Past District Governor, Clarence Parkins

President Jay welcomed PDG Clarence Parkins to our Club. He told us of the many achievements in Rotary that Clarence has attained including being District Governor of District 5180 in the 2007-8 Rotary Year. He then went on to tell us and something I did not know about Clarence and that is that he has played in two basketball NCAA tournaments and has run two marathons. Very impressive. Your bulletin editor, Phil Danz, was president of the Foothill-Highlands Rotary Club in 2000-2001, and Clarence was president of the Rancho Cordova Club that same year as was Dan Enright of the Carmichael Club and Ralph Carhart of Fair Oaks. We worked together (the four Clubs) on a Casino night fund raiser for WIND (helping homeless children). Clarence and I talked privately about that year at the meeting. Good times!

Clarence's topic today is, "The History of Rotary" and he started by saying the Rotary is the largest charity organization in the world except that, just recently, we have been edged out by the Lion's Club. He told us that Paul Harris, Rotary's founding father, born in 1866 in Racine, Wisconsin was not from a very successful family. His father apparently was a big spender and when Paul was 3 years old, his family moved to Vermont to live with Harris' paternal grandparents. Paul was not a good student, and got into lots of trouble. He was sent to military school but was expelled for arresting incoming freshman (he and three friends) in his school. Funny thing - he was a freshman himself at the time.

He attended Princeton, and then law at the University of Iowa. For the next 5 years, he floundered around working odd jobs until he moved to Chicago and spent the next 40 years practicing law.

Clarence said that Paul was sort of a "backwards guy" who didn't know who to trust. In 1905, he started Rotary in order to talk with business associates and the name Rotary was borne because they rotated meetings at different member's offices.

To show how viral Rotary went, in 9 months there were 100 members. A second Club was founded in San Francisco (1908), Oakland became the 3rd Club and Sacramento was 97th in 1914. In 1917, there were 100,000 members world wide.

Archibald Klumph started what became the Rotary Foundation in order to be "doing good in the world" with a beginning contribution of $26.50 and it grew slowly to $5,000 in 1945.

One of the very first projects that the Chicago Club did was to provide comfort stations for women shoppers in downtown Chicago. Very smart because it enable women to spend more time shopping.

The old Crippled Children Services changed into what is now Easter Seals, and an offshoot morphed into  Polio Plus in the 1980s. Success has been great, we now know that polio only exists in three countries Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan.

The Paul Harris Fellow program was started in 1947, the amount needed to become a PHF was $1000. Now, 67 years later, to become a PHF, it is still $1,000! What a deal.

Clarence went on to talk about Rotary Clubs accepting women in 1987, with Rotary taking the issue to the Supreme Court. Now, of the 1.2 million members world wide, 20% are women. What a mistake it would have been to exclude them.

In conclusion, Clarence made the point that we should share our history with others, neighbors, friends; show them the marvelous things that Rotary does.

Our President Jay let Clarence know that, in honor of his very informative lecture, a book will be given to the Carmichael Library which will give someone(s), hours of reading pleasure.


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     President Jay Boatwright with PDG Clarence Parkins  Members in rapt attention