In the fall of 1935, the Collierville business community was centered around the Historic Square. There were not a lot of businesses off the square in those days. D.G Delaney was the manager of the local Collierville phone company. His boss was Frank Flourney, president of the Memphis Telephone Company and president of the Memphis Rotary Club. Through the influence of Mr. Flourney, the Memphis club sponsored the organization of the Collierville Rotary Club.
The first organizational meeting was held, November 12, 1935, with several prominent Memphians in attendance, including: Mr. Flourney, Past President James Walker and Past District Governors, Earl Whittington and L.R. Leonard.
Charter members attending the organizational meeting included: Dr. LP Pearce, Franklin Harrell of Harrell Drugs, Watson Kelsey of Kelsey Brothers Dry Goods, Karr Hinton of Hinton Bros. Dry Goods, D.G. Delaney of the Collierville Telephone Company, Dr. Leland Hayes, Accountant Thomas Miller Dean, George Fossick of Wonder Products, C.H. Harrell, principal of Collierville High School, John Montgomery, Editor of the Collierville Herald, Merchant Wiley McGinnis, Merchant James Mann of Mann Brothers, Bill Freeman of Collierville Telephone, Dentist Dr. William Parr, W.C. Smith, County Squire J.F. Dudney, Cotton Ginner Hugh Mann, Cotton Broker Chuck Davis, Mark Kirk, President of the People’s Bank, W.C. Wall, Joe Martin, Perry Piper of Piperton, and Dentist Dr. James Glenn.
Club Officers were elected that night: President John Montgomery, Vice President Wylie McGinnis, Secretary George Fossick, Treasurer Mark Kirk, and Sgt at Arms, O.P. Piper.
The Club adopted a meeting time of Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. at the Community Hall which is the Masonic Lodge site today. At the time a two story building occupied the site at the corner of Main and Washington Streets and the lower flour was occupied by a grocery store Treadwell and Sammons and the Masons on the second floor with the room being designated as a Community Room.
From 1935 to 1950 they club met at the Community Room except for a brief time when they met at the Collierville High School. Dinners with the wives club known as Rotary Anns were held in the high school cafeteria.
December 6,1935 was the day the Collierville Rotary Club became officially accepted into the Rotary International organization and Friday, December 13th the club held there charter meeting as a dinner meeting with the Rotary Anns (wives of Rotarians, women were not eligible for membership) included. It was likely held at the CHS cafeteria. The club was admitted to Rotary International District 16 (now 6800) and set dues at $15 payable at $7.50 semi-annually. The main project of the Club in its early years was the sponsorship of the Cheese Carnival, which had begun in 1933.
Four Collierville Rotarians attended the 1936 Rotary International Convention in Atlantic City. The first service project was putting in a water line to Magnolia Cemetery in 1937 when Wylie McGinnis was president. They also sponsored the Future Farmers of America Fat Calf Show at the high school which reflected the agricultural nature of the local economy.
The club started supporting the Crippled Adults Hospital in Memphis and sending a Collierville student to Volunteer Boys’ State. This began a 30 year relationship w/the hospital. In 1940, the club did a Red cross Fund Drive but saw the demise of the Cheese Carnival. As we head into the war years, in 1942 Dr. William Parr was president of the club who had lost a lot of members to the armed services.
Club programs centered on the war effort. The Collierville rotary club spearheaded drives for scrap iron, victory gardens and other wartime efforts. However the club still found time to sponsor school plays, get involved with the Boy Scouts and initiate improvement in the town’s telephone service and in 1944 sponsored the organization of the Millington Rotary Club.
The club tried—unsuccessfully—to bring an airport to the town. Serving on that committee were Lucius Burch, John Stamps and Hugh Mann.
The ingenious Rotarians staged a Donkey baseball game fundraiser. The opponent was the Collierville VFW but history has not recorded the score. Other than bruises were had by all. A dance was also sponsored w/proceeds going to the Crippled Adults Hospital
The first dial telephone was installed in the offices of the Collierville Herald. That means Colliervillians had all been on operator assisted service until then. That improvement was a result of initiatives lines by club starting in 1943 began drive to put lights and bleachers at the CHS football field.
The club staged a fundraiser by the Sunshine Minstrel boys at the high school auditorium and $500 was donated to the Crippled Adults Hospitals. 1948lso saw the annual rotary Ann dinner held at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. The Millington Club members and their “Rotary Anns” were guests that night as the Collierville club had lost an attendance contest with with their sibling organization. Million had 100% attendance for 3 months.
Herman Osteen, principal of Collierville High School served as president and presided over the newly lighted football field and bleachers were dedicated in memory of those Collierville boys who had lost their lives in World War II. 36 gumball machines were placed in local business to raise money for the Crippled Adults Hospitals. Donkey baseball vs. VFW was again staged to help CHS.
The meeting change from the Masonic Lodge to the VFW clubhouse on Center Street and CHS Faculty members were honored with a dinner.
The club sponsored a “Cotton Day” in Collierville where a bale of cotton was raffled as a fund raiser, Jimmy Dempster, served as club president.
Saw the debut of the first club bulletin, later named the “Rotary Announcer”
The student of the month program was begun. It was then called Junior Rotarians as only boys were selected and invited to club meetings. Club attendance is tops in the District.
The club grows to 37 members with Pete Kosloski serving as club president. Pete Kosloski invited all Rotarians to his house for a drink prior to Rotary meetings for many years. Pete’s daughter, Mary, suffered from polio and was the national Polio Poster girl of 1955. She was a very adorable first grader that year.
Howard Carrington was president and the club began having pancake breakfasts as a fundraiser with the main charity the Crippled Adults Hospital.
Tommy Brooks was president. He had the Rotary Anns come to the meeting once a month.
Henry Coats was president. The club was still doing “Cotton Day.” The 25th Club Anniversary was held at the University Club of Memphis
E.L. “Skinny” Hurdle, Collierville banker, became the club’s first District Governor
Maynard Wingo was president and the club moved from the VFW to the library.
Rotary International paired the Collierville Club with a Rotary Club in Finland. Rotarian Jim Fish, who worked for the phone company hooked up a live telephone connection w/a loud speaker and the two clubs communicated during their respective Rotary meetings.
The Turkey Shoot was founded as a fundraiser.
T.L. Treadwell was president and we hosted our first exchange student. Jacque from France and Bern Vogel from Austria were the first two in a long series on international student exchanges. They attended Memphis State. A Turkey shoot became our big project—all Rotarians and most Rotary Anns worked on the project. T.L. Tredwell went on to have 33 years perfect attendance.
J.R. Hirschmann was president. The Turkey shoot was the main fundraiser. The week of the turkey shoot, JFK was assassinated. J.R. said the Rotarians ate a lot of turkey that year.
Thomas Miller Dean was president and Maynard Wingo became the Collierville’s clubs second District Governor.
Jim McAlexander was president and the Collierville club had its first high school exchange student, Colleen Murphy from Rhodesia.
Byron Dunn was president. Club’s charitable emphasis had sifted away from the Crippled adults Hospital because of Medicare funding. Student scholarships were now a major project of the club. Lea Althofer from Australia was an exchange student. She now lives outside Sydney and has a young daughter in Australia.
Pete Pinckney was president. Pappy Ellis, long-time Rotarian, was made a Paul Harris Fellow at District Conference in Grenada, MS. The Collierville Club won many awards in those years for best attendance at District Conferences.
Taylor Stamps was president.
T. Wingo was president and Graham Greenhouse was an exchange student from Sydney, Australia. The mobile kidney dialysis program was our major charitable effort.
Maury Thomas was the president. The major fundraiser was now a horseshow at the Germantown arena.
Jimmy Lott was president and the club meetings moved from the library to the new Collierville Community Center on Powell Road.
Jim Robbins was president of Rotary that year. We had tired of the horseshow and by then we raffled a TV for our main fundraiser. Henry Coats sold over 1200 tickets and Jimmy Dempster sold 600. The schools were our primary focus with scholarships our major expense.
Walter Goin was president and Polio Plus was Rotary International’s biggest undertaking ever. Collierville was assigned a quota of $4500 towards Rotary’s goal of 120 million. We raised over $8,000 toward Rotary’s eventual $220,000,000 total.
Johnny Leake was president and a very historic change occurred in Rotary International as women were admitted to membership. Barbara Gillespie and Dale Looney Leake were the first women in the club.
Jim Swain was president when when we started the Skills for Adolescents program at Collierville Middle School. Melvin Booth came up with the idea of how to fund it. Rotary Flag days were born and grossed over $12,000 the first year with Melvin selling several thousand dollars worth himself.
John Sheahan and president and got the Collierville Rotary Foundation licensed as a 501c3 tax-exempt foundation. John and Dan Dooley continued to nurture the Foundation until now as it is going strong. We also entertained a very interesting group of female GSE members from Brazil.
Murray Kartansan began a two year run as president that would see us leave the community center for Ridgeway Country Club, a move that enabled us to grow to over 60 members. We also ended our 58 year tradition as a dinner club.
Reg Germany served as president.
John Green presided as president. The club exceeded 100 members.
Stan Joyner was president. The Collierville Rotary Club donated flags to be hung around town in commemoration of 911.
Richard Emerson was President. This was the first year that Collierville Rotary begain hosting a Spaghetti Supper as one of its fund raising events.
Kevin Vaughan was president. Club participated in the Gift of Life, helpin to bring a child from Central America to Memphis for a life saving surgery.
Bill Jones was president. The Club held its last Spaghetti Supper.
Bill Samisch was president.
Melanie Adams was president.
Larry Boyd presided as president.