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Front Page Article From The
Official Newspaper of The City of Dothan
Wednesday Morning
August 8, 1917

"An Organization And Its Accomplishments In The First Twelve Months"

Time, like all else mundane, is comparative. A year is an age to some, a moment to others.

In the history of the Dothan Rotary Club, whose first anniversary is but now, shows the wonderful stride that can be made where and when but though a few loyal works, pulling together in even team work, can accomplish, during most depressing times and pessimistic conditions of twelve calendar months.

Just one year ago, when it seemed that the descending floods had washed all hopes of prosperity into bottomless gullies; when the pest of boll weevil swarmed gluttoned and destroyed our cotton prospects (then our only money crop) even as the German Hun overran and ravished Belgium; when in darkening sky and sodden earth there seemed no ray to limn the depressing financial condition, a few citizens of Dothan, as much as despair as of hope, met and formed a local Rotary Club, for the purpose of keeping the wheel of Progress from stopping entirely and opening some avenue for business from the cul de sac into which this section had been thrown.

A call was sent out by Mr. R.W. Lisenby, after consultation with others, and on the eighth day of August, 1916, there was gathered in a room in the City Hall Building a group of men who formed themselves into a Dothan Rotary Club, with objects and purposes only that of helping to bring this city out of slough of despond and bring it to apex of success.

The officers elected and the members who have proved faithful are men whose names should be graven in letters of gold on tablets of bronze, for they served and served well, giving their time thought, energy and money to bring that here which was not; encourage those who were timid; help those who were weak and at any, every and all times, talk for, work for and boost Dothan and the wiregrass section, with the result that within the short space of twelve months they can point with modest pride as the result of their efforts to the establishment of a:

Grain Elevator
Salting Station
Syrup Refinery
Feed Mill and Peanut Oil Mill
To a successful campaign of boil weevil destruction
Bringing the Shriners to Dothan
Bringing the National ball teams to Dothan
Arranging for eight sets of hog serum inoculating instruments to help hog owners save their hogs.
Helped to make markets for sweet potatoes and arranging for the building of curing houses.

Arranged with the banks of Dothan to furnish thoroughbred bulls for use of cattle raisers.

Got up, had printed and circulated thousands of booklets, showing the advantages of this section of the country.

Corresponded with hundreds of people who contemplate moving to this section.

Now have on way, a small packing plant, a stock yard, a wheat and rice mill; and many other industries, all of which will be of great benefit to this entire section.

But one of the greatest, if not the very greatest object, attained by and through the Rotary Club is the competitive freight rates which is furnished by the railroads to any enterprise which will locate here and make bona fida shipments to other markets.

That all this work was not done without much labor goes without saying, but the labor was one of love of achievement and pride of success.

Individuous mention where all have done well their part is of course not de trop, but even at that risk, the Daily Dispatch cannot refrain from, at this particular place, to bring to mind the fact, that in all this work of upbuilding, from the very inception of the good work, the Dispatch columns have been filled with panegyric and eulogy, with praise and laudation of every development contemplated, suggested or made, that would benefit this section: no effort has been spared to say all the good things possible and no laxity has been shown towards any and every movement for the upbuilding of Dothan, Our columns have been devoted and filled with the news of progress, of advance, of benefit.

Thousands of dollars worth of our space has been given freely, fully to the use of progress as promoted by the Rotary Club and though sneered at by some in the beginning as a work of “hot-air" time has developed that it was of permanent value and we are proud of the dissemination given in our columns of things pertaining to the upbuilding of Dothan instead of devoting these same space to exploiting police news and giving publicity to that which only tends to harm and bring into disrepute this section, which ahs already been “yellowed" to its injury.

And now with the entrance of the Rotary Club into it second year, it is but fair to say that every member is proud of his membership, proud in the part he has taken in the development of its moral and material strength and all hope that at the gateway of its entrance to its second anniversary the Rotary club will have become so much a part and parcel of Dothan that they will be one and inseparable in all that is good, great, loyal and lasting.


1969 – Eighteen of the 1969 twenty five-Chamber of Commerce board of directors were Rotarians and all of the officers were Rotarians.


1999 – Dothan Rotary Club contributed $14,000 to the Habitat Building Ministry

1981 – HARRY P. HALL MERITORIOUS AWARD – Started in 1981 by Past District Governor Charles H. Chapman, this award recognizes Rotarians from District 6880 who carry out Rotary International’s tradition of “Service Above Self" in a distinguished and significant manner. Harry Hall was a member of the Rotary Club of Dothan and served as District Governor from 1941 – 1042.


1981 – 1982 Mark Cannon
1989 – 1990 Walter Moreland
1991 – 1992 Joseph L. Donofro


1960 – 1961 Dr. Samuel Windham
1966 – 1976 Mark S. Cannon
1975 – 1976 Paul Felts
1981 –1982 Charles H. Chapman
1988 – 1989 Joseph L. Donofro
2003 – 2004 Bob Rudder

December 1, 1918 – The Dothan Rotary Club became a part of Rotary International after having been an “outlaw club" for several years.

December 1, 1968 – The Dothan Rotary Club celebrated its 50th anniversary.
During the 50th anniversary celebration, it was noted that R.H. Wells of 1301 Osceola was the only surviving charter member of the Dothan rotary Club.

The 1922 Dothan Rotary Club, concerned about the smoking craze, sponsored a special picture for boys titled “The Evils of Cigarette Smoking."

1923 – The first Rotary Club Crippled Children’s Committee was appointed.

1930 – 1933 The “Great Depression" hit Dothan just as it did the rest of the country. Minutes of meetings during that period show a lot of local talent was used for programs, and that members were not doing a lot traveling.

1931 – October minutes point out that the Rotary Club board of directors became so concerned about the school situation they voted to write each of the town’s businesses and ask them to pay taxes early so school could be kept open.

1932 – January – A Rotary Club committee was appointed to work with the Columbia Lions Club to obtain a good road between Columbia and Dothan.

1932 – May 17 – The Dothan Rotary Club voted to move its meetings from the Wadlington Hotel to the recently opened Houston Hotel.

1932 – 1933 - Discussions regarding the Rotary Club disbanding were noted. One Rotarian made it plain that he didn’t want it talked again. The subject of disbanding was dropped and club programs were aimed at getting members and doing more work for the community.


1923 – January 2 – Rotary Club committee was appointed to make a survey of the crippled children in Houston County.
January 23, 1923, the club voted to pay costs of the survey
August 28, 1923, the first Rotary Club Crippled Children’s Committee was appointed.
September 7, 1926, the Dothan Rotary Club became an active member of the Alabama Society for Crippled Children.

1927 –The First crippled children’s clinic in the state was held in Dothan and sponsored by the Dothan Rotary Club. By 1930, as many as 100 children were being examined and treated at the clinic held in temporary locations around the city.
1939 – The Dothan Rotary Club stepped up its program for helping crippled children by starting its annual White Elephant Sale.

1962 – The Dothan Rotary Children’s Foundation was established. A 15 man board of directors was named after the club approved the foundation and authorized the construction of a clinic to serve the area.

1964 – The Houston County Board of Revenue donated a ten acre site for the clinic on the Ross Clark Circle. Later the site was swapped for acreage on the opposite of the road so that it could be beside New Hope Industries.

1966 - $232,000.00 in Hill Burton funds were received to help in building the clinic.

1967 - Arthur Morris, Jr, , president of the Dothan Rotary Children’s Foundation, turns keys to the $348,000.00 crippled children’s clinic over to Dunn Ozark, Southeast Alabama Rehabilitation Committee.


1961 - December - Rotary International President J. Edd McLaughlin visited the Dothan Rotary Club. More than 500 Rotarians and their Rotary Anns turned out for a rare and celebrated occasion.

1941 – 1942 – During this Rotary year the club played host to its international president who was brought here by Harry Hall.

1964 – The Dothan Rotary Club was matched with the Slough, England Rotary Club through a Rotary International project.

1917 – July 10 – The first ladies night for the Dothan Rotary Club was held by members of the “outlaw club." They were known as Rotarettes before being named Rotary Anns. The first ladies night was held at Fritter Springs on July 10, 1917.

1968 – The Dothan Rotary Club was presented Rotary International’s highest award – The Paul R. Harris Award – for their work with crippled children.

1992 – December – Mark Stephen Cannon (upon his resignation from Rotary due to health problems) was honored for his 56 years of membership and outstanding service and was made an honorary member.

1940 – President Mark Cannon started the program to present watches to outstanding Houston County 4-H boys and girls.


1967 – February 7 – The Dothan Rotary sponsored Interact Club was organized. John Conti, son of Rotarian John Conti was president. Other officers were Randy Cobb, vice president; Judy Allen, secretary; and Rufus Davis treasurer.

1968 – December 1 – During the Golden Anniversary program, two individuals who had died in recent years were honored. One was Arthur Ussery who was on active Rotarian for 45 years and one of those who founded the Dothan club. The other was Mrs. Addie Wilson who was club pianist almost 45 years.

1993 – May – An exchange group from India visited the Dothan Rotary Club as part of Rotary International’s Group Study Exchange.

Maian and Jim Loftin became Dothan Rotary’s first Rotary couple.

2000 – January – The Dothan Rotary Club was recognized by Wiregrass Habitat for Humanity for contributing $14,000.00 in 1999.


It was a hot summer’s day in August, 1916, that Dr. A. S. Frazier and a group of Dothan citizens issued a “town - hail" call. The invitation stated that those interested in making Dothan a better town would assemble at the City Hall on August 8th.

L. E. Morgan and R. W. Lisenby were also active in making the meeting a success.

Perhaps they had read in the newspapers that some cities had Rotary Clubs. The large group that turned out in response to the call saw no reason why Dothan should not have a Rotary Club, so they organized one.

They began with 72 members and undertook any and all projects. The Club received so much State-wide attention that it was only natural for Rotary International to learn about this ‘out-law’ club using the name Rotary.

Meetings were held in the city hall and the members did the cooking and serving of meals. All meetings were held at night.

The District Governor of Rotary in 1916 was Ralph Quisenberry of Montgomery and he asked permission to meet with the Board of Directors of the newly-formed group.

The meeting was held and later word was received from Rotary International that Dothan was much too small to support a Rotary Club. The men were advised to keep trying.

This they did. Working hard, following advice and serving their community, their nation and others.

“Out-Law Club" Accepted

The inaugural meeting was held September 27, 1918. The first annual meeting under charter was held December 17, 1918.

Charter members enrolled numbered 23. To these, immediately came eleven more. The club number was number 464. John Gay of Jacksonville, Florida, was District Governor. Bruce Kennedy of Montgomery was the personal representative of the District Governor who organized the Club for Rotary international.

The Dothan Club sponsored its first new Rotary Club, December 1, 1920 in Andalusia.
The District Number was District 8, but was later divided into District 26. Still later it was changed to 164 and again to 239.

In 1941 the Dothan Club was distinctly honored by the election of its own Harry Hall as District Governor of District 164.

District 239 divided, the Southern half of the state continuing as 239 and the Northern half of the state designated 238 in 1949. On July 1, 1957 a new number 688 was given to the District.

History Continues …………………………………


A casual walk with a friend and observation of his interest in the affairs of his fellowman is said to have spawned the idea that lead to the founding of Rotary

Paul P. Harris, the organization’s founder was born in Racine, Wisconsin on April 19, 1868. He spent his early years in Vermont and attended the University of Vermont, Princeton University and the University of Iowa.

Following graduation from law school at the University of Iowa in 1891, he spent the next five years in travel in coming to know his fellow men before settling down in the practice of law. He worked as a newspaper reporter, a stock company actor, a cowboy and salesman for a marble and granite concern in this country and in Europe.

In 1896, Harris went to Chicago to practice law. One day in 1900 he dined with a lawyer friend in Rogers Park, a residential section of Chicago. After dinner they took a walk when the friend stopped at several stores and shops in the neighborhood and introduced him to the proprietors. Their comradeship and interest in each other’s activities impressed Harris.

For the next three years he devoted much time to reflecting on conditions of life and business and by 1905 had formulated a definite philosophy of business relations.

Talking it over with three of law clients – Silvester Schiele, a coal merchant, Gustavus Loehr, a mining engineer, and Hiram Shorey, a merchant tailor – he decided with them to organize the club which he had been planning since 1900.

On February 23, 1905, the first meeting took place and the nucleus was formed for the thousands of Rotary Clubs that have since been organized throughout the world.

Harris named the new “Rotary" because members met in rotation in heir various places of business. Club membership grew rapidly. Almost every member had come to Chicago from a small town and in the Rotary Club they found opportunity for the intimate acquaintanceships they were accustomed to in their boyhood days.

When Harris became president of the club in its their year, he was ambitious to extend Rotary to other cities. The second Rotary Club was founded in San Francisco in 1908. Other clubs followed until in 1910 there were 16 clubs. It was then decided those should be united in an organization that would extend the movement to cities and serve as a clearing house for the exchange of ideas among the various clubs.

Representatives from the clubs met in Chicago in August 1910 and organized the National Association of Rotary Clubs. When clubs were formed in Canada and Great Britain, making the movement international in scope, the name was changed in 1912 to the International Association of Rotary Clubs and in 1922 shortened to Rotary International.

Paul Harris was the first president of the National Association. When he died in January 1947 he was president of Rotary International.

While Harris devoted much time to Rotary, he was active also in many other civic and professional works. He was the first chairman of the board of the National Society for Crippled Children and Adults in the U.S.A., and of the International Society for Crippled Children.

He was member of the board of managers of the Chicago Bar Association and its representative at the International Congress of Law at the The Hague.

The Boy Scouts of America give him the Silver Buffalo Award, and the governments of Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France and Peru decorated him.

January 27, 2004, 2004, will mark the 57th anniversary of the death of Paul Harris. The Rotary Foundation lends his name, through Paul Harris Fellowships, to honor benefactors and donors who support the work of the Foundation and its worldwide philanthropic projects. The Rotary Foundation continues to be the major vehicle of Rotarian service internationally.