Ninety years is a long time, a very long time. In today's unsettled and stressed-out world, celebrating a 90th birthday or anniversary is a real accomplishment. And so, it was indeed a “special event” on the night of October 29, 2015 that the Souderton-Telford Rotary Club held in recognition of its 90 years of “Service Above Self” to our community.  Click here for the photo album
A host of celebrities and dignitaries were in attendance, including many of our own STRC members, our District Governor, political figures, and the author of the seminal work on the history of Rotary. Various speakers lauded the ethos of Rotary, and especially the accomplishments of the STRC (at least 44 noteworthy service-oriented projects, as outlined on the back off the evening’s program), and all this was wrapped around and through the camaraderie of a pleasant Social Hour and a wonderful dinner.
Photo: Ensemble group from the Young Musicians Community Orchcestra
Sam Varano (Principal of Souderton Area High School) served as MC of the festivities, and began by briefly relating how and why he came to join Rotary. He followed with a recognition of Past Presidents in attendance, and thanked all those involved in putting together the evening’s program, including Suzi Berry and the Gala committee; the Young Musicians Community Orchestra who provided live chamber music as well as the staff of IVCC who prepared and served the social hour and dinner.
District Governor Douglas & Mary Cook with
ST President Al & Nancy Engle
President Al Engle then took the podium to set the stage for the evening by greeting those in the room, thanking all for coming to the celebration. He pointed out that the actual date of the club’s incorporation was October 30, 1925, and he said he had some reluctance about going with October 29th to hold the celebration, as it was the day that Wall Street crashed in 1929! However, everything seemed to work out well.
Al also gave some perspective on the meaningfulness of celebrating 90 years of existence. For example, he said that of the corporations comprising the DOW Jones Industrial average in 1925, only 2 one remains intact and is part of the DOW today – General Electric. The rest went bankrupt or are significantly changed or diminished. His point was that for the Souderton-Telford Rotary Club to make it this far is quite an achievement, one that obviously took a “continuity of skillful leadership and a harmonious team to accomplish ...”
And Al likened the continued success of a Rotary club to a journey, not a destination that would imply an end of our efforts as a club. He underscored the fact that this community has benefited greatly from the work of the STRC, as well as other service organizations. In his view, “… (club members) make the difference because of (our) ideas, … passion for service, … relationships, … resources and … leadership.”
The next speaker was a recent visitor to our club, District 7430 District Governor Doug Cook, who was here a few weeks ago for his annual visit. DG Cook welcomed everyone to this very special night, and spoke about what it means to be unique – a characteristic that seems to fit our club. He said that 90 years of service is a “unique” circumstance in itself, but conjectured that the next 90 will be quite unlike the first 90! All things change, he opined, and the challenges that Rotary will face in the future will certainly change, too.
Several STRC Rotarians followed DG Cook with an impressive litany of anecdotes, accomplishments, and personal thoughts – past, present and future – about the club.
These included:
  • Suzi Berry introduced a special video produced just for tonight, which featured such Rotarians as Bruce and Harold Detweiler, Brad Melon, and others in a “walk down memory lane” about our club;
  • Bruce Detweiler gave an oral history of the club and emphasized what Rotary is to him, highlighting what we’ve done over the years;
  • President-Elect Steve Kendra reviewed the work of the newly-formed Century Vision Committee, comprised of Rotarians and community leaders who will attempt to identify the major project(s) that STRC will focus on over the next 10 years;
  • Jay Glickman introduced Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf, who presented STRC with a proclamation which, he said, was part of the Senate record (it was voted on in the Senate) and who pointed out, as did so many others, all of the work this club has done for the community over the years resulting in such a positive impact for all residents. [Rep. Robert W. Godshall was also invited to celebrate with us but was unable to attend. He did send along a citation for the club.]
President Al Engle then introduced the keynote speaker for our event, the DG of District 7500 in New Jersey, David C. Forward. David is the author of the recently-published book “Century of Service,” the history of Rotary International. David is a transplanted Englishman who has been a Rotarian for 37 years. He has served three times as club president, and on the district level was district conference chair, membership chair, and district chair of the very first PolioPlus Campaign when his team tripled their goal and raised more than one million dollars for this visionary Rotary project.
ST President Al Engle with David Forward
David spoke of the historical time during which Rotary was formed and grew, especially during the 1920s when our club was born. Things were a lot simpler – and cheaper – then. As he related, while the early clubs drew “higher profile people,” those who built Rotary did not do it for recognition or “title”, but rather to accomplish something for others, for “testimony.” He likened the gradual growth of Rotary to a river (the River of Rotary) with the obvious “purpose” and “direction” that Rotary emanates leading to “rivulets,” the gradual birth of one club after another. (For example, there was one Rotary club in 1908, in Chicago. From there, it spread to San Francisco, then Oakland and on and on…).
David concluded by speaking for all of Rotary in thanking the STRC for all that we’ve done, all over the world – our River of Rotary has flowed far and wide!