Grand Junction Rotary Club marks 90 years

Weeks after they formed in 1919, Grand Junction Rotary Club members were making front page news.

And they didn’t do anything.

“Owing to the fact that so many members will be very busy with matters in connection with the fair this week, it has been decided by the officers and board of directors of the Rotary Club to hold no luncheon this week,” reads a story in The Daily Sentinel published Sept. 29, 1919.

The story informed readers that the group would meet again per normal the next month.

The club made enough waves that, through the early 1940s, the newspaper had a reporter regularly assigned to cover monthly luncheons, according to Grand Junction resident Pat Gormley.

Walter Walker, founder of The Daily Sentinel, was a charter member.

“You could sit down for lunch with the local newspaper publisher, the manager of the railroad, the telephone company … it was how they did networking then,” said Gormley, 80, and a Rotary member for more than 50 years.

They still do.

The Grand Junction Rotary Club will celebrate 90 years of service during the its meeting Wednesday at Two Rivers Convention Center. All former members are invited.

Gormley, whose grandfather Arthur was a charter member, is scheduled to highlight the club’s history in a speech during that event.

Grand Junction Rotary, with membership fluctuating around 150, has raised money for a host of Grand Junction institutions, including St. Mary’s Hospital, while playing a role in the construction of Grand Junction’s Moyer Pool and Operation Foresight, the 1960s project that reshaped Main Street.

The club annually donates school supplies for needy School District 51 students, a donation that is independent of its annual dictionary donation drive, among other causes.

Members are particularly active around the winter holidays, ringing bells to raise money for charity in a friendly competition with the Kiwanis Club of Grand Junction.

The Rotary was also exclusively a boys club until a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said private clubs couldn’t exclude women.

Today, roughly one-third of the Grand Junction club’s members are women, according to club president Joe Warner.


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