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Marietta Noon Rotary Club member Larry Clayman details history

Melissa Ogden, program coordinator with Faithlink, spoke at Thursday’s meeting of the Marietta Noon Rotary Club. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

When Larry Clayman started with the Marietta Noon Rotary Club about six years ago, he knew little about the club.

“Being sort of one of the newbies, I’m relatively new to town,” he said. “I moved here in 2014 and had not been in Rotary in Akron where I lived. I thought it would be a good way to get a good feel for who’s who in town and it certainly was.”

He’s been compiling the history of the club and he said he’s found several interesting items.

“We started in 1921, which was coming right off the Spanish Flu pandemic,” explained Clayman. “We’re finishing our 100 years in a pandemic. Our 100th anniversary is bookended by pandemics.”

The clubs are broken into districts. Marietta Noon Rotary is part of District 6690, which runs from Columbus through southeast Ohio. Clayman said there are annual district meetings which are hosted by various cities and towns in the district.

“In my research, I found that in 1957, 1962, 1979 and 2000, we hosted the district conferences,” noted Clayman.

He said the conferences were a big deal, as people from around the district would visit. There would be meetings for members and activities for the spouses of the Rotarians.

In 1932, Ohio Gov. George White, who was from Marietta, spoke to the club.

“He drew a crowd of about 350, so they had to hold the meeting at the Betsey Mills Club,” Clayman said.

Although Rotary isn’t a political organization, in the 1930s and throughout World War II, speakers would be brought in who had been in Germany and Japan. They would discuss what they heard about the war.

“You wouldn’t have to be political to talk about those things that affect everybody,” Clayman noted.

Laura Miller, membership chair and chair of the 100-year centennial celebration, said the meetings at the time were mostly business meetings.

“Those meetings took place during World War I and during World War II,” she said. “A lot of them were informational about the wars and how to be an asset or help during that time.”

It wasn’t until 1987 when the first woman joined the club — Colleen Cook, an attorney with Theisen Brock.

“She was the first female to join and she was the first female president as well,” added Miller.

Clayman said in 1996, for the 75th anniversary, the club’s service project was to create and install markers on significant or historical buildings.

“As a visitor before I moved here, and now as a resident, those are fantastic,” he exclaimed. “They will last in the city for decades to come. We placed over 40 markers. Most major places around town have a marker in front of it.”

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