Our History

Celebrating 75 Years of Rotary in Cookeville
Rotary Club of Cookeville

Dr. W. Calvin Dickinson, author
Shelly Christian, editor

In 1905 Paul Harris, a lawyer in Chicago, invited four of his business associates to meet with him and form a service club.  The name “Rotary” was chosen for the organization because meetings were rotated among members’ places of business.  Later meetings met in restaurants for lunch or dinner.  In 1906 the wagon wheel emblem was adopted by the Chicago club.  In 1908 the second club was founded in San Francisco, and in 1912 the first international club in Winnipeg, Canada, was admitted, creating the first club in what became Rotary International.  Membership in a Rotary club related to an individual’s profession, and only a limited number of persons in any profession were admitted to membership.  The number of clubs and members increased, and by the time of the Centennial Celebration of Rotary International in 2005 the organization counted well over one million members in over thirty thousand clubs in about 170 countries.

On October 8, 1935, the Rotary Club of Murfreesboro sponsored a meeting at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Cookeville to promote the organizing of a Rotary club.  Cecil Elrod, president of the Murfreesboro club and a former Cookeville resident, presided as a special representative of District Governor F. Bond Wilkinson of Jackson, who was present.  Several Rotarians from Murfreesboro, two from Nashville, and one from Birmingham attended the organizational meeting.  The Cookeville group unanimously voted to make application for a Rotary charter.  At this time there were 3855 Rotary clubs in 79 countries, with a total membership of 162,000.

When Rotary International approved the Cookeville club charter in November of 1935 there were twenty-one charter members of the Cookeville Rotary Club.  They were C.V. Bruner, Charles Bryan, Charles Cox, George Davidson, W.C. Davis, Hugh Goodpasture, W.J. Holladay, Lester King, Elmer Langford, Cooper Loftis, Sid Lowe, Roger Manning, Louis McDowell, Sam Pendergrass, Tillman Phillips, Thurman Shipley, David Terry, Fred Terry, Clyde Vaught, Will Whitaker, and Max Winningham.

In a banquet in the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute cafeteria on January 23, 1936, the Rotary charter was presented to the Cookeville club.  Rotarians from Carthage, Harriman, Jackson, and Murfreesboro joined local Rotarians, their spouses, and friends for the meeting.  John Mitchell, superintendent of Murfreesboro schools; Frank Frankland of Jackson, past district governor; and P.L. Lyon, president of Middle Tennessee State Teachers College, all offered congratulatory comments.  District Governor Bond Wilkinson presented the charter to club president Hugh Goodpasture.  About ninety persons attended the charter banquet.  Music was presented by the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute orchestra.

Because the Cookeville Rotary Club began in a time of national economic difficulty, membership dropped to fourteen in the first years.  Rotary International’s overall membership had declined during the Depression years of 1932-1934.[1]  Almost fifty clubs disbanded during the decade.   Total number of Rotary clubs, however, grew from 3177 in fifty-nine countries to 4714 in eighty-nine countries.  By 1943 Cookeville’s membership had expanded to forty-five, making it the sixth largest club in District 678.  After World War II club membership expanded gradually, and by 1977 there were 107 members.  In 2003-2003 the club inducted nineteen new members, the largest membership growth of any club in District 6780.  Under President Susan Elkins in 2004-2005 membership increased by thirty-one.  In 2009 club membership was 146, down from a peak membership of 175.  In 1980 the club inducted its first African-American member, Dr. Leo McGee.  He served as club president in 1999-2000.  Since 1980 the club has admitted several African-American members.  In 1988 the Cookeville club inducted its first female Rotarian, Faye Huddleston, following a U.S. Supreme Court judgment and a Rotary International decision to admit women in 1987.  By 2004-2005 the Cookeville club had about thirty women Rotarians, and in that year the first woman, Susan Elkins, served a club president.  Judy Freeman served as club president in 2006-2007,  and Donna York served in 2011-2012.  In 2012-2013 Susan Elkins was governor of District 6780.

Membership of Rotarians associated with Tennessee Tech at one time was a problem for the club; about half the club members were Tech faculty/staff.  In a 1959 “gripe session” of former club presidents, the number of Tech Rotarians was a complaint voiced within the group.  In 1960 the board seriously considered, but did not adopt, a proposal to limit the total membership and to assign a maximum number to the school.  For some time the club presidency rotated between town and gown; later, as the percentage of Tech Rotarians declined, the club president for two consecutive years was a “town” member, and each third year the president was a Tech member.  The club president has always been elected first as vice president in charge of programs.  The next year he was president-elect, and the third year he served as club president.

Member attendance has always been a club problem.  Rotary International requires each member to attend 60 percent of his club meetings, and Rotarians are encouraged to “make up” any club absence by attending another club meeting.  By 1960 Cookeville Rotary was one of the five worst clubs in the district for attendance.  For one quarter in 1962 Cookeville had the lowest attendance record in the district.  Various presidents and boards attempted to improve attendance with varying successes, and some boards were more strict than others in dismissing members who were negligent in attendance.  Three Cookeville Rotarians maintained perfect attendance during their membership—L.T. Reeves, who became a member in 1936; C.V. Bruner, who was a charter member; and Chic Holland.  Chic has had the longest attendance record—fifty-two years perfect attendance since 1957--- and counting.
Cookeville Rotary Club meetings have rotated among several Cookeville eating establishments.  The first meeting place was the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, with church members serving the food.  Later the B&B Café hosted the meetings, which opened and closed with Rotarians singing songs.  Organ music usually accompanied the meals.  Steak, potato, and salad were served for one dollar.  After the B&B burned in 1961 Mosier’s Café served as the meeting place; but the club returned to B&B in 1963 after it was rebuilt.  In 1969 bids were taken from Rice Motel and Holiday Inn; the club moved to Holiday Inn that year.  Meetings always began with prayer, and an invited speaker presented a twenty minute program after the meal.  Announcements, recognition of visitors, news, the stock market report, and the pledge of allegiance concluded the meeting.  For a time in the 1980s the club met in the Multi-Purpose Room at TTU because the
Holiday Inn was being remodeled.  Parking problems made this an unsatisfactory arrangement.  Because of unsatisfactory food and service at the Holiday Inn, in 2007 the club moved to the new Leslie Town Centre, where Rotarian Vince Taylor catered excellent meals.  Since 1958 a bulletin, the “Hub Bub,” is given to Rotarians at each meeting to give club announcements and news.

Organization of the club followed the dictates of Rotary International.  A president, president elect, vice president, secretary, and treasurer were general officers.  Board members included directors for club service, international service, vocational service, and community service.  In 2010 the directors’ titles and service areas were reconstituted by RI.  Five areas of service included administration, foundation, membership, public relations, and service projects.  Numerous club activities were included in each of these areas.

Special meetings and programs have become customary for the Cookeville club.  A picnic is conducted at a city park each autumn or spring .  “Ladies Night” was a banquet conducted for many years to celebrate marriage.  Rotarians’ wives were invited to attend with their spouses.  After the induction of women Rotarians, the occasion became “Charter Night.”   In 1961 the club enjoyed a twenty-fifth anniversary party, and in 1986 a fiftieth anniversary celebration was held.  A banquet is organized toward the end of each Rotary year to celebrate the accomplishments of the club during that year.  It is held at various Cookeville restaurants.  In the 1990s the hand bell choir of the First Methodist Church, directed by Martha Sue Bonner, began presenting a special Christmas program in December.  This delightful program has been performed for almost twenty years now.

RI President Elect Joseph Abey visited and addressed the Cookeville club on November 23, 1960.  The club entertained him at a banquet in the Tennessee Tech cafeteria.  Rotarians from several other cities attended the banquet.  In November of 1969 the president of Rotary International, Joseph Hersey of Reading, PA visited the Cookeville club and spoke.  He told about his recent trip to Czechoslovakia and the hardships of that country under Communist Party rule.  “Now you find people afraid of their own shadows,” he commented.  It is always an unusual occasion and a particular honor for the RI president to visit any particular club, and a visit to such a small club as Cookeville was a recognition of the club.

A special point in the history of the club occurred in 1982 when the Cookeville club sponsored the organization of the Cookeville Breakfast Rotary Club.  Two specific reasons were behind this move.  The Cookeville club was becoming too large with about 125 members, and another club in town would provide a convenient way for Rotarians to “make up.”  Walter Derryberry was president of the Cookeville club, and he enthusiastically embraced the idea of a breakfast club. On March 11 the Breakfast Club received its charter from RI.  On April 1 both clubs celebrated with a joint Charter Night Banquet.  Several members from the Cookeville club became charter members of the breakfast club, and George Benedict, a Cookeville club member, became first president of the Cookeville Breakfast Club.  In subsequent years the breakfast club had a membership of about seventy-five. [The Cookeville club had earlier served as co-sponsor of new Rotary clubs in Livingston and Jamestown.]


Activities of  the Cookeville Rotary Club have always emphasized projects to benefit the youth of the city, the state, the nation, and the world.  In 1937 the club sponsored an annual President’s Birthday Ball in the TPI gymnasium as a fundraiser for the Crippled Children’s Fund.  Part of the $58 collected was sent to a club sponsored facility at Warm Springs, GA.  Shortly after World War II, under the leadership of Mrs. J.M. Henderson, wife of Rotarian Jim Henderson, the club sponsored nights of dancing and games for young people at the local armory.  Other civic groups soon joined Rotary in support of these events, and the city government eventually accepted responsibility for the program.

The club has long sponsored a troop of Boy Scouts, and has sponsored participants in Tennessee Boys State and Girls State.  At one time the club sponsored a Little League baseball team and a Junior Pro basketball team, supplying them with uniforms, equipment, and a manager.  In 2004-2005 the club began giving books to elementary students through its program Rotary Book Donation.  Led by Rotarian Sandy Koczwara, each year individual Rotarians donated money to buy books for a selected Putnam County school.  $1000 annually was collected and expended for this program.  After 2000 books were donated to the Putnam County Library each month in honor of the weekly program speakers.

From 1947-1985 Cookeville Rotary and Tennessee Tech co-operated in an annual Career Day for high school seniors in the region.  Rotarians volunteered to speak at sessions devoted to specific vocations.  Every year more than 2000 students from fifty high schools came to the Tech campus for the program. The origin and early success of the endeavor owed much to the fact that Everett Derryberry was president to both Tech and Cookeville Rotary.  In 2004-2005 the club resumed this activity, sponsoring a career day for persons with disabilities.  Charles West and Jody Reecer organized this project, a resounding success which won a service award at the 2005 district conference.

On a regular basis, beginning in the 1990s, the club has recognized outstanding high school students by presenting Student of the Month citations to students from the county’s three high schools.  In 1987 the club began funding and awarding scholarships for Putnam County students—one to Tennessee Tech University and later one to a vocational school.   Nancy Allen was the first Cookeville student to win a scholarship to Tech.  Rebecca Nash was the scholarship in 2010.   

In 2002-2003 Rotarian Sandi Koczwara started the Books for Underprivileged Schools Program for the club, using individual Rotarian donations to buy books for school children.   Emphasizing excellence in education under the leadership of President Jeff Roberts, the club began in 2003 giving a Teacher of the Year Award of $1000 to a Putnam County teacher.  This program has continued annually since that time under the direction of Rotarian Joyce Hayes. 

Cookeville Rotary has sponsored youth service clubs in the local high school and community.  RI’s program suggests Interact clubs for high schools and Rotaract clubs for communities.  In November, 1970 Cookeville Rotary, with leadership provided by Francis Toline, organized an Interact service club at Cookeville High.  After some time interest declined and lead to the club’s demise.  In 1992 Interact was revived in a joint effort by Cookeville Rotary and Cookeville Breakfast clubs.  Rotarian Britt Akers chaired the Interact Committee, and Rotary spouse Rosalie Andrews acted as high school sponsor.  By 2004 the club had eighty members who contributed about one thousand hours to public service each year.  Teachers Sharon Anderson and Nadine Jones were sponsors at this time.  In 2004 two Interact clubs were organized at Monterey and Upperman high schools.  Rotarian Susan Elkins has worked with  the local clubs and with the District 6780 Interact organizations.  These clubs have been active in donating funds to Rotary projects.  In 2010 there were more than twelve thousand Interact clubs with 284,000 members.

In 1984 a Rotaract service club was organized at Tennessee Tech.  Student David Cooley was the first president, and future Rotarians Jeff Jones and Michael Birdwell were members, along with thirty-five other students.  The club was a success for a couple of years, but the second student president allowed the organization to fail.  In 2001-2002 Rotaract was revived under the leadership of Rotarian Jeff Roberts.  In 2010 there were eight thousand Rotaract clubs and 184,000 Rotaract members.

In 2005 the James & Claudine Lacy Fund was established in the Putnam County school system by the Cookeville club.  Funds are contributed to the fund for use by the school district to provide clothes, shoes, and other necessities to students.  The fund was established to recognize Lacys service as RI president and his worldwide program of improving the lot of the world’s children.

Cookeville Rotary has been very active, and very successful, in sponsoring TTU students for RI scholarships.  Sue Glover of Tullahoma was the first recipient in 1954-1955.  She studied at the University of Montpelier in France.  Martha Brown of Cookeville studied at the University of Western Australia in 1971-1972.  Kathy Crisp of Cookeville went to the University of Grenoble in France in 1977-1978.  Mike Weaver from Nashville studied at the University of Birmingham in England in 1980-1981.  Scott Klugston of Madisonville, KY went to the University of Otago in New Zealand in 1981-1982.  Terri Cassety of Gainesboro studied at the University of New England in Australia in 1988-1989.  Meera Ballal of Cookeville studied at Heidelberg University in Germany in 1992-1993.  In 2003-2004 Stephanie Ward of Warren County, who won the Derryberry Award at TTU, went to study in Ecuador as a Rotary Cultural Ambassadorial Scholar.  High school students from Cookeville have participated in exchange programs with European countries, with Rotarian Rick Woods leading this program.  Jodie Jordan studied in Belgium and Emily Wood went to France.  Natalie Jena, who came to Cookeville in 1987-1988, was the first international student to participate in the exchange.  Stephanie Koop was an exchange student in Cookeville in 1992-1993.  In 2009-2010 Lucia Boleognese from Italy was the club exchange student in Cookeville High School.  Amy Loftis of Cookeville studied in Taiwan in 2010-2011.


Community projects that Cookeville Rotary has supported include money and equipment for the new Putnam County Public Library, the YMCA and Red Cross, Bryan Symphony at TTU, Cookeville Summer Theater, Mastersingers, the Salvation Army, and community science fairs.  In 1974 Rotarians joined others in volunteering to carry books from the old to the new county library.  Rotarians finished and painted the library basement.  In 1999-2000, under the leadership of President Leo McGee, the club financed and built a Habitat for Humanity House.  Completion of the dwelling was celebrated with a program and a picnic at the house.

Medical services have been important projects in the history of the club.  The Cookeville club joined other clubs and other districts in several states to support the Hospital for Crippled Adults in Memphis for many years.  At the time, this was the only institution of its kind in the world.  Two Cookeville Rotarians, C.V. Bruner and Luther Harris, served as directors of the hospital.  In addition to contributing funds, several Cookeville Rotarians acted as volunteers to take patients to the hospital.  This medical facility served a valuable purpose until it closed in 1970.  In 1963 the Cookeville club bought three pieces of expensive heart equipment for Cookeville General Hospital.  In 1963 Cookeville Rotary, with Walter Lamb as club president, sponsored a talent show, with three dozen local youth competing. Resulting funds were to be used to purchase a “heart team” for Cookeville General Hospital. Hosting the show was Grand Ole Opry star Archie Campbell, who brought with him “Nashville talent scouts.”  The winners of the competition would have a chance “to test for a TV appearance.”  In 1965 the club presented the hospital a check for final payment.  Other health related projects included buying a van for the Putnam County Rescue Squad in 1965 and purchasing equipment for the Cookeville hospital in 1971 and 1972.  In the early 1980s the club contributed funds to Bloodmobile, Special Olympics, and Hospice.  In 1996-1997 Rotary participated in the Shots for Tots program, aimed at the immunization of children. 

In 1992 President Charles Womack and the club created a community clinic at the suggestion of club Secretary Jim Stafne.  This service for indigent persons was partially staffed by Rotary volunteers: it utilized space made available by the hospital.  The club contributed $4500 to finance the clinic, and 323 volunteers, including 60 physicians, participated in the project.  In the first year the clinic served 1580 patients.   In 2001-2002, with Roy Byrd as club president, Rotarian Dr. Kenna Williams received a $10,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to fund community clinics in Monterey and Baxter.  These projects were so successful that additional funds for the Foundation were received in subsequent years.  In subsequent years club donations helped support the clinics.  In 2003-2004 the club supported a campaign to place AED devices in public places, and in 2005 the club promoted a Body Mass Index project to increase awareness of weight problems.

Fundraising projects to finance community service activities have many times been less than successful.  Throughout the years the club used auctions in club meetings, knife sales, flag sales, talent shows, and movie ticket sales to raise money.  In 1976 Ed Dixon organized the raffle of a new Ford Pinto, resulting in about $1600.  Boston butt sales and pancake breakfasts produced funds for several years beginning in the 1990s, but most of the sales were to Rotarians rather than the general public.  Many times rather than undertake a fundraising project, club members voted to donate $25-50 per member to finance community projects.  The pancake breakfasts at the Hyder-Burks Agricultural Pavilion continued into the Twenty-first Century.   In 2010 Brad Davis led the club in sponsoring a statewide soccer tournament as a fundraiser.   About forty teams from across the state brought more than a thousand visitors to Cookeville, so the tourney was a service project to benefit the city as well as a fundraiser for the club.


Unlike the difficulties in fundraising to finance projects, Cookeville Rotary has been very successful, and very generous, in contributing to RI finances.  The Rotary Foundation was created in 1948 to finance RI programs around the world.  By 1976 the Cookeville club had contributed $3200 to the Foundation, and the club was designated a Three Hundred Per Cent Club.  Cookeville also contributed within the “10–1" program, which meant that each Rotarian contributed ten dollars when he became a club member, and the club contributed one dollar a year for each member.  In 1957 the Paul Harris Fellowship program was developed.  Any Rotarian who donates $1000 to the Rotary Foundation is named a Paul Harris Fellow.  Rotarians may also make non-Rotarians fellows with a $1000 donation.  In 1976 C.V. Bruner, a charter member of the club and a past district governor, was made a Paul Harris Fellow by a club donation.  The Cookeville club has made all its past club presidents fellows.  Most members of the club are Paul Harris Fellows, and many have made their spouses Paul Harris Fellows.  Others are Sustaining Members who are contributing toward becoming fellows.  The Star Club Program in District 6780 recognizes a club which donates an average of $100 per member to the Rotary Foundation in a year.   Since the beginning of the Star Club Program in 2005 the Cookeville club has been recognized every year to 2009.  Twelve new Paul Harris Fellows joined this distinguished group in 2010.

Cookeville Rotary has participated actively in the international activities of Rotary.  The club has almost always sent one or more representatives to the Rotary International conventions in the United States and in other countries.  For many years the club has paid the expenses of the incoming club president to attend the international convention.  James Lacy presided at the international convention in 1999 when he was RI President.

International student scholarship awards have been listed above.  Group Study Exchange has been another frequent activity of the Cookeville club within Rotary International.  This program involves five young professional non-Rotarians who visit a Rotary district in another country for about five weeks, led by a Rotarian from the participating district.  Clubs in the host district arrange for the visitors to meet with individuals and groups of similar interests and occupations.  The visiting team presents programs at Rotary and other public meetings.  In the same Rotary year the host district for the visiting team sends a similar team to the other participating district.  The Cookeville club, beginning with an exchange with English District 111 in 1977,  has hosted visits of Group Study Exchange teams to Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, South Korea, Egypt, South Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.  Rotarians James Lacy, Pete Helton, Cathy Hix-Cunningham, and Ed Jared have led some of the District 6780 teams.

In 1978 the Cookeville club organized a couples exchange with District 111 in England.  This was not an official RI program, but was a result of the enthusiasm and positive results of the GSE exchange of the previous year.  Cookeville invited Rotarians from other clubs in District 678 to participate, and fourteen couples joined the tour.[2]  Eight of the couples were Cookeville Rotarians.  The group, led by James Lacy and Calvin Dickinson, enjoyed two weeks in the homes of English Rotarians, and in a hotel in London.  They visited Stratford and attended a Shakespeare play in the hometown of the bard . The next year in October twenty Rotary couples from District 111 visited District 678 for a two-week tour of Tennessee.  An attempt to organize a  couples exchanges with New Zealand in 1981 failed for lack of interest in the New Zealand district.

In June of 1984, during the presidency of Ed Jared, an unusual goodwill trip to England was organized by Opless Walker.  The idea was to emphasize the early connection of American Indians with England.  Cherokee Chief William Swimmer of Oklahoma and Opless led the group, visiting the grave of Pocahontas as well as other historical sites.  The convention of Rotary International met in Birmingham, England that year, and the Cookeville group attended.  The tour was partially financed through the sale of commemorative Rotary and Cherokee knives.

In 2007, under the leadership of Cookeville Rotarians Ahmed Elsawy and Calvin Dickinson, Cookeville Rotary initiated an international project with the Metropolitan Rotary Club in Alexandria, Egypt.   Hania Badreldine from Alexandria had been a member of a GSE team to District 6780, and she was a guest of Calvin and Charlene Dickinson when her team visited Cookeville.  Joining the Alexandria Metropolitan Rotary Club (District 2450), Hania became the contact in Egypt for Cookeville Rotary.  Looking for a project involving the two clubs, Riad Boys School in Alexandria was suggested.  The first step involved a group of Cookeville Rotarians visiting Egypt and the city of Alexandria.  Eleven Cookevillians, including Ahmed, joined the tour in June of 2007.[3]  They toured Cairo, Egypt and the Nile Valley, and visited Alexandria.  Hania sponsored an elaborate dinner for the group in her father’s mansion.  The group visited the University of Alexandria and Riad Boys School.  The school was in need of complete repair.  The building, the classrooms, and the toilets were decrepit.  Coming back to Cookeville the Rotarian group was determined to repair the Riad Boys School building.  The Cookeville Rotary Club,  District 6780, and RI were  enthusiastic.  Ahmed wrote a project application plan, and money came from the two Cookeville clubs, from 6780 Rotaract and Interact clubs, and from the Metropolitan Rotary Club in Alexandria.  Four thousand four hundred dollars was expended for six computers which were installed at Riad School during 2009.  Additional projects are planned for the future.

In 2009 the Cookeville Rotary Club joined the Coral Gables, FL, Rotary Club in a literacy project in Bolivia.  Carol Brock of Coral Gables introduced the project to Cookeville, and she shepherded it through all the necessary Rotary channels.  In 2009-2010 the Cookeville club, the Coral Gables club, and the Rotary Foundation participated in a $30,000 grant to fund this project.  In 2010 Cookeville Rotarians joined Coral Gable members in visiting the site of the project in Bolivia.  The club also contributed $500 to the Cookeville Breakfast Club’s project in Ghana.

In 1978 RI began the Health, Hunger, and Humanity program to benefit countries in need.  The Cookeville club assessed each Rotarian fifteen dollars to help finance that program.  Other international projects involved mailing books to schools and libraries, a project
Coordinated by Rotarian Weldon Patterson.  A project in 1984 provided lightning rods for school in Kenya.  Another in 1993 sent medical supplies to Argentina after Ed Jared and his GSE team to that country noticed the need.  Cookeville Rotarians Weldon Patterson and Jim Andrews traveled to India several times in the 1990s to assist in the treatment of polio victims in that country.  The Cookeville club contributed funds for this project.  In 2000-2001 Cookeville Rotary collected money for the purchase of two hundred hearing aids for children in Romania. 

Polio Plus has been a long standing project of RI.  James Bomar, RI president in 1979, put $760,000 into the 3-H budget for oral polio vaccine in the Philippines.  This was the beginning of a massive effort to eradicate the disease by immunization.  Rotary has contributed $900,000,000 through Polio Plus since 1985, and has co-operated with WHO and other international organizations.  The U.S. government contributed $1,700,000,000.  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contributed $355,000,000.  Rotarian Bill Sergeant of Oak Ridge and James Lacy of Cookeville have been important leaders in this effort.  In 2003-2004  Lacy was chair of the Rotary Foundation Trustees, whose major goal at that time was to eradicate polio.  Later, as national coordinator for major gifts for Polio Plus, Jim traveled thousands of miles and engaged Gates and numerous other individuals in his effort to raise funds for the project.  In 2009-10 Lacy was chair of the Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force for the United States.   In 2009 the dread disease was almost wiped out, with a ninety-nine percent decline in polio cases.  From 350,000 cases in 1988, the number of cases declined to 1,651 in 2008.  Polio was still endemic in only four countries—Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.  District 6780 and the Cookeville club, as evidenced by the contributions of Bomar, Sergeant, and Lacy, played a very important part in this largest project that Rotary International has undertaken.


The high point of the entire history of the Cookeville Rotary Club occurred in 1998-1999, when James Lacy served as president of Rotary International.  [James Lacy was the second Rotarian from District 678/6780 to serve as president of Rotary International.  Jim Bomar of Shelbyville served in 1979-1980.  It is an extremely unusual honor for a Rotary district to have two former RI presidents.]  For a Rotarian in a relatively small club in a small town located in a rural state to serve as president of the most significant service club in the world was an honor beyond the imagination of most Cookeville Rotarians; but Jim possessed the motivation and the ability to rise to the challenge.  Lacy had joined the Cookeville Rotary Club in 1964.  He was president of the club; he led a GSE team to England in 1977; he was district governor; he moderated a 1992 international assembly; he served on the Rotary International board of directors; then he was RI president.  During that year he lived mostly at RI headquarters in Evanston, IL, and he traveled to many of the 170 countries that make up the Rotary world.  Always he was accompanied by his charming and resourceful wife Claudine.  The Lacys met many world leaders, including the President of the United States and the Pope.  The Rotary motto for 1998-1999 was “Follow Your Rotary Dream.”   Jim’s dream for that year was to generate a program that would improve the lot of children in the world—“to help a child in need.”  “We must champion the causes of children.  We may be moved to tears, but we must also be moved to action.”  During his year as president, Rotary International generated twenty million dollars for Children’s Opportunity Grants around the world.  Jim’s year as RI president was very successful, and one of the minor effects of the year was that Cookeville Rotary Club was recognized around the world.  In 2004-05 the club established the James L. & Claudine Lacy Rotary Children’s Fund to financially assist students in the Putnam County school system.  Money from the fund was distributed annually for needy students.


Another high point in club history was the Rotary International Centennial Year in 2004-2005.    The club’s Centennial Committee, consisting of twelve members,[4] planned and carried out, with the co-operation of the club board and club members, numerous celebration activities.  On inauguration day in July for the club officers and board the committee presented a birthday cake to the club in honor of the Centennial.  Each week of the year the Hub-Bub carried “Centennial Celebration Comments” written by committee members.  The club worked to establish a “twin club” in another country, and in 2005 the Metropolitan Club of Alexandria, Egypt, agreed to partner with Cookeville. 

February was birthday month for Rotary International, and the club planned several celebration activities.  President Susan Elkins announced the James L. & Claudine Lacy Children’s Fund, honoring Past Rotary International President James and his programs to improve living conditions of children around the world.  The fund will be operated within the Putnam County school system to assist underprivileged children.  February also featured spots on WCTE-TV to educate the public concerning Rotary.

Monogrammed shirts and automobile window emblems were distributed to club members to denote their association with Rotary International.  A street in Cookeville was named Rotary Centennial Street, and Mayor Chuck Womack declared a Rotary Day in Cookeville.  General Assembly Representative Jere Hargrove sponsored a resolution in the Tennessee House of Representatives recognizing the Rotary International Centennial.

A billboard on South Willow Avenue, provided without charge by Lamar Advertising, celebrated the Centennial.  A supplement in the Cookeville Herald-Citizen highlighted Rotary, and an undated version of the club’s history was written by Bill Doran.  The Centennial celebration provided an opportunity for the club to celebrate its history.

A third high point in the history of Cookeville Rotary Club was the visit in 2009 of RI President D.K. Lee of South Korea.  Facilitated by Past RI President James Lacy, President D.K. addressed the Cookeville club.  His speech detailed his Rotary program for that year, “Making Dreams Real,” an attempt to reduce mortality rates in the world’s children by reducing hunger, unsafe water, and low literacy.  Lee had first visited Cookeville on the 1970s to visit his wife’s brother, a graduate student at TTU.  Club President Deivy officially welcomed President D.K., and Rotary District 6780 Governor Carol Larue was a special club guest.  Rotarians John Germ of Chattanooga and Bill Sergeant of Oak Ridge, former vice presidents of Rotary International,  were special guests.


Rotary International Presidential Citations
  • 1984—Ed Jared, President
  • 1987—Sumner Griffin, President
  • 2000—Buddy Reynolds, President
  • 2001—Roy Byrd, president
Globe Club Awards

  • 2007—Judy Freeman, President
  • 2008—Jeremy Stoner, President
  • 2009—Subramaniam Deivanayagam, President
  • 2010—Vince Taylor, president
STAR Club Awards
  • 2005—Susan Elkins, President
  • 2006—Rick Woods, President
  • 2007—Judy Freeman, President
  • 2008—Jeremy Stoner, President
  • 2009—Subramaniam Deivanayagan, President
  • 2010—Vince Taylor, President
District Governors Citation of Excellence Award
  • 2010—Vince Taylor, president
The Rotary Club Cookeville members who served District 6780 Governors
  • C.V. Bruner—1942-1943
  • L.T. Reeves—1970-1971
  • James Lacy—1980-1981
  • Susan Elkins—2012-2013

The Rotary Club of Cookeville list of Presidents
  • 1935-37---Hugh Goodpasture
  • 1937-38—Gid Lowe
  • 1938-39—Elmer A. Langford
  • 1939-40—Dave Terry
  • 1940-41—Lester King
  • 1941-42—L.T. Reeves
  • 1942-43—W.T. Sewell
  • 1943-44—Louis McDowell
  • 1944-45—Willis J. Huddleston
  • 1945-46—Roger Manning
  • 1946-47—Everett Derryberry
  • 1947-48—Louis Johnson
  • 1948-49—W.J. Holladay
  • 1949-50—Thurman Shipley
  • 1950-51—C.V. Bruner
  • 1951-52—J.L. McDonald
  • 1952-53—Luther C. Harris
  • 1953-54—Gordon B. Pennebaker
  • 1954-55—Claude Wilmoth
  • 1955-56—J.M. Henderson
  • 1956-57—Frazier Harris
  • 1957-58—Miser R. Richmond
  • 1958-59—Tommy Lynn
  • 1959-60—James Seay Brown
  • 1960-61—Raymond Case
  • 1961-62—Malcolm P. Quillen
  • 1962-63—Walter Lamb
  • 1963-64—Clement Eyler
  • 1964-65—W.R. Holland
  • 1965-66—C.P. Snelgrove
  • 1966-67—Powell Bilyeu
  • 1967-68—Charles J. Keene
  • 1968-69—Clarence Bartlett
  • 1969-70—Ralph Boles
  • 1970-71—Stacey Mott
  • 1971-72—Francis R. Toline
  • 1972-73—Bishop Holliman
  • 1973-74—John Warren
  • 1974-75—James Carlen
  • 1975-76—Wallace Prescott
  • 1976-77—Earl Nichols
  • 1977-78—Reginald Mazeres
  • 1978-79—James L. Lacy
  • 1979-80—William G. Patterson
  • 1980-81—Martin Peters
  • 1981-82—Walter Derryberry
  • 1982-83—James Wattenbarger
  • 1983-84—Edward Jared
  • 1984-85—Walter Helton
  • 1985-86—Robert Poteet
  • 1986-87—Sumner Griffin
  • 1987-88—Charles Jordan
  • 1988-89—Edmond Dixon
  • 1989-90—Opless Walker
  • 1990-91—Paul Bonner
  • 1991-92—Charles Womack
  • 1992-93—Calvin Dickinson
  • 1993-94—Charles McCaskey
  • 1994-95—Don Estes
  • 1995-96—Bill Ray
  • 1996-97—Jim Stafne
  • 1997-98—Bob Brooksbank
  • 1998-99—Tom Lawrence
  • 1999-00—Leo McGee
  • 2000-01—Buddy Reynolds
  • 2001-02—Roy Byrd
  • 2002-03—Bob Luna
  • 2003-04—Jeff Roberts
  • 2004-05—Susan Elkins
  • 2005-06—Rick Woods
  • 2006-07—Judy Freeman
  • 2007-08—Jeremy Stoner
  • 2008-09—Subramaniam Deivanayagam
  • 2009-10—Vince Taylor
  • 2010-11---Glenn James
  • 2011-12—Donna York
[1]        President Franklin Roosevelt was made an honorary Rotarian.
[2]        Calvin/Charlene Dickinson, James/Claudine Lacy, Clarence/Evelyn Bartlett, Opless/Kay Walker, Bob/Sarah Hudson, Bill/Barbara Arthur, Ken/Cathy Draper, Bishop/Gerry Holliman, and six couples from other Rotary clubs.
[3]        Calvin/Charlene Dickinson, Nick/Barbara Demas, Susan Elkins, Ahmed Elsawy, Albert/Pat Wilhelm, Pat/Donna Quillen, Jeff Plant.  The last three persons were not Rotarians.
[4]        Committee members were Calvin Dickinson, Joe Albrecht, Bill Doran, Ken Fuller, Patty Horn, Allison Kelly, Judy Jennings, Cassandra Newman, Tom Short, Elaine Smith, Angelo Volpe, Donna York.