Rotary club unveils historical marker Rotary Club of Parkersburg in West Virginia observed its centennial with the inauguration of a marker to denote the first club meeting a century ago.

The Parkersburg Rotary Club on Monday unveiled its historical marker at the Highmark West Virginia plaza, the site of the original meeting place of the club when it was founded in 1919. From left: Priscilla Leavitt, the first woman president of the local club and an honorary chairman of the 100th anniversary committee with former president Charlie Casto; Jay Valvo, DuPont plant manager, who spearheaded the sign; and Andy Hartleben, Rotary president. Photo by Jess Mancini
The Parkersburg Rotary Club on Monday unveiled its historical marker at the Highmark West Virginia plaza, the site of the original meeting place of the club when it was founded in 1919. From left: Priscilla Leavitt, the first woman president of the local club and an honorary chairman of the 100th anniversary committee with former president Charlie Casto; Jay Valvo, DuPont plant manager, who spearheaded the sign; and Andy Hartleben, Rotary president. Photo by Jess Mancini

The Parkersburg Rotary Club (West Virginia, US – RID 7530) celebrated its centennial Monday with the dedication of a marker denoting where the club first met a century ago.

Representatives of Rotary, municipal dignitaries and others assembled at the Highmark West Virginia plaza on Market Street, the site of the former Chancellor Hotel, Rotary’s first meeting place of 27 businessmen who sought a charter for the club in February 1919.

The club received its charter on March 1, 1919.

The Parkersburg Rotary in its first year of existence raised $45,000, the equivalent of $650,000 in today’s money, said Andy Hartleben, Rotary president in the centennial year.

“That set the tone for future Rotarians,” Hartleben said.

Hartleben spoke to an audience of about 40 people and briefly reviewed several of the most significant projects undertaken by the club.

Among those were Stadium Field in the 1920s, a nurses station at the former Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital, the first uniforms for the Parkersburg High School Marching Band, humanitarian missions to Zimbabwe where the local Rotary supplied 80 pairs of expanding shoes to children and the creation of the Community Chest, the forerunner to the United Way, he said.

The marker was made by Sewah Studios of Marietta and was sponsored by DuPont through the efforts of Plant Manager Jay Valvo. It was erected and landscaped by Highmark.

“They put it in the ground,” Hartleben said.

Highmark is proud to be part of the Rotary’s 100th anniversary, according to Jim Fawcett, Highmark CEO.
The company employs over 400 people in Parkersburg, he said.

Representing the city of Parkersburg was Mayor Tom Joyce, who saluted the Rotary’s Four-Way-Test: is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, will it build goodwill and better friendships and will it be beneficial to all concerned.

If more people followed the test, “my job would be a billion times easier,” Joyce said.

The festivities included Dwight Marty, who said he was a bell hop at the Chancellor Hotel starting in 1973 when he was in high school, and Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp, a Rotarian.

Marty was invited because he worked at the Chancellor Hotel, Rotarian and centennial organiser Jill Parsons said.

Rich Schaffer, a former president and chairman of the centennial observance committee, moderated the program.

After the unveiling, members attended a reception at the Parkersburg Brewing Co.

The Chancellor Hotel was built in 1901 by Col William N Chancellor and Johnson N Camden at Seventh and Market streets, where there once stood a Methodist church built in 1858.

Chancellor also built the Blennerhassett Hotel about 1890.

The Chancellor was demolished in 1977.

Attorney John Marshall was the first president of the Rotary Club in Parkersburg. He was a deputy attorney general of the United States and a delegate to the Republican National Convention in the 1920s.

The club received its charter March 1, 1919. Women were allowed in the club in 1987 after the US Supreme Court ruled the formerly all-male organisation could not deny women membership based on gender.

The first woman president of the local Rotary was Priscilla Leavitt in 1996, who was followed by fellow women Lisa Collins in 2000-01, Joyce Mather in 2010-11, Lindsey Anderson in 2014-15, Kim Couch in 2015-16 and Jill Parsons in 2017-18.

Source: News and Sentinel

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