March 10, 1915: The First Rotary International Club Established in W.Va.

Rotary Wheel

The first Rotary International Club in West Virginia was established in Wheeling on March 10, 1915. Rotary clubs were formed in Huntington and Charleston later that year.

The first Rotary in the country had been established a decade earlier in Chicago to promote local civic activities, particularly those involving youth. The name came from the Chicago club’s early practice of rotating meetings among the members’ offices.

Over the years, its mission has expanded. Based on the motto, ‘‘Service above Self,’’ the Rotary not only supports local community activities but has become a force for international understanding. One of its best-known campaigns has been an effort to eradicate polio. Thanks to the work of dedicated Rotary members, other organizations, and the medical community, millions of children have been vaccinated, and polio has been eliminated almost everywhere.

Rotary members meet for a meal each week, and regular attendance is required. Local clubs typically include leading business and professional people. While the Rotary was once exclusively male, it has recruited women members since 1978. The Charleston Rotary elected its first two women in 1987.