pharris1.jpg105 Years of Service

The Rotary Club of Harrisburg    Organized - May 3, 1911

The 23rd club to be formed         Charter Granted - July 13, 1911


Membership - One hundred by May 1912, two hundred in 1947, Present membership approximately 180.

Club Paper - "Tachograph" the official Club paper, was adopted March 1914. The publication is now known as "Rotary Roundup".

First Ladies Night - February 6, 1912.

Rotary Flag - The Rotary Flag was unveiled on April 13, 1915.

World War I -Rotary sponsored a contingent company unit in the U.S. Army training at Gettysburg. Fund established for sending magazines, tobacco, candy and other small gifts. The Board of Directors passed a resolution, "that upon their return from service the Rotary Club pledges itself to use its best endeavors to procure employment for those who need it, etc. " The club also sponsored an amateur minstrel show to boost the sale of War Thrift Savings Stamps; receipts totaled $6,363.15.

During World War I, the Rotary Club of Harrisburg sponsored a contingent company unit in the US Army Training at Gettysburg. A fund was established for sending magazines, tobacco, candy and other small gifts to servicemen. The Board of the Club passed a resolution stating, “that upon their return from service, the Rotary Club pledges itself to use its best endeavors to procure employment for those who need it.” The Club also sponsored an amateur minstrel show to help boost the sale of War Thrift Savings Stamps: proceeds totaled $6,316. During the Second World War, many members of the Club served in the Armed Forces of the United States. The Club’s membership aided in every way project on the home front, including Civil Defense, US Coast Guard, Auxiliary Salvage Campaigns, Blood Donor Service, clothing and book collections, and entertainment of the military personnel from nearby military camps and depots. 

District History - The Rotary Club of Harrisburg was part of what was called the Eastern Division in the early days of Rotary International. In 1915, Harrisburg together with the area including the Philadelphia, Reading, Baltimore and Washington Clubs were incorporated into the 3rd, later the 5th District. When separated from Philadelphia and Reading in 1922, Harrisburg was relocated in the 34th District. In 1937 this became the 180th, which still included Baltimore and Washington. In 1945, this District was redivided, and the Rotary Club of Harrisburg was placed in the 181st. In 1950, the 268th; in 1958, the 739th, and in 1994, the 7390th District.

Past District Governors - The following Harrisburg Rotarians served as District Governors:

  • Howard C. Fry- 1918-1919

  • George F. Lumb - 1922-1923

  • Richie Lawrie, Jr. - 1933-1934

  • Albert S. Schmidt - 1943-1944

  • John L. Tivney - 1954-1955

  • J. Bernard Schmidt - 1960-1961

  • George E. Reimer - 1973-1974

  • Francis R. Grady - 1985-1986

  • Robert J. Hall - 1997-98

  • Janice R. Black - 2006-07

  • John P. Judson, MD. - 2014-15

Clubs Organized - The Rotary Club of Harrisburg has organized the following clubs:

  • York - 1916
  • Waynesboro - 1920
  • Carlisle - 1921
  • Lykens - 1926
  • Mechanicsburg - 1938
  • West Shore - 1938
  • Steelton - 1944 (reorganized to Harrisburg East - 1995)
  • Hummelstown - 1946
  • Harrisburg Capital City - 1990
  • Harrisburg Keystone - 2005
  • In turn, these clubs organized other clubs, so the Rotary Club of Harrisburg now has over a score of "grandchildren."

General Activities - Throughout the history of the Rotary Club of Harrisburg is found much evidence of the activities of the club in the four avenues of Rotary service. Its membership has been active in Boys’ work, the organization of the Boy Scouts (1916), Girl Scouts, Aid in Christmas Seal, Community and War Chest campaigns, Red Cross, Tri-County United Way and others. Crippled Children’s work was organized in 1927. PolioPlus Campaign: The members of the Rotary Club of Harrisburg contributed over $110,000 in 1986-86 in support of the PolioPlus Campaign. Community Service Award: In 1977, the Rotary Club of Harrisburg created the Community Service Award to annually honor a member of our Rotary Club for community service. Service Above Self: The Service Above Self Award was established in 1986 to annually honor the non-Rotarian uncompensated volunteers working in the area of human service, who best exemplifies the Rotary’s ideal, "service above self". 75th Anniversary: The Penn Harris Motor Inn and Convention Center was the location of our 75th Anniversary Celebration, which was well a attended by members of Rotary locally, nationally and internationally. Place of Meetings: Rotary club meetings were held in the Penn Harris Hotel until its demolition in 1972, at which time meetings were moved to the Ramada Hotel (formerly the Holiday Inn Center City). Since 1990 we have held meetings at the Harrisburg Hilton & Towers.

Grants - Since 1947, all local philanthropic activities of the club have been centered in the Harrisburg Rotary Foundation which handles both the maintenance of a central fund and the disbursement of donations and grants. To date, the Harrisburg Rotary Foundation has contributed funds of approximately $700,000 to eligible non-profits.

Charter Members - Of the first year group the last surviving members was Brook Trout who died in January 1975.

Special Recognition - Evan J. Miller was a member of the Rotary Club of Harrisburg from April 1, 1920 - 1997. In 1995 Evan was recognized and honored for his 75 years of service in the Rotary Club of Harrisburg. He died at age 101, attending one or two meetings each year until he died.

Female Members - The first woman member was inducted in 1987. In the intervening years four woman have served as president of our chapter..


The 50th Anniversary of the Club was held on May 3, 1961 in the Plantation Rom of the Penn Harris Hotel.

The 75th Anniversary of the Club was held at the Penn Harris Motor Inn and Convention Center. It was attended by local, national and international Rotarians.

The 90th 50th Anniversary of the Club was held on May 3, 2001 at the Harrisburg Hilton and Towers. Rotarians and guests enjoyed dinner, IMAX Movie and a dessert celebration with prizes.

A milestone Rotary meeting with Carl-Wihelm Stenhammar, Rotary International President, was hosted by the Club on March 6, 2006 with 230 District members attending.

CENTENNIAL OF CLUB #23 CELEBRATED IN 2011: On July 13, 2011 the Centennial Celebration for the Rotary Club of Harrisburg culminated with celebration, remembering and looking forward. More than 120 district and Rotary International guests and Club members met at the Kunkel Gallery of The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts. Assembling celebrants were greeted by a fun jazz trio and fine food prepared by the Hilton. Festive gold and blue balloons, a three-projector presentation of historic photos and snippets of historic events augmented the fellowship and camaraderie. Also shown were photographs of international service projects funded and attended by Club members. The Club president for 2011-2012, Bob Saline, welcomed everyone and recognized attending dignitaries. Recognition of our Club’s founding as “the 23rd Club in All the World” was made by District Governor Helen Redding. Immediate Past President Dr. John Judson provided an overview of Rotary International’s and our own Club’s efforts to eradicate polio. Also presenting was Una Martone on Rotary International’s expanding commitment to world peace. Concluding Rotary presentations for the celebration was an inspiring presentation by Kenneth Grabeau, our Club’s Rotary International Zone Director for 2011-13. Harrisburg Mayor Thompson thanked the Rotary Club members for their previous and future support to the city and the Harrisburg School District. President Bob thanked everyone for attending and encouraged all to wrap up the evening with Centennial cake and continued fellowship.


Honoring the century of community service on the local, regional and national level that has been at the core of Rotary since its founding by Paul Harris, the Harrisburg Rotary club hosted the gala District Event with a champagne toast, dinner and dancing.. More than 170 Rotarians from throughout central Pennsylvania celebrated Rotary Internationals' 100 years of civic service during a dinner-dance, December 13, at the Harrisburg Hotel and Towers.

Student members of the Youth Community Development Team, the Harrisburg Club’s Centennial Project, also joined in celebration. Leading the evening with the ceremonious Centennial Bell Ringing was our District Governor, Steve Messner and President, Jim Enders. Our partnership with America’s Promise was evidenced with the symbolic red wagon and distribution of mugs highlighting this effort.

Philadelphia, was next in line to receive the Centennial Bell, as it makes its way to visit the first 100 Rotary Clubs. It’s with enthusiasm, that we look forward to joining Rotarians, the world over, at the 2005 RI Convention in Chicago. We are honored and proud to be Rotarians this momentous evening!


Throughout the history of the Rotary Club of Harrisburg, it has been active in the four lanes of service. In 1916, it helped to organize the Boy Scouts. It was also integral to the early activities of the Girl Scouts, Aid in Christmas Seals, the Community Chest, the War Chest, the Red Cross, and the United Way of the Capital Region.


Then-mayor Linda Thompson joins members of Rotary Club #23 at dedication ceremonies for the 100 trees planted in 2011 to commemorate the club’s first 100 years of service at Riverfront and Reservoir Park areas in Harrisburg. Remarks were offered by Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson, along with local Rotary officials. The planting of 100 trees in the city of Harrisburg was a Rotary Club project that had been planned four years earlier in collaboration with then Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed. The project was funded primarily through donations by Rotary Club of Harrisburg members, partnering organizations and businesses, and neighboring clubs ($250 per tree). Individuals donated a tree in honor of a loved one or friend.

In 1986-87, Club members contributed over $110,000 to Rotary International’s PolioPlus Campaign.

In 1977, the Rotary Club of Harrisburg created the Community Service Award to annually recognize a member of the Club for outstanding community service. In 1986, the Club created the “Service Above Self” Award to annually honor a non-Rotarian volunteer working in the area of human service who exemplifies Rotary’s ideal “Service above Self.”

In 1992, the Club organized its “Godzilla Auction and Garage Sale” to raise money for community agencies, It was held for three years in the parking lot of a community department store. In 1997, the Club reinstated the earlier Pancake Breakfast which had been held at the Zembo Mosque. The Fifth Street Methodist Church was the site for the new breakfast; it more recently has been held at Harrisburg High School, which also is a major beneficiary of the Pancake Breakfast.

Since 1947 all philanthropic activities of the Club have been centered in the Harrisburg Rotary Foundation which handles both the maintenance of a central fund and the disbursement of donations and grants.

In 2002 the Club established the Annual Robert D. Hanson Rotary Excellence Award to build leadership, serve as incentive for all members of the Rotary Club of Harrisburg and acknowledge the dedicated Rotary service of Robert D. Hanson. The recipient exemplifies the Rotary four-way Test in his/her personal, professional and Rotary life and has positively affected the major objectives of the strategic plan through committee work, fundraising or fellowship. The awardee receives a stipend from the Club to attend the Rotary International Convention within two years of their selection and receives a voting role on the Club’s board of directors for the year following selection. Past-Presidents, Current President and President-Elect’s are not eligible.

As of 2015, 312 members of the Club are Paul Harris Fellows, attained by a cumulative contribution of $1,000 to the Rotary International Foundation; some have attained are multiple fellowships. Paul Harris Fellowships support of Rotary International’s humanitarian grants.

In celebrating its Centennial anniversary, the Rotary Club of Harrisburg chose to embark on a project that would give back in a special and lasting way to the city it had served for 100 years. On May 16, 2011, members of the Club kicked off its Centennial Celebration with a Rotary meeting in the Sunken Garden area of Riverfront Park. A plaque dedication ceremony marked this initiative to further beautify both the



Rotary Belle, above, one of more than 100 cows purchased and decorated for Harrisburg’s Cow Parade benefitting Whitaker Center, now enjoys a prestigious spot on Menaker Plaza in front of Harrisburg’s City Government Center.

Rotary Belle was created during 2005 in celebration of Rotary International’s first 100 years of service and to help the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts during its Cow Parade fundraising drive. Sponsoring organizations would make a contribution for a cow and then commission artists to decorate the cow. Several of the cows are still visible around the city. Many are in private or corporate pastures.

The Harrisburg Rotary Club’s then president, Sally Klein (2002-03) saw the opportunity to spread the word about the vision and community service of Rotary though participation with the Whitaker Center initiative. With major funding help from PSECU, the Rotary Club of Harrisburg was able to purchase a cow and Klein appointed a “Cowmittee” of club members to manage her appearances.

Rotary Belle was later a focal point at the 2006 Centennial Celebration of Rotary International when then Rotary International President Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar was the guest of honor at a Rotary of Harrisburg’s event held at the Harrisburg Hilton. The Rotary Club of Harrisburg was one of the first fifty clubs, actually the 23rd, formed around the world and visited by Stenhammar during RI’s centennial year.

Rotary Belle went on to participate in the Rotary Club of Harrisburg’s Centennial Celebration in 2011 and several Harrisburg St. Patrick’s Day parades and was frequently spotted in the lobby of Harrisburg University or Harrisburg’ Sci-Tech High School.

In 2013, at the request of Mayor Eric Papenfuse, Rotary Belle made a major mooooooove to Menaker Plaza in front of Harrisburg’s City Government Center.


In its second century of Service Above Self, the Rotary Club of Harrisburg is continuing many of its longstanding programs while always looking for new opportunities to address community needs and world concerns.

In the 2015-16 year, under the presidency of Betty Hungerford, several new initiatives were launched. In order to begin to instill the values of Service Above Self in new generations, two programs of Rotary International were implemented at the local level under Betty’s leadership:

In 2016, an EarlyAct Club was established for 6th, 7th and 8th graders at the Nativity School of Harrisburg, a preparatory middle school working to break the cycle of poverty for low-income, inner-city boys. Following several introductory meetings, elections were held for officers and the students took ownership of the meetings using for 18 years Club members, assisted by Temple University dental students and other professionals, have provided charity dental care at the LasPasquala Dental Clinic. This past year, more than 500 children and adults were treated.

parliamentary procedure. The club’s first service project is aimed at raising awareness for the hearing impaired and American Sign Language.

A similar Rotary International program, Rotaract, seeks to engage college-level students. In fall 2015, a Rotaract Club was established at Central Penn College, co-sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg. With elected officers, a constitution and Rotary International approval, the club now meets semi-monthly and has launched service projects involving Joshua Group, Homeland Center and Bethesda Mission.

The Joshua Group, an at-risk youth mentoring organization located in Allison Hill, also received support in 2016 from the Club’s Youth Community Development Team (YCDT), who awarded it a $5,000 grant through the Harrisburg Rotary Foundation. YCDT was established in 2004 to teach the value of Service Above Self and to instill the importance of philanthropy and volunteerism, leadership, team building, respect, cooperation, collaboration and compromise. Each year a team of students (53 in 2015-16) identify a community need, solicit proposals from local social services charities, and award a grant, a portion of which is raised through their own fundraising efforts.

Also in 2016, the Financial Literacy Committee was established to provide a resource of customizable financial education for non profit organizations. Its first client, New View, is a halfway house serving women with a history of mental illness and nonviolent crime.

Among the Club’s international service initiatives is the annual expedition to Sanchez, Dominican Republic, where representatives of the Rotary Club of Sanchez, Dominican Republic, traveled to Harrisburg in 2016 to express appreciation for our Club’s 18 years of providing volunteer and charitable service at the LasPasquala Dental Clinic in Sanchez.