HISTORY OF THE ROTARY CLUB OF STEUBENVILLE, OHIO
During the late fall of 1920, the seeds of Rotary were planted in the city of Coshocton, Ohio. The members of the Coshocton Club contacted Edgar Bower and Howard Morrow, discussing the idea of a Rotary Club in Steubenville.
After numerous informal meetings of those who had been contacted and who had expressed a desire to become charter members, officers were elected and regular meetings were held. Charles D. Simeral was elected president; John Beiswanger, vice president; Edgar C. Bower, secretary; and Howard Morrow, treasurer. Simeral, Beiswanger, John G. Belknap, Earl G. Richards and Harry D. Wintringer comprised the Board of Directors.
Finally, in April of 1921, Steubenville Rotary was chartered as Club No. 88 1, District 6650 in the Rotary National family. The club grew rapidly once it got under way. Fifteen new members were welcomed into membership the first year, and at the end of the second year, the roster carried sixty-one names. Membership had reached 128 (in 1966) but is currently at eighty-four.
The Rotary Club of Steubenville met at the Fort Steuben Hotel from the beginning of 1921 until the middle of the 1970′s when it became necessary to leave the Hotel. For a very brief period, the weekly meetings were held at the Federal Terrace Restaurant. In August of 1977, the club began to meet at Westminster Presbyterian Church. After nine years, the club moved to the New YWCA building on North Forth Street, where Rotary meets every Friday at 12 Noon.
A milestone in Rotary history was August 25, 1989, when the club first admitted women members. Three women were inducted on that date – Alice Barbarossa, Geraldine Cohen and Jeanne Davis. Geraldine is the first Steubenville female Rotarian to become a Paul Harris Fellow.
Throughout its history the Steubenville Rotary Club has a long and illustrious tradition of financial involvement and active participation in charitable and educational projects and endeavors which have served to benefit the citizens of Steubenville and Jefferson County. A few of these projects are the annual Christmas Party for the benefit of handicapped children, the establishing of a student loan fund in 1950 to make interest-free loans to college students, the Rotary International Student Exchange Program, sponsorship of a local park as Rotary Park and previous sponsorship of the Interfaith Chapel at the former Ohio Valley
Newer projects include contributions to the Steubenville City of Murals, the Old Fort Steuben, the United Way of Jefferson County, participation (with float) in the yearly Christmas parade in Steubenville and “adoption” of Garfield School. During the 2000-2001 year, each ofour active Past Presidents (20 in number) selected a project or charity to receive $250 from the Rotary. These have been varied from children’s sports and the Salvation Army to the Animal Welfare League and Adult Literacy Council. In addition, the student loan fund has been revised, providing $500 “Service Above Self” scholarships to a student from each local high school. This year, our first Rotarian of the Year (Karl Brandt) and our first Citizen of the Year (Kenneth Moore) were honored by the club.
From its inception, the Steubenville Rotary Club has been a leader, as well as a positive and influential force, in the life of the community. It has continued to grow and flourish over the years. As we celebrate its eightieth birthday, Steubenville Rotary Club will strive to continue to set an example of service to our community and our world for many years to come. (Prepared with information from Guy Jacobs, R. Peterson Chalfant, Robert P. King and Christine Hargrave.)