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A Brief History of Elkhart Rotary

by Shannon White 
The provisional meeting of the Elkhart Rotary Club was held Wednesday, March 14, 1917, at Hotel Buckles. Peter C. Kendall. President, Sidway Mercantile Co., was elected President.
The first club project, May, 1917, was to buy vegetable seeds and hire men to tend the gardens. The second, was to study and make a presentation to the Lincoln Highway Assoc. to help determine the most acceptable westerly route of Lincoln Highway (Rte 33).
Thirty-three of the members attended their first district conference in Indianapolis on February 12, 1919.
The club has provided four district governors:  W. McKean White, Sr. (47-48); John M. Kissinger (63-64); William H. Heinhuis (86-87); Terry A. McKay (99-00)
The club has sponsored four new Rotary Clubs: Warsaw - April 18, 1919; Goshen - Sept. 6, 1919; Concord - April 24, 1985; Elkhart Morning - June 7, 1990
Elkhart Rotary has:
Outstanding 100% participation in Rotary Foundation; *All-time contributions to Foundation: $550,000; Two hundred ninety-eight Paul Harris Fellows; Ninety-five Paul Harris Sustaining Members: Hosted several District Conferences; Sponsored Interact Club since 1968; Sponsored Strive mentoring since 1995.
On April 10, 1919, Rotarians put their considerable support behind an effort to build a new hotel. Although the formal opening of Hotel Elkhart did not occur until April 7, 1923, the Club met in the new hotel for the first time February 1 of that year. Hotel Elkhart was home to the club until 1974.
The first Boy Scout program was developed by the Club March 24. 1919, when Rotarians approved expenses to pay the salary of the Scout Leader. On May 25, 1923, fifty members built a mess hall at Camp Eagle, Eagle Lake, MI.
Past club projects include:
Influenced establishment of Chamber of Commerce: Dec. 15, 1919; Influenced construction of Lerner Theatre (Elco): Nov. 24. 1925; Provided Children's Milk Fund: 1925-40; Assisted returning military personnel: 1919, 1946; Built Princeton Center for Children (Rehab Center, ADEC) no longer in use: 1945; Provided student scholarships: 1944-58; Assisted Salvation Army: 1946 to present; Co-sponsored GTE Explorer Post of Boy Scouts: 1963-68; Co­sponsored YWCA Town Meetings: 1962-63; Helped with Junior High Banquet: 1951 to present; Donated "Jaws of Life" to city: 1975' Hosted Exchange Students: 1950 to present; Built addition to Youth For Christ facility: 1972-74; Donated RoT (robot) to city for drug education: 1983; Assisted Channel 34 with fund raising: 1975 to present; Constructed Community Day Care Center, Prairie Street: 1981; Cleaned up CR6: 1992 to present; Funded Bicycle Helmet Safety program: 1993; Built Habitat for Humanity houses 1999, 2001, 2003; Conducted Strive mentoring: 1995 to 2008; funded the master plan and development for the Wellfield Botanic Gardens, a 2005 Rotary International Centennial Project: 2004 - Each year since speciality gardens have been developed that feature sculptures, flowers, bridges and ponds.