Club History

Our club was organized on August 30, 1946, with the permanent charter granted on September 28, 1946. Rotary District Governor Holt McPherson presented the charter at the Inaugural Dinner on Friday, November 8, 1946, at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant. W. B. (Bill) Austin, President of the sponsoring Rotary Club of West Jefferson, was Master of Ceremonies that evening, while the Reverend Walter K. Keys, President of the newly formed club, accepted the charter. Click on the Projects menu item for a listing of organizations that have benefited from the time and talents of Rotary members.

Three significant projects reflect Rotary influence:

A Village Tapestry-The History of Blowing Rock

This project began in early 1987 when the groundwork was laid for a fundraising effort to produce a book depicting the history of the village of Blowing Rock. The village was approaching its centennial and the book would serve as a lasting tribute to those pioneer families who contributed to the town’s growth and development for its first 100 years. A Village Tapestry, written by Dr. Harry Buxton, was officially released on March 11,1989, 100 years to the day after the community was actually chartered by the North Carolina Legislature. Continuing sales of the book provide funds for park maintenance.

Broyhill Park & Annie Cannon Memorial Park

The second project was tied to the first in that the proceeds from the sale of A Village Tapestry would provide financing to improve a swampy area known as Mayview Lake. The area held potential to be a lovely place in the heart of the village. The project expanded significantly as members of Rotary and other key individuals pledged their support and set out to acquire additional funding. Through donations from the Broyhill Family Foundation, the Forsyth-Reynolds Foundation, local and summer residents, and friends of the community, the original goal of $10,000 expanded until over one-half million dollars was raised by the committee headed by Bob Gibson. Engineers were called in not just to clean up the swamp, but also to plan a series of parks. Residents and visitors stroll in the public spaces and attend concerts and special events there.

The Rotary Pavilion

The third project began five years after the completion of the first two, as the Rotary Club of Blowing Rock set out to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Rotary entered into an agreement with the town to accomplish a goal that was an extension of the first and second projects. Members of Rotary saw the need to provide a covered picnic shelter at the local ball field to accommodate approximately 100 people. Fundraising began, and a dedication ceremony for the completed structure was held in August 1996 at the Rotary Pavilion, located next to the Davant Athletic Field. The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock continues to extend the landscaping near the pavilion.

An award was given by the club for outstanding volunteer work on the Rotary Pavilion. Receiving this award in 1997 were

Robert B. (Bob) Gibson, Fundraising Chairman
Derald West, Project Architect

To mark the Centennial Celebration of Rotary International, the Rotary Club of Blowing Rock built a performance arts stage in the Annie Cannon Memorial Park to be used by young performers, musicians, actors, dancers, etc. to put on performing arts events in the park during the summer.

To help provide relief for the Gulf Coast hit hard by two hurricanes in late 2005, the club provided over $8,000 in relief cash, supplies, and in support of several groups of local citizens and Rotarians who went to the disaster site to provide clean up and rebuilding support for the hard-pressed residents. Additionally, the club purchased three ShelterBoxes, which are 20 person tents with associated cooking and sleeping gear. Two of these ShelterBoxes were provided to the Gulf Coast and one was sent to Afghanistan to provide emergency shelter for the victims of the earthquake of November 2005.

The club collected 215 boxes of used computers, printers, keyboards, monitors, and mice, packed the electronic items and shipped them to Uruguay to be provided to the school systems within Uruguay.

Using club, Rotary District, and Rotary International Grant funding, the club provided a fully-equipped diesel powered ambulance to support a charity hospital in Uruguay.

The club has provided funding and support to a charity dental clinic in Belize City, Belize. The club members have purchased dental equipment including new chairs, sterilizers, dental instruments, and specialized lighting for the clinic. In November 2006, volunteer Rotarians travelled to Belize to perform repairs and improvements on the physical facilities of the clinic with the help and cooperation of the Belize City Rotary Club members.

Members of the Rotary Club of Blowing Rock are heavily involved in local projects. They conduct and donate in two annual blood drives with the American Red Cross. They are seen along highways and streets of the community each year in orange vests, picking up trash and debris in support of the village Cleanup Day. In red aprons, they are seen ringing a bell for the Salvation Army’s Christmas collection kettle. They are part of the charm of our small village as they march in the Fourth of July and the Christmas parades. They have been seen driving nails and applying paint on new houses for Habitat for Humanity. They donate used cell phones, food, and funds far beyond the amount budgeted by the club to aid the homeless shelter, the battered women’s shelter, and the Hunger Coalition food warehouse. They collect used eyeglasses for the LensCrafters Foundation where the glasses are cleaned, repaired, and then delivered to third world countries where economically disadvantaged citizens get free eye exams and free eyeglasses. Local Rotarians tutor in the elementary school, serve local theater arts, town planning and zoning boards, and Town Council. The Town Manager is a Rotarian, as are the present and former mayors.

During the Rotary Year 2005-2006, the Rotary Club was selected by District 7670 to receive the Outstanding Medium-sized Club in the District. This award represented a significant achievement for the club to be named one out of 49 clubs. The award was presented to recognize the hard work and extraordinary efforts put forth by the members of the club in the four avenues of service: Club Service, Community Service, Vocational Service, and International Service.

The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock is a tight-knit, dynamic, friendly, successful, and dedicated club. It is an asset to the community, the region, and to the world with its charity work. The members have fun, but also work very hard and give generously in charitable endeavors.

Until the 1970’s, meetings were held in the evenings at various restaurants, many of which were open only during the summer months. For a number of years Rotary met at the historic Green Park Inn. Currently the club meets weekly, on Monday at noon at Chetola Resort and Conference Center.

Rotary Roster
During the summer months weekly attendance can increase as much as 50% with the arrival of summer residents and vacationing visitors enjoying make-up meetings. Generous summer residents support and participate in seasonal activities of the Blowing Rock club.

ROTARY INTERNATIONAL AND DISTRICT OFFICERS

Blowing Rock Rotarians who have served Rotary at District levels above the local club include:

William Burke – District Governor, District 699 (Ft. Lauderdale), 1966-67
James D. West – Lt./Assistant. Governor, Area VI, District 7670, 2000-2003
Jonathan M. Jones – Assistant Governor, District 6890 (Sebring FL) 1999-2000
William F. Leahey – Assistant Governor, Area VI, District 7670, 2003-04
Al Wheeler  Assistant Governor, Area VI, District 7670, 2006-2007
William Parker – Governor, Area VI, District 7670, 2011-2012
Jim Clabough – Assistant Governor Area VI District 7670 2014-2015

As we look back to the great men and women who have shaped the history of our world through Rotary, we affirm our commitment to the future of our community, to Watauga County, to our Rotary district and the world. Service Above Self is not just a motto. It also reflects an attitude that continues to have far-reaching effects.

In 2003, the Club participated in an effort to replumb an orphanage in the former Soviet Union country of Moldova.

In 2005, the club purchased an ambulance for a relief organization in Uruguay. The club acquired the diesel ambulance and then stocked it completely with medical supplies and equipment. This project took almost three years to complete and was spearheaded by David Wray and Jim West.\r

In 2006, the club participated with other Watauga County clubs to acquire used computers and to ship them to Uruguay for use in schools there.\r

In 2007, the club, in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Belize City and \\”Operation Smile\\” of Morgonton, NC, is supporting by providing new supplies, dental equipment, and labor for facility repairs to a Charity Dental Clinic in Beliez in Central America.\r

The club is an enthusiastic supporter of the Wheelchair Foundation, which provides wheelchairs to needful persons around the world.\r

In 2006, the club purchased three ShelterBoxes for use in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast region and also for use in the earthquake damaged areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.\r

In 2008, The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock secured matching grants from District 7670 and Rotary International to send 14 Rotarians, spouses and community leaders to Belize City, where they performed work projects in benefit of Stella Maris School. Among other projects, they repaired and replaced sanitation facilities, unsafe playground equipment, a leaky roof, as well as performed eye exams for all (more than 300) students.

In 2013 the club held it’s first annual Charity Auction at the American Legion Hall in Blowing Rock. The auction raised over $25,000 for it’s Foundation account to benefit various organizations in the High Country.

Contributors to the history page: Bob Gibson, Jim West, Bill Parker, Alice Salthouse, Virginia Vanstory, 2003 Centennial History Project Chairperson. Edited by David Rogers and John Marshall.