40 years and still serving: Cape West Rotary Club celebrates anniversary

Monday, July 24, 2006

Cape West Rotary Club celebrated its 40th anniversary Thursday at the Cape Girardeau Elks Club with three of its original 23 charter members in attendance. The three original members were Rock Wilferth, Vern Hopkins and Walter Vinyard.

Cape West Rotary Club was the second Cape Girardeau Rotary Club in the city, formed when president Raymond E. Vogel appointed a committee in January 1965 to study the possibilities and problems in dividing territorial limits. By July 25, 1966, the Cape West Rotary Club was chartered, sponsored by the 47-year-old Cape Girardeau Rotary Club.

The original Cape Girardeau Rotary Club retained the right to receive members from the entire city, but the Cape Girardeau West Rotary Club could not take members from the area east of Pacific Street. Place of business, rather than residence, governs membership.

The charter membership list was closed at 29 businessmen, including Dewey M. Keller, president, Robert S. Price, vice president, Jack Hopkins, secretary, and James Blyze, treasurer.

The Charter night, held at the Top of the Hill restaurant in Cape Girardeau, launched the newest service organization with district governor Lee E. Cochran of Jackson presenting the charter. Dan Cotner was the charter night committee chairman.

Early meetings were held at the Sunny Hill Motor Inn. The Flaming Pit and the old Holiday Inn were also meeting places before the club's present day location in the lower level of the Cape Girardeau Elks Club.

Four district governors were members of the club while serving Rotary International. They were Rock Wilferth, 1974 to 1975; Bob Foster, 1981 to 1982; Bill Port, 1995 to 1996; and Jerry McClanahan, 2002 to 2003.

The first woman didn't join the club until 22 years later-- Diane Howard in 1988. Since then four women have served as president. They were Judy Snyder, 1994 to 1995; Donna Domian, 1996 to 1997; Cheryl Oberhaus, 2000 to 2001; and Sarah Holt, 2005 to 2006.

Skip Smallwood, the current Cape West Rotary Club president, said his earliest memories of Rotary were when he was chosen as student of the week four weeks in a row back in 1974. He was 17 and remembers being driven by member Wayne McElroy to attend the Rotary Club meeting. It wasn't until 1996 that Smallwood joined the Rotary Club as a good opportunity for networking and service. He'd moved away for a while and had decided he would join Rotary once he came back.

Rotary, a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders, provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. The organization's service opportunities include children at risk, disabled persons, health care, international understanding and goodwill, literacy and numeracy, population issues, poverty and hunger, preserving planet Earth and urban concerns.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: