The Rotary Club of Wilmington began meeting in 1914, in an age when groups committed to social reform and social service were active in Wilmington. Among the 22 charter members, average age 41, were retailers, wholesalers, professionals, employees, homeowners, lodgers and one politician, the mayor of Wilmington. The first organizational meeting was held at the Hotel du Pont, where the club has met continuously to the present day.
On April 1, 1915, Rotary International granted the club its charter, making it the 148th club to join the world-wide organization that now numbers over 35,000 clubs. From its start, the club’s business and professional leaders have been dedicated to providing humanitarian service to its local community and extending throughout the world. Annual dues then were $10. The club grew steadily, with ups and downs in times of war and the Great Depression.
Always one of RI’s larger clubs, its membership in 2017 totals more than 200 men and women from diverse professions, interests and abilities. The club is one of 42 clubs that comprise Rotary International District 7630, covering all of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Engaging and thought-provoking programs highlight weekly meetings, focusing on business, the economy, issues important to our local service area the City of Wilmington, and a broad spectrum. Topics include government, education, politics, social reform, health care, the arts and entertainment. Music has always played a key role at meetings. The theme song of Rotary International, R-O-T-A-R-Y, That Spells Rotary, was first written in 1923 by our club song leader Norris Morgan. In 2016-17, club member Michael Arrington composed a song honoring the Rotary Foundation Centennial which will be celebrated at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta.
From the beginning, the club has encouraged and fostered the ideal of service, reaching out to the community with hands-on and financial support. In times of war, it has aided greatly in Civil Defense, and in times of economic hardship, it has provided financial assistance to those in need. In recent years, members responded generously to help victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack, the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the Haiti earthquake, and many other crises.