History of the Rotary Club of LaGrange, Illinois
Founded October 24, 1958
Full Club History 1958-2017
On August 8, 1958, Ted Gifford placed a call to Rotary International headquarters in Evanston, Illinois to find out about the possibility of starting a Rotary club in LaGrange. He was put in contact with Thor Holter, District Extension Chair, who knew of another LaGrange resident, Russell Kerr, who also wanted to join Rotary. Russ had been a Rotarian in LaSalle, Illinois and wanted to continue when he moved to LaGrange.
Ted’s first experience with Rotary was when an uncle took him to a Rotary meeting in Perth Amboy, NJ in 1949. Not long after marrying Caroline, Ted discovered that her father, grandfather, uncle and cousin had all been active Rotarians.
Russ and Ted visited several local businessmen to drum up support for the new club. They held their first meeting on September 10, 1958 and by September 24th they had 23 members. On October 1 they closed the charter membership with 27.
The new provisional club voted to make Friday noon their permanent meeting time.
The Rotary Club of LaGrange was officially chartered on October 24, 1958 and with sponsorship from the Rotary Club of Elmhurst, held its charter night on Friday, November 14, 1958. 250 people attended the event. The club received congratulations from all over the Rotary world, but of special note were the letters received from the five other LaGrange Rotary clubs in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Indiana.
On November 19th, Jim Coad discovered that the club had the possibility of having 100% attendance during their first full month in Rotary, so the members made a special effort to make sure anyone who missed a meeting did a make up.
The first major club activity was a weekend for Fellowship Scholars in May 1959.
In 1958, Rotary International consisted of 9,878 clubs with 464,245 members in 110 countries. Today Rotary has over 1.2 million members in over 200 countries around the world.