First - Thank You! for checking out the Hampton Rotary Club.
If you are interested in becoming a member you should most definitely come to a meeting and meet everyone.
Please feel free to join us for dinner at the Gray Goose Restaurant in Downtown Hampton at 118 Old Hampton Lane. We start our meetings at 6:30pm and eat soon after. We usually have a speaker who talks for approximately 20 minutes.
More questions? Feel free to contact Dr. Kevin Steele our Membership Chairman at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the quick contact form below.
A consistent force for good, the Hampton Rotary Club has been kickin-it since President Harding signed the resolution ending WWI, since the first Miss America Pageant,…….since The World Series was first broadcast on radio! The world was just getting over a tragedy, as it always is, and a bunch of guys got together to do some good and do some business.
Frank Darling and 18 other Hampton businessmen decided Hampton needed a Rotary Club. The first Rotary Clubs were about primarily business and a little philanthropy. They had that part down, realizing people just naturally want to do business with someone they know. They were also successful.
In three short years the Club was full of movers & shakers. In 1924 all the members of the Hampton City Council were Hampton Rotarians. One of their first successes in philanthropy was paving the way to Richmond, by helping to raise the funds necessary to get a “modern” road completed. It was not without its challenges, as they later had to raise money again to actually pave it. Many members even put-up personal notes.
The Hampton Rotary Club also raised money in bonds for Hampton High School. They were unsuccessful in getting a chain hotel onto Fort Monroe, so they helped raise money to rebuild an independent Chamberlin Hotel. They equipped the Hampton High School band and the football team. During the Depression the Club helped fund many college students.
This tradition is still alive in our Club today. In the forties, fifties, and sixties, the Club carried on with more projects and fundraising than would be practical to mention in this one Gridiron. Networking accolades in these years included: Hampton Rotarians representing three speakers of the House in the Virginia General Assembly, One Senate Majority Leader in the Virginia Senate, a Virginia State Supreme Court Justice, and multiple Hampton Mayors and Council Members. Oh, yea, and three Rotary District Governors.
Curious to know more? Well, you can read Hampton Rotary Club Gridirons as far back as 1933 in the Downtown Hampton Public Library. One book of interest was produced by a Mr. Thomas Chisman who wrote a full history of our Hampton Rotary Club from 1921 to 1980.
And all this was actually accomplished before these good fellows realized that women were naturally so much better at social networking that they didn’t even think to give themselves cool names like “Rotarians”. But alas, it was a time when men were men, and women were even better but not allowed to prove it. In 1989 women officially entered Rotary. It may be no coincidence that in 1989 the motto, “Service above Self” was also adopted.
Our Club like so many others around the world shifted from business centered with philanthropic goals, to mostly service oriented with some business and networking perks. And, that brings us to a new millennium. Today’s Hampton Rotary Club was instrumental in bringing $100,000 in funding to the Virginia Air & Space Center and $50,000 in support to the Hampton History Museum. It has supported the Hampton YMCA, The Virginia Living Museum, Habitat for Humanity, and the Salvation Army with equally impressive funding. I could fill five more Gridirons with all the smaller contributions to all the other worthwhile causes. It is clear to me, as it should be to you by now, that Hampton Rotary Club has a had a full 100 years.
One of my favorite Rotarians, Mr. R. Hayden Smith, said recently at the end of his summation of our Club’s History, “Today our club continues to be directed by the guideposts set up by 100 years of service. May the Hampton Rotary Club continue to contribute to our town, our state, and our nation, and yes, our world, as long as it takes.”
If you are reading this online and you would like to help us do good for another 100 years, consider this your invitation to join us. We are currently meeting at the Gray Goose Restaurant in Downtown Hampton. We meet every Thursday evening at 6:30pm. All are welcome!
By Dr. Kevin Steele