Original Members 1985
History of the Rotary Club of Hot Springs Village –
Four Decades of Service
by Nancy Hendricks with thanks to David and Diana Whitlow
Where were you in 1985? That year, the country was led by President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush. There was a public outcry when Coca-Cola changed its recipe to New Coke. People talked about the “tech revolution” as Commodore launched the Amiga personal computer, the Nintendo Entertainment System was released in the U.S., Microsoft launched a new product called “Windows,” and a computer hook-up called the Internet introduced its helpful Domain Name System.
Wherever you were in 1985, you might have heard top tunes of that year such as “Money for Nothing” and “We Built This City on Rock & Roll,” or watched music videos on MTV. You may have seen hit movies including Back to the Future and Cocoon.Your TV viewing probably included popular shows that year like“Dallas,” “Golden Girls,” “Miami Vice,” “Murder She Wrote,” and “Newhart.” Best-selling books of 1985 included Lonesome Dove, The Polar Express, and a surprise best-seller titled “And Ladies of the Club.”
Like that book, a club was very much on the minds of some residents in Hot Springs Village during 1985. But unlike the tune by Jefferson Starship, they were busy building not a city, but an institution. And they built it not “on rock & roll” – but on the legacy of service that is Rotary.
What is Rotary?
Rotary International is a civic organization whose mission is to bring together community leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards, and help build goodwill around the world. It is open to all men and women, with more than a million members in almost 35,000 clubs worldwide. The Rotary motto is “Service Above Self.”
In 1905, attorney Paul Harris of Chicago called a meeting of three other business acquaintances from different occupations to form the first Rotary Club, based on friendship and high ethical standards across different fields. Thus, the year 2020 marks the 115th birthday of the world-wide organization that became Rotary International.
Harris and the original members of the group chose the name “Rotary” for their club because at first, they rotated weekly meetings among each other's offices. Having members from different types of businesses initiated today’s Classification system.
Rotary comes to Hot Springs Village
Fast forward to Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, in 1979. Less than a decade after the active adult community’s founding in 1970, resident James A. Percival made an early effort to form a Rotary Club in the Village, which was home to about 2,000 people at the time. A number of Villagers drove into the city of Hot Springs to attend weekly meetings at the National Park Rotary Club, having been Rotarians in their previous locations. Percival felt that there were Villagers who might be interested in having a club closer to home, placing a newspaper ad to gauge interest.
There were several replies to that initial inquiry in 1979. Among those who responded were Villagers Dick Tricker and Warren Brown, who eventually became charter members. However, this first effort at forming a new club was discouraged by the Rotary District Governor at that time who suggested waiting in order to properly organize the new club.
Four years later, the time was right. In 1983, Villager Clark Deem became interested. He too placed a newspaper ad inviting current or former Rotarians to contact him if they were interested in the possibility of forming a new club in the Village. With 13 enthusiastic responses, a meeting was held on November 29, 1983, at the Coronado Center.
Villagers who were members of the Hot Springs National Park club were invited to attend. The original group included Deem, Doug Brown, Lloyd Collins, Howdy Jennings, and Art Lawson. Five former Rotarians joined them: Jim Hardwick, Joe Roberts, Bob Sanders, Bill Schmuck, and Dick Tricker.
Clark Deem did about a year’s worth of research into the successful formation of new clubs. Another meeting was then held, attracting Warren Brown, Lloyd Collins, and Don David to the group. That meeting took place at what was then Mary Lee’s Restaurant in the Village.
This time, the District Governor approved. Mark Fleischner, president of the National Park Rotary Club in Hot Springs, helped form an Ad Hoc Committee for Club Extension, chaired by Clark Deem. With prospective members totaling 14, a Hot Springs Village club was a real possibility. Both the Hot Springs National Park Rotary Club and the Oaklawn Rotary Club became co-sponsors. By the time the Hot Springs Village club submitted its application, there were 29 members listed.
The club is chartered
On January 20, 1985, a presidential gavel for the newly-established “Rotary Club of Hot Springs Village” was officially presented to Greg Miller. That gavel is still used today.
The Rotary Club of Hot Springs Village was chartered on February 13, 1985. A gala Charter Night banquet was held at the Majestic Hotel on March 15, 1985. Along with charter members, more than 200 guests were present.
One of the club’s 29 charter members, Villager David Whitlow, is still active in the HSV Rotary Club. He fondly recalls the banquet at the Majestic which he attended with his wife Diana. David Whitlow was the construction coordinator for the Hot Springs Village POA at that time and is the only charter member who still belongs to the club. He attributes that distinction to what he calls “the luck of the draw.”
David Whitlow clearly recalls becoming a member of the HSV Rotary Club back in 1985: “Joining the club was a good fit. I guess you could call me a ‘legacy.’ My Dad was a Rotarian in Houston during the 1950s, then he was in National Park Rotary when we moved up here. When the HSV club was formed, my boss John Bloodworth, who was director of public works for the POA, invited me. I thought it was a good fit due to my Dad and also because it was a new club in a new community.”
HSV Rotary today
The Hot Springs Village Rotary Club has continued to flourish, with a current membership of about 90. It also helped sponsor a new area club, the Rotary Club of North Garland County-Scenic 7, which was chartered in 2011. Continuing the family connection, David Whitlow’s wife Diana Whitlow is a charter member of Scenic 7. HSV Rotary members who aided the development of the Scenic 7 club include Villagers Paul Bridges, Tony Cifelli, Spence Jordan, and Ed Reinsch.
In addition, HSV Rotary has a “Sister Club” relationship with the Rotary Club of Hanamaki, Japan, in an effort to promote peace and understanding. Club members from Hanamaki have come to the United States to visit the HSV Rotary Club, which in turn has had its own club members travel to Japan.
In honor of the founding spirit of the HSV Rotary Club, there is a recognition called the Clark Deem Award which honors a body of work and is given to someone who represents the ideals of Rotarians in the community, exemplifying all that is good in Rotary. This lifetime achievement award is given in tribute to Clark Deem, who died in 2002. Joe Hardman is listed as the first recipient of the Clark Deem Memorial Rotarian of the Year Award.
Service with a smile
Through the years, membership in the Hot Springs Village Rotary Club has been the perfect place for those who enjoy helping others while having fun – service with a smile!
Major components of the club are service projects and fundraising events to help people both in our community and around the world. Two such projects that were established early in the life of the club are the Lloyd Collins Scholarship Fund to assist local students and support for Polio Plus to eradicate that dread disease globally.
David Whitlow says he felt a personal commitment to Polio Plus, the effort by Rotary International to eliminate the scourge of polio from the face of the Earth. He recalls a special twist while working with the State Health Department on inoculations: “We served hot dogs!”
In order to support their service activities, the club sponsors fundraisers that have also been called “Fun-Raisers.” These have included festive bus trips and cruises that are open to non-Rotarians as well as club members.
For many years, residents of Hot Springs Village enjoyed the club’s annual Flea Market Extravaganza. Charter member David Whitlow recalls the Flea Market’s early days: “We had so many fun times putting it together. At first, it was outside at the Cortez Pavilion. One year, storms blew everything away. The Flea Market quickly outgrew the original outdoor location. So we moved to the Coronado Center where it continued to expand until even that was overflowing outside.”
Whitlow also recognizes long-term club members with whom he has worked on the club’s activities. He says, “There were early members who had a large role in developing the personality of the Hot Springs Village Rotary Club. They are Ed Lampman and Gerry Quick who both joined in 1989.”
Ed Lampman was active in the club until his 99th year, passing away in 2016. Gerry Quick was also a club member until shortly before his death in 2017, soon after his 90th birthday.
Around the corner, around the world
The dynamic personality of the club includes projects both around the corner and around the world. Local service projects have been established as the years have gone by, including the adoption of “Christmas Families” which helps deserving people in Garland and Saline Counties enjoy a much happier holiday through club members’ donation of gifts and food items.
For several years, the club has focused on community literacy through its contributions to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Garland and Saline counties to provide books for children. Guest speakers at HSV Rotary sign a children’s book donated in his or her name; the books are then distributed by the HSV Police Department to children in crisis.
Through the years, HSV has supported other local projects such as the Teen Challenge Thanksgiving Dinner, Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA),
the Vial of Life program,Village Pride clean-up day,Samaritan Ministries, and the
Cedar Mountain Boys & Girls Club.
Each year when winter approaches, club members donate warm socks for the needy through the Socks for Souls program. It was organized by Villager Lee Hess who joined the club in 2009 and has stated, “You would not believe how grateful the recipients are to have something warm to put on their feet in the cold weather.”
Jack Sherrill, U.S. Air Force "Wild Weasels" Squad
In 2005, Rotary International marked the hundredth anniversary of its founding. To help celebrate that milestone locally, HSV Rotary joined with the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) to establish and maintain the Hot Springs Village Veterans Memorial, which can be found on the grounds of the Ponce de Leon Center. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Village has more veterans per capita than any other city in Arkansas. Many are members of HSV Rotary.
Army Maj. Gen. Tom Arwood
Expanding its reach through the years, HSV Rotary also supports clean water projects in Mexico and Haiti, the Ak'Tenamit School for Girls in Guatemala, and wheelchair projects worldwide.
Through fundraising projects and individual donations, the club is able to assist others on a remarkable scale. Some members help make this possible by becoming Paul Harris Fellows. This distinction is a major commitment to club service which was named for Paul Harris, who created the first Rotary Club in 1905.
Today when a contribution over a certain level is donated to the Rotary Foundation, that individual is recognized by being named a Paul Harris Fellow. The person can belong to the Rotary Club, or the title can be awarded to a spouse, friend, or community member who is not a Rotarian.
For the 2018-2019 Rotary year, the club was proud to claim a historic event with the District Governor, Dennis Cooper, being a member of HSV Rotary. It was the first time a Villager was elected to that position. During his term, Cooper visited all 36 clubs in the Central Arkansas district.
Former presidents of HSV Rotary who are still active in the club as of 2019-2020 include General Tom Arwood, Tom Mitchell, John Atherton, Tony Cifelli, Paul Bridges, Harv Shelton, Amy Thomason, Lee Ann Branch, Donna Aylward, Steve Wright, Lori McMinn, and John Weidert.
The Rotary Club of Hot Springs Village has had a great four decades so far, and is looking forward with great enthusiasm to the years to come.
Membership in Rotary International is open to all men and women, with guests always welcome at the Rotary Club of Hot Springs Village which meets in the Fireside Dining Room at Good Sam’s, 121 Cortez Road, Thursdays at 7 a.m. It’s a great way to start the day.