula Lefkowitz, widow and former business partner of long-time member, Irving Lefkowitz. Currie became the second woman member a month later. In July 1995, Nancy became the club's first woman president. Women members have taken their place in the club's annals and become some of its most enthusiastic workers. North Port Arthur Rotary community-minded yet looking far beyond the borders of its community a club marked by know-how, hard work and enthusiasm!

Rotarian Eddie Ellerbee gives us this look back at the early days of North Port Arthur Rotary, as he remembers it. While not a charter member of the club, he was one of the first two new members to be inducted.

   Reverend L. B. Broaden, pastor at St. Mark Methodist Church had visited with him and told him the story of how Paul Harris, a struggling business man in Chicago, had formed a network of merchants and professionals who "rotated" meetings at each man's office or store each week to foster business activities among them. From this came Rotary. Their first public service project was to build public restrooms in the Chicago train station.

   Bob Wyde was our first president. The club met at the King Kole Bowling Lanes, now the site of Mingle Motors. It next moved to the Blackstone Restaurant, close to the corner of Stadium and Proctor. North Port Arthur Rotary showed up at its first District Conference in Orange with all 28 of it's members. One of the early club meetings was held aboard the boat owned by Bill Nelson, our second president. For years the club banner had a stain across its bottom where it had trailed into the river. During this time it became a tradition to throw the new club president into the swimming pool as part of the induction festivities.

   Next the club moved to the Driftwood Restaurant and put together a string of several months 100% attendance. It was broken when Driftwood manager Joe Hayes fell asleep at his desk and slept through a meeting. During the term of third president Steve Carruth the club held its first fundraiser. Members made hand-cranked ice cream that they sold for 10 cents a scoop at Jefferson City, making $67.00. The club bulletin, HIGHGEAR, appeared on the scene about this time. The club secretary lost his classification after a divorce and Eddied was appointed to the job. He was also given the bulletin editor and sergeant-of-arms jobs. Bob Schmidt of the Port Arthur news took over the bulletin a few years later. The club's second fund raiser was the Mid-Winter Ball, held at the Brad Hall. Eddie especially remembers the year the band showed up to find that there was no piano. Six tuxedo-dressed Rotarians piled into a pickup truck and hauled Flo and Roy Theriot's living room piano back to the Brad hall. The funds from these events were used to fund vocational scholarships at Port Arthur College. We soon joined forces with the Groves Rotary Club to sponsor a Sea Scout Ship. Each member was charged a dollar a month to fund the ship. Joel Livingston served as Skipper of the ship for many years.

   There is a unique thing about Eddie's Rotary career. At one time he held "dual" membership in the North Port Arthur and the Nederland Rotary Clubs. Rotary International had some problem with this, but they compromised and sent one copy of the Rotarian magazine to his home and the other to his business. He served as President of both clubs, though not at the same time. Eddie says he joined Rotary to be with the shakers and the movers of this community.