Sunrise Rotary History

On February 23, 1989, the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast formally voted to sponsor a new Rotary Club in its territory with a view toward breakfast meetings.  A volunteer committee was formed to meet with Jim McLeod, the District Governor’s Special Representative, to explore the steps necessary to form the new club, and to offer such guidance and financial assistance as deemed appropriate.

After a series of committee meetings the name of the Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise was chosen with a tentative meeting time of 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday mornings.  Bill Cornette agreed to serve as Interim Secretary, David Caffey as Interim Treasurer, and Bob Fiala as Temporary Membership and Classification Committee Chairman to screen and process proposals for prospective members.

The organizational meeting of Sunrise Rotary Club was held at 7:15 a.m., Wednesday, April 5, 1989, at the Sheraton Inn, with Jim McLeod presiding.  The meeting was attended by 55 sponsors and prospective members who voted to continue meeting at the same time and place for the three provisional meetings required before a formal charter application could be made to Rotary International.  Assuming approval, Charter Night was tentatively set for Wednesday, June 14, 1989.

Jim McLeod briefed those in attendance with respect to initiation fees, annual dues and meal charges as well as the attendance requirements of Rotary.  Bob Fiala explained the classification system and urged all concerned to seek qualified persons for those classifications not yet represented, particularly in the fields of manufacturing, distributing and retailing.  At the conclusion of the meeting it was determined that 38 membership proposals had already been received and classified, with several more pending.  This was more than had been originally anticipated and an indication of keen interest in the new Sunrise Club.

The first provisional meeting of the Sunrise Club was held at 7:15 a.m., April 12, 1989, with 44 sponsors and prospective members in attendance.  Presentations on various aspects of Rotary were made by “Mac” McCartney, Sam Hamra, Bill Cornette and Bob Fiala.  Jim McLeod explained the procedure for election of officers and directors. After the meeting it was determined that 20 members had made formal application and paid their initiation fee and prorated dues, making them eligible as charter members.

The second provisional meeting was held on April 19, 1989, at which a slate of officers and directors was placed in nomination, with election to be held at the third provisional meeting. A Rotary International video was shown emphasizing the opportunities for service.  26 prospective members had paid their initiation fee and made formal application to be charter members.

The third provisional meeting was held on April 26 at which a club constitution and by-laws were adopted providing for membership composed of adult persons of good character and good business or professional reputation, with no reference to gender.  Following adoption, the proposed slate of officers and directors was unanimously elected by secret ballot.

After the regular meeting newly-elected President Bill Cornette called a stand-up meeting of the newly-elected board to decide on the time of regular board meetings, and the second Wednesday of each month was chosen, preferably at 6:30 a.m.  Having met all the preliminary requirements of Rotary International, a Charter Application was submitted to the District Governor containing the names of 47 charter members, including 5 women.  If accepted, the Sunrise Rotary will be the 16th largest in District 607, with 21 existing clubs having a smaller membership.  It is also interesting to note that of the 47 proposed charter members only b7 presently belong to a Rotary Club in Springfield, so the formation of the new Sunrise Club represents a net gain of 40 Rotarians in the City of Springfield.

Thanks to the efforts of Jim McLeod and District Governor Gale Bartow, the Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise was admitted to membership in Rotary International on May 3, 1989, just five days after the application was submitted.  The 47 charter members average just 44 years in age and only 17 of them were born in southwest Missouri, the balance being born elsewhere in Missouri and 15 other states ranging from North and South Carolina to California.  The first board meeting was held on May 10 to assign lanes of service, begin the process of appointing committees and make preliminary plans for Charter Night on June 14th.  The first new member proposal was approved and Mel Nesbit introduces at the next meeting, bringing the membership to 48.

Charter Night, June 14, 1989, at the Sheraton Inn, was a festive occasion as Sunrise Rotary was honored with the presence of District 607 Governor Gale Bartow, District Governor-Elect George Naylor, District Governor-Elect Nominee, Jerry Stiefvater, and four past District Governors, including “Mac” McCartney who installed President Bill Cornette and the other officers for the coming Rotary Year.  In recognition of Flag Day, Bob Weaton of Branson Club displayed his marvelous collection of national and state flags, including those of the 13 original colonies.  Master of Ceremonies Bill Reser of Springfield Southeast kept the affair moving smoothly with ample time for appropriate remarks by Governor Bartow, President Cornette and Jim McLeod, the District Governor’s Special Representative.

Every serious affair must have its moments of comic relief and this was no exception.  Once was when Governor Bartow presented the Club its charter from Rotary International “in absentia”, with the actual official charter en route somewhere between Evanston, Illinois and Springfield.  Another was when Harry Kirkpatrick, President, and Steve Benton, President-Elect of the sponsoring Southeast Club, presented the new Club its banner with one holding the upright pole minus the eagle on top, and the other holding the unattached crossbar together with a hand-drawn replica of the missing banner!

A contest was held to name the club bulletin and the winning entry was “The Sunriser” submitted by Bob Adams who was awarded the first prize of a $25.00 savings bond.  Recognition was also given to the worst entry, “Redeye Rotary Rooter”, submitted by Dave Colley!  The first issue of T he Sunriser appeared on June 28, 1989, with Bruce Mackey as editor.

As the new Sunrise Club looks forward to its first full Rotary year starting July 1, 1989, no history would be complete without recognizing the full slate of charter officers as follows: President Bill Cornette, President-Elect Larry Freund, Secretary Jack Muench, Treasurer Jack Thurman, and Directors John Piatchek, Jerry Popek and Terry Protextor.

Respectfully submitted,

Bob Fiala, Club Historian

June 30, 1989