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Club history

1920s

Boy Scouts. In May 1921 the club organized Boy Scout Troop 1 in Lafayette with 36 boys under the leadership of Rotarian F. E. "Pa" Davis, chairman of the troop committee. The club operated the troop through most of the decade. In 1923-24, Davis. helped organize the Evangeline Area Council, an umbrella group for 16 parishes. Davis served as its first president, but many other Rotarians assisted the council.

Agriculture. Rotary raised $3,500 to purchase a site for a District Fair. Members also promoted the use of purebred stock, and joined in an urgent concern of the day: eradication of cattle ticks. In 1929 Rotary joined with the Kiwanis club in entertaining 75 participants at a dairy convention in the Evangeline Hotel.

Chamber of Commerce. In its fourth meeting Rotary appointed a committee to establish a Chamber of Commerce. Let the Records Speak Vol. 1 notes that on Nov. 17, 1921, the club "assisted in completing parish-wide chamber of commerce."

Boys Band. The major project of the 1920s was the Rotary Boys Band. The original 37-member band was formed in 1922 under the direction of Rotarian Frank Baranco. The club gave more than $1,300 for instru-ments. The band played in the Jefferson Theater in its first concert, and raised $447.

Rotary sent the band to the 1923 District Confer-ence in New Orleans, and then to the Rotary International Convention in Toronto in 1924. The first volume of Let the Records Speak presents delightful descriptions of the Toronto trip written by band director F. A. Baranco and his son Paul to Rotary president Dr. E. L. Stephens. Sending the band, grown to 62 boys, cost more than $7,000, but 24 clubs from Louisiana and Mississippi contributed to defray expenses.

The band played for the inauguration of Gov. Huey Long in 1928, and for the Dallas Rotary International Convention in 1929. Many other clubs across the country inquired about the formation of a band, and many other clubs formed bands. Local interest in the Rotary Boys Band led to the formation of several area high school bands.

Charter members of the Rotary Club of Lafayette

Officers and Classification

President................ J. C. Barry ............................Banking
Vice President....... J. G. St. Julien ...................... Lawyer
Treasurer................ F. E. "Pa" Davis. Cigars & Tobacco
Secretary............... T. M. Callahan.............. Newspaper
Members and Classification!

F. A. Baranco .................................................. Telephone*
J. P. Colomb..................................................... Hardware
Mike Donlon................................................... Real Estate
A. B. Denbo.....................................Sugar Manufacturer
Dr. F. E. Girard............Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist
J, W. Harrington .................................................. Railroad
O. B. Hopkins .............................................. Retail Lumber
Rt. Rev. J. B. Jeanmard......................................... Clergy
P. Krauss................................................................ Jeweler
W. P. Mills.....................................................Life Insurance
Robert Mouton ................................ Mayor of Lafayette
L. D. Nickerson ...................................... Coal and Wood
T. J. Reaux.................................................... Haberdasher
Dr. M. E. Saucier................................................ Physician
M. R. Upton ...............................................................Feed
A. J. Wolff ............................................................Furniture


USL. Rotary's long-standing relationship with USL (then SLI) is evident from this club's fifth President: SLI President Dr. E. L. Stephens. Rotary regularly enter-tained the SLI football team at meetings. The club gave free football game tickets to all SLI students who had at least a mid-"B" average. The Southwestern home economics students prepared several dinners for Rotary meetings. In 1926, an SLI sociology class helped Rotary survey the city for information about boys' life.

Public Library. Rotary first appointed a committee for the establishment of a library in 1921; shortly thereafter a Library Association was formed. But the library project fizzled in the 1920s, only to bear fruit later.

Rotary Service. The Rotary Club of Lafayette sponsored the Rotary Club of Opelousas in April 1922. "A delegation of fourteen members of the Lafayette club drove through a terrific rainstorm and through vicious roads to attend the meeting," according to Let the Records Speak, Vol. I. Members also helped organize the New Iberia Club in 1929.

Intercity club meetings, golf and baseball tourna-ments were held frequently, and the early club members were active in attending district conferences. Club members began presenting vocational talks at area high schools in 1925.

At the club's sixth anniversary meeting, Dr. E. L. Stephens and F. V. Mouton discussed the deep philo-sophical problem, "Is the chicken who laid the egg the mother of the chick, or the chicken who set on the egg?" After that members watched a boxing match.

One early attempt to boost attendance: In 1927 the club divided into two groups for an attendance contest spanning several months. The losers had to entertain the winners.

Philanthropy. Among other things, the club con-tributed to a doll and toy fund, the Community Chest (a prototype of the United Way), andthe soup kitchen. They also assisted the refugees from the Flood of 1927, many of whom sought refuge in Lafayette.


1930s

Agriculture. A rural-urban committee headed by Rotarian Sidney Bowles, county agent, kept the club interested in agriculture. Rotary supported the 4-H program and occasionally contributed animals to future farmers in the area.

Scouts. In 1934 the club organized the Lafayette Parish District Scout Committee of the Evangeline Area Council. This group encouraged the organization of many more troops under wide sponsorship in the com-munity.

Community. Rotary helped organize a Community Concerts Association in 1935. Supported formation of the Lafayette airport, and provided the Boys Band for its dedication on November 29, 1930. The club first adopted city beautification as a project in 1935, and contributed to this cause through the 1930s. Club members investigated preserving a grove of live oaks near Breaux Bridge in 1935 (Dr. E. L. Stephens was founder of the national Live Oak Society). The club assisted with the 100th anniversary of the founding of Lafayette.

Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber apparently needed reorganizing in the 1930s, for in 1934 a Rotary committee was integral to that effort. In 1936 the club cooperated with the Chamber of Commerce to seek a new Federal court district.

Boys Band. Early in the decade the band held regular concerts at the old Training School and at the municipal swimming pool, but by the end of the decade many high schools had organized bands, and the Rotary Boys Band eventually lapsed. In 1939 about 25 Boys Band alumni came together to play one last time for director Baranco, who retired from the band and from business life that year.

Rotary Work. Club President H. L. Griffin, the USL historian after whom Griffin Hall on campus is named, headed the project to create the Rotary Club of Abbeville in late 1931. Lafayette Rotarians met with the new club of Rayne in 1932, to celebrate that group's new charter. Helped organize the Rotary Club of St. Martinville; presented the club with a bell at its organi-zational meeting Oct. 31, 1935.

Daily Advertiser editor T. M. Callahan, the charter Secretary and fourth President of the club, served as District Governor in 1934-35.

At the District Conference in 1935, it was an-nounced that there were 3,850 Rotary Clubs in the world, with a total membership of 161,000.

In 1933 the Rotary Club of Lafayette proposed that the clubs of south Louisiana form a Rotary Council to encourage closer ties.

USL. After Dr. Stephens retired, the club admitted to membership the University's second president, L. E. Frazar, in September 1938. Only two months later Dr. Stephens died. Throughout the decade the club enter-tained the SLI football team, met frequently on campus, and heard programs presented by the faculty.


1940s

Scouts. The club increased its donation to Girl Scouts and organized a Boy Scout circus to fund the expenses of sponsoring a boy to Pelican State.

The War. As the decade opened, Rotary drafted several resolutions to Congress urging defense prepared-ness. The week after Pearl Harbor, Rotary bought a $500 Defense Savings bond and urged all citizens to buy bonds. On Rotary Day 1943 the club sold $5,425 in war bonds; In September 1943 club members' wives eclipsed this by selling $21,269 in war bonds. The first 1944 war bond drive yielded $21,019; the second, $34,200; the third, $80,000. In July 1944, according to Let the Records Speak Vol. I, "The board of Directors decided to drop almost all projects and devote their entire energies to the war effort." The club's 25th anniversary passed with little fanfare just as the war ended.

USL. Dr. Joel Lafayette Fletcher, who eventually became USL's third President, was inducted in 1942, along with Dr. Thomas Arceneaux, who eventually became USL Dean of Agriculture and a leader in the French Renaissance movement in south Louisiana. Fletcher became Rotary President in 1946, and District

Governor in 1948. Rotary worked with the V-12 officers training unit at USL during World War II to raise war bond funds.

Youth Service. In 1943, Rotary sponsored young Frem Boustany, Jr., to Pelican State governmental leadership training in Baton Rouge. Frem eventually became President of the club. Many other boys and girls were sent to Pelican State during the 1940s. Rotary first sponsored an American Legion baseball team, the "Rotary Wheelhorses" in 1949.

Public Library. With the war over, Rotary turned swords into plowshares, or in this case, war bonds into books. In 1947 Rotary contributed $2,500 in war bond cash reserves to establish the first location of a public library in the parish. Worked in cooperation with the Lafayette Women's Club and the American Association of University Women.

Rotary Service. Charter secretary Tom Callahan, fifth club President and the first Lafayette Rotarian to serve as District Governor, died in June 1948.

Agriculture. Supported FFA, camellia and iris shows. The club purchased seven sows for future farmers in the area.

International Service. Even in the early years of the Rotary Foundation, the club maintained a 100% stand-ing in foundation contributions. The first international student sponsored by Rotary was French student Michelle Denain, who studied at USL in 1946. She also taught French conversation and spoke to area Rotary clubs, some as far away as Golden Meadow.


1950s

Scouts. Rotary contributed $2,500 and raised an additional $10,000 to establish a camp for black Boy Scouts. This purchased 25-acre Camp Chenier north of district governors from the rotary club of lafayette:

T. M. Callahan.................. 1934-35*
Joel L Fletcher.................. 1948-49**
Frank Meyers.................... 1961-62
Eddie Richard ................... 1978-79
BobStander...................... 1982-83
Jack Shirley....................... 1988-89

'Callahan governed District 17, which included New Orleans, as well as parts of Arkansas and Mississippi. "Fletcher's District 139 included Shreveport.

Opelousas. Rotary sent a scout to the National Scout Jamboree at Valley Forge in 1950. In 1955 the Scout council named its new dining hall at Camp Thistlethwaite in honor of charter member F. E. "Pa" Davis.

International Service. In 1955, as part of the Golden Anniversary of Rotary International, the club contributed $600 to sponsor a foreign student at USL. Carla Vigliero of Genoa, Italy, was the recipient.

Library. In 1950 Rotary defrayed the entire cost of a bond election to fund the public library on a permanent basis. The bond issue passed, leading to the construction of the first permanent home of the library at the corner of Lee and Main, in 1952. The dedicatory plaque in the building recognizes Rotary and Les Vingt Quatre Club.

Youth Service. Rotary expanded its sponsorship of youth sports teams, forming a midget football team in 1952. By 1955 the club sponsored two midget football teams and two midget baseball teams. The club cospon-sored an annual banquet for midget football players. Assisted in sending the Lafayette High Chorus to Washington, D.C.

USL. Dr. Joel Fletcher, USL President, wrote in 1955: "Last year, the Rotary Club gave whole-hearted support to the movement to secure adequate facilities for the engineering and geology school at Southwestern. The success of that movement was due in large measure to the civic support found in all Southwest LouisianaÑ which support was aroused in large measure by our club." The legislature appropriated $1.5 million to establish the College of Engineering at USL in 1955.

Civic Beautification. Rotary distributed 15,000 pine trees to the citizens of Lafayette in 1955.

Rotary Service. Helped establish the Lafayette Pinhook Club in 1957.


1960s

International Service. Two German students attended USL with Rotary sponsorship: Heidi Wellar of Saarbriicken in 1962, and Christine Jeshoners of Hanover in 1965. In 1966 the club participated in a Group Study Exchange with New Zealand (district 292). This exchange was one of 17 inaugural GSE awards in the Rotary world. In 1970 Eddie Richard of the Rotary Club of Lafayette led a GSE trip to Belgium and Luxembourg.

USL. Rotary first began awarding scholarships to USL for area high school students, a tradition that has continued for almost 30 years. In 1968 the club formed the first USL Rotaract Club (chartered in February 1969}. Rotarian Dr. Clyde Rougcou succeeded Rotarian Dr. Joel Fletcher aw USL President.

Youth Service. Continued sponsorship of youth sports and scouting. Assisted the Ahbeville club by providing housing for Little League Tournament partici-pant's.


1970s

USL. Increased the number of USL scholarships to three. Dr. Ray Authcment, who became a member of the Rotary Club of Lafayette, began serving as USL President in 1974. Cosponsored with USL the Contest of Champions marching band competition for area high schools.

Scouts. Donated $600 for the purchase of an offset press by the Boy Scours of America. Rotary raised $20,000 for improvements to Camp Thistlethwaite in a major community fundraiser.

Rotary Service. Eddie Richard served as District Governor, 1978-79.

International Service. Expanded exchange pro-grams, particularly with a summer exchange of high school students to and from France.

Youth Service. Initiated an Interact Club at Acadiana High School.


1980s

Rotary Point. Contributed $10,000 toward con-struction of the scenic overlook at this park on the Vermilion Bayou. The club has planted numerous live oaks in memory of distinguished Rotarians, and to commemorate the visit ot Rotary International Presi-dents. Other Lafayette clubs have also contributed to Rotary Point improvements.

Club Service. Rotary admitted its first black mem-ber, Dr. James CaiHier, in 1986. The first two women Rotarians, Flo Meadows and Rita Davis, were admitted in 1988.Ê In 1985, changed meeting places from Jacob's, a long-standing venue, to the City Club of Lafayette. In 1989 changed the meeting site to the Petroleum Club.

Rotary Service. Helped form the Rotary Club of Lafayette-South, and the Rotary Club of Lafayette-North. Bob Standcr served as District Governor 1982-83, and Jack Shirley in 1988-89. For many years during the 1980s this club led all clubs in District 620 (now District 6ZOO) in giving to the Rotary Foundation.

Boy Scouts. In 1981, contributed $5,000 to the Evangeline Area Boy Scouts as seed money for a new camp, Camp Mountain Bayou Lake. Gave an American flag and more than $2,000 to the LeRosen Handi-capped Scouting Project.

Youth Service. In 1980, donated $1,000 to the American Legion Baseball program, a contribution continued annually in recognition of Rotarian M. L. "Tigue" Moore's work with youth baseball. Helped to underwrite the Louisiana High School All Star Baseball game in 1981.

Philanthropy. In 1986, contributed $2,400 as seed money to establish Camp Bon Coeur, a summer camp for children with heart problems. Also contributed to the American Red Gross, Junior Achievement, the Acadiana Spelling Bee, a World History Essay Contest, and other community needs.

Created RECAAAP, the Rotary Elderly Citizens Access, Advocacy and Assistance Program, in coopera-tion with the Southwest Louisiana Education and Referral Center. RECAAAP gave the elderly informa-tion resources ar the University Medical Center.

USL. Donated $5,500 to the USL Eminent Scholar Fund, which allows USL to obtain matching monies from the state's education enhancement fund. In 1986, increased funding for the Rotary Club of Lafayette Scholarships to $4,000 per year. This gave eight students $250 per semester for a two-year period. In support of a USL athletics drive to boost season ticket sales, pur-chased .30 Ragin' Cajun Club tickets for $750 total. Donated the tickets to Interact Club members.

Polio Plus. In 1987 Rotary International an-nounced it would eliminate polio in the world by the year 2000. Individual members of the Rotary Club of Lafayette contributed $50,000 toward this effort.

Chamber of Commerce. Contributed $600 as seed money for the Chamber's new Leadership Lafayette program. Many Rotarians participated as members. Rotarian Rob Guidry succeeded Rotarian Ralph Thomas as executive director of the Chamber.

International Service. In addition to participating in Polio Plus, the Rotary Club of Lafayette cooperated with the New Iberia club in MESA (Medical Equipment and Supplies Abroad). This program sent used and surplus medical equipment to many Latin American nations. Rotary also sponsored many student exchanges and annually hosted GSE groups.


1990s

USL. Began a Rotary Ciub of Lafayette archive within the USL Dupre Library. The materials were preserved by Rotarians Jim Jennings and Raoul Gerac, and are now on deposit with USL. Re-formed the Rotaract Club on campus.

Club Service. Revised the constitution and bylaws, to bring the club inio synch with Rotary International.

Election Day Food Drive. Rotarians have thus far collected 16 tons of food for the needy at polling places on election days. The program has continued through the 1990s.

Project SOS. In conjunction with Lafayette cable television, Rotarians collected school supplies for area needy kids.

Boy Scouts. Rotary was recognized for its support of Boy Scouts at a 1991 open house for the new Mountain Bayou Lake Scout Camp.

Children's Museum of Acadiana. Cooperated with other Lafayette Rotary clubs in funding construction for the amphitheater at. the museum. Rotarians served on work crews to paint and do construction and cleanup.

Project Rx. Rotary raised $6,000 for pharmaceuti-cals for needy individuals. Money came from direct grams from the club and from fund-raising events. Rotary also collected from donation canisters placed in dozens of area pharmacies.