Our History

The Anniston Rotary Club has a rich history of making a difference in our region and in the world beyond. Here are some highlights of major events and projects the club has led and been a part of:

September 7, 1917 the Anniston Rotary Club is establilshed.

1918 The Anniston Rotary Club created a wood yard. The wood yard provided work for the unemployed and provided a needed source of firewood for heating the homes of city citizens.

1919-20 The Anniston Rotary Club sponsored the organization of the Choccolocco Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

1921-22 The club assisted with the organizational and administrative expenses of the Choccolocco Council.

1926-27 Two college scholarships were given by the club. Other projects included support of the high school athletics program, assisting a crippled girl to attend school support of child welfare, buying text books for poor children and support of the Salvation Army.

1928-29 A Student loan fund was begun and the club participated in the newly formed inter-club council.

1929-30 The main project of the club was the support of the Community Chest.

1930-31 Christmas baskets and clothes were distributed to the needy. A program was begun to guarantee loans for fertilizer to be used under county supervision. The club also worked with local 4-H Clubs.

1931-32 Glasses were furnished to needy school children and the club assisted in getting treatment for tubercular children.

1932-33 The club participated in the Calhoun County Soil Improvement program.

1933-34 The club, along with other service organizations, set up a baseball team for an inter-city game. The proceeds benefited undernourished children in local schools. Other activities included participation in the crippled children's clinic and rural-urban acquaintance.

1936-37 Three boys were sponsored to the international jamboree of Scouting in Holland. Another highlight of the year was the established of international correspondence contacts.

1937-38 The club cooperated with other agencies to secure new uniforms for the high school band. 1938-39 Rotary International President George C. Hager and his wife were honored at a banquet. An inter-city meeting was held with international program.

1940-41 Contributions were made to the 4-H Club's camp and the Boys' Club Scholarship to send boys to Boys State. The club won the District Trophy for its work among unlisted men in nearby Army camps.

1941-42 One thousand kits were provided for draftees as they left Ft. McClellan for overseas duty.

1942-43 Funds were raised for the crippled children's program.

1944-45 A portable X-Ray machine was given to the County Board of Health for use with children in both the city and the rural areas. Other projects included the sponsoring of a 4-H Club fat calf project and a livestock show and sale.

1945-46 The club raised funds for a new Y.M.C.A. 1946-47 Contributions were made to the Spies Nutrition Clinic. The club assisted in the Community Milk Fund and help was given to the needy family of a serviceman.

1948-49 Food parcels were sent to Oxford, England. Gift subscriptions to "The Rotarian" and "Revista Rotaria" were given to local hospiLaIs and libraries. The club financed a girl's study in France for a year.

1949-50 A fellowship picnic was held to get the younger men better acquainted with the older Rotarians.,Another highlight was a softball game between the Anniston and Gadsden Rotary Clubs. The club supported the Roy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Y.M.C.A. and the Leon Sterne program. The Rural-Urban Committee honored local farmers at a special meeting.

1950-51 The club kept four notebooks firr the lour Avenues of Service to record the significant events of the year, then misplace the notebooks. Support was given to a 4-11 livestock show and the club speakers were given a memento.

1951-52 Boy Scouts and crippled children projects were the main programs of the club.

1953-54 The club in a joint project with other civic clubs air-conditioned the dining room of the Y.M.C.A. International student guest were entertained by the club and programs in traffic safety were sponsored.

1955-56 The Leon Sterne Memorial program was begun. The club continued its support of Boy Scouts and added other charities to the list of those supported by the club.

1956-57 An Explorer post was organized and the International House at Jacksonville State Teacher's College was supported.

1958-59 A club picture was taken. Special meals were provided for those members on a diet. A family picnic was held. THe club sponsored a Colt League baseball tam and an international program was highlighted by 40 Brazilian student as guests of the club. Rotary presidents from throughout the district were invited to visit the club during the year.

1961-62 Sponsorship of the Town and Gown theatre production was begun. A fund drive for the Opportunity Center was started.

1962-63 The club continued support of the Town and Gown, the Opportunity Center and Leon Sterne Memorial Fund. (In total, the amount raised among Rotarians for The Opportunity Center was $193,000 in 2012 dollars.)

1963-64 A professional golf exhibition was sponsored and Rotary signs were placed on the highway approaches to Anniston.

1964-65 The club By-laws were written. Club information and pictures were sent to District 350 in Japan. The Annual Certificate of Achievement was begun and club member Claude Kitchin was the first recipient.

1965-66 A student guest program was begun and the club sponsored Colt and Little League baseball programs.

1966-67 The club supported a Y.M.C.A. membership drive, a number of children were sent to "Y" Day Camp and a Rotary sponsored Scout troop was chartered at Glen Addie.

1967-68 Four-Way Test signs were placed in local schools and contributions were made for Girl Scout and Y.M.C.A. memberships. 

1968-69 A Vehicle Safety Check and Girl Scout troop were sponsored and Four-Way Test signs were placed in local industries.

1969-70 The Student Loan Fund was terminated and the funds were used to set-up an endowment program at the International House at Jacksonville State University.

1970-71 A four part program on crime prevention was a highlight of the year. Local Police were invited as special guest of the club. A drug program was put on in area high schools. A contribution was made to the flood victims in Pakistan, and the club endowed the Anniston Room at the Liles Memorial Library.

1972-73 A series of programs featuring space scientists from NASA at Huntsville, AL were held. The club was updated on the space station; data gained from unmanned probes to Venus and Mars. The flight to the moon was on the drawing board.

1973-74 A 9x12 photograph was made of the membership of the club in front of YMCA, 14th and Gurnee. The club had a total of 140 members, 126 of these were in the photograph. Two charter members were included, namely Eugene Turner, Sr. and Walker Reynolds, Sr.

1974-75 The first booklet of historical highlights of Rotary International and the Anniston Rotary club was published. Club approved $9,515.00 fund for scholarships for foreign University Students at International House, Jacksonville, AL.

1975-76 Emphasis was given to the support of the Anniston Community Theatre, also to the Leon Sterne Christmas Fund, and attracting the finest speakers possible. The President of Club created the "Rowdy List" consisting of 20 club members guilty of creating interruptions and rowdiness during the course of meetings.

1976-77 John Stewart was nominated to be District Governor of District 686 at District Conference, April 3 in Birmingham, A.L.

1977-78 A study exchange team from England was hosted, expanding our perception of Rotary's world-wide activities. District Governor John Stewart was instrumental in establishing funds for the World Community Service Project 686.

1978-79 Group singing program was regenerated. Excellent programs provided by Jacksonville State musicians. New membership drive provided 12 additional members. Leon Sterne Fund and Salvation Army Bell ringing for Christmas season was very successful.

1979-80 Jan. 15, 1980 was declared Miriam Coleman Recognition Day for 19 years of service as administrative secretary for the club. Dr. Houston Cole was made a Paul Harris Fellow. The club hosted a group of young men from Argentina in a group study exchange program. A group photo of club members was made in celebration of 75th Anniversary for Rotary International.

1980-81 The new Oxford Rotary Club was organized and sponsored by the club.

1981-82 Group study exchange team visited Argentina. More than 2000 trees have been planted by Rotarians, Rotary Clubs and Rotary Districts, world-wide since the Paul Harris Peace Forest was established in 1965.

1982-83 Established monthly program chairmen. Moved from YMCA to Downtowner for meetings. Initiated sponsorship and financing of beautification for block of Quintard Avenue (6th St. to 7th St.). Club made contributions to 14 organizations.

1983-84 The club made more than $10,000.00 ($24,500 in 2012 dollars) contributions to you; and service organizations including over $4,000.00 ($9,300 in 2012 dollars) to the Leon Sterne Christmas Fund, for Salvation Army.

1984-85 The board approved funding to help the creation of the Anniston Soup Kitchen. Initiated option of salads for meals. The first black member was enrolled in membership. A photograph was taken of all members to celebrate the club's 80th anniversary.

1985-86 The work of the International Student Project Committee resulted in the club sponsorship of Chris Mabry in Denmark and the club hosted Bo Brinch-Iverson from Denmark to our country. Board authorized money to fund this program for another year.

1986-87 The club hosted a group of professional musicians from Japan. A goal for U.S. of 30 million dollars was set for Polio Plus. A program for special recognition of outstanding soldiers of Fort McClellan was instigated.

1987-88 The Club Board adopted goal of $20,000.00 ($40,100 in 2012 dollars) for Polio Plus as our fair share. The club celebrated 70th anniversary on Sept. 8. All past presidents were invited for group photo. Members of the District 184 group study exchange, Munich, Germany arrived on October 25th.

1988-89 Club began sponsoring the Interact Club at Donoho school. Historical highlights of club brought up to date.

1989-90 Cynthia Wingo was inducted into Anniston Rotary Club as first woman member of our club. This was consistent with the general policy of Rotary International.

1990-91 Our club sponsored and organized the Anniston Rotary Morning Club which became immediately active and successful. Our club also hosted two Group Study Exchange teams during the year (1) From Southern France an all woman member team and (2) Team from the Philippines, island of Luzon.

1991-92 Relief fund for Bosnia and Croatia collected at one club meeting in amount of $1,400.00 ($2,400 in 2012 dollars). Club hosted twelve Japanese Journalists in homes of Rotarians.

1992-93 By agreement smoking banned at Rotary meetings. Group Study Exchange team from Portugal of five members hosted four days by club. Club celebrated 75th Anniversary.

1993-94 Eleven members became Paul Harris Fellows increasing the clubs Fellowship members by 38%. New club by-laws adopted to conform to Rotary International by-laws.

1994-95 "Project Sponsor" supported by 25 members who counseled senior Anniston High School students for career guidance and motivation. Funding furnish by club to YM.C.A. for additional pool equipment and at Day Care Center for rehabilitation of senior citizens to repair kitchen facilities.

1995-96 September 95 club presented Big Brothers and Sisters with $5,000 ($7,600 in 2012 dollars) seed money to start their new program.

1996-97 Club participated in "Clean and Green Campaign" and "Adopt a Mile" program. Club hosted for lunch and meeting and tour of Ft. McClellan, AL. Another successful Leon Sterne Christmas Fund drive. Hosted Group Study Exchange Team from Bavaria area of Germany. Club charities for year $21,626 ($33,000 in 2012 dollars) to 22 causes.

1997-98 Eighteen new Paul Harris Fellowship inductees honored by club.

1998-99 In 12 month period club uses three locations to seek permanent home (1) Ramada Inn, Quintard Avenue (2) Elks Lodge, S. Noble Street, (3) Caldwell Building, 10th and Noble Street. Club gave major financial support to (1) JSU International House Scholarship Fund - $42,000.00; (2) Habitat for Humanity $25,000.00 toward one house; (3) Largest ever Leon Sterne Christmas Fund administered by Salvation Army - $9,500.00. (That totalled to $110,000 in 2012 dollars)

Rotary's primary function is the development of the individual, Service Above Self and the Four-Way Test being its creed. As a result of the work that has been done in this connection, a majority of the presidents of the Anniston Chamber of Commerce and leaders of the United Way Fund, have been selected from the Anniston Rotary Club. The club has provided leaders of virtually every phase of community endeavor. Rotary has representation in all the major industries, professions and businesses.

2000-01 JSU International House and Ayers State Community College were each given $5,177 by the club.

2001-02 JSU International House and Ayers State Community College were each given $2,000 by the club.

2002-03 JSU International House and Ayers State Community College were each given $1,642 by the club. The club raised $8,000 for a park at Wellborn Heights, a Habitat for Humanity neighborhood. The site was also cleaned, and a block retaining wall was added. Playground equipment was donated to the Boys & Girls Club and Ayers State Community College. The club sponsored a Healthy Choice Project at Anniston High School, making students aware of the consequences of good and bad choices and to promoting a sense of volunteerism and community involvement. Sixteen new club members were inducted. The club contributed $10,625 to the Salvation Army through the Leon Stern Fund and awarded $10,000 to various community organizations. The club also held an Antique Car Show to benefit the Boy Scouts and Rotary Charities, raising $8,000. A Rotoract Club was established at Jacksonville State University.

2006-07 The Club's 90th birthday was celebrated and a website for the Club (including an online Membership Directory) was developed. The Club sponsored two Shelter Boxes for World Wide Emergency Effort, gave $10,000 to local non-profits, and began holiday volunteerism by wrapping gifts to profit Shelter for Abused Women. There was also a cooperative effort with the Opportunity Center for jobs for those in need. In addition, a 4-Way Test Banner was purchased for the Club.

2008-09 The club launched an international water project with SIFAT. An aggressive membership campaign was launched which brought the membership over 140 members during the Rotary year. Longtime Club executive secretary Renee Williams retired.

2009-10 We inducted 12 new Paul Harris Fellows into the Rotary Foundation. Our club fundraising efforts netted over $74,000 for local and worldwide charities. The clubs two primary fundraisers were our “Bids for Kids” auction and our “Feed The Need” food drive (of which over 4000 pounds of food were donated to the local food banks). These funds were donated to several charity projects. These included funding two clean water wells in Bolivia, The Children’s Hospital, Anniston Museum, Polio Plus, Interfaith Ministries, Community Enabler, All Saints Center of Concern, The Imagination Library, The Leon Sterne Foundation and several other well deserving charitable organizations. We matched a District Simplified Grant for the Meals of Mercy local service project and supplied kettle bell ringers for the Salvation Army. The club was named a “Star Club” by District 6860 District Governor Georgia Medori for 100% participation in the Rotary Foundation Every Rotarian Every Year program. We hosted a Group Study Exchange with professionals from India and in addition, our club was awarded the District Governor’s “Club of Distinction” recognition award. There were only two clubs in the district that received the “Club of Distinction” honor for 2009-2010. New club executive secretary Karen Fenn was hired.

2010-11 The club president's theme for this year was Growing Friendship. We created The Rotary Game, inspired by the television show 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' as a way to help Rotarians get to know more about one another, which was very successful. Our service projects included a clean-up and painting job at the YMCA of Calhoun County's 'Y Camp Hamilton' which had been donated to the Y many years ago by our former club member, Rotarian Charlie Hamilton. Rotarians both sponsored the supplies and the manhours to complete the project. We served meals to the needy at Meals of Mercy in downtown Anniston; we volunteered as support staff at the Woodstock 5K which was the national championship race for the Roadrunners Club of America that year; we rang bells for The Salvation Army at Quintard Mall during the Holidays; and as we have since the 1940's we gave money to the Leone Sterne Fund that our club created to support The Salvation Army during the Holidays. It was one of the largest donations to the Leone Sterne fund to date. Also during the Holidays we continued our tradition of giving $10,000 to local charities- this year those charities were chosen by nominations and voting by the membership. At the beginning of the year longtime club Secretary Glen Franklin (who had served as Secretary since 1981) and longtime treasurer Bill Tutwiler (who had served in his role since 1998) both announced they would 'retire' from their voluntary positions at the end of the Rotary year, at which point they were honored for their years of service. Also during this Rotary year we held the inaugural Walk-A-Thon which netted over $22,000 for charities under the leadership of co-chairs Jerry Leake and Gary Schoenberg. During the Rotary year former president Dave Boozer served as Paul Harris Fellow Chairman and during this Rotary year more Paul Harris Fellows were named from our club than any year in the past.

2011-2012 The club held its second annual Walk-a-Thon which provided over $22,000 for local charities and the Rotary Foundation. We have participated in the Meals of Mercy Feeding Program, Salvation Army Bell Ringing, Feed the Needy – our club program to raise food and funds for our local food pantries. The club also assisted the Anniston Runner’s Club with the Woodstock 5K Race.

2012-2013 The club kicked off a fundraising and volunteering campaign to sponsor the first garden at the inception of the new Longleaf Botanical Gardens, which will be located on the campus of the Anniston Museum Complex.

Here is a slideshow of historic Anniston Rotary photos put together for our 90th Anniversary Celebration in 2007: