Our History


History of the Rotary Club of Salisbury

Our club was chartered and installed at a ceremony on the roof of the Wallace Building (now the Plaza) on May 15, 1920 in part as a response to the pressing needs for support of education in Salisbury. Charter members included Stahle Linn, President; Leo Wallace Sr, Vice President; J. M. McCorkle, Treasurer and Pete Wallenborn, Secretary.

In the first year the Rotary Club of Salisbury was instrumental in a successful $500,000 bond issue for construction of Boyden High School (what is now Salisbury High School). They also sponsored a cattle show designed to educate farmers in Rowan County about the value of raising livestock that headlined for many years the Rotary effort in rural affairs.


In 1925 Rotarians lent their support to the $150,000 endowment to have Catawba College relocated to Salisbury. In 1927 the Salisbury Rotary began a no interest student loan program to encourage college education. In 1929 a very long tradition was begun that is continued today with the initiation of the Junior Rotarian program to recognize outstanding seniors at what is now Salisbury High School. In 1946 Rotary established a fellowship providing as much as $2600 for study abroad. The Rotary club continued to operate through the dark days of the depression having started such projects as a Boy Scout and YMCA Camp (James Hurley Jr. was instrumental), a Boy’s club set up in a Rouzer warehouse on East Council Street and a Sea Scout program in cooperation with Alcoa on High Rock Lake. The Lexington and Thomasville clubs participated in this last project that involved among other things the work of Tom and Fred Stanback Sr. digging a well and erecting a well house. In 1948 then President Charles Heilig provided the leadership for the establishment of the camp for boys on a farm near Mirror Lake.


In 1936 the club bulletin, Rotary Ramblings, was initiated through the efforts of people like Bob Smoot, Paul Reynolds, Wendell Detty, Grover Palmer and Sonny Epting.

The Rotary Club of Salisbury contributed significantly through the efforts of Charles Taylor Sr. among others in raising $600,000 to build the YMCA on North Fulton Street and received a commendation from the YMCA Board of Directors for its ongoing support in annual fund drives to support the “Y”. Also in the 60’s Rotary was heavily involved in sponsoring swim meets including an AAU event that Richard Reamer Sr, Odell Sapp, Whit Cannon, Dr. Smith Kirk and Sonny Carpenter worked to make happen.

The Rotary Club of Salisbury was instrumental in establishing the China Grove, Lexington, Concord, Mocksville and the Rowan Rotary Clubs.

One the unique features of the Rotary Club of Salisbury is the relationship with what is now known as the Relief Circle of Salisbury and the fact that we have our own “hut” or Rotary building that was constructed in 1938 with $5000 provided by the Relief Circle. The Relief Circle members evolved from an organization called the King’s Daughters that was sponsored by Rev. Jethro Rumple of the First Presbyterian Church in Salisbury. The Rotary Club eventually purchased the building from the Relief Circle. The Relief Circle initially prepared and served the meals at the Hut but we now cater the meal and the Relief Circle members serve the meal. Rotarians annually contribute funds to the Relief Circle that along with contributions from Circle members are distributed to various charities in Salisbury.

In 1969 a program was begun that continues to this day to honor public servants. We today honor members of the Salisbury Police and Fire Department, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, Rowan County Emergency Services and the NC Highway Patrol annually with a special Rotary program.

In 1971 the club initiated an annual barbeque sale at the club to raise money for worthy causes including college scholarships for Rowan County youth. Under Jim Whitton through a vote of the club the Rotary Club of Salisbury established that its focus for the future would be youth advancement and education. This focus would be implemented by establishing the Rotary Scholarship Trust Fund Inc. The funding mechanism for this endowed fund is through Trusteeships which are $500 (minimum) contributions in honor or in memory of someone and through the annual raffle.

In the late 80’s and 90’s the Rotary Club of Salisbury deliberately sought to recruit younger, more diverse (gender and race) members and to substantially expand the resources of the Scholarship Trust Fund.

In the first decade of the new millennium the Rotary Club of Salisbury has taken on new work. In recognition of its centennial Rotary International challenged local Rotary Clubs with raising funds for a project that would recognize Rotary in their local community. Seventeen thousand dollars were raised and we are evaluating projects that might be appropriate. Most recently we built the Patriots Flag and Memorial Concourse at the City Park in collaboration with the City of Salisbury.

In 2012 we began participating in the Seminar for Tomorrow's Leaders, a program of our district (7680), that is facilitated by the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro. The seminar, a four day program ending on a Sunday is held at Catawba College and involves rising juniors and seniors at Salisbury High School.


History of the Charity League of Salisbury

At the suggestion of Rev Jethro Rumple of the First Presbyterian Church the young women of the church formed an organization to help the needy in the community. Their initial meeting was on February 11, 1887.

The chosen name of the group was the King’s Daughters and they affiliated with what was then a national and international organization. By 1902 the group had grown quite large and the state convention decided to divide the King’s Daughters into circles whereby the Salisbury organization became the Relief Circle of the King's Daughters.

Membership in the King’s Daughters was long considered an entrée into Salisbury Society. The money they raised was used to pay hospital bills, they investigated home situations deemed undesirable for young women and paid for board and education at nearby colleges. Additionally they made contributions to local hospitals, an orphanage at Barium Springs, to the Jackson Training School, the Salisbury Industrial and Normal School Scholarship Program and to the Nursing School at the Sanitarium, to Traveler’s Aid, the American Bible Society, the Veterans Hospital at Osteen, the Nazareth Orphanage and to the Presbyterian Home.

In 1920 the Presbyterian Church built “The Hut” behind the church to accommodate Sunday School Classes and other group meetings including the King’s Daughters who used it to serve luncheons for civic organizations including the Rotary Club that met each Tuesday. After using the “Hut” for 15 years or so the Relief Circle of the King’s Daughters had become more interdenominational and felt they needed a more modern kitchen and dining area. They then borrowed $5000 and broke ground at the current site on Liberty Street on April 11, 1938. In 6 weeks they served the first meal in the new building.

To show their appreciation for the meals and service provided by the Relief Circle the Rotarians requested that the ladies serve only a bowl of soup on the Tuesday before Christmas. The savings on food preparation and the gifts left by individual Rotarians added to the coffers of the Relief Circle in a tradition that continues to this day.

In 1962 the state organization of the King’s Daughters objected to the Rotary sign outside the “Hut” and insisted that it be removed. Rather than comply, the Salisbury Relief Circle withdrew from the state organization. Then in 1971 as the growth of other philanthropic organizations took away potential members the Relief Circle considered selling the “Hut”. The Rotarians then purchased the “Hut” for $22,000. Today $20,000 of the payment still remains. Interest on this money plus the monthly funds provided by Rotary and the Christmas funds continue to be used to support selected charities in Rowan County.

In 1994 or 1995 the Relief Circle changed its name to the Charity League of Salisbury.

The Charity League of Salisbury with approximately 40 members consists of a President (now Betsy Rich), Treasurer (now Carole Simmons) and five Coordinators (Robbie Ladd, Frances Edwards, Margaret Alsobrooks, Lib Morgan, Virginia Krotchko and Betsy Rich) who are charged with organizing the servers for their assigned Tuesday meal.


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Rotary began as an idea more than 100 years ago. Today, Rotary flourishes worldwide with 1.2 million members in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.

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