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The Organization of the Rotary Club of Shawnee Mission:

On November 7, 1946, under the leadership of then District 123 Governor Merritt Owens and George G. Metzger of the Kansas City, Kansas Rotary Club, 23 charter members held a meeting at the Green Parrot Inn on Johnson Drive at State Line to organize the Mission Rotary Club. Elected as the first President of the new club was Earl M. Maness. The Club was admitted to membership in Rotary International on November 13, 1946 as Club No. 6417 and the charter presented at a special meeting of the Kansas City, Kansas Rotary Club on December 12, 1946. The first visiting speaker to the club was former District Governor, Phog Allen on November 20, 1946.

On January 14, 1947 "Spinning Wheel" was selected as the name for the club newsletter. The name was submitted by member, Herb Marsh. The significance of the name was " a new Rotary Club, we are "raw material" which we hope may be spun into a finished product. Also by associating a spinning wheel with the Rotary wheel we want to point out that neither will run by itself - it has to be turned. So give it a push - it is your club." (taken from the 1st Spinning Wheel, 1/20/47) One of the first successful projects was to solicit the neighborhood to raise funds to meet the note for purchasing a fire fighting unit and hose for the Mission Volunteer Fire Department. In 1947 Harlan Hartner, O.M. Ashe and Julius Van Keirsbilck joined the club. Sub-sequently Jules assumed the Sergeant-at-Arms duties, a role he has held ever since. By July 1947 membership had grown to thirty-nine. Early on the Club was established as an attendance leader in the District, attaining one hundred percent attendance in June 1947. High attendance continues to this day. Another tradition established early in the Club history was the "Fireside Chat", the first one being held on March 10, 1947. The first year culminated with the first anniversary dinner/dance held on November 5, 1947 at Milburn Country Club. The cost was $5.00 per person. Myron Nelson and Reuben Sell became members in 1948 and Bob Hester in 1949. In 1949 the Club co-sponsored a square dance to raise funds for the Polio Fund.

The Fifties:

Under the leadership of its third President, E. Paul Amos, the Mission Club helped to organize and sponsored the DeSoto Club which was admitted as Club 7425 to Rotary International on January 26, 1950. In 1952 the Club collected scrap iron to raise funds for the purchase of Boy Scout leader education films. Also that year candy and cookies were sent to Marines stationed in Korea. A Rotary bell was also sent, as a gesture of good will , to the Rotary Club of Seoul, Korea. By August 1954 membership in the Mission Rotary Club had grown to sixty-five. In September 1954 the Mission Club advanced money and began work on the design and erection of a permanent outdoor chapel for the Boy Scouts at Camp Naish near Bonner Springs. The chapel was formally presented as the Club's project for Rotary's Golden Anniversary on September 18, 1955.
The Sixties:

Based on a recommendation of a committee including Dr. John Hollyman, the club voted on September 14, 1960 to sponsor a new club in Overland Park. This was approved by Rotary International on December 21, 1960 along with a name change to Rotary Club of Shawnee-Mission, Kansas. With the Club's sponsorship and two of its past presidents, Joe Davis and Everett Corwin, the Overland Park Club was organized on October 17, 1960 and admitted to R.I. on December 29, 1960 with Matt L. Ross as President.

At the annual election on March 20, 1963 the office of "Historian" was approved, and O.M. Ashe was elected and continued in the post for almost thirty years. The club was recognized in October 1973 by the then District Governor as the only club with the position of Historian. In 1964 Bill Riley suggested a "Gadget Board" for therapeutic help for physically handicapped children. The boards were developed and built by club members in Bill's garage. One was sent to a home for handicapped children under the auspices of the Rotary Club of Madras, India. The Shawnee Mission Rotary Club received a Paul Harris Award for the board at the 58th annual Rotary International Convention in Denver in June 1966. Henry Turrell, 4th President of the Club, served as District 571 Governor from July 1, 1965 to June 30, 1966. Some other projects of the sixties were improvements for a foster home of Argentine Youth Services, Rotary books and funds for the Johnson County Library, Sponsoring delegates to Kansas Boys State, and sponsorship of a team with the Johnson County Girls Softball League.
The Seventies:

In September 1970, then Senator, Robert Dole spoke to our club, praising the club for a letter writing campaign to Vietnam concerning prisoner of war treatment. March 1972 Duane Miller participated in a Group Study Exchange to South Africa. He joined our club in August 1972. By 1975 membership had grown to 80. In 1976, Jules VanKiersbilck was presented with the Club's first Paul Harris Fellow for his twenty-eight years of service to Rotary. In 1977 the Club helped with repairs to the stage for Theatre in the Park. Today the Club annually works the concession stands.

The Eighties :

Over the next twenty years the Club has been involved with many worthwhile projects. On July 1, 1981 Herb Bruning became District 5710 Governor. In 1985 and 1987 tent sales were held as fundraisers. In 1985 the proceeds went to Africa for drought relief. Also in 1987 the Club started the annual tradition of honoring an "Outstanding Teacher of the Year". During the Polioplus Campaign our Club raised almost thirty thousand dollars for Rotary International. Participation in KC Days started in 1989. Initial funds went to endow the Rotary Youth Camp. The past several years the Club's portion of the funds have gone to The Bridge Home for Boys, The Johnson County Health Partnership and TLC.

The Nineties:

On January 31, 1990 a historic event took place in our Club. On that date Beverly Sparks was inducted as the first woman Rotarian of the Shawnee Mission Rotary Club. Dr. John Hollyman became District 5710 Governor on July 1, 1991, for the 91/92 Rotary year. During May 1992 our Club started the first project at the Grandville House of Safety in Jamaica. We provided water and restroom facilities for the home for girls as well as general painting and sprucing up of the entire compound. Two years later we returned to completely redo their kitchen, leaving them with a new industrial stove. 1992/93 was a year of Community Service. We donated money to Habitat for Humanity for the purchase of building lots in Johnson County. We also participated in a food drive with the partnership of Johnson County Civic Clubs. In 1994 and 1995 we supported the Johnson County Health Partnership by constructing shelves for drug storage and repainting their clinic. During the 1995/96 year we sponsored students from the Shawnee Mission Schools International Center on their trip to Japan. On July 1, 1996, Fred Krebs, became the fourth member of the Shawnee Mission Rotary Club to hold the position of Governor of District 5710. In 1996/97 we are helping to remodel and furnish a holding room for the Temporary Lodging for Children facility in Olathe. The Shawnee Mission Rotary Club continues to participate in many events on an annual basis. Such as bell ringing for the Salvation Army, milk money for the Bridge Home, 4-way Test speech contest, Vocational awards and the awarding of Paul Harris Fellows.