History of Vallejo Rotary as Member of Rotary Districts and outstanding Vallejo Rotarians who have been District Governor.
1921 – District 23
The Vallejo Rotary Club was formed on a temporary basis in July 1921, Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sacramento, and subsequently admitted to Rotary International with an official Founding date of November 1921 and was part of District 23 which included clubs within the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California, as well as for the territory of Hawaii. The Vallejo Rotary Club was club #1005 with a founding president of C. Ferry Hatch (classification steamer transp.) and founding Secretary of John R. Thornton “Jack” (classification Laundry.)
1922- 1937 – District 2
Due to the growth of Rotary, the districts were reconfigured and District 2 was formed with the territory composed of the States of Nevada, California, and the territory of Hawaii. It was named district 2 in honor of the Rotary Club of San Francisco which was the 2nd Rotary Club formed.
1937-1949 – District 104
Following an extensive study of new district territories, our formerly very large District was divided into five new ones. These five districts were in California and Nevada. The shrinking of our geographical territory meant that District 104 included only 30 clubs in 1937. Over the next twelve years, District 104 [from Hollister on the south, to Arcata on the north, including 10 counties of the Coast of Northern California] grew to 43 clubs.
Our leaders led District 104 from peacetime to war and back again into peacetime. They were Charles L. Wheeler of San Francisco in 1937-38, Floyd A. Parton of San Jose in 1938-39, Russell O’Hara of Vallejo in 1939-40, Harry A. Mitchell of San Francisco in 1940-41, Roy N. Dreiman of Santa Cruz in 1941-42, Frank J. Brennan of Eureka in 1942-43, J. Percy Robinson and Melvin Hitchcock of San Mateo in 1943-44, Prentiss A. Rove of San Francisco in 1944-45, Joseph L. Gabriel of Hollister in 1945-46, Clarence C. Price of Vallejo in 1946-67, Frank E. Allen of Burlingame in 1947-48, and Harold D. Bostock of Santa Rosa in 1948-49.
1949 – 1957
Renumbering our District in 1949 did not change our territorial limits. Our District continued to include the Northern California counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Sonoma, Napa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and the Rotary Club of Vallejo. Continued chartering of new clubs in the District throughout this period enlarged our District to 51 clubs.
We were led during this period by Herbert S. Shuey of San Francisco in 1949-50, William E. Williams of San Jose in 1950-51, Bernard J. Bush of Garberville in 1951-52, William Otis Callaway of Burlingame in 1952-53, Wallace S. Myers of San Anselmo in 1953-54, G.P. Bacon of Santa Cruz in 1954-55, E. W. Stephens of San Francisco in 1955-56, and George P. Chaffey of Vallejo in 1956-57.
No changes in the territory of the District were made when the District number was changed to 513. During this thirteen-year period, the District grew by three clubs, but new member growth within the clubs took the District membership to over 4,000. Our leaders during this period included Monroe E. Brown of Burlingame in 1957-58, Lloyd Hayes of Sebastopol in 1958-59, Dr. Walter J. Hamilton of San Carlos in 1959-60, Francis Whitmer of San Francisco and Dr. Walter J. Hamilton of San Carlos in 1960-61, Norman LeLaittre of Cloverdale in 1961-62, Percival M. Bliss of West San Jose in 1962-63, Harold E. Tucker of Garberville in 1963-64, Stanley McCaffrey of San Francisco in 1964-65, George Starbird of San Jose in 1965-66, Stanley L. Lance of Santa Rosa in 1966-67, Jack B. Power of Palo Alto in 1967-68, Robert E. Barwick of Napa in 1968-69, and Harold Graves of Mill Valley in 1969-70.
In 1970, several California Districts joined in another revision. A reduction was made in the number of clubs in District 516, by placing the southern boundary of the District between Berkeley and Oakland and transferring the other southern Alameda County clubs. In this restructuring, Vallejo joined Districts 516. Vallejo Rotarian Richard A. (Dick) Hyland was District Governor in 1978 -79. During his term the project known as “Camp Royal,” a Rotary Youth Leadership Activity was initiated which has subsequently provided leadership training for numerous outstanding High School Students from our club and district.
Finally, in 1991 the computer world took over, and all Rotary Districts were renumbered with an “O.” Thus, District 516 became 5160.
Other interesting articles;
60th anniversary ( 1981) article by our historian member Ernie Wichels:
Ernest D. Wichels
The Vallejo Rotary Club, one of several of the city’s many service groups, is planning a celebration later this year to’ make the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1921.
Under the leadership of its current president, Rear Adm. Joseph Rizza, the Superintendent of the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo. a civic program will highlight this anniversary. In 60 years the Rotarians have played a part-in, or initiated, many city and county projects.
To enumerate just a few, we would include the founding of the Crippled Children’s Society of Solano County, now the Easter Seal project; the sponsoring of the collection and shipping of food and clothing to the war refugees in Marseilles, France, and Genoa, Italy, following World War II in 1947 via the CMA training ship, Golden Bear; the cornerstone laying and deposit of time-capsule for the John F. Kennedy Public Library; the recent construction of the flag concourse atop the Maritime Academy hill. Rotary and Rotarians have made significant contributions to the Children’s Wonderland on Amador Street including the Children’s Theatre and the Teapot post office.
The local club brought Boy Scouting to Solano County (Dixon) and Vallejo Troop No. 12 saw a history of more than 50 years. The charter membership in 1921, and the dedication meeting in 1922, saw these names which most readers will recognize: William Widenmann, Dr. James J. Hogan, Dr. J. Carson Magill, Jesse Godley, Wade Madren, S.M. Levee, Harry Handlery, Jack Thonston, Ed Perry, J.J. Madigan, Dr. E. J. Casper, W.D. Pennycook, Thomas Smith, J.V. O’Hara, Ray Bangle, Dan Brosnahan, Lou Bauer, T.V. Collins, Sam: J. McKnight, Ferry Hatch, P.J. Hanlon, Lert Denius, Sidney Hicks and Bob Walker.
1954 Article from The Rotary Reporter:
U.S. Navy Yard Hits Century Mark
The oldest and largest U.S. Navy ship yard on the Pacific Coast is at Mare Island off the shoreline of Vallejo, Calif. Recently it rounded out 100 years of service to the U.S. fleet. When this historic milestone was reached, a centennial celebration was set off with the entire town participating, including the Vallejo Rotary Club. Heading many a centennial committee, or serving on one, were several Vallejo Rotarians, one of them Russell F. O’Hara, legal counsel for the committee, whose daughter, Sally, was named “Miss Centennial.” Another was Ernest D. Wichels, secretary of the centennial committee, who has been associated with the Navy yard for 42 years. The four-day celebration featured a water parade of colorful floats, with that of the Vallejo Club bearing a 20-foot-high Rotary wheel. As the float moved down the strait between the Island and the town, announced were a brief history of Rotary, its aims and accomplishments, and the plans being made for its forthcoming Golden Anniversary.