According to the May 28 front page of the North Georgia Tribune, forerunner of the Cherokee Tribune, “the night of July 13 was set for charter presentation night. The new club is No. 4283.”
A group of prominent Canton businessmen began forming plans for the club at an organizational meeting on May 7 of that year at the Hotel Canton on the square in downtown.
To commemorate the club’s chartering event, members of the present Rotary Club of Canton plan to meet this Tuesday next to the white marble courthouse to bury a time capsule and reflect on the club’s history.
The first officers of the Canton Rotary included President W. S. Elliott, Vice President A.V. Jones, Secretary R. Tire Jones, Treasurer Dr. T. G. Fowler, and Sergeant at Arms Dr. John T. Pettit.
Charter members included Ed Barrett, Dr. Walter Bratton, Dr. William Fincher, Dr. Tommy Fowler, Ed Garlington, Bill Greene, Dr. Arthur M. Hendrix Sr., Jim Holcombe, Joe Johnston, Paul W. Jones Sr., Jasper Keith, Gene McCanless, O.C. Omer, Claude Peacock, Stratford Pressley, Luther Westbrook, Joe Wheeler, John Wood and Melvin Young.
The speaker for the inaugural event was Thomas C. Law of the Atlanta Rotary Club. The Canton club was sponsored by the Marietta Rotary Club.
The club continued to meet for the next 23 years at the Hotel Canton each Tuesday at noon. The group undertook service projects in the community and adopted the Rotary creed “Service Above Self.” During those years, Mildred Martin was the official historian for many years.
During those early years of the club’s history, World War II cast a shadow over the community. In October 1941 the club began to lead efforts to organize a Home Defense Corps. That same year Tom Jones was the first Canton Rotary member to volunteer and enter the armed services.
The club also organized a basketball game in 1940 with the Canton Lions to raise money for Finnish relief.
In the 1950s, the Rotary Club of Canton helped organize the first Little League baseball club for Canton. The Rotarians helped bring together several groups in the community who wanted to see a league formed. For many years the Canton Rotary continued to sponsor a team.
The Rotary Club of Canton undertook what became one of its most significant fundraising events in 1959 when the organization partnered with the L and N Railway on an excursion to Appalachia, Tenn. The trip was scheduled to take advantage of the fall leaves.
At first a total of four passenger cars were scheduled, but eventually 11 rail cars were needed and 1,300 people went on the trip. The train went over, under and around the famous Hiawassee Loop.
For the next several years, the excursion continued to be a favorite trip and a fundraiser for the club.
In the 1986-87 Rotary year, President Jerry Thacker and project chairman Garland Pinholster led the club to raise $8,000 toward the eradication of polio in the first year of Polio Plus project.
In December 1987 the first women to enter the club were Elly Hobgood, Nancy Kinsey and Kip McVay. President was Floyd Tenney.
In 1990 the club began handing out its prestigious Lamar Haley Community Service awards. There were 45 members at the time.
In 1995 the club moved from meeting at the Pine Crest Restaurant to the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce building.
In 2009 the club moved to the Cherokee County Conference Center at the Bluffs, still meeting after 75 years at noon on Tuesday.
The club sponsored several other Rotary clubs during its history, including the Rotary Club of Woodstock, Rotary of Jasper, Rotary Club of Cherokee County and most recently the Rotary Club of Towne Lake.
In 2001, member Kay Miller because the first female district governor for District 6910.