On 23 February,114 years ago, Paul P. Harris, Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, and Hiram E. Shorey gathered in Loehr’s office for what would become known as the first Rotary club meeting. The four men, a Lawyer, a Mining Engineer, a Coal Dealer and a Merchant Tailor (the “Original Four”), were in different businesses, but they recognized that their experience provided the organization with a unique perspective. I’m certain that they enjoyed the camaraderie of meeting together but, more importantly, they shared a desire to do good in the world.
The Original Four agreed to meet again, two weeks later, in one of the other’s offices, and to “rotate” their future meetings from office to office. Rotary was born!
Over the next two years, the fledgling organization grew in membership, focussed its efforts, and decided to undertake a community service project - rallying forces around the effort to construct public toilets in Chicago. In truth, it wasn’t entirely a philanthropic project; some have speculated that the idea of providing “comfort stations” in the downtown business core was intended to keep shoppers there longer and increase sales. But, nevertheless, the undertaking established the Rotary Club of Chicago as the first service club and the newly constructed toilets became a source of civic pride. It’s safe to say that none of the original four members, nor any of those who would join the club over the next few years, thought that they were leaving a legacy.  They were wrong.
About twenty years later, the newly chartered Rotary Club of St. Marys undertook its first community service project, purchasing land and gifting it to the Town to create a recreation area for local citizens. Today, Cadzow Park stands as a legacy to the efforts of John Lind and the original members of our club.
Over the next years, the Rotary Club of St. Marys would undertake many, many other worthwhile community projects but, certainly, none of the scope and magnitude of what would become known as The Parkview West. The original members of the first board, Rotarians Grant Barton, Ray Bennett, Bill Douglas, Dick MacPherson, John Mountain, Clark Ready, Ted Sherwin and Bob Stephens, surely didn’t undertake the project of establishing a large residential complex with the thought of leaving a legacy; They simply recognized that there was a need for the unique kind of housing that such a facility would provide. Like the Original Four, there was no thought that what they were doing would leave a legacy. They, too, were wrong.
Rotary and Rotarians are in the legacy business, whether we intend it or not.  Each and every project we undertake, whether it’s something as small as donating a book to the local library, or as large as the Parkview West (or its successor, Parkview East - no small feat in and of itself), or enormous, like eradicating Polio, we do good in the world and the good we do is our legacy.
President Claire
March 2019