In the early 1920’s, a small group of Circleville business and professional men believed the community needed a service club and turned to two Rotarians from Chillicothe, Burton Posten, a furniture manufacturer, and Dick Wolfe, Chillicothe Postmaster; who convinced them Rotary was indeed the answer.
On Feb. 22, 1922, Charter #1087 was presented to the Circleville Rotary Club. In its early beginnings the new club formed a supportive connection with the Ohio Society for Crippled Children, which operated a home and hospital on West Ohio Street.
In the past 100 years, meeting locations have moved around town, starting in the Boggs Hotel until 1933, when the government purchased the property for current post office. Subsequent moves were to the American Hotel, the Elks Club, St. Philip’s Episcopal Parish House, L-K Restaurant, Pickaway Arms and J.R. Hook’s Café, which under the name of Watt Street Tavern, is the current location.
Circleville Rotary has the distinguished honor of having had four District Governors, Meeker Terwilliger served in this capacity in 1930-31, Dr. Robert G. Smith, 1971-72, H.N. Stevenson, Jr., 1985-86, and William A. Stout, 1990-91. Also, Ty Ankrom, served as Assistant Governor, 2010-2017.
A major project the 1960’s and 1970’s was donor recruitment for the American Red Cross Bloodmobile. Club President Bob Johnson even demonstrated blood donation during a Rotary meeting. In 1964, Rotary International promoted a “Matched Club” program in where clubs were matched with a club from another country. The Circleville club was matched with the Rotary Club of Stade, Germany, and in 1966 a contingent of Circleville Rotarians — Ned Harden, J.Boyd Stout, Bob Smith, Carl Herrmann, Russ Palm, Alden Bray, Sterling Poling and David Goldschmidt, chartered a flight to Stade. All went well until the tour company went bankrupt while the group was still in Germany. They made it home – eventually – and from the stories they told, it was an adventure.
In 1972, District Governor Robert Smith and District Conference co-chairs Larry Varble and Ned Harden designated proceeds from the highly successful conference for use by the SS HOPE, the hospital ship on which Smith served. Lifeline, the remote monitoring system for at-risk individuals, was introduced to the county by Circleville Rotary and its use became so popular it was rolled into the operation of Berger Hospital. In 1976, the club began planning ahead for the tricentennial celebration in 2076. The club purchased a $1,000 Certificate of Deposit to be used by Circleville’s tricentennial commission. Today, it is valued at $70,000.
Circleville Rotary has participated in the Rotary district-wide Honduras Water Well Project, which enabled the purchase of water-well drilling rigs and the training of Honduran technicians to operate the system. The club also contributed over $50,000 to the Rotary International Polio Plus Campaign to help eliminate this dreaded disease and gathered used medical equipment for hospitals and clinics in the Philippines, Haiti, Cameroon, Malawi, India and Brazil.
A long-held tradition is hosting students from local high schools at weekly Rotary meetings. To further support education, particularly for students pursuing two-year degrees, the J. Boyd Stout Rotary Memorial Trust Fund was created. As a result, Circleville Rotary has awarded 176 scholarships totaling more than $352,000. Continuing with its efforts to support education, a $50,000 gift was given to the Pickaway County Library in 1997 on the occasion of the club’s 75th birthday.
1988, seeing a need for a second Rotary Club in the community, Drexel Poling, Jim River and Bill Stout helped start the Circleville Sunrise Rotary Club.
Club fundraising took on a new look in 2015. Under the presidency of Carly Neff and with the efforts of Bob McCrady and Chris Mullins, the club purchased its own concession booth for the Pumpkin Show. Purchased for $7,500, Richard Rhoades of Perfection One painted the booth at no cost and Bob Mabe outfitted the unit with freezers to store pumpkin ice cream for root beer floats and pumpkin pie. In the first year, proceeds more than paid for the booth.
In 2019, the noon and morning Rotary clubs sponsored the formation of the Rotary Interact Club at Circleville High School.
Circleville Rotarians have embraced Rotary Foundation’s Group Study Exchange by sending teams abroad as well as hosting others. Teams from Australia, India, Taiwan, Bavaria, South Korea, Peru, Italy, Brazil, Japan, Sweden, plus more, have visited Circleville. Much effort is put into the planning, and years of friendships are the reward.
The club’s 2022 centennial year saw the completion of our $25,000 pledge to Haven House of Pickaway County. The domestic violence/homeless shelter for women and children is using the funding to operate and expand services.
Circleville Rotary also sponsored a float in the 2021 Pumpkin Show parades – of course, with a 100th birthday theme. Rotary, however, has no bounds and weeks later the Miryante Orphanage in Uganda benefited from the physical and monetary support of Circleville’s combined Rotary clubs. Several members flew to Uganda to assist the orphanage staff with taking dreams for improved living conditions to a new reality. In February at our anniversary meeting, Rotarians enjoyed cake and busied themselves with one more act of community giving when members put the final touches on warm, cheery blankets for children facing foster care in Pickaway County.
Throughout our Rotary district, Circleville Rotary Club is a distinguished leader in the Rotary Foundation. To date, our club has contributed more than $366,000 to charitable causes due to the generosity of its members and the leadership of longtime foundation chair Charles Hedges. Because of this remarkable success, we have members who between them have nearly 200 Paul Harris Fellows, Rotary’s own acknowledgement of an exemplary level of charitable giving.