Does Rotary Have a Bad Reputation…

… as being a club for old men? Surely, it was made up solely of men until the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987.

Did you know, however, that the term “Rotary Ann” was coined in 1914 as a reference to the wives of Rotarians? In 1928, the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City actually formed the first Rotary Ann auxiliary organization. Its acceptance eventually spread to thousands of clubs around the world.

The Supreme Court decision caused the Rotary Ann concept to evaporate. Nowadays, 35% of our club’s Rotarians are women, compared to

24% globally and 38% in our district.

As for “old,” it is true that our club does have an unusually high median age of 69* but perhaps that statistic can be seen as a testament that many persons who join Rotary stay for a long time. We have five members with over 50 years of service 14 over 40, and 18 over 30. Another feature of our club is that it itself is old. Overall, the median age of Rotarians is in the high 50s. In our district, it’s probably around 65.

Another perception that lingers seems to be caused by the photos from the early days of Rotary. Although century-old images lend themselves to a feeling of “old,” we should remember that the four founding members of Rotary were pretty young on that fateful day of February 23, 1905; Paul Harris was 36, Silvester Schiele was 34, Gustavus Loehr was 40, and Hiram Shorey was 42. Maybe it would help Rotary in its recruiting if we featured the photo of Paul Harris at about 28 rather than the one most of us think of (see below). For comparison, only 19 of our club’s 285 members are under 42 and only eight are under 36 so there is a lot of room for youth in Rotary!

One of the purposes of a Rotary Ann Club was to bring the

families of the members of the Rotary club into the fellowship. Other objectives included

assisting Rotarians in the execution of various club and community projects and uphold

the purposes and aims of Rotary.

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Paul Harris soon after he started practicing law in Chicago in 1896.
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Paul Harris in his later years. This photo is the one many associate with him.

 

For more information, check out: https://www.rotary.org/en/history-first-four- rotarians and https://www.rotaryeclubone.org/makeups/articles/rotaryann/

*This median puts our club’s membership as one of the eldest among the 50-60 clubs represented at the Large Club Conferences.

Submitted by John White