The Toledo Rotary Club was founded in May of 1912 in the Chamber of Commerce of Toledo. During its 90+ years of service, the Rotary Club of Toledo has been instrumental in helping physically and developmentally disabled children as well as other charities in the Toledo area.
All of the items in this exhibit have been reproduced from the Toledo Rotary Club Records, which are housed and preserved at the Canaday Center at the University of Toledo. The Toledo Rotary Club Records (MSS-145), which include administrative files, records, photographs, correspondence, and other ephemera, document the growth of the Rotary in Toledo and the charitable activities of the club during the first 90 years of its existence.
The Rotary Club of Toledo was founded on May 3, 1912. The Club, which was the forty-fourth in the world, was initially sponsored by the Detroit Rotary Club. The first Rotary meetings were held at the Toledo Chamber of Commerce, as well as at the Boody House in Toledo.
In the first years of its existence, the Toledo Rotary Club helped the Rotary Club grow in Northwest Ohio and Southeastern Michigan, sponsoring new clubs in Lima, OH (1915), Fostoria, OH (1920), Findlay, OH (1920), and Defiance, MI (1920), and Adrian, MI (1921).
Fliers for the first city and state Rotary meetings
The Early Years (1912-1952)
The Rotary Club of Toledo was founded by Charles Turner and quickly grew into an important civic institution in the city.
In its first years, the Rotary Club quickly left an imprint on Toledo. In 1915, the club began its support of children by sponsoring a Boy Scout troop at the Toledo Orphans Home. Two years later, the Rotarians began their support of physically challenged children, giving financial support for nurses and students in the Toledo area. By 1921, the Rotary Society had organized the Crippled Children's School, paying the salaries of the teachers and transportation costs as well as creating the Toledo Society for Crippled Children.
Other early programs included establishing the Edward Kelsey Memorial Library at the Charles Feilbach School for Crippled Children (1931), creating the Toledo Secretarial School for Crippled Young Men and Women (1935), and numerous donations to the Boy and Girl Scouts.
Timeline of events
1905, Feb 23
Rotary Club formed by Paul Harris in Chicago, IL
Second Rotary Club created in San Francisco, CA.
1912, May 3
The Rotary Club of Toledo, sponsored by the Detroit Rotary club, becomes the forty-fourth Rotary Club. Charles Turner was elected the first President of the Toledo Rotary Club during the inaugural meeting, which occurred at the Toledo Chamber of Commerce, Nicholas Building.
1913, Aug 15
The Toledo Rotarian first published.
1914, July 1
Frank Mulholland elected President of all Rotary Clubs.
1920, Jan 20
Organized the Ohio Society for Crippled Children.
1932, Nov 1
Frank Mulholland named first President Emeritus of Toledo Rotarians.
1935, May 15
Club offices relocated to the Commodore Perry Hotel.
1939, Sept 1
First scholarship exchange with Peru.
1950, April 24
First third generation member, Richard Heymann, Jr. joins Rotary.
1952, Mar 31
Toledo Rotary Good Fellowship Foundation established.
Important Rotary International and Toledo Rotary Figures
The Original Rotarians
Sylvester Schiele, Paul Harris (founder), Hiram Shorey, and Gustavus Loehr.
Although born in Racine, WI, Harris would spend most of his childhood in Wallingford, Vermont. Raised by his grandparents, Harris later attended Princeton University and the University of Iowa Law School. In 1905, Harris met friend and future Rotary co-founder Sylvester Schiele and the two spent the rest of their lives serving the Rotary Club and Rotary International. Harris died in 1947.
Born in Clay City, IN (per Rotary records; others believe he was born in Pennsylvania), Sylvester Schiele was educated in Terre Haute, IN and later served in the military during the Spanish-American War. After relocating to Chicago, Schiele made his career in the coal industry, founding the Schiele Coal Company in that city. One day, while trying to collect a debt owed to him, Schiele enlisted the help of a young lawyer, Paul Harris. Harris and Schiele would later found the Rotary, with Schiele serving as the first Chicago area President of the Club. He would later serve on the international level, serving a short tenure as Treasurer before his death in 1945. He is buried next to his lifelong friend Paul Harris in Blue Island, IL.
Hiram Shorey was also a founding member of the Rotary Club. Born and raised in Maine, Shorey was Schiele’s tailor and joined him in the meetings that ultimately created the Rotary Club. Shorey spent most of his summers and free time in Maine, and thus was not a prominent member of the Chicago Rotary Club.
Gustavus Loehr was born in Carlinville, IL. A first-generation American born to German parents, Loehr would work in various industries during his lifetime. At the time of the founding of the Rotary, Loehr was President of the Perfected Furnace Company of Chicago and a self-proclaimed "mining engineer." Like Shorey, Loehr would leave the Rotary soon after its creation: he passed away in May of 1918 at the age of 53.
1st Toledo Rotary Club Constitution
The first constitution of the Toledo Rotary was based on the constitutions of various other Rotary Clubs, including Chicago and New York. During the formation of the club, the founders were in contact with members of the Chicago Rotary, as well as Rotary International. The constitutions of the Chicago and New York Rotary Clubs can be found in the scrapbook collections of the Toledo Rotary Club at the Canaday Center.
Memoranda and Essays
This is the form letter used by tom DeVilbiss to welcome new members to the Rotary.
This transcript of an address given by Frank Mulholland, former President of Rotary International and member of the Toledo Rotary, describes the early history of the Toledo Rotary and what he believes is the place of Rotary in the future.
This short essay, which is uncredited, describes what one member believes is the mission of the Toledo Rotary and Rotary International.
Toledo Crippled Children's Hospital
The Toledo Rotary has a long history of helping disabled children in Toledo and throughout Ohio. In 1917, the Toledo Rotary created a school for crippled children. In 1921, three Ohio chapters of Rotary International created the Ohio Society for Crippled Children.
Originally started by a small group of Toledo Rotarians as the Toledo Society for Crippled Children, The Toledo Crippled Children's Hospital has served as a convalescent home for children with disabilities, a polio and tuberculosis center, a school, and a social service agency. The center has evolved into The Ability Center of Greater Toledo, which currently focuses on helping disabled Ohioans live an independent life.
The Toledo Rotary has been involved in many other civic organizations throughout its nearly 100 years of service. Organizations such as the YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter, the YMCA, the Ronald McDonald House, and the Girl Scouts have received funding or support from the Toledo Rotary Club through its Toledo Rotary Good Fellowship Foundation or other charitable foundations.
Images of the Toledo Rotary
These images were taken from the early scrapbooks of the Toledo Rotary. This first image (left) was taken from a Fall 1914 party that was hosted by the Akron Rotary. This second image (right) is a short essay written by Dr. Edward Calish of the Richmond Rotary. This essay accompanied the 1913 Christmas message from the International Secretary of the Rotary, Chesley Perry.
The following images have been taken from the first and 50th anniversaries of the Toledo Rotary.
This invitation for a banquet honoring the tenth anniversary of Rotary International can be found in the Toledo Rotary scrapbooks at the Canaday Center.