They are the oldest Rotary Club in Mississippi and they celebrated their 100th birthday last week.
The Clarksdale Rotary Club was chartered in July 1919 with 25 members. The club gathered at Stone Pony Restaurant Nov. 12 to mark that milestone and hear from Rotary leaders from across the state.
“Polio was a major disease at that time,” said Clarksdale Rotary Club President Sanford Johnson. “Today, thanks to the efforts of Rotary International we have almost eradicated that disease.”
Johnson said there are currently more than 1.2 million Rotarians serving in more than 35,000 clubs in just about every nation of the world.
Johnson also asked longtime members to stand with more than 16 holding 20-year membership and six with over 40-years with the club.
Rotarian Joe Gibbs joined the Clarksdale club in 1971 and said the club had an influence on him before he became a member.
“The Clarksdale club offered the S.K. Conn scholarship and I was named that recipient when I went off to college,” said Gibbs. “Rotary also stresses service to the community and I had a Boy Scout Master and minister who was a member of Rotary and his example had an impact on my life.”
Gibbs said the fight against polio is a good enough reason to be a member of Rotary.
“The first year of our international polio prevention campaign the goal was to raise $120 million and Rotarians across the world raised $240 million,” said Gibbs. “Since 1985 Rotarians have raised more than $2 billion to fight the disease.”
Gibbs also talked of the local clubs efforts to build parks in Clarksdale, serve people and organizations and not only gives money to worthy causes but to volunteer to serve in those organizations. He pointed to local Boy Scout Troop, Spring Initiative and other groups that have benefitted from Clarksdale Rotary dollars and community service.
Johnson said the Clarksdale club is always looking for good causes and their support for local groups usually starts with that group presenting a program to the club at their regular noon Tuesday meeting and lunch at Hibachi Grill at 707 State Street. The club currently has 48 members.