Winchester Rotary Club History (1945 – 1978)


The Winchester Rotary Club boasts 87 members, representing practically every business and profession in the city. A concerted effort was being made to increase the membership, with particular attention being directed to the eligibility of members representing businesses and professions located in the County. The club realized the need for bringing about a better relationship between the rural and the urban population. The annual Rural-Urban Meeting, begun during the middle years was a step in that direction.

Two highly successful projects during those years have provided the club with the funds necessary to establish a Charity Fund to operate independently of the regular club budget and help fill the charitable needs of the community not provided for in the regular club budget. This fund is administered by a Charity Fund Committee with authority very similar to that of the Student Loan Fund Committee. Although the fund was new and comparatively small, the potential was great. The committee had already voted a financial contribution to assist in the establishment of the Child Guidance Center in the city.

The field of International Relations had not suffered at the hands of the Winchester Rotary Club. Many individual Rotarians had traveled extensively in foreign countries and had done much to better international relations by personally spreading the ideals of Rotary. Invitations extended during these travels have resulted in the visits of many foreign citizens to our club and the resulting programs certainly contributed to better understanding of each other. Visits to the club of students in this country on Rotary Fellowships have also lent an international flavor to many meetings of the Winchester Rotary Club.

During the period 1955-1971 one fund-raising project – the Rotary Barbecue was established. The ever-increasing profit from this project is always turned over to the Charity Fund Committee. Year after year the members vote overwhelmingly in favor of this project, because it is the one time each year all the members can work together in true fellowship. The Rotary Barbecue menu features pit-cooked roast beef. In 1971 one thousand pounds were cooked and sold.

Several years ago Mr. “Mac” McSherry Lupton, invited all the Rotarians and their “Rotary-Anns” to his home for a picnic supper. Even after his death his family carried on the tradition and each August the group gathered on “Lupton’s Lawn” one Thursday afternoon to enjoy barbecued chicken, potatoes, corn on the cob, and old-fashioned homemade ice cream, prepared by Rotarians – most of it on the spot.

The Winchester Rotary Club through its Special Projects Committee constructed a shelter in the Winchester Recreational Park and additional funds were used to assist in the building of a shelter in the recreational area just off North Kent Street.

The Student Loan Fund continued to be a service for the community. This fund still operates within the scope as set forth when it was established in 1942. The fund had total assets of over $50,000 and received additional gifts throughout the years.

Each year a number of Rotarians and their Rotary-Anns journeyed to the Homestead in Hot Springs, Va., to pay honor to the coming spring of a new year. This event is the Annual District conference of District 757 of Rotary International. It is an event to which participating Rotarians looked forward as it offered workshops in which members broadened their abilities to serve. It offered an opportunity to enjoy fellowship by participating in some of the many activities and old-fashioned southern hospitality.

The Winchester Rotary Club has seen years of growth and change. Many changes have broken the traditions. The club became more informal with a relaxed atmosphere but the good fellowship strengthened through successful club projects, love for one another and a closeness for Rotary.

The club grew to over 130 members between the years 1971 and 1978. Members of the Rotary continued to serve in various positions in the community. Many served on the United Fund Board, the Apple Blossom Festival and other worthwhile projects. The Thursday Luncheon was moved from the George Washington Hotel to Duff’s Rebel Restaurant and each summer from June through August, we move to the Winchester Recreation Park in the Rotary Shelter to have lunch.

During the years between 1971 and 1978, three of the Rotarians celebrated fifty years in the Winchester Rotary Club. These three were Harry Lovett, Herbert Solenberger and Fred Glaize, Jr.

The Rotary Barbecue grew throughout the years and now includes electrical meat spits for cooking 1500 pounds of beef to serve more than 2000 people. New fund-raising projects had been started, including serving Barbecue beef for Sunday-In-The-Park at Apple Blossom. The Apple Harvest Arts and Crafts Festival, featuring artists, craftsmen and musicians is a fall fund-raising project. In 1977 these three events raised over $10,000 for the club’s special projects. History cannot praise enough the Rotarians who helped with these projects but especially the men who have been chairmen of these events throughout the years.

The Charity Committee was changed to the Special Projects Committee with a commitment from the Club to get involved with Special Projects in our community. Some of these have been the SPCA Shelter, Northwestern Workshop, Meals on Wheels and many, many more. To help the hardworking “PIT” crew survive hurricanes and other foul weather, a well designed and engineered shelter and Bar-B-Q pit was added to the Rotary Shelter in the Winchester Park. The club continued to be active in the fields of youth, rural-urban and many other community activities. Twice a year they sponsored a Red Cross Bloodmobile and continued to help local college students with loans to further their education thru the Student Loan Fund.

The club has sponsored a Rotary Float in the annual Apple Blossom Festival Parade. Daughters of Rotarians graced these floats. The highlight each year for the “Rotary-Anns” was Ladies’ Night. This event was moved from the George Washington Hotel to the Moose Lodge. The highlight for the families is the annual family picnic held in the Rotary Shelter.

One of the greatest accomplishments achieved was the increased activity in the field of International Relations with people of other clubs and other nations. This understanding and friendly relationship is what Rotary is all about. During the period 1971-1978 five members were honored as Paul Harris Fellows. They were Nelson Page, Charlie Hofer, Al Loring, Phil Sprenkle and John Rodman. The $1,000, which was given in each of these men’s name, is donated to the Rotary Foundation.