Washington County Rotary Club Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

The Rotary Club Of Washington County recently held it’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration at Glenrochie Country Club in recognition of it‘s chartering as a Rotary Club on May 23, 2002. The evening included a cocktail hour and dinner catered by K.P. Duty. Several Rotary District 7570 officials were in attendance including District Governor, Janet Johnson, District Admin., Jim Johnson, both of Blacksburg, Past District Governor, Pat Combs of Bristol, Past District Governor Henry Nickels of Tazewell, Area Governor-Elect John Harty of Bristol, and District Assist.-Secretary Mark Graham of Abingdon. Several past and current members of both The Abingdon Rotary Club and The Washington County Rotary Club also were in attendance. Charter Year 2002 President, Joe Hutton, opened the evening with a “Welcome” speech. Current President, Larry Houston, gave a brief review of the club’s activities and achievements. Several club awards as well as District Level awards and Rotary International Foundation Level awards were given out during the ceremony. Those receiving recognitions were as follows: “Perfect Attendance” - Rennie Atkins, Larry Houston, George Whitley, David Winship; “Certificate of Appreciation” - David Winship; “Service Above Self Certificates” - Lorraine Abraham, Rennie Atkins, Brooke Davis, Nancy Dickerson, Carl Greear, Jill Smeltzer, Henry Snodgrass; “Rotarian of the Year” - George Whitley; “Charter President Plague” - Joe Hutton; District 7570 “Skelton Fellows” - Dan Adams, Brian Wampler; Rotary International Foundation “Paul Harris Fellows” - Jim Hodges, Greg McMillan, Amy Horsch Smith. The club also named it’s first “Community Service Paul Harris Fellow Award” recognizing a non-member for outstanding Community Service in keeping with the Rotary “Service Above Self” motto. This prestigious award was presented to Tom Fowlkes, long-time community leader and tireless organizer of local Boy Scout troops and Scout activities. Keynote Speaker, District Governor Janet Johnson gave a very interesting history of the inception of the Washington County Club, a.k.a., “The Morning Club” as an extension effort of the Abingdon Club, a.k.a., “The Noon Club” and how each has managed to thrive and work together to service the needs of both the local community of Abingdon and of Washington County as a whole. At that point in time Henry Nickels of Tazewell was serving as District 7570 Governor. Mark Graham, Abingdon, served as Assistant Governor of Area 12 being appointed to that position after his successor Barbara Hargroves was named District Governor Nominee. For some time there was discussion that a second club was needed in the Abingdon/Washington County area. The Abingdon Club had outgrown the venue for an available meeting place. Some members who loved Rotary could not leave work responsibilities at noon on Friday to attend and were not able to continue. Jill Smeltzer, a member at that time of the Abingdon Club and Joe Hutton, who had been a member of Abingdon, proposed to District Governor Henry that a club be chartered. In turn, the District Governor appointed Jill Smeltzer as the DG representative and suggested to Jill and Joe that a needs assessment be done about the potential of another Rotary club determining business classifications in the area and desire of those who could not make a noon meeting. A survey of the businesses and yellow pages was done to determine potential new members by representation of classifications. The provisional club began to take shape under the direction of two founding fathers – District Governor Henry Nickels and Assistant Governor Mark Graham. In fact Mark Graham was labeled the “Godfather” of the Washington County Club. Throughout the winter months of 2002, Henry or Mark or both were was present at every meeting over the next 6 to 7 weeks. To quote Past District Governor Henry, “It was my child.” And to quote Past Assistant Governor Mark, “We ate a lot of biscuits and gravy to complete the planning.” The Abingdon Club with President Kenny Shuman was the sponsor and as mentioned earlier member Jill Seltzer served as the DG representative working closely with former member Joe Hutton. Joe joined the charter group and was the first president. Jill moved from the Abingdon Club to the Washington County Club one year later and brought her husband with her as a new Rotarian. The charter was received and then came the evening of celebration in the presence District Governor Henry and Assistant Governor Mark and special guests RI Past President Bill Skelton, RI past Vice President Eric Adamson, PDG Joe Ferguson and June and PAG Bill Long. The Abingdon Club as sponsor made the gifts of the bell, gavel and a banner. The concern that another club would reduce the sustainability was not realized. New members for both clubs have been found among spouses of each club, those who wanted to be or had been a part of Rotary, those who could not meet on Friday noon as well as those who are just not morning people. All now have the option of a club to join. The two clubs combined have more Rotarians than one single club might have. This translates to more service done touching the lives of more people in the community. A strong past has built the Washington County Club to be who they are now. A club that believes in sweat equity to support service as well resources. For example a school back pack project to provide health meals for children who otherwise would be hungry until they return to school was not only supported with funds by the Club but with also people power to pack the food. The Washington County Rotary members also have a first hand understanding of the impact of a tornado of just a year ago in the community that took only minutes to devastate the lives of their neighbors. The clubs of this area partnered to bring hope back to those neighbors who lost all. To make a difference with this service, fund raising is an important part of what is done. One example of how this club brings together fund raising with fellowship is in the form of a widely acclaimed sell-out wine tasting event now in it’s sixth year. We are grateful to the leadership and vision of Past District Governor Henry and to Extension Chair and Past District Governor Rae, Assistant Governor and “Godfather” Mark and to members Jill and Joe to make this happen and to inspire an entire team to bring us to today.


Submitted by

Larry D. Houston

(See also photos submitted separately)