The Rotary Club of Pell City celebrated its 40th Anniversary at a luncheon Tuesday.
“It’s been a really good club,” said Ray Miller, who talked about the club’s past. “We’ve been up and down on attendance, but mainly up.”
Rotary Club officials said The Rotary Club of Pell City had its Charter night on Friday, April 26, 1974, and was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Talladega.
“We’ve enjoyed a real strong club, good members,” said Miller, who was a charter member and the first sergeant at arms for the club.
Ben Coker was the first president of The Rotary Club of Pell City and Paul Turner was vice president. Lee Shover was secretary and Harvey Watson was treasurer.
Today the club has more than 60 members.
Miller said the club started with 25-35 members during the first 10 years.
He said club meetings were initially held at the Holiday Inn in Riverside before moving to the Pell City Civic Center. The meetings were moved back to the hotel, which was then the Best Western. From there the club moved its meetings to Hal’s Hungry Bear in Riverside before coming back to the Pell City Civic Center.
“I think we found a home here,” Miller said.
The club had its first woman, June Brascho, join the “all men’s” club in 1993.
Brascho said she was sponsored by the late Dick Whatley, “who was determined to break that old barrier.”
“I understood it took him a while,” she said.
She became the first woman president of the Rotary Club of Pell City in 2006.
“I became president by default when the president-elect backed out at the last minute,” Brascho said.
That year, the local group hosted the District Conference, which she said was a huge undertaking.
“The conference was one of the best ever thanks to Ed Gardner, Ray Miller and Dennis Brooks and all the club members who served on the various committees,” Brascho said.
At Tuesday’s luncheon, Jay Jenkins talked about the late Paul Turner, who helped spearhead efforts to form the Rotary Club, along with Ben Coker and Pete Evans.
“Paul Turner was a hero to Pell City and St. Clair County in every sense,” Jenkins said. “He had the capacity to reach out beyond himself and bring people together for the betterment of our community.”
Jenkins still ends club meetings with a “Turnerism,” a quick-wit quote or saying that brings smiles to Rotarians each week.
During its first few years, the club participated in various fundraisers, including musical concerts, auctions and street fairs. The club also brought the first play, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” to the newly built Pell City Center of the Performing Arts Theater at the Pell City Center.
Today, the club’s primary fundraising event is its annual golf tournament, and the organization also awards college scholarships as well as making donations to local charities each year.