About Hopkins Rotary
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"Rotary is legacy of quality people working together to create goodwill."

Hopkins Rotary was founded in 1938.  For 78 years Hopkins Rotary has been making the Hopkins community, surrounding communities and world a better place.  Hopkins Rotarians have enjoyed the benefits of lifelong friendships with high quality, like minded professional and business people.  

The club enjoys a rich history starting with 18 founding members in 1938 (listed below).   Our largest membership was in the mid 1990's and we had over 120 members.  An important point is that we are members of this club, not of Rotary International.  

The club is proud to be the home of three 5950 District Governors: Joseph Vesely,Tom Thorfinnson and Dr. Ron Axel (2 times).  Tom Thorfinnson, a past Hopkins Rotarian and founder of the Eden Prairie Noon Club, will be the RI Zone 7 Director in 2009 to 2011.

Over the years Hopkins Rotary has provided 200+ Scholarships for Hopkins and Minnetonka students.  We have supported 60+ inbound and outbound international exchange students.  We have in built & improved parks  our community and in developing countries.  

We have supported our local community food shelves and projects both with financial resources and sweat equity.  We have created thousands of friendships.  We have touched lives of families in need and been there to rebuild communities in the face of natural disasters.  We have worked with Youth through mentor programs and changed lives.  Through The Rotary International Foundation we have almost eliminated Polio from the face of the planet.  As a club we have been a driving force in moving Rotary to focus on providing safe drinking water in developing countries. SafeWater Plus was founded by Hopkins Rotarians.   We have saved thousands of lives with the fresh water wells that have been built over the last several years alone.

Weekly club meetings were first held at Matt’s Café on what was then Excelsior Avenue. There was always a slice of pie at each place setting for our members.  In about the mid 1950's we moved from Matt's Cafe to Bursch’s.  Bursch's was also on Excelsior Avenue, but moved to 8th Avenue S. in the early 1960's.  Once a month we had ribs and always had a good deal of visitors at those meetings.  When Bursch’s closed in the 1970's, the club moved meetings to the Hopkins House on Highway 7; that too closed in the late 90's.  We met temporarily at Boston Garden where we were very crowded. Our meetings proceeded to move around for a for many months and visitors had a hard time finding us.  Among the venues were the Elk’s Lodge, Opus, Interlachen Country Club and Knights of Columbus.  

We used to be known as the singing club. Under the direction of Jack Feudner we used songbooks that were distributed to all tables. Jack resigned and our younger members did not know the old songs (e.g. Daisy, Daisy, Grandfather’s Clock, Silver Hair among the Gold and more) hence there is only occasional singing with the help of Bonnie Hammel.  In the earlier years, many members congregated at the “chapel”.   Ask one of the older members about this.  
There seems to have been only one fishing trip to Lake MilleLacs, but for many years in the 1970's and 1980's we had an annual “Hagen Stag” at  Don Hagen's cottage (actually there were two locations) at Lake Minnetonka. We played volley ball, horseshoes and bocce ball, went on boat rides, sometimes across to Mound to visit the “Mist”, a bar owned by one of our members.  For dinner we enjoyed a steak fry and the evening ended with poker and more refreshments.  When women became part of Rotary in the 1990's, the Stag became the  “Hagen Outing” but shortly thereafter, the cottage was damaged in a storm and the property was sold.  Other outings have been to the Old Log Theater, the Chanhassen Playhouse, a dinner cruise on Lake Minnetonka, canoe rides down Minnehaha Creek, fish fries, pancake breakfasts and more.

For many years there has been a golf tournament, jointly with the Lions Club, at Oak Ridge Country Club and we used to have a “Spring Fling”.

Like all clubs, we have fundraisers.  In the 60's and 70's we had the Haunted House, then came pancake breakfasts, a garage sale, car raffle and our current fruit sale in conjunction with the International Club at the Hopkins High School.  Our fundraiser, Taste West, started in 2007.  

We have built hockey rinks at Burns Park and Central Park, a shelter at Burns Park, started a day care center, planted trees at Shady Oak Beach, beautified the Downtown Hopkins Park and painted several houses for those in need.  In addition to our contributions to eliminate polio from the earth, several of our members went to Ukraine to build a playground for an orphanage and Tom Thorfinnson and Jim Justus went to Haiti to help establish fresh water wells. The latest venture was helping the City of Long Beach, Miss. recover from Hurricane Katrina.

Our members have been active in the Raspberry Festival and organized the “Kiddy Parade” for many years. Too many of our old-times are no longer with us, many of them added “flavor” to our meetings and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

The charter members: 
Don Donovan - First Hopkins Rotary President, (Furniture Sales) 
Frank F. Bennett - (Minneapolis Moline)
Oscar F. Dahlberg - (Auto Sales on Excelsior Avenue)
Dr. Herman E. Drill - “Tiny”, (Physician)
M.B.Hagen - (Real Estate)
Waldo Hovander - (Grocery) (Became Tait’s and now Driskill’s)
Andrew N. Justus - (Lumber Yard)
Alfred G. Larson - (Men’s Clothing) (last charter member to die)
Chester R. Nelson - (Shoe Sales)
H.W. Olson - (Pharmacy)
Jacob D. Premack - (Haberdashery)
Carl Siewert - (Jewelry)
W.S. Smetana - (Drug Retail) (same as “pharmacy” because only one member could 
    represent each classification)
Emil G. Souba - (Banking)
A.M. Stevens - Variety Store (Ben Franklin)
William Strobeck - (Funeral Home)
Joseph C. Vesely -  (General Law)
Mat Weldon - (Restaurant)

Special Thanks to: 
Dr. Paul Slaton, Ron Johnson, Jerry Miller, Dr. Ron Axel and many others for helping document Hopkins Rotary's history.   If you have corrections or input please send updates to us and we will revise to best represent the history of the club.  


Past Presidents:
2012/2013 - John Anderson
2011/2012 - Bonnie Hammel
2010/2011 - Gunnar Carlson
2009/2010 - Tim Dillon
2008/2009 - Jim Benshoof
2007/2008 - Greg Palmer
2006/2007 - Dr. James Block
2005/2006 - Al Bier
2004/2005 - Katheren Schipper
2003/2004 - Gary Brown
2002/2003 - Steve Mielke
2001/2002 - Dan Ryan
2000/2001 - Marshall MacKay
1999/2000 - Mark Senn
1998/1999 - Steve Fritzke
1997/1998 - Rick Pavelka
1996/1997 - Jerre Greene
Need Info...
1988/1989 - Tom Hance
1987/1988 - Jerry Gustafson
1986/1987 - Mike Winship
1985/1986 - Dr. Tim Bergstedt
1984/1985 - Herb Kent
1983/1984 - Mike Mulligan
1982/1983 - James Justus
1981/1982 - Robert Grupp
1980/1981 - Lyle Bay
Wendell Ellis
Dick Mahigan
Dr Ron Axel
Earl Dahlberg
Jim Morton
Bob DeGhetto
Loren Tichy
Richard Wilson
Ted Carlsen
Jack Flesher
Earl Nelson
Dr. Philip Sheldon
Dr. Verdi Gysland
Richard Klingen
Dr. Paul Slaton - 1965
Bill Ryerse
Ron Johnson
Don Hagen
Walt Werness
Joe Sydness
Edward Rexer
Joseph Vesely
1957/1958 - Vic Janssen
1956/1957 - Bill Parmeter
1955/1956 - Harlan Perbix
1954/1955 - Rollin Child
1953/1954 - Ward Dahlberg
1952/1953 - John Edwards
1951/1952 - Bob Thurston
1950/1951 - Ken Anderson
1949/1950 - Archie Miller
1948/1949 - L.H. Tanglen
1947/1948 - Martin Ronning
1946/1947 - Al Larson
1945/1946 - Ed Carlberg
1944/1945 - Roy Kelley
1943/1944 - Sanfred Gustafson
1942/1943 - Andy Justus
1941/1942 - Frank Bennett
1940/1941 - Dr. H. E. Drill
1939/1940 - Chester R. Nelson
1938/1939 - Don A. Donovan

Rotarian of the Year:
2011 - Tim Tuttle
2010 - John Anderson
2009 - Roger Struthers
2008 - Barb Westmoreland 
2008 - Bonnie Hammel
2005 - Craig Reid                
2004 - Jim Benshoof
2003 - Tim Dillon
2002 - Ed Stiele
2001 - Tom Hessel
2000 - Jim Justus
1999 - Cathy Carlson
1997 - Bill Hise
1995 - Dick Wilson
1994 - Tom Thorfinnson
1993 - Mike Winship
1992 - Clayt RaDue
1991 - Dr. Ron Axel
1974 - Dr. Paul Slaton