History of our Club

 
History of the Rotary Club of Reno
 
In the early 1900's Reno was the economic center of the Eastern Sierra. - With livestock, agriculture and mining making up the economy, folks would travel to Reno to do their business, ship and receive goods being delivered by rail from the east and west coast industrial centers - there was no tourism industry, no gaming, as we know it. It was to be legalized 15 years later.
 
The economic lifeblood of this community of 12-15,000 was the railroad, which was similar to all of the towns east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and west of the Rockies. A serious problem arose in early 1916, when the railroad increased freight rates for shorter hauls than a longer haul on the same line in the same direction. A local organization called the Reno Commercial Club began organizing business groups in Reno, and other towns to the east to lobby Washington to pass legislation to make such practices unlawful.
 
It is thought by many that this was the basis for organizing the Rotary Club of Reno. Just another organization to provide more names to impress Congress with the petition. Although this may be conjecture to some extent, when one reviews the manner in which the Club was chartered, one would have the tendency to agree with the circumstances. I'll leave it up to you to decide.
 
The Club held its first organizational meeting on July 6, 1916, and was chartered on August 1, 1916. Documents show that after the July 6th meeting, on July 7, 1916, A. R. Kent, Secretary of the proposed Rotary club of Reno, sent a telegram to The National Association of Rotary Clubs, stating "that if welcomed into the Rotary fold, we will endeavor to send our President to the Convention In Cincinnati." On July 8, a telegram was received from National, asking them to communicate with District Governor Brunier. On July 9, DG Brunier reported to National, "Got wire from Reno Rotary Club, will leave a day early, and report to you in person in Cincy."
 
Arrangements were made for the President-Elect to travel to Cincinnati and present the application to the Rotary National Board of Directors on July 16, at which time the Club paid a $10.00 entrance fee, and their $12.00 annual fee, and was elected "as is" and assigned charter # 248. The President - Elect was Judge Willis Brown, of the Reno Commercial Club, who became the first President of the Rotary Club of Reno.
 
The Club's first meeting was held on August 9,1916, with 25 charter members, and 43 members present. This whole process was highly unusual, as no other Rotary club has ever been chartered in this manner - every club, as well as every Rotarian, must be sponsored by another Club, or another Rotarian.
As it turns out, the Rotary club of Reno, which was the first Club in Nevada, and one of the few Rotary clubs in the west, became an outstanding organization from the very beginning. In 1916, the year of our Charter, The national organization was just beginning its expansion to other shores. A club had been founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1912, another in London, in 1912, others in Canada, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines. At the beginning of 1916, The International Association of Rotary Clubs boasted of 230 Clubs, and 27,000 Rotarians. Today, there are 33,400 clubs 1.3 million Rotarians spread throughout over 200 countries. 
 
Also, it was a year after our Charter was issued that the forerunner of the Rotary Foundation was created by Rotary International President Arch Klumph. And along these lines, it is also interesting to note, that in 1916, the United States was suffering through its worst polio epidemic in history, with 27,363 documented cases, and over 7,000 deaths. Who would have thought ninety years later, our organization would be the major player in helping to eliminate this terrible disease from the face of the earth. Because of Rotary's efforts, along with others, nearly two billion children have been immunized, with more to come.
 
 
SOME OTHER INTERESTING FACTS:
 
Reno Rotary's first BBQ was held in 1936 - 77 years ago.
 
Reno Rotary was responsible for creating the 3rd largest industry in the State of Nevada which was based on the concept of New Orleans, LA being approved as a commercial tax exempt port.  If the City of New Orleans, as a major seaport could do that, why not the landlocked State of Nevada?  The approval of the concept of Nevada being a tax free Warehousing and Transshipping point has turned Nevada into the warehouse for the 11 Western States.  Rotary Club of Reno Members including Frank Bender a warehouse owner, Carl Fuetsch, a State Assemblymen, Bill Brussard, Head of the Reno Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea, wrote the Nevada State Assembly bill and took it to State Assembly and got it approved and enacted.
 
Reno Rotary was responsible for establishing the Reno Ski Program, Junior Achievement, Purchased the first "Iron Lung" for Washoe Medical Center.
 
Reno Rotary has sponsored eight Rotary Clubs since its inception, and from those eight, 21 clubs are now working throughout western Nevada, and eastern California.
 
 
 
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