Welcome to the Brownwood Rotary Club Website! 



Rotary International is the world's first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio under the motto Service Above Self.


The Beginnings of the Brownwood Rotary Club

The Fort Worth Rotarians, along with District Governor, Robert E. Vinson, President of the State University, visited Brownwood during September of 1919 to survey Brownwood as a possible site for a new Rotary Club.  They met with a small group of businessmen and presented the program of Rotary to them.   The organization of the club was an outgrowth of a commission given to French W. Thompson, president of Daniel Baker College who had been a Rotarian in Kentucky.

World War I had just ended.  Warren G. Harding was elected President of the United States.  Brownwood had grown to 8,223 people.  It had 1, 489 telephones, though only a handful of businesses had more than one line.  None of the four banks had more than a single line.  Most of the doctors had a single phone number, with office 1 ring, residence 2 rings.  There were 20 doctors, 8 dentists, 3 chiropractors to serve the eight thousand people.  The Graham Hotel and the Southern Hotel took care of most of the travelers.  The Lyric and the Dixie were the only theaters.  There were two team-drawn dray lines – Reders and Thompsons.  No taxicabs, but a Service Car Center was headquartered in the Southern Hotel Recreation - aside from Coggin Park, it was mostly at the Elks Club on Brown Street or Hot Wells Swimming Pool.  The Chamber of Commerce was in the Arcade Block, phone No. 7.

The temporary organization of the club was made during a luncheon held at the Graham Hotel on March 19, 1920, with eighteen members.  Chester Harrison was selected to serve as temporary chairman.    The group had met the previous week with Dr. R. E. Vinson, governor of the Eighteenth Rotary District, to go over the organizational procedures.  They agreed that the club would meet each month on the second and fourth Fridays at noon.

Application Made

An application for an official charter for the club was April 1, 1920.  On May 1, 1920, it began its first year's work under the guidance of District Governor Robert E. Vinson and President Chester Harrison.

The chartering members of the club were D. Earl Bell, dentist; Charles M. Carpenter, real estate; Joe E. Dildy, physician; William L. Ellis, cotton dealer; Fred W. Greber, telephones; J. Harvey Grove, furniture; R. Kent Hallum, jeweler; Chester Harrison, banker; Gilbert N. Harrison, attorney; Harry Knox, wholesale fruits and vegetables; Will R. Lambert, retail grocer; Joe R Renfro, druggist; Robert B. Rogers, retail dry goods; D. F. Standley, cotton ginning; French W. Thompson, college executive; Lee Watson, hardware; James C. White, newspaper; and Rex B. Wilkes, minister.

First Officers

The first officers were Chester Harrison, President; D. F. Standley, sergeant-at-arms; James C. White, secretary-treasurer; Charles M. Carpenter, Rex Wilkes and Harry Knox, directors.

The club passed a resolution, soon after organizing, limiting the membership of the club to forty.  As stated in the Brownwood Bulletin on March 10, 1922, There are many clubs having a larger membership than has the Rotary Club of Brownwood.  But with pardonable pride the Brownwood club points to the fact that its membership includes substantial, well known men of affairs, who are active, loyal, progressive and prosperous citizens, and who fit in nicely with each other in all club activities.

First Projects

By January 1, 1922, the club was meeting weekly and soon moved their luncheons to the Southern Hotel.  During the first two years of the clubs existence they became involved in several community projects.  The very first project was the asking of an assessment of one dollar per member on May 14, 1920 to benefit the Federated Women's Clubs.  During the first year, they launched a tree planting program  in Brownwood which resulted in more than one thousand pecan trees being planted in Brownwood.  They gave leadership to the establishment of the Boy Scout organization in Brownwood in 1921 to 1924 and actually took over the leadership of the Brownwood Boy Scout Council in 1924 in order to keep the group going.  It failed, anyway, despite the club's leadership.

They also mailed letters to all graduating seniors at all the high schools within a hundred miles of Brownwood, bearing the signatures of all the club members urging them to continue their education and suggested to them that Brownwood College would be a great place for them to start their college work.  In addition, they launched the idea of a public health service for the city and county in the winter of 1920-21 that resulted in the service beginning in the area and they helped conduct the campaign to finance the effort for the first few years and helped raise enough funds to fund the Red Cross for a year.  In 1923, the first annual Boys Week was established in Brownwood.

Since those very humble beginnings, the Brownwood Rotary Club has given countless hours of service and money in support of various programs in the community.  This includes giving dictionaries to all the 3rd graders in Brown County, hosting an Arts & Craft Show, setting out U. S. Flags in the downtown area six times a year, giving out college scholarships and recognizing a Student Rotarian of the month in both Brownwood and Early ISD.

Information for this history was taken from History of Brownwood, Texas Rotary Club, March 19, 1920 - January 1, 1955, Rotary Club of  Brownwood, Texas, 1920 - 1968, Club History 1920 - 1968 with Updates in 1970 and 1983, various issues of the Rotary Banner and the Brownwood Bulletin.

Last updated 11-23-2010