District 7170 Club# 4894, Admitted April 1927

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OXFORD ROTARY CLUB HISTORY

The Rotary Club of Oxford was chartered on May 20, 1927 as Club No. 2558, back in the days when clubs were being numbered. The first meeting to sign application papers and complete plans for organization was held at The Hotchkiss Inn on April 14th. Twenty-five Oxford men were present to meet with 60 guests present from their sponsoring club - Greene, and from Rochester, Binghamton, and Owego, Cortland, Utica, and Norwich.  Greene President Dr. Carl Meacham presided.

At a second meeting on April 21st, nineteen Oxford men were present. Dr. Meacham installed the newly elected officers. Charles Parker was President, Leon Hutchinson Vice President, Rev. H. Curtis Whedon, Secretary and Fred McNeil Treasurer. Charter members are listed in another column. An interesting note is that at that time Rotary International doubted that a club could succeed in a place of less than 5.000.

The new club continued to meet at The Hotchkiss Inn until it was closed and enjoying meals costing 95 cents with tip. It then moved to Mill Brook Tea Room operated by Minnie Daley and her sister Mrs. King, just south of the village.  A second move in 1937 brought the club back to the newly opened Hoffman Inn on the site of the current post office.  Purchase of that property made a third move necessary to the recently opened (1937) Oxford Inn, where meetings continued until early 1976.  At that time the Inn was closed for failure to pay State taxes and the Club moved to the Candlewick Inn.  Following a fire that destroyed the Candlewick Inn in the early 80’s the Club move to Fred’s Inn for a number of years.  However, members felt it important to meet in Oxford and the Club returned to Mr. Chubs for several years followed by a stint at the American Legion.  The Club moved to the Clachan Coffee House in 2008 where it currently meets today.

The early days of the club were happy ones until a slump in the membership almost forced giving up the Charter. This was in 1934 but due to the efforts of Governor Bill Campbell and others, a vote was taken to continue.  Bill Waldorf was also interested and secured several new members which brought the club back to its former membership levels.  Even with membership changes during the late 1930s and the 1940s attendance was above 95%. Overall attendance held in the 90% plus bracket during the 1950s – 1980’s with a total membership in the 45-55 range.  The changes in Oxford from being a self-contained Agricultural community in the mid twentieth century where most residents lived and worked in the town or nearby Norwich or Greene to a more non agrarian commuter oriented community in the late 20th century has had an impact on the membership of many service clubs including Rotary.  As well the ever increasing opportunities offered to families to attend and participate in many community activities such as sports and cultural events has left little time for younger Moms and Dads to commit to Service Organizations such as Rotary.  Though Rotary maintained membership due to opening Rotary to women in 1987, membership has declined to the 15-20 range in recent years.  However, the impact Rotary has on the Community has increased over the years as the smaller but intensely dedicated membership has increased the contributions it makes to the local community.

It has taken a lot of money to meet Rotary demands over the years. The club is deeply indebted to the citizens of Oxford for the whole hearted support given to all of the necessary "fund-raising" events.  Oxford Rotary has a long history of very successful events. In the early years it was Rotary Pancake days followed by other food successes such as Roast Beef Dinners, and the long popular County Fair Ox Roasts.  As well, the Club sponsored an annual Barbershop Quartet Concert.  This gave the community an evening of rare enjoyment. An “afterglow” party was held following the concerts where quartet members as well as community members enjoyed beverages of choice and continued singing.

The most successful fundraising event over the past 45 years has been the co-sponsorship of the Clyde E. Cole Wrestling Tournament. The tournament named in honor of former Coach and Principal is held each December at the High School. The tournament started with eight teams from area schools in 1963 and has grown into one of the premier high school Wresting tournaments in the state.  More than 8000 wrestlers have participated in the tournament with many subsequently winning state and national championships.

Rotary held an annual Auction in June each year from 1962- 2007 with the Auction Services being donated by Evans Auctions of Norwich for all 45 years.  It started with an Auction only but a Chicken Barbecue was added which in the early days sold more than 1,000 halves over the counter or in Chicken dinners. A food booth was added with baked goods from the Rotaryann kitchens and a used clothing booth was provided for a number of years.  The rising number of local Garage sales and summer chicken bar-b-ques during the last 25 years as well as the large demand on member’s time created a situation where the funds raised from the event were not proportionate to the time invested.

Oxford Rotary has attained a premier place in the community relative to supporting community organizations and events.  The early years saw the Club sponsor students to 4-H and other conventions, High School Seniors to Athletic schools in summer, aid with funds to send 5th and sixth grade School Crossing guards to Washington each year.  One of the early highlights was the combined efforts of Greene and Oxford Rotarians to put on a Musical Program in each village to raise funds for the rebuilding of the Brisben Baptist Church. The church had burned and the two clubs raised more than $1400 to start the rebuilding.  In return, the church provided for many years a roast beef supper for the Greene and Oxford annual intercity meeting. We also sponsored the Scout troops for many years, aided the Red Cross and many other yearly calls for funds and aided materially in funds for the Community Swimming Pool. And a drive to bring a Doctor to the village.  During the past two decades the Club has provided monetary support to local community, youth, and village beautification projects and programs in excess of $120,000.  The breadth and magnitude of the organizations we support is significant (see attached Exhibit I). The local contributions mentioned above do not include the more than $50,000 in contributions that Oxford Rotary has made over the past two decades through additional donations and membership dues that supports Rotary International projects that have helped change the world?  The Oxford Club is part of Rotary International which is the world's first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio under the motto “Service above Self”

Beyond the monetary local community support the Oxford Rotary provides, the Club has sponsored or coordinated many projects over the years that serve to increase understanding and cooperation within the world and local community.  Certainly one of the Club’s main projects has been the Rotary Student Exchange program.  We joined the first District effort in 1964 to initiate the program and have had a major part in it ever since as demonstrated by the attached list of more than 150 exchange students sponsored by the Club.  There have been Seventy-three incoming students from 24 different countries that have endeared themselves to more than 200 Rotarian and non-Rotarian host families.  There have been more than eighty outgoing students to 22 different countries.  Many of these students subsequently followed careers related to their year long experience in another country.  This major club effort could not continue without the support of the families of Oxford who continue to host students from abroad.

Oxford Rotary enjoyed the days in the fifties when Harry Case was County 4-H Agent.  A Norwich Rotarian he “hatched” the idea of having Rotarians buy 25 or 50 baby chicks in the spring for his 4-Hers to raise.  During the fall the best birds were brought to a meeting to be judged and ribbons awarded for heavy birds and excellent records. Each Rotarian received a rooster and many fines were levied to add to the 4-H pockets.

Oxford Rotary instituted a "Fall Ride" for residents of the New York State Veterans Home some 70 years ago.  The event in various forms continues today.  More than 200 men and women residents were taken for rides, including many in wheel chairs.  Trips were usually about an hour and a half in duration to allow for the most comfortable journey.

Oxford Rotary began sponsoring local high school to the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) leadership training program for young people in 1993.  Since that time we have sponsored more than 35 students from ages 14-18. RYLA emphasizes leadership, citizenship, and personal growth, and aims to demonstrate Rotary's respect and concern for youth, provide an effective training experience for selected youth and potential leaders, encourage leadership of youth by youth and recognize publicly young people who are rendering service to their communities   Oxford Students selected to the program are sent to a one week leadership program in July of each year conducted by Rotary on Hartwick College Campus in Oneonta NY

Oxford Rotary initiated an Easter Egg Hunt in the spring of 2004 and it has become an annual tradition for children to enjoy.  The Club has also been one of several coordinating members of the Oxford downtown flower program during the past five years. The Club also helped local Pee Wee wrestling volunteers to start a Pee Wee Wrestling Camp in Oxford in the summer of 2009.  The success of this program was helped by the participation of J.P O’Conner former Oxford high school state Champion and more recently NCAA division I Champion.  It is hoped than the summer program will grow and produce outstanding Oxford wrestlers into the future, especially for the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Clyde Cole Tournament in 2012.

Oxford Rotary has long been interested in the Rotary Foundation and its work. We were one of the earliest District clubs to attain the 100% plateau, the 200% plateau, and following the gift of a Paul Harris Fellowship to a member were at the 900% club level.

Oxford Rotary does not serve only in our own backyard. Over the years more than 100 members have attended 15 International Conventions.  Attendance has included attendance at District Conferences with our Exchange students.  Our members have held important positions within the District and Oxford and Oxford Rotarians Lester Cooper Sr. (1956) Jack Baier (1979) were District Governors.  We have also hosted district Assemblies and district Student Exchange Interviews as well as participated in the Group Study Exchange programs.

Oxford Rotary has a long wonderful history of service to the community, the country and the World.  We will continue to build on that history for the next generation.  If you feel a commitment to your community and would like to be part of the Oxford Rotary History, please contact us.

 



Come join us at the next meeting!
Thursday, December 14 : 6:30 PM at Fort Hill American Legion Post 376 at 17 S. Washington Avenue in Oxford, NY.