The Bristol Rotary Club is One of the Oldest Civic Organizations in the “All Heart” City

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August 21, 2019

A little history and some interesting trivia about Rotary.
Rotary International was founded in Chicago in 1905 by Attorney Paul P. Harris and three of his business associates. They chose the name “Rotary” because they rotated where they held their meetings.

The local Bristol Rotary Club was officially chartered on September 8, 1927 and sponsored by the Torrington Rotary Club. Charter Night for the Bristol Rotary Club was held at the Lake Compounce Ballroom where a sheep barbecue was served to celebrate the inception of the newly formed club. An estimated 600 people attended which included Rotarians from all over Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, as reported by the Bristol Press on September 9, 1927.
Earlier in 1927, a Nominating Committee was formed, consisting of Edward Ingraham, Dwight Hall and James Dobson. They presented the following nominations for Board of Directors, to serve one year: Paul B. Sessions, William Calder, James Dobson, Carl E. Carlson, W. Raymond Crumb, Albert Whittier and Karl Reiche. The Board of Directors then elected the Officers: Paul B. Sessions, President; William Calder, Vice-President; and James Dobson, Secretary and Treasurer.

The other charter members of the Club were: Henry W. Armstrong, George Blackall, George S. Beach, Peter Cawley, Louis Funk, Alex J. Koziell, David A. Lipman, Harry Russell, Lester Sigourney, Ray O. Staples, William F. Tracy, Edward Mink, Charles Wooding, and W. Kenneth Sessions. Charles T. Treadway and DeWitt Page were admitted as honorary members.
One of the first projects the new Bristol Rotary Club took on was launching a city-wide campaign to raise funds to build a new Boy’s Club building. The success of this fundraising campaign resulted in the construction of a new building located at 105 Laurel Street which is still there today and houses Barter Business Unlimited and the CT Dive Center.

The Bristol Rotary Club is small yet they give back in a big way!
Today the Bristol Rotary Club has 39 volunteer members, led by newly appointed President, Mary Etter, who donate their time and talents to giving back to the greater Bristol community. The longest standing member is Woody Anderson who became a Bristol Rotarian in 1959 – Happy 60th Anniversary to Woody! One of the newest members is Angelique Snow, the daughter of Olcott Snow, and a third generation Bristol Rotarian.

For over 90 years, the Bristol Rotary Club whose motto is “Service Above Self” has left a mark of achievement, activity, and service in the community and abroad. To that end, the Club takes part in many community-based activities and fundraising efforts. The beneficiaries of their fund raising programs range from the local health care facilities to early education initiatives, from museums and historical entities to environmental and scientific programs. Their focus is not restricted to but is largely directed toward causes which will address the needs of the young people of the community.

Over the years, the Bristol Rotary Club has raised nearly $500,000 for local non-profits and organizations with a focus on youth, teens and underprivileged kids. Last year alone, the Club distributed almost $12,000. Benefitting organizations which included: the Bristol Public Library for their Yoga After Lunch program; Forestville Little League for scholarships; the New England Carousel Museum to purchase tables and stools for their learning lab; Shepard Meadows Therapeutic Riding Center to partially fund a week-long half-day summer camp; and Bristol Parks & Recreation to purchase books for a summer reading program.

Bristol Rotary Club 2018 Scholarship Recipients

Pictured here are Bristol Rotary Club 2018 scholarship recipients. The Bristol Rotary Club grants scholarships to local high school students, which total over $250,000 each year.

Continuing the tradition of “Service Above Self” requires new members.
The Bristol Rotary Club is always looking for people who value the ideal of service to their community. Annual dues are $175 a year with an optional $25 donation to Polio Plus – Rotary International’s initiative to eradicate polio in those countries where it still exists, to date there are only 3 countries still seeing active polio cases. Weekly meetings are held on Tuesday mornings from 7:30-8:30 AM at Bell City Diner (formerly the Oasis Restaurant) at 782 Pine Street in Bristol.

For information and to learn more about the Bristol Rotary Club, visit them at the Bristol Farmers Market on September 7, 2019 from 10-1 at Centre Square in Downtown Bristol where they will be selling tickets to the upcoming Mini Golf Tournament to be held on September 15, 2019. All proceeds from this event will benefit youth-oriented community initiatives in the Bristol area, as well as scholarships for Bristol Central Interact Club students. In addition they will be showcasing all that they do in the community. You may also visit their website.