Years 1912 - 1922
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Authors Preface

As The Rotary Club of Jacksonville approached the Centennial year 2012, the Club set forth a committee to combine and complete the Club Centennial History Book. The first fifty year history book, Volume 1, was written by Prim Fisher. It was re-published later to include the first 56 years. The next 18 years, Volume 2, had 18 authors, since each president wrote their own summary. This Centennial History combines the first two volumes and completes them with the next 25 years of Club history. Each Club President wrote their own year in Rotary with the exception of deceased members Max Morris and Dave Hastings.

The Centennial History Book Committee was chaired by PDG Henry Beckwith and Frank Perritt.   Both members worked diligently in choosing the publisher, reminding the presidents of the deadlines, working on formatting and design, etc. The Club was prepared for the cost of this book because, since 1985, we had been putting $800/year into a certificate of deposit for the purpose of publishing the next book. Rotarian Howard Kelley, our Club web designer, web host and guru in software and web issues worked with our Executive Director Miriam Funchess on presentation, design and layout. The Club hired Patrick Flynn, whose expertise and diligence provided great insight as he too worked on scanning, layout and the design of the book. The Club also hired Karen Ramsey, Marty Renaud, Mary Moritz and Yvette Candler who assisted in editing, proofing, proofing and more proofing. The Centennial History Committee Chairs hired Rose Printing to publish the book and we wish to thank Dick Walsh for his professionalism and straightforwardness in helping us produce this “first class” Centennial Edition.

Since we are combining the first two volumes into this Centennial Edition, it is important that the reader understand how the first years were compiled and therefore we are including the preface from Volume 1, the first 56 years, written by Prim Fisher, and also the preface from Volume 2, the next 18 years.

Needless to say, this Rotary Club of Jacksonville History - Centennial Edition is an amazing piece of history that you will see as it unfolds into the history of not only our Club but our city and our country.

Preface first 56 years – 1912-1968 by Prim Fisher

The organization of the Rotary Club of Jacksonville was a definite part of the beginning of the Rotary movement, through the close association of its first president with the founder of Rotary. Had not Paul P. Harris come to Jacksonville to live and had he not entered the employment of George W. Clark, the organization of the Jacksonville club might well have come about
several years later than it actually did. Being the first of the clubs to organize in the Southeast (excepting New Orleans), this conclusion seems inescapable.

I became associated with John A. Hall in 1925 and through this association became a member of the Rotary Club of Jacksonville in 1926. Mr. Hall was the accountant for several companies headed by George W. Clark and it was my good fortune to acquire a substantial acquaintance with him and other early members of the club. Rotary and its members were frequently discussed and formed close ties of friendship among those older members.

Although a large amount of material has been available, there has been a lack of uniformity in the recording of events and some omissions. As a result, it has not been possible to give as much detail of some of these things as of others of equal interest. Wherever possible, I have made reference to the important and many casual happenings in each year. In writing of Rotary club personalities, I have followed the records and information given me and
have not drawn on the imagination, although I am sure that much more might have been written about these persons. As time passes, many things not reduced to written records, and some that have been so recorded, become less available and may be entirely lost in our memories and to our posterity. It is with this in mind that I have undertaken to write this history. To those persons who have assisted me I am grateful, and I wish to express my appreciation of those who have been of service to the Club and to Rotary.

(Rotarily, Prim Fisher, Jacksonville, Florida, June 1, 1962)

Preface – Years 1968-1986

Each year’s history was written first hand from that year’s president and each in his own style. Some presidents felt that they owed their readers brevity while others opted for completeness. All are written informally – as one club member to another. The biographies of the presidents were prepared by the Club History Committee, which also handled further research when needed, proofreading, and much, much reminding about deadlines, in order to meet the 75th anniversary date of publication.

Acknowledgements for Volume 2: Henry Beckwith launched this project in 1978 while he was president, by appointing an ad hoc committee and obtaining a commitment from each president to write his own year. Ken Anderson, while he was president three years later, created the concept of a continuing standing committee on Club History to provide continuity of coordination and an assured timely completion. Executive Secretary Dee Gordon greatly assisted in researching the files for facts and photos, as well as systemizing the club’s historical reference library. Dan Ridgell conceived the pioneering identification phrase, “Florida’s First Club” for use in this book and it was so well received that it quickly found its way onto the Club letterhead, newsletter, banners, and roster (which now contains each year at his suggestion, a thumbnail history of our Club’s founding). Past President Larry Hirsig was first to finish his year’s write-up, and greatly expedited getting all to the printer by having three years retyped on his office word processor. Board member Lawrence Hirsig, II, conducted a helpful financial review of the club’s earlier handling of publication costs of Vol. 1, and lastly and importantly, the joint 1985-86 and 1986-87 boards approved funding the publication. At Paramount Press we can thank Jim Chambers, and April Mills, and the efficient staff both for their impressive professionalism and very friendly cooperation and help in manufacturing an attractive final product.

The Club History Committee: Co-chairmen: John Walters and John Ingle. Vice Chairmen: Larry Hirsig, Don Martin and Bill Hamrick. Members: Quinn Barton, Henry Beckwith, Bob Colyer, Sr., Jimmy French, Del Gibbs, Ralph Henry, Dean Holt, Fred Kent, Sr., Spencer Ladd, Sanford Mullen, Jack Rose and Fred Woolverton, Sr. Special consulting and contributing members: Joe Beeler(paper supply), Barney Daley(binding) and Floyd Benton(front cover).