About Our Club
The Rotary Club of Winchester, Massachusetts, USA
"Rotary is an organization of business and professional persons united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world."
It was during the mid twenties that a group of concerned business and professional men saw a need for a structured organizational system that would meet the charitable needs of the community. The group contemplated affiliation with Kiwanis and Rotary International. After almost a year of informal sessions, attending Rotary meetings in Medford, Woburn and Stoneham and with some gentle persuasion by the Woburn Rotary Club, the committee decided to seek a charter from Rotary International.
In an organizational meeting held at the Calumet Club, the present site of a medical building at 15 Dix Street, on April 5, 1927 the Rotary Club of Winchester was officially formed.
The charter members of the club were:
Victor Anderson, Frank H. Knight, Rev. George H. Reed, G. Raymond Bancroft, Allen W. McLatchy, Harris S. Richardson, Daniel R. Beggs, Nathaniel M. Nichols, Edmund C. Sanderson, Ralph H. Bonnell, William E. Priest, Dr. Richard W. Sheehy, George T. Davidson, Stanley G. Puffer, Irving L. Symmes,Loring P. Gleason, James J. Quinn, Roscoe C. Wallace, Dr. J. Churchill Hindes, Denton W. Randall, Patrick T. Walsh, Daniel Kelly, Frank E. Randall and T. Price Wilson.
N.B. There is a discrepancy that arose when researching the Charter Members. The Rotary International Extension Survey Form is the formal application for a charter. The paperwork includes a list of charter members proposed by the Winchester club and the list was closed as of April 5, 1927. The list included 25 names and while examining a copy of the original it was noted that two names were crossed out, that of George H. Lochman, Postmaster and Nathaniel M. Nichols, Collector of Taxes. Rotary International speculated that it could be a Classification issue but had no hard evidence. The collection of the Outline of Classifications begins in 1930, and at this point, they were unsure of the different classifications used by Rotary pre-1930. It is possible that these classifications were not recognized at the time, or that they were duplicated by other charter members. R.I. did forward a copy of a charter member list prepared by Rotary International in 1927 that excluded the two individuals. The Winchester Star account of the Charter Night celebration lists Nathaniel M. Nichols but not George H. Lochman as charter members. Upon reviewing the Secretary’s Records Volume I it was found to contain the Director’s meeting minutes for April 22, 1927 with the following entry.
Voted - “That the treasurer be authorized to return to George Lochman and Nathaniel Nichols the fee paid by them for admission. Nichols & Lochman having been rejected by Rotary International on classification.”
Further investigation of the minutes for the first few months of the club indicates that Nathaniel Nichols continued to be a member and an officer, that being Sergeant at Arms. Therefore it is the author’s opinion that George H. Lochman was not a charter member but the evidence shows that Nathaniel Nichols apparently had his classification issue resolved and was a charter member and a member in good standing of the club.
The charter members voted to employ the By-Laws of Rotary International. They already had received an impressive number of applications for membership but according to the rule, one admission per month was the limit. At this meeting officers were elected and committees were appointed. The first slate of officers included:
President – George T. Davidson
Vice-President – Harris S. Richardson
Secretary – Loring P. Gleason
Treasurer – William E. Priest
Sergeant at Arms – Nathaniel M. Nichols
Directors – James M. Quinn, Patrick T. Walsh, Daniel R. Beggs
The committees formed included: Program and Entertainment, Reception, Lunch, Publicity, Community Service, Badges, Song Leader, Visiting, Relief, Charge of Flag, Business Methods, Classification and Boy’s Work.
The first three meetings, April 12, 18 and 28, 1927 were held with the Woburn Club at Glendale Farms in Woburn. As a point of reference Glendale Farm was located on the westerly side the Woburn Four Corners on Cambridge Street where Russell Street intersects. The original Glendale Inn building still stands today. The membership voted that the meeting time and the location would be the Calumet Club every Monday at 12:30. Originally the Winchester Country Club was discussed as a venue but the decision was made to meet at The Calumet Club.
On April 28, 1927 the Rotary Club of Winchester was elected to Rotary International and given the club number #2562, District 793. The club numbering system up until the mid-1920’s corresponded to the club’s Charter number in Rotary International. Since the club was admitted after that time line we cannot be sure that we were the 2,562 club accepted into R.I. but it was in that range in all likelihood. A digital system was instituted in 1987-1988 and all of the clubs were entered into the database and new club numbers were assigned for administrative identification purposes. This appears to have been done randomly. In 1990-1991 Rotary had grown to a point where a 3 digit district number was no longer viable. A “0” was tacked on to allow for growth. That is the reason that today the Rotary Club of Winchester, Massachusetts, USA is Club #6639 in District 7930.
At the Thursday, May 5, 1927 meeting, the first after the charter was issued, the original vote to meet on Monday was rescinded and Thursday was selected as meeting day. The first speaker was Dean Ross of the Emerson School of Oratory, now Emerson College. His topic was Rudyard Kipling. Most of the club activity during the first couple of months centered around Charter Night which was to be held Wednesday evening, June 1, 1927 at the Town Hall. The Board of Director’s had voted that the price of the tickets be $2.50. The preparations for the gala event were fruitful as over 500 Rotarians and guests attended. A couple of weeks prior to the event ticket sales had to be curtailed. The local newspaper, The Winchester Star, labeled this as ‘the biggest event of its nature ever held in Winchester”. The Town Hall was decorated with the banners of all the visiting clubs. District Governor “Billy” Davis presented President George Davidson with the Club Charter. The sponsoring club, Woburn, presented George Davidson with the bell that is still used today to call the meeting to order and members of the Boston Club, who resided in Winchester, presented the club banner. The affair was hailed “as the finest charter night yet held in the district”. There was an immediate sense of pride, which is as strong today as it was in 1927.
Early on the club was always among the first to lend their support beyond the confines of Winchester. In the true sense of service and humanitarianism the board voted in November of 1927 to send a contribution to the District Governor of Vermont. In what has been termed “Vermont’s greatest natural disaster” devastating floods left 85 dead and 9000 homeless. This was the first of many such worldwide responses. The Great Chilean Earthquake in 1960 brought an immediate response from the club. In November 1980 an earthquake ravaged Italy and the Winchester Club without hesitation stepped forward with a major donation. Other international efforts include The Rotary District #5580 Flood Disaster Fund, The Rotary International Disaster Relief Fund, Turkey Disaster Relief Fund following the earthquake in 1999, Hope for the Children of Haiti, Inc., District 7930 Emergency Fund, District 7930 Rotoplast (Rotary Plastic Surgery), and to many other projects that enable the club's outreach to be global. In the early 2000’s the club has sponsored Water Projects in Africa and has also collected and sent soccer uniforms to needy youth. Another global effort was the funding of a humanitarian trip of high school students to China to help teach English to impoverished children. The club has always either met or exceeded its commitment to Rotary International’s Polio Plus campaign which is a massive effort to eradicate polio from the face of the earth. The club has always adhered to the philosophy that the world does not end at the borders of Winchester.
Humor has always been a part of the club’s character. At a joint meeting with the Arlington club in 1927 the guest speaker was introduced as Sir Donald Ramsey of Glasgow, Scotland. After a very stirring and convincing talk the purported Scotsman was revealed to be John Daniels, Secretary of Associated Industries of Massachusetts. The Winchester Club has always enjoyed a hearty laugh and though purposeful and dedicated to their mission of charitable works, they never take themselves too seriously. Through the years there have been many occasions where comedy sparked the program from outside sources but more generally within the ranks of the membership there has been no shortage of comedic talent.
Rotarians have always enjoyed their leisure time activities together. The first evidence is the “friendly” wager made with the Woburn club to a Bowling Challenge in December, 1929. The Calumet Club had bowling alleys in the basement and after a meeting the membership retired to the alleys for a bowl off to select the Winchester Team. There is no record of the outcome of the challenge match. In 1930 Winchester challenged Woburn to a Hand Tub playout. A Hand Tub is a hand operated pumper used by the Fire Department. The pump off was held at Manchester Field as part of the 1930 Mass Bay Colony Tercentenary celebration. There have been countless softball games, golf matches, bicycle races and other sporting activities that have brought the club together in fellowship and fun. Fellowship is an integral aspect of any successful Rotary Club and social interaction helps to foster camaraderie. The President's Cookout, holiday gatherings, fishing trips, family excursions to the Circus, Drumlin Farm, Red Sox games, the Boston Pops and the Grand David Magic Show are but a few of the social events that have brought the club together in solidarity.
On May 5, 1928, through a vote of the board, the meeting time was changed to 12:15 PM. Through the years the meetings have been held in various locations within Winchester. The Calumet Club was the first meeting locale. The Winchester Country Club was a venue as well as The Masonic Hall that was located on the corner of Mt. Vernon and Main Streets on the third floor above Book Ends. Meetings were also held at the Methodist Church, Randall's Restaurant, which is now the location of Ristorante Lucia, The K of C Hall on Mount Vernon Street which now houses the Hope Christian Church across from the Town Hall and currently The Parish of the Epiphany. The club meets once a week in luncheon format usually with a guest speaker who gives a presentation on varied topics. The membership is comprised of men and women who are service minded leaders from the community and who strive to make Winchester and the World at large a better place to live. On many occasions the Winchester club has expanded the fellowship aspect of Rotary by partaking in joint meetings with other clubs. These ventures have also opened up the membership to ideas and views that expand their horizons. Joint meetings have been held with Chelsea, Arlington, Stoneham, Woburn, Waltham, Medford, Wakefield, Reading and Lexington to name a few. Rotarians are expected to adhere to an attendance requirement and are encouraged to make up missed meetings at other clubs. This can be accomplished at any Rotary Club in the world. Rotarians can expect sincere hospitality from fellow Rotarians here and abroad. One member recounted an experience in 2009 where he had good intentions while vacationing in the Caribbean to make up a meeting. For whatever the reason he did not, only to find out the next day that the N.E. Patriots Cheerleaders had been the guests of the local club. Making up can have its rewards! The practice of paying for a meal when a makeup slip was not submitted started with a vote on June 6, 1929. The luncheon fee at the time was $4.00. The secretary’s log from the first few years indicates that each week there were numerous visitors. Many weeks the number was between ten and twenty visiting Rotarians and Guests. One Rotarian from Woburn, Jim McGrath appears almost weekly as a visitor. In November 1928 the club instructed the Sergeant-at-Arms not to let him pay for luncheon hereafter, because he served as the pianist for meetings. For many years music, particularly singing was an important part of Rotary lunch. The tradition of singing began in 1905 with Harry Ruggles of the Chicago Rotary Club. At the Charter Night festivities Dr. J. Churchill Hindes led the audience in a community sing.
Singing was a central part of each meeting. Copies of the Rotary songbook with patriotic songs, familiar old standards and Rotary songs were distributed to each table. The song leader would pick a few songs and lead the membership in a rousing, sometimes a less than rousing, rendition. There were the old favorites O Rotary, Rotary Means the World to Me, R-O-T-A-R-Y Spells Rotary, and who can forget thatCzechoslovakian favorite Stodola Pumpa. A capella or with piano accompaniment voices rang out, though not always in tune. Many clubs in the USA continue the practice.
The weekly program speaker is an integral part of the Rotary meeting. There has been a wide diversity in the programs from the beginning. In the early days one week you would encounter Jim Bishop, the personal representative of Henry Ford discussing the new Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Another week you would find Bob Friend, a Rotarian from Lowell, who spoke on his business “Friends Beans”. If you were a history buff there was a talk on the History of Cod Liver Oil and the birth of the telephone. Jim McGrath from the Woburn club presented a film and dialogue about his trip to Havana, Cuba. There was even a talk on “Selling the Packard Car and Turning Back the Odometer”. One of the most popular meetings during the thirties was in February and coincided with the Sportsman Show in Mechanics Hall in Boston. Maine guides would treat the club to fish stories, the art of moose calling, fly-casting and other fascinating subjects. On many occasions the speakers for these weekly gatherings came from the ranks of the club. This practice brought about some of the most interesting programs and is still popular today. Through the years just about every topic imaginable has been presented as a rotary program. Politicians, men and women from the world of sports, newscasters, philosophers, exercise gurus, financial experts, education specialists, the butcher, the baker and yes even the candle stick maker, the list is endless.
Starting with the decision to send President George Davidson to Minneapolis in 1928 as a delegate to the R.I. convention, the club has always recognized the importance of local, district, national and international involvement in Rotary. President Roscoe Wallace represented the club at the 25th anniversary convention in Chicago while George Welsh attended a gala at the Statler Hilton in Boston that was sponsored by the New England Rotarians. There were conclaves in Poland Springs, Maine, Worcester and North Attleboro. In the 70’s and 80’s the club was renowned for its hospitality suites at the Spring Conference, usually held at either the Ferncroft or the Sheraton Rolling Green, where there was abundant liquid refreshment, bottomless bowls of jumbo shrimp and unparalleled fellowship. The formal dinner that wrapped up the conference would host up to 1000 Rotarians and guests.
The first major fundraiser was held in 1928. The club sponsored a concert by the “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band at the Town Hall. The club voted on May 5, 1928 to sign a contract with the Band for a concert to be held on the afternoon and evening of October 11, 1928 at a cost of $1,600.00. In those days the sponsoring group had to pay all of the expenses of the Band and they were considerable. Since the Band rarely left the confines of Washington D.C. their appearance was almost historical in nature. The ticket prices were $2.50, $2.00 and $1.00. These prices were high for the day but due to the prominence of the Band and the designation of the Winchester Hospital as the beneficiary of the proceeds, the tickets sold briskly. There was to be a matinee performance and another in the evening. The matinee was for all public and parochial school children with an admission charge of 25 cents. The response was so great that the Band agreed to add a second matinee. The Band, recognized as one of the best in the world, did not disappoint. The program was rousingly cheered and encore after encore were enthusiastically sought. Through the efforts of the membership the band's sizeable dollar guarantee was met and a profit of $1,000.00 was donated to the Winchester Hospital. The most beneficial aspect of the event was the effect that it had on the membership. They had earned the respect of the community and the member’s interest in Rotary had increased exponentially. The fact that their first endeavor into fundraising had been so successful was a pivotal event in the history of the club. Year in and year out, the club has not forgotten the Winchester Hospital and among the clubs continued contributions was the dedication of a room named in honor of Alfred Elliott, donations to the many Building Funds for modernization and enlargement, such as the $5,000.00 gift in 1960 and gifts of numerous pieces of medical equipment including, $3,000.00 for an operating table, A Heart Machine (Resuscitator), a Litton Oxymonitor for the newborn nursery, $3,500 for a patient mobilization table and $7,500.00 for an emergency cart to name but a few.
The club was deeply involved in the events surrounding the town wide celebration for The Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary. The Winchester Club was represented with a float in the Tercentenary Parade that was held on October 13, 1930. The club planned for a special program to be held at their regular luncheon meeting on October 16, 1930. A letter was sent to the Mayor of Winchester, England inviting him to lunch during his prearranged visit to Winchester, Massachusetts. The clubsecretary was also instructed to frame a greeting to The Rotary Club of Winchester, Hants, England and that greeting was to be signed by each member of the Rotary Club of Winchester, Massachusetts. This letter also served as an invitation for any and all members of their club to attend the celebration in October. Other invited guests included The Board of Selectmen and the Tercentenary Committee of the Town of Winchester. The sum of $15.00 was appropriated to purchase a gift for His Worship, Sir Harry Collis, Mayor of Winchester, Hants, England. The gift presented to His Worship by President Loring Gleason was a slab of oak with the seal of the Town of Winchester, Massachusetts carved into it. Mayor Collis then presented a gift which was a 900 year old block of oak wood, taken from a timber of the Norman Cathedral at Winchester, England with the seal of the city of Winchester, England carved thereon. The block of wood received as a gift was purportedly “suitably inscribed” and a vote was taken to deposit it for safe keeping at the Winchester Library, its whereabouts are now unknown. There were 22 guests, 35 visiting Rotarians and 96% of the Winchester membership in attendance.
During the Depression Years the club had to depend on a limited supply of funds to continue its charitable works. Individual members would dip into their own pockets to help the less fortunate and carried on the Rotary Club ideals in an exemplary fashion. Each Christmas the Rotarians sponsored a party at a luncheon meeting in December for less priviledged children. They were treated to dinner and gifts from Santa. This gathering was an annual event that was discontinued in the 1940’s. In 1979 the idea was resurrected. For about 6 years a group of 40 children, from the Nazareth Home in Jamaica Plain would be entertained during the holidays by the club. Armed with a list of first names, ages and a check for $1,000 Rotarians would go on a shopping spree at Toy’s R Us. It was quite a sight to see all those carts overflowing with games, toys, dolls and sporting goods at the checkout counter. All of the presents were wrapped and tagged ready to be given by the Rotarians. The club would send a bus and bring the children with chaperones to the meeting hall at the Knight’s of Columbus. The 40 Rotarians who volunteered (there always being more willing Rotarians than kids) were anxiously waiting at the door for their assigned child. After all of the sorting out everyone went into the hall where a turkey dinner with all of the fixings was served. When the luncheon was over there was a visit from Santa and then the assigned Rotarian presented their young guest with their present. Bedlam ensued and then all too soon the time for goodbyes arrived. The emotions of the Rotarians ran high for they, more than the children, did not want the day to end.
The war years came and the club continued its leadership within the community and the ideals of Rotary were carried beyond the weekly luncheons and out into the public sector. Those in need of assistance either on a personal level or within an institutionalized system, such as the hospital, youth groups or charity drives could always look to Rotary and its members for guidance and monetary help. It was during this time that the Winning Farm in Woburn became a favorite charity for the club. Rotary’s involvement with the Farm was one of immense proportions. A 90 acre tract that lies in Woburn, Lexington and Winchester comprised the site. Winning Farm was established in 1898 when Mr. William Henry Winning left his farm and the residue of his estate, after bequests, to John W. Johnson of Woburn, Daniel W. Pratt of Winchester and Howard M. Munroe of Lexington in trust to be used to establish and maintain a facility for the use of under-privileged children from Boston. South End House of Boston was given the charge of overseeing the operation of the camp. The camp was enjoyed by boys and girls until 1949 when it changed to an all girl’s camp at the suggestion of Juvenile Court Judge John J. Connolly who thought that the camp was better suited for girls. Each season the camp could accommodate up to 260 girls. The Winchester Rotarians not only provided monetary assistance they provided know how and muscle to improve the camp. Rolling up their sleeves the club designed and built a series of cabins and undertook many other improvement projects over a number of years. It was quite a site to see bankers, lawyers, and other assorted white collar types turning to all matter of trades to complete the projects. They were masons, painters, carpenters and apprentices. The cabins were an 18’ by 20’ building designed by Rotarian Bailey Foster and were fashioned after a Swiss chalet. The cabins had partially screened in walls to permit maximum fresh air. These cabins were a memorial to deceased Rotarians with each bearing the name of one of the following Rotarians; T. Price Wilson, George T. Davidson, William H. Hevey and Dr. John R. Wallace. A separate cabin was built to house toilets and lavatories. Also a laundry was constructed with all of the modern conveniences of the day. An outdoor shower was provided. The W. Allen Wilde room was constructed as part of refurbishing the dining room and was furnished for use as a living room. It could also be used for recreational purposes. A 20’ square wading pool was built of concrete with gently sloping walls and it was supplied with constantly changing water and a sluiceway to make easy work of draining and cleaning the pool. As an accompaniment to the pool sand boxes were installed. There were swings, shuffle board and a carousel all built by the club. The club also remodeled the kitchen which included an industrial dishwasher. Those with gardening expertise landscaped the grounds. Each year while the camp was in session a weekly luncheon meeting would be held at the farm. Through the years the Winchester Club was able to engage the Woburn, Lexington and Boston clubs activities at Winning Farm. In 1958 the Chairman of the Youth Services Board was quoted as saying “The Winchester Rotary Club has taken affirmative action to help prevent juvenile delinquency before it occurs.”
It was a hot day in August 1949 when Al Elliott was approached about the Rotary making a donation to the Girl Scouts towards the construction of a Cabin on South Border Road in the Fells. After thinking about the request Al said Rotary should not only give some financial aid but Rotarians should build the cabin, and so they did. Bolstered with monetary donations from all quarters of the town, the membership undertook what has been described as an “epochal” achievement. They fulfilled a dream of the local scouts. The cabin was built in record time having been started the second week in September and finished just before the dedication on December 4, 1949. They revealed a community spirit that some felt was long dormant but quickly awakened by the Rotarian rallying cry “let’s do it”. Once again the Rotarians drew on the talents of its members to get the cabin constructed. If any townspeople were fool hearty enough to venture onto the site for a look see they were quickly recruited as carpenters, masons, plumbers or whatever trades were deemed necessary at the moment. It was a true community effort spearheaded by Rotary.
In 1952-1953 the Winchester club gave one of its own members to the District to serve as District Governor. The clubs first District Governor, Forbes Norris distinguished himself with an outstanding term in office, making Winchester proud. The 1982-l983 year once again had one of its members serve as District Governor. D. Craig Wark Jr., led District 793 and represented his club and the district with distinction.Again, for a third time in 2004-2005 a Winchester Rotarian served as District Governor, Donna Marie D’Agostino. The Clubs in the district flourished under her leadership and direction.
In the late forties and early fifties the seeds were sown that brought about some of the great accomplishments of the Rotary Club. Looking for fund raising activities to help further charitable endeavors, the Rotarians of the early fifties gave birth to the Rotary Auction. The mildly successful ‘penny sale’ held in the Town Hall led to Al Elliott’s founding an institution in Winchester simply known as “The Auction”. Spring in Winchester meant Rotary Auction day to the townspeople. The members of the club collected items for the Auction from attics, cellars, garages, and in some instances would not even reveal their sources. Syd Elliott donated the use of his barn for storage where merchandise was squirreled away. The first auction was a country auction and the members traded their gray flannel suits for denim overalls. Aram Mouradian served as the first auctioneer while the members handled the countless chores to ensure its success. The proceeds from the first auction enabled the club to undertake a number of charitable endeavors that would benefit the town as a whole. As the success of the auction continued to grow, Syd Elliott's barn on Pond Street was not adequate. Les Whittaker promptly offered the use of his barn at the Winchester Conservatories, now part of Mahoney’s Rocky Ledge, to handle the increased number of items held for auction. As the donations for the auction exceeded the expectations of the club and larger quarters were necessary, the club purchased the ‘barn’ on Elmwood Avenue in 1962. Every Monday night and Saturday morning the barn was opened for restocking and retail sales. The club owned a truck with a hydraulic tailgate and would go on calls to pick up donated items. Some of these excursions proved to test the mettle of the members as the merchandise could be a box of china or a grand piano. Each member received a month long assignment. The assignments were given out at the annual "Barn Cookout" held at Syd Elliott's house. Rotary’s success with the auction meant even greater success for the townspeople. On Auction Day in late April the auction flag was hung outside of theTown Hall and was filled to overflowing with dealers and assorted hopeful bidders. The action was up on the stage where the auctioneer and Rotary runners tried to keep up with frantic bidding. The bidders were all waiting anxiously for the sound of the gavel and the holler of the auctioneer “Sold”. Each purchase was dutifully delivered to the winning bidder by the Rotary runners. This was an all day event with most people not wanting to leave the premises for fear of missing out on an item. Some brought their lunches but many purchased theirs from the array of foodstuffs prepared by the “Rotary Ann’s”, wives of Rotarians. The term Rotary Ann, an expression of endearment, was coined in 1914 when Ann, the wife of a Rotarian, attended the Rotary International convention and was introduced as the Rotarian’s Ann. From that day forward until the late 1980’s the name was affectionately used. Auction day was capped off with the annual bean supper, prepared and served by the Rotarians and their wives and enjoyed by hundreds of townspeople. The prep work was done in the "Chuck Wagon" which was placed behind the Town Hall and where Fred McCormack would brew some of his secret "elixir" to rejuvenate the tired and thirsty Rotarians. The Chuck Wagon was another town institution and was so called due to the popularity of all things western. It was used for preparing and dispensing food at the High School football games. It was the brain child of Al Elliott who designed it and Rotary funds took care of its construction. The plans called for a wagon 8ft. by 19ft constructed of reinforced plywood and a continuous overhead locker for storage. The sides could be lowered with a chain mechanism to be used as serving counters and when not in use they can be raised and locked. Al Elliott thought the design would keep out “marauders”. One of the biggest assets of the Chuck Wagon was that servers would be off the cold, wet ground that had plagued them in the past. The wagon was moveable, sitting atop four rubber tired wheels fashioned by member Ed MacDonald of Bonnell Motors. The color chosen for the body was aqua. Each end was emblazoned with the Rotary Seal. Originally the Chuck Wagon was presented to the Friends of the Band and Orchestra in 1960. The club determined that the use of the wagon should not be restricted to just the Friends and with the Friends approval made it available to any local organization. The Park Department yard was the storage locale for the Chuck Wagon.
As the clubs treasury grew, so did the scope and size of gifts and donations. The sixties saw thousands of dollars pass from the club treasury to worthy and deserving beneficiaries. Little League, Pee Wee Football, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Police Athletic League and the Winchester Scholarship Foundation. Monies were allotted to help the High School radio station WHSR. The Police Department, Fire Department and Auxiliary Fire Department were recipients of many donations helping to maintain and improve their effectiveness. The Winchester Homefronters, who sent packages to local military personnel serving overseas, were regular recipients of funding. The local Red Cross has always been remembered both financially and with Rotary Blood Drives. A local effort to cleanup the Aberjona was supported by the club and canoes were purchased for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to aid in this endeavor. The canoes were also used by the Scouts for canoe trips.
Not only were the club members interested in the tangible but also in the aesthetic qualities of life. The beautification of Winchester Common is a prime example. A sum of $1,200.00 was donated to ensure that the program got off the ground. The beautiful plants and shrubs are enjoyed and appreciated by all who view them. The club continued its history of aiding in the upgrading of sites around town by undertaking the complete renovation of the rotary in the center of town in 1982. This project was completed with a donation of $10,000.00. As well as replacing and adding new plants and shrubs, the club took on the added project of decorating the Quill Rotary for the Holidays starting in 1983. Not only did the club donate $3,500.00 to purchase the display pieces and lights, each year the club members install the decorations and maintain them. Through the years there have been minor disruptions with the holiday decorations such asthe year when one of the carolers’ was discovered perched atop the overhang of the auditorium entrance to the McCall Middle School. The Fire Department ladder truck and crew rescued the wayward caroler and returned them to their place on the rotary. There was also the year of the “Wrong-Way Santa” that caused quite a stir. There was some controversy and some complaints when Santa was going clockwise around the rotary. Since this is counter to the traffic flow it was deemed by some to be a public safety issue and a bad example by Santa Claus. The club explained that the change was made so that the motoring public could see Santa face-to-face. Town Manager Chad Maurer offered some additional reasons for the change in course. “He was getting away from the bright lights on the Parkway…He did not have a parking permit…He’slooking for the McDonald’s Express… and finally, that is the way John Sullivan wants it.” Since then Santa has always followed the traffic pattern. The winter of 2006 however resulted in significant vandalism to Rotary’s holiday display on the Quill Rotary. The Winchester Police were successful in apprehending the young middle school vandals. Each of the culprits wrote letters of apology and their parents made full restitution. The end results are beautifully restored reindeer and carolers.
On Main Street at the head of Wedge Pond is a green area designated as Elliott Park which is punctuated with a memorial to “Al” Elliott. Al was acknowledged as “Mr. Rotary”. The Winchester Rotary Club undertook the beautification of this area.
On July 3, 1975 the club paid tribute to its first president George Davidson. A green space on Cross Street between Forest Street and the railroad overpass had been dedicated to Davidson before he died in 1954. In 1975 the club donated the funds to beautify the area, which included the placement of a plaque and stone.As part of Rotary International’s Centennial celebration each club worldwide was asked to complete a community project and identify the project with proper signage. The Winchester Club’s contribution to this effort was also a tribute to 54 year member Harry E. Chefalo. Harry had a lifetime of service to the community as well as his active involvement in the club. He was the epitome of “Service Above Self”. In 2002 the town designated the parcel of land bordered by Mount Vernon, Myrtle and Washington Streets as Harry E. Chefalo Park. Harry’s wife Betty, herself an honorary member of the club, formed a committee to renovate the park and make a suitable memorial to Harry. The club pledged $25,000 to the effort. Rotary’s donation was used for the perennial garden along the back of the park and members provided the muscle to prepare the bed and install the plantings. The spot is marked with a stone and bronze plaque.
Growth and youth were the watchwords for the seventies. Membership increased while the caliber of members was not diminished. Youth tempered with the expertise and experience of mature members carried on the high ambitions and ideals of the club.
Nineteen Seventy-Six saw the most financially successful auction enabling the club, on its 50th Anniversary in 1977, to be benefactor to the Senior Citizens Center in the amount of $15,000.00. This, at the time, was the largest gift to a single recipient in the history of the club. Montvale Plaza in Woburn was the site of a gala event to celebrate 50 years of service to the community. About 300 Rotarians and guests were present in a spirit of fellowship and with much pride. The Rotary started its second fifty years by continuing its charitable endeavors. In addition to organizations receiving yearly funding, there were many new grants awarded including The A.B.C. House, Housing for the Elderly, an automatic pitching machine for the Sachem baseball team and the Winchester Ecumenical Council. During this period the Rotary Club sponsored a yearly free Glaucoma Clinic. Previously this clinic was sponsored by the Lions but due to their waning membership The Winchester Rotary agreed to pick up the ball and seamlessly continued this vital service to the seniors of the town. The club also lent support both financially and with manpower to the Woburn Rotary Club for their "Special Olympics".
The Eighties saw the club take on additional charitable endeavors and follow new directions in fundraising. For thirty years the major fund raising activity of the club had been the annual auction. The Rotary Barn had become an institution but the eighties had arrived and forces acted to cause the demise of the barn and auction. The procuring of quality merchandise was adversely affected by private yard sales, thus, auction sales declined. The final auction was held in 1985. In 1986 the institution known as “The Barn” came to an end. The barn was sold through an auction process with bidder’s presenting their offer’s in a sealed bid format. In the offering it was stated that the property would be sold as is and the bid could not contain any specific terms, conditions, contingencies or stipulations. The highest conforming bid was for $104,000.00 which the membership voted to accept. The proceeds are being held in trust to continue the club’s charitable efforts. Wasting no time, the club membership set out to develop new and innovative ways to raise additional funds. There was a Cadillac Raffle, the Town Day Dunk Tank, Town Day Barbecue, Town Day Sausage stand and numerous other efforts. One such endeavor, the Pancake Breakfast, which started on Town Day 1988, has gone on to become a Rotary tradition. Hundreds of people come out to support Rotary while enjoying a hearty breakfast of pancakes, sausages and all the fixings. An added perk is seeing the Rotarians don aprons to cook, serve and even bus tables. The Golf Tournament "teed" off in May 1989 and has become the major fundraiser. Through the generosity of The Winchester Country Club, Rotary is able to offer this world class course as a venue for their annual event. This is a major undertaking and requires an effort by the membership to secure sponsors and golfers. Its success has allowed the club to continue with their charitable giving. A new fund raiser was instituted in 2008 that the members hope will become not only an annual event but a major source of revenue. The “Oktoberfest” was held at the Town Hall with an Oompah band, German food and of course plenty of “liquid gold” the mainstay of any Oktoberfest celebration. A moderately successful first effort has given the club the enthusiasm to continue. Maybe someday when autumn rolls around the townspeople will think of Rotary and the Oktoberfest just like when spring was ushered in by the auction.
In 1987 women were admitted to the club. Always a leader, the club was among the first to admit women even before Rotary International changed the bylaws in 1989. The first women members were Elizabeth DiLoreto, an attorney and Betty Kehoe, Mortgage Lending/Winchester Cooperative Bank, both were inducted on the same day in 1987. In 1997 Shirley Potts became the first woman president of the Winchester Club. The addition of women to the membership helped to revitalize and strengthen the club. On Saturday, May 2, 1987 at the Crestview Plaza in Woburn, the club celebrated the Diamond Anniversary of the Rotary Club of Winchester. As the diamond signifies endurance so the club has endured through the continuing efforts of the membership.
(continued in History Part II)
Respectfully submitted by: Jack Kean