Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of nine articles highlighting the Rotary Club of Sequim, whose byline is, “People of Impact.” Club members plan to celebrate its nine decades of community service through the remainder of the year culminating with a Celebratory Tea on June 18 (at Pioneer memorial Park, 387 E. Washington St.), to which all former members, members’ spouses, exchange students and others will be invited.
The 20 founding members of the Rotary Club of Sequim received their Charter from Rotary International on June 13, 1930 and celebrated the presentation on Aug. 21 in an evening meeting attended by Rotarians from Seattle, Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Victoria.
The 20 new Rotarians were described as “live wires in every sense. ” The International Organization of Rotary, founded by the gentlemen pictured — including Paul Harris and Gustavus Loehr, the grand-uncle of Andy Loehr former Sequim Sunrise member and owner of Casoni’s Restaurant here in Sequim — was just 25 years strong. The Rotary Club of Sequim joined more than 2,000 Rotary Clubs spanning six continents with the intention of international and community service.
The Rotary Club of Sequim was sponsored for membership by the Rotary Club of Port Townsend and was the subsequent sponsor of The Sequim Sunrise Club.
The first club event was a tea honoring and entertaining Sequim-area students returning from studies abroad. The club remained very active in student-exchange until the year 2005 and continues to support programs focused on students in the Sequim School District (The motto of all Rotarians is “Service Above Self”).
The charter member’s names of this founding club more than 90 years ago will be recognized even today by Sequimites: G.H. and J.L. Keeler of Keeler Road, Keeler Park and the Hotel Sinclair; Frank Lotzgesell and Henry Lotzgesell, dairy farmers in Dungeness for which Lotzgesell Road is named, along with Jess Mantle and Jess Taylor, local businessmen with roads and subdivisions named for them.
Some members were shop keepers, many farmers, hoteliers, school superintendents, just like the variety of members’ occupations today.
In 1933 the club assisted Joe Rantz, a Sequim youth and the main character in the best-selling 2013 book “The Boys in the Boat,” in the purchase of a new suit of clothes. In 1934 the club wrote him a congratulatory letter for his securing a spot on the University of Washington’s Rowing crew. In 1936, this same crew went on to win a gold medal for rowing in the Olympic Games in Berlin.
In 1935, Carroll C. Kendall became a new Rotarian and an active member of the Rotary Club of Sequim. His name today is on the front of the Boys & Girls Club at 400 W. Fir St. thanks to his family’s financial support in the construction of this fine building.
The first dinner cost $0.75 and was held at Hotel Sinclair, pictured above, which was famous for its electrification. Its location was on the Southwest corner of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue, the present location of U.S. Bank.