Short takes:
From the last 100 years of the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne
 
Thanks, Toledo Rotary! Our club was sponsored by the Toledo Rotary Club, with Frank Mulholland of Toledo “exerting the most influence in getting the Fort Wayne Rotary off on the right foot,” according to Rotary historian, the late Ersel Walley, Mulholland would later become president of Rotary International.
 
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Early help for TB: The Rotary Club of Fort Wayne was responsible for establishing the “Christmas Seal Camp” in the early 1920s.  The camp, on Hartman Road, cared for children with tuberculosis – at a time when a local sanatorium was not available. This center was the precursor to the Irene Byron Sanatorium, in which our club was actively involved.
 
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Proud words for IPFW: In February 1989, Dr. Joann Lantz, acting chancellor at IPFW (Indiana University – Purdue University at Fort Wayne), was our club’s guest speaker who explained: “Why South Bend is jealous of IPFW and how we are going to keep them that way with new programs, faculty additions and construction plans.” 
 
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Club Foundation: In mid 1979, after months of inspired guidance by then President Mac Parker and member William C. Lee, who would later serve as US Federal Judge, the IRS granted approval to create the Fort Wayne Rotary Foundation. Its initial balance was $902.95.
 
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“Youngest president” serves globally: William Ratsetter, Jr., was the youngest president ever of our club at age 30 in 1939. Our club’s “75th Anniversary History” says Ratsetter went on to serve as District Governor in 1941-42, had many submissions published in The Rotarian Magazine. He then served two terms as a Director at Rotary International, and was named to the RI executive committee.
 
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Helping newsboys: In the first years of our club, early members invited newsboys to evening meetings once a year, with each Rotarian acting as a big brother to a newsboy “who should feel free to call upon him for advice as often as he saw fit or at regular intervals such as the two might agree upon.”
 
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From Yankees to Roanoke:  At our Feb. 19, 1996 meeting, Peter Eshelman, then President and CEO of American Specialty Insurance, Inc., of Roanoke, shared insights about American Specialty.  The company began in 1990 with four employees, and by 1996, boasted 50 employees and will provide coverage for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Eshelman, a former player with the New York Yankees who later worked in the front office, began thinking about possibilities for special products insurance while listening to George Steinbrenner negotiate disability coverage for Yankee players.
 
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A historical conference: In 1927, the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne, hosted the District  Rotary Conference.  The event included a historical pageant of Fort Wayne presented to “Rotarians and Rotary-Anns attending conference.”
 
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In our early years, our club quickly made its mark in the city by:
  • Sponsoring Fort Wayne’s first public swimming pool in Lawton Park
  • Serving as a “Booster Club” for Fort Wayne’s entry in the Central Baseball League
  • Taking a leadership role in having the Lincoln Highway go through Fort Wayne