About Our Club's History
In 1950, District Governor Jim Price appealed to the President of the Hartford Rotary Club to release the West Hartford territory so a new club could be formed. At the time West Hartford was one of the nation's largest communities without its own Rotary Club. But the request died in committee. Fortunately, enthusiasm lived on. Past District Governor Jim Price and Past Rotary International Director Leo Golden persevered. When a second request for a West Hartford club reached a new president of the Hartford Rotary, Sid Andrews, he and his Board of Directors approved releasing the territory on November 5, 1951. Price moved quickly. Within weeks he lined up 31 prospective members. They met with Leo Golden and Roy Ford of Rotary International's Chicago office on December 13 to learn the objectives of Rotary and the process for instituting a new club.
Two weeks later, on December 27, 1951, all 31 prospective members signed the formal applications to establish the Club. The Club was officially chartered on January 14, 1952. under the first President, Andrew N Webster, members held their initial meeting as a Provisional Rotary Club at Les Shaw's Restaurant on January 17, 1952. Price said, "I know of no other Club where the elapsed time between the dates of application and the approval of a Provisional Club was as brief. This reflects to the credit and caliber of the West Hartford men." In the early years West Hartford Rotary immediately demonstrated its value. We sent students to the U.N., made the pages of Life Magazine, contributed greatly to the Children's Museum, and much more.
The Club grew quickly, both in membership size and in the many ways the Club served the community and the world. During the 70's and 80's, the Rotary Club continually expanded the time, the funding and the services it provided. Highlights also included many memorable fellowship and social events. From the annual Ladies Night Party to the town's musical shell; from auctioning off a Cadillac to announcing the first Paul Harris Fellowship Award winner, it was a time of growing in camaraderie and service. The Club's more recent years demonstrate how we've progressed with the times. We've met today's greater community and global social concerns with our trademark generosity and dedication to service. Building goodwill along with good laughs has continued to flourish through ideas like cow chip raffles and Happy Dollars. We have hosted Group Study exchange participants as well as have had leaders of group Study Exchanges. We have hosted and sent students through the Rotary student exchange program. We have provided a grant through the Dunn Ambassadorial Scholarship to a student to study abroad for a year. We have refurbished 10 benches around the town of West Hartford as well as give thousands of dollars through the years to local charities. We have hosted a sixth grade writing proect in West Hartford for years and now give a dictionary to every 3rd grader in West Hartford over the last few years. The future looks bright as we continue to strive to provide service over self.
Update - 2023
I believe those paragraphs above were written in the early 2000's. Since that time, Rotary's mission of "service above self" has remained the same, but we have had to adapt to a new world that would have surprised the club members of twenty plus years ago.
Since that time, we have sponsored several 'Global Grant Projects' that have provided clean water in the Philippines, dialysis machines, and soon, dental care in Uganda. In our own town, there is an acute awareness that not all of our residents are able to afford even the basics of life; In 2022-2023, we, along with grants from Rotary District 7890 and Liberty Bank, have provided approximately $30,000 to "The Town That Cares Fund \Food Bank."  We have donated well over $20,000 to the "Gifts of Music" program which provides lessons and instruments to kids in need. We provide scholarships to seniors in the multiple West Hartford High Schools.
Every year, we try to expand our horizons and help where we are needed. Our social events like the "Vines of March" (wIne tasting and auction) and "Rock 'n Rotary" Beatlemania" help to provide funding for all of the charities that rely on our help.
And yes, we still have fun along the way!