Murfreesboro’s First Civic Club
The Rotary torch was passed from Nashville Rotarian James Cayce to James M. Butler in Murfreesboro. These two Jims were good friends, sharing an interest in Jersey cattle and both serving on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee State Fair Association. Jim Butler discussed Rotary with Collier Crichlow, who had first heard of the organization during a visit to Fort Worth, Texas; and the idea of having a club in Murfreesboro took seed. Other civic leaders became interested, and the Murfreesboro Rotary Club was organized in August of 1919, receiving its charter on October 1 of that year as the first civic club in Murfreesboro.
District Governor Herson Graves attended the ceremony with the principal address given by Nashville Rotarian Graham Hall. The charter members were:
Charter Members, October 1, 1919:
William O. Baird, Treasurer
Howard D. Henderson, Secretary
George J. Burnett
B. B. Kerr, Sr., Director
James M. Butler, President
Henry King, Director
John M. Butler
P.O. ‘Alf’ Lyon
Charles R. Cawthon
James E. Manson, Jr., Director
Al D. McKnight, First Vice President
N. Collier Crichlow, Director
John C. Mitchell
Jerry O. Delvin
W. Eugene Mullins
William Draper, Sergeant-At-Arms
James H. Reed, Sr., Director
Neal D. Frazier
James D. Richardson
William T. Gerhardt
Andrew L. Todd
Dr. Bart N. White, Second Vice President
Strength In Diversification
Since the Rotary Club of Murfreesboro’s beginning in 1919, the classification system has assured a diversified membership. Members have rendered service to the club by willingly accepting responsibilities for its health growth and progress. They have served their respective vocations in the same way and by fostering such Rotary principals as the Four-Way Test.
It would be very difficult to make a complete list of what has been accomplished by the Rotary Club of Murfreesboro through the Five Avenues of Service: (1) Club Service, (2) Vocational Service, (3) Community Service, (4) International Service, and (5) New Generations. This club’s work is not only felt locally, but through uniting in strength with Rotarians around the world–Rotary is able to achieve the unbelievable.
One of the greatest examples was in 1986 when Rotary International began plans to eradicate polio from the world. This crippling disease had caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, paralyzed children, and sentenced thousands to be confined in an “iron lung” for life. At that time, a world without polio was an “impossible dream”. Now–thanks to Rotary–that goal is almost a reality.
In 1988, under the leadership of president Jim Garner, Jr., the Murfreesboro Rotary Club further advanced Rotary’s community impact by organizing and sponsoring the Murfreesboro Breakfast Rotary Club. This new club was chartered on May 5, 1988, with forty-two members. Three members of the noon club transferred their membership to provide “seed” support for the breakfast club. Two of these transferees, Gerald Noffsinger and Tommy Bragg, were elected president and president-elect, respectively, of the Murfreesboro Breakfast Rotary Club.
In service to the local community, the Murfreesboro Rotary Club has raised money through various projects and members. The club has supported a long list of worthy charities including scholarships, athletic leagues, Special Olympics, a pavilion at Old Fort Park, a building at the city’s soccer fields, tennis courts, Girls and Boys State sponsorships, chartered a Junior Achievement chapter, a van for the senior citizens center and many programs for underprivileged citizens.