Rotary began in Chicago, Illinois, in 1905. Just 13 years later a chapter was formed in Jacksonville, Illinois.  On March 22, 1918, 25 new Rotarians formed the club, electing Frank Waddell as president.  The Peoria Rotary Club and Rotary International fostered the new club.

Nearly 100 years later, the Jacksonville Rotary Club’s development has paralleled the growth of Rotary International. In those years, more than one million dollars has been contributed through the Jacksonville Rotary Club for charitable purposes. The Club has named 248 Paul Harris Fellows (as of Nov. 2016), and has contributed more than $342,000 to the Rotary Foundation. Jacksonville has received scores of exchange students, hosted District conferences, and has been visited by two Rotary International Presidents (1977 and 2008).

1918 – 1927 (the Club’s first decade)
The Jacksonville Rotary Club undertook its first service project in 1920 by constructing a Youth Camp Building, and sponsored the establishment of a Kiwanis club in Jacksonville in 1921.  The Jacksonville Club sponsored Rotary Clubs in Petersburg, Litchfield and Roodhouse.  Rotary International established UNESCO. Jacksonville Rotarian Myron Pontius was District Governor.

1928 – 1937
D. L. Hardin began as club secretary and editor of the Lubricator (the club newsletter, which he edited for the next 42 years). Rotary provided a Perkins Braille writer to the Illinois Braille and Sight Saving School.  It was used to publish their own newspaper.

1938 – 1947
Forty-nine Rotarians helped draft the UN Charter.  The Paul Harris Fellowship was established in honor of Rotary’s founder, after Harris’s death in 1947.  Jacksonville Rotary Club meetings were held at the Dunlap Hotel in downtown Jacksonville.   Jacksonville Rotarian Harris Pankhurst was District Governor.

1948 – 1957
Rotary Fellows (later Ambassadorial Scholars) was established.  The Big Eli Ferris Wheel #17 was purchased by the Jacksonville Rotary Club and set up in Jacksonville’s Nichols Park.

1958 – 1967
Interact (for people in high school) was created in 1963. Group Study Exchanges (international exchange groups involving Rotarians and non-Rotarians) began in 1965.  The Jacksonville Rotary Club met at Hamilton’s Restaurant on the downtown square. Jacksonville Rotarian James Dunlap was District Governor.

1968 – 1977
Rotaract programs (for people ages 18-30) were launched.  Jacksonville began annual awards of Paul Harris Fellows. Fifty thousand toothbrushes were sent by our Rotary District to Costa Rica. Jacksonville Rotarian Robert Caldwell was District Governor.

1978 – 1987
Polio Plus (Rotary International’s campaign to eradicate polio) was organized. Jacksonville Rotarian led a Group Study Exchange trip to India.  Jacksonville Rotarian Robert McKinney led a Group Study Exchange trip to the Republic of South Africa.  The Jacksonville Rotary Club held its first Scholar Athlete Banquet, which recognizes the accomplishments of students from regional high schools who personify excellence in both athletics and academic achievement. The Jacksonville Rotary Club donated the Big Eli Ferris Wheel #17 to the City of Jacksonville in 1995 and moved it from Nichols Park to Community Park.

1988 – 1997
The Western Hemisphere was declared free of polio.  A Rotaract Club was established at MacMurray College. The Jacksonville Rotary Club sponsored the establishment of the Jacksonville Sunrise Rotary Club in 1994.  The Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Education Partnership paired the Jacksonville Rotary Club with Franklin Elementary School in 1995. Jacksonville Rotarian Fred Osburn was District Governor.

Read about the Jacksonville Rotary Club 75th Anniversary:
Article from the Jacksonville Source Newspaper, February 24, 1993
Tab insert from the Jacksonville Journal-Courier, March 15, 1993

1998 – 2007
The Western Pacific Region and Europe were declared polio free. The Jacksonville Rotary Club entered a partnership with a special needs school in Argentina.  The Interact Club was established at Jacksonville High School. In celebration of Rotary International’s centennial, the Jacksonville Rotary Club donated $100,000 to the Morgan County Historical Society for restoration of the property that was formerly the Jacksonville Post Office and will serve as a future museum for the community.  The Club conducted its first Valentine Dinner Dance, and its first Bass Tournament, both of which are major fundraisers, allowing the Club to support a broad variety of charitable purposes within the community. The 100-year anniversary of the Big Eli Ferris Wheel #17 was celebrated in Community Park. Jacksonville Rotarians led Group Study Exchange teams in (and hosted exchange teams from) India, Norway, Nigeria, Argentina, and Brazil.  Jacksonville Rotarian Keith Lape was District Governor.

All but four countries worldwide were declared polio-free. The Jacksonville Rotary Club began conducting an annual Oktoberfest, a major fundraiser to support charitable purposes in the community. Franklin School was closed and the Jacksonville Rotary Club entered a Business Education Partnership with South Jacksonville Elementary School. The Jacksonville Rotary Club sponsored the establishment of the Illinois College Rotaract Club. The Club prepared for its Centennial by planning projects to improve the facilities at the Morgan County Fairgrounds. Jacksonville Sunrise Rotarian Gordon Jumper and Jacksonville Rotarian Tony Williams were District Governors.


Articles from the Jacksonville Journal Courier during our history:

Rammelkamp presents at Rotary about 10 month trip abroad and Rotary – October 11, 1930

Rotary volleyball team-  March 15 1931

Hollywood man talks TV at Rotary – April 18, 1936

Nazi High Command condemns Rotary – August 25, 1937

Brown’s Business College – August 29, 1937


The Club was It was originally chartered as Club Number 396 and is now Number 3227.
The Charter Members were:
H. M. Andre
F. J. Andrews
F. J. Blackburn
Frank H. Bode
Edward A Brennan
Frank Byrns
H. L. Caldwell
T. W. Callihan
Harry M. Capps
Edgar E. Crabtree
William D. Doying
William L. Fay
J. S. Findley
Louis Frank
Henry Frisch
H. H. Gray
John S. Hackett
Joseph R. Harker
Frank J. Heinl
Myron L. Pontius
Leroy T. Potter
Charles Rammelkamp
T. M. Romlinson
Frank J. Waddell
J. W. Walton

The first officers were:
President: Frank Waddell
Vice President:  W. L. Fay
Secretary: Frank Heinl
Treasurer: L. T. Potter

Presidents of the Jacksonville Rotary Club have been:
1918 – Frank Waddell
1919 – Harry Capps
1920 – Myron Pontius
1921 – Vince Riley
1922 – Will Walton
1923 – Albert Dollear
1924 – Bob Wooston
1925 – Earl Spink
1926 – Harry Andre
1927 – Sam Clark
1928 – C.P McClelland
1929 – Albert Dollear
1930 – Albert Dollear
1931 – Charlie Ator
1932 – Charlie Ator
1933 – Dick Rowe
1934 – Ray Gruny
1935 – Earl Spink
1936 – Bill Randall
1937 – Jack Dial
1938 – Eli Black
1939 – Earle Miller
1940 – J. T. Hackett
1941 – Jim Dunlap
1942 – W. McCreery
1943 – W. H. Pankhurst
1944 – C. C. Birr
1945 – Tom Cornish
1946 – Sam Baker
1947 – Walt Bellatti
1948 – H. L. Caldwell
1949 – Crit Haneline
1950 – Bob Hartman
1951 – Yorker Smith
1952 – Hank Dollear
1953 – B. Holkenbrink
1954 – Bob Caldwell
1955 – Elmer Lukeman
1956 – Floyd Cox
1957 – Ed Garlich
1958 – D. L. Hardin
1959 – Ray Miller
1960 – D. Fahnestork
1961 – Jim Bunting
1962 – Jim Coultas
1963 – H. Crabtree
1964 – Robert Spink
1965 – C. W. Dix
1966 – Richard Simmons
1967 – B. O. Roodhouse
1968 – C. P. Runkel
1969 – Richard Brown
1970 – Iver Yeager
1971 – Cliff Crone
1972 – Jim Atherton
1973 – Vern Fernandes
1974 – Wolf Fuhrig
1975 – J. R. Fairfield
1976 – J. J. Brix
1977 – Jim Churchill
1978 – Ed Ecker
1979 – Tom Stevens
1980 – Robert E. McKinney
1981 – John C. Bomke
1982 – Glenn Bickel
1983 – John E. Urbance
1984 – Gerald A. Raymond
1985 – David Osburne
1986 – Thomas Young
1987 – Fred Osburn
1988 – Ron Tendick
1989 – Jesse P. Chapman, III
1990 – Jeffrey B. Coultas
1991 – Roy E. Gogel
1992 – Timothy E. Rupel
1993 – R. Jean Cummins (Jumper)
1994 – Robert E. Linde
1995 – Wallace Jamison
1996 – Loren Cline
1997 – Diana Olinger
1998 – Keith Lape
1999 – Mike Halsne
2000 – Brian Ganz
2001 – Bob Leach
2002 – Fred Clinton
2003 – John Power
2004 – Kurt Gwillim
2005 – Trent Cain
2006 – Kevin Heitz
2007 – Mike Schneider
2008 – Rick Mogler
2009 – Helen Downey
2010 – Noel Beard
2011 – Lori Hartz
2012 – Tony Williams
2013 – Ryan Byers
2014 – Melissa Pantier
2015 – Todd Evans
2016 – Nancy Thorsen
2017 – Ginny Fanning
2018 – Daphne Spradlin (president elect)
2019 – Brittany Henry (president elect)

District Governors from the Jacksonville Rotary Club have been:
Myron L. Pontius     1925-1925
Albert H. Dollear    1931-1932
Harris Pankhurst    1946-1947
James A. Dunlap    1966-1967
Robert H. Caldwell    1976-1977
Fred W. Osburn    1993-1994
Keith R. Lape        2005-2006
Tony Williams        2016-2017

Club Photos