The Galena Rotary Club was founded in 1984. It started with a small advertisement in the Galena Gazette Newspaper. Randy Miles, formerly of Galena, and at the time President of the Savanna, Illinois, Rotary Club felt there should be a Galena Rotary Club. The ad that Miles placed simply asked anyone interested in forming a new service club to meet with him. That meeting resulted in the founding of one of the most dynamic organizations in Jo Daviess County.
On July 14, 1984, in a special ceremony at Eagle Ridge Inn in the Galena Territory, the President of Rotary International, Carlos Canseco, personally presented the club with its charter. In his address to the 24 charter Galena Rotarian, RI president Canseco challenged them to "discover a new world of service." Also participating in the ceremonies were District 642 Governor Roscoe Haas, Past District Governor Mahmood Butt, officers of the two sponsoring clubs, Savanna Rotary and Freeport Rotary, and the District Governor's Aide Randy Miles. (District 642 later became 6420.)
Charter members of Galena Rotary were Joseph F. Beegle, John Bloor, George Bookless, Arman Delorenz, Joseph Drapeau, Bucky Ellis, David W. Flynn, Richard Hillard, Michael Hillard, Scott Lawlor, William F. Megan, William F. Merkle, F. Peter Merkle, Terry J. Miller, Kenneth Mulholland, Donald G. Olsen, John Osmanski, Kenneth L. Parrot, Terry Philllips, John G. Piquette, David H. Thiltgen, Monsignor Raymond J. Wahl, Richard H. Weis, and Roger Yardley. The club has grown from the original 24 to 86 members. Beegle, Hillard, Lawlor, Osmanski, Parrot (who was the charter Secretary) and Weis still maintain membership in Galena Rotary.
The club's first meeting place was at the Log Cabin Restaurant on Main Street in a building that had once been a bank. They met there for three years until the club outgrew the space in the vault. The club then moved to the newly renovated, historic DeSoto House Hotel, where two U.S. Presidents, Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Grant, had slept.
While Pat McCarthy was president of Galena Rotary (1988-89), he received an emergency call telling him that the Internal Revenue officers were padlocking the DeSoto House for non-payment of federal taxes. He was threatened with arrest when he barged past the federal officers to rescue the Galena Rotary flags and records, but he went ahead anyway and the officers backed down. The club moved into the Lawlor Winery Building for a period. McCarthy said that before his term was over the DeSoto House cleared its financial problems and Galena Rotary moved back in. It remains the meeting place for the club to this day.
Don Olsen led the Galena Rotary through its founding year, and all involved say it was the late Dennis Hirstein, the third club president, who put the Galena Club on a professional basis. Those who have served as president of the club are: Don Olsen (84-85), Terry Phillips (85-86), Dennis Hirstein (86-87), Thomas Morris (87-88), Patrick McCarthy (88-89), Roger Accola (89-90), Marc McCoy (90-91), Carolyn Gustafson (91-92), Philip Jackman (92-93), Kenneth Parrot (93-94), Bucky Ellis (94-95), Paul Kindig (95-96), Connie Shireman (96-97), Daniel Mitchell (97-98), Gordon Kilgore (98-99), Donald Gereau (99-00), Dale Freres (00-01), Dwight Bischel (01-02), Matthew Taylor (02-03), Romer Wilsek (03-04), Carter Newton (04-05), Ed Schmidt (05-06), Duane Greiner (06-07), Bob Wehrle (07-08), Joel Holland (08-09), Barbara Sloan (09-10), Helen Kilgore (10-11), Brian Schoenrock (11-12), Michael Hastings (12-13), Kyles Buros (13-14), Katie Murphy (14-15), Rich Mattas (15-16), Mike Steinhoff (16-17), and Gail Gabbert (17-18). Club member Jack Morehead has served as District 6420 Governor (01-02).
Bucky Ellis, a founding member of Galena Rotary, remembers only one major controversy, which occured when Rotary International mandated the inclusion of women into Rotary clubs. Ellis says he and another member, Bert Tower, actively campaigned against the proposal, but looking back, he inclusion was a good thing. Women have been a great benefit to Rotary.
Pat McCarthy was president when the club initiated two of tis most important programs-the Rotary Roundtable and the Youth Scholarship program. The club's first major fund-raiser to support those programs was selling hot dogs at the U.S. Grant Boy Scout Pilgrimage and encampment held annually in Galena. Each year 7,000 to 8,000 Boy Scouts come to Galena for the weekend. Galena Rotarians felt that was a captive market for hot dog vendors. They sold lots of hot dogs, but when it was all over the profits amounted to just over $200.00. The club quickly turned to other activities to raise money for club programs.
In the last 15 years the club has provided $1000 scholarhips to 278 of the county's brightest high school seniors. It has amassed a charitable foundation of $269,000 to assure continuation of the scholarhips. Breaking the 300 mark in 2002, the club added 25 recipients and increased the scholarship amount to $1500. The Rotary Roars for Youth Auction, the club's vehicle to obtain the funds, became the area-wide charity and social event of the year every May. Their annual February fund-raising event is a dinner Jazz Fest and Variety Show held in the ballroom of Eagle Ridge Inn & Resort.
The Galena Rotary Club has encouraged sophomore students in the county to do better through its Student of the Quarter and Student of the Year program. These awards go to those students who struggled in their first year of high school, and have shown great improvement. 
The club is striving to improve Student Literacy through its special audio equipment and cassette programs for schools. And it has initiated a reading and writing improvement program for high school youth utilizing the Wall Street Journal's Monthly Student Feature Newspaper package. The program also improves their knowledge and understanding of the "outside" world as it affects them.
Realizing that teamwork and sportsmanship are an important part of youth development, the club sponsors and AYSO youth soccer team.
The club sends promising students to the District's RYLA program which is aimed at developing qualities of leadership and good citizenship in young people.
It sends students to the World Affairs Seminar at Whitewater, Wisconsin annually.
It has provided Career Night speakers to help students focus on their career choices.
The club's Teachers of the Year program recognizes the county's outstanding teachers who the current Rotary Scholarship Award students felt were most instrumental in helping them to further their education.
The club's contributions, plus a Rotary International grant to Jo Daviess County Health Department provides needed vaccinations to our county youth. Internationally, it contributes to Rotary's efforts to stamp out Polio.
Through the Rotary International Student Exchange Program the Galena Rotary Club has not only provided the county's high school youth with opportunities to study overseas, but welcomes foreign students to Galena to learn more about Midwest America. Plus, each year the club hosts an Exchange Student Ski Weekend for all District exchange students at the Chestnut Mountain Ski Resort on the Mississippi River.
Through Rotary International's $25,000 Ambassadorial Scholarship Program the club has sent Jo Daviess college students to study at Universities overseas.
In cooperation with Highland Community College it supports the Leadership Institute, a special adult program to train and develop community leaders in Jo Daviess County.
The Club's annual Community Roundtable, which started as a business roundtable has expanded to cover many areas of county and community concerns. In fact, the first annual Rotary Roundtable in 1988 has been credited as the driving force that initiated the County zoning movement, which led to the current County zoning ordinance. Considered by all to be one of the most effective public forums in the county to obtain results for the public good, the Rotary Roundtable broke new ground in 2002 with an interactive program called "Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth," featuring both adults and high school youth activities discussing the results of a special youth survey.
Its Day in the Country program for senior-citizens has become very successful, providing more than 200 of the county's elderly a chance to get out and enjoy a meal and an entertainment program in the heart of the Galena Territory.
To help support the efforts of the Jo Daviess County Workshop for the physically and mentally challenged, the club is a sponsor of one of its fund-raising activities. The Galena/Jo Daviess Historical Museum is also a recipient of this activity.
The club's newest service project is the development of the Jo Daviess Senior Resource Website, a central resource center for senior residents of the Jo Daviess County and their families. The mission is to bring together the many valuable resources of the area into one place, so that residents and potential residents will have easy access for learning, sharing and discovering what our county has to offer our seniors. Easy to access and use, our goal is to make this the first choice for senior services information in both times of leisure and crisis.
Contributions to the Rotary International Foundation through the club's Paul Harris Fellows and Paul Harris sustaining members are among the best in the district. Thirty-five current members are Paul Harris Fellows as well as 14 spouses and relatives. In addition, nine of its past members were Paul Harris Fellows. The club's sustaining members total 19.
It was under the leadership of the late Paul Kindig, then President, that Galena Rotary became the prime mover in rebuilding the Apple River Fort, in Elizabeth, Illinois. The Fort is now under the care of the State of Illinois and an official Historic Site. It is directed by one of the club's newer Rotary members.
The club has grown each year. So far in fiscal 2001-2002, 14 new members have been inducted, making a net gain of eight, for a total of 86 members.
To facilitate better and faster communications among the club's 86 members, an internet website was initiated and developed in 2002. The site, galenarotary.org, features an easy intra-club communications system as well as up-to-date program and meeting information. In addition it provides club information to Rotarians throughout the rest of the world.
What make the Galena Rotary Club so successful? It is an active blend of new entrepreneurs and executives, CEOs and "mature" members both men and women who have fun and enjoy fellowship, all with one purpose, which is to improve the quality of life in our communities, our county, our country and in the world.
Birthdays & Anniversaries
Member Birthdays:
  • Carmella Cordero
    January 15
  • Don Campbell
    January 30
Join Date:
  • Kate Miller
    January 8, 2016
    3 years
  • Janet Eggleston
    January 15, 1989
    30 years
  • Andy Willis
    January 25, 2002
    17 years
  • Kyle Buros
    January 29, 2010
    9 years
  • Betsy Achett
    January 31, 2017
    2 years