Through the Decades

— the 40's 

The first seeds of Rotary were planted in the Delta by members of the Sacramento Rotary Club. There were many conversations, visits, and meetings. Finally, on April 12, 1948, 29 men met in the office of Noah Adams Lumber Co., (Harvey Lyman Co.,  now Grow West) and decided to form a Rotary club. Rotary members from Sacramento and Clarksburg also attended. Dennis W. Leary was elected president of the new Club, and plans were made for the Charter Night Celebration at the Ryde Hotel on May 25, 1948. The Rotary Club of Walnut Grove was under way.
Members hit the ground running setting the social outing high right away.  On June 27, 1948 the first barn dance was held at the Canal Ranch near Thornton.  Thirty members and guests attended.
Rotary Club meeting places have been many and varied. The first was in the basement meeting room of the Walnut Grove Hotel. At one of the first meetings, Hod Towne gave a talk on the asparagus strike. The leaking pipes overhead were a well-known feature of the room and added to the South Sea decor. Richard Nixon spoke to the Club on one occasion.
Sometime later, Bob Collins, on one of his many trips to Washington for California agriculture, met Mr. Nixon who asked, “Are you people still meeting in that basement room with the leaky pipes?”
Somewhere in late 48’ or very early 49’, The Walnut Kernel hit the newsstands.  The first issue is undated.  This was a weekly publication of the Rotary Club of Walnut Grove.  It’s second issue, January 31, 1949 recorded the conditions of the ‘free press’ in the United States of America to  those countries controlled by the government.  Not much has changed 75 years later.   One thing very noticeable is the sense of humor in our club then and it is still very much alive today,  The Bell missed a lot of meetings and Postage to mail The Walnut Kernel was 2 cents.  Evidence of The Walnut Kernel goes to the end of 1999.

— the 50's

In December 1952, the Club moved to the meeting room in the back of the old post office.  Furniture was moved in, and the Club purchased china and silverware. Rotary stayed there until 1957. By that time the new post office had been built, and the old was to be remodeled into Steiner Hardware.
So, it was time to move back to the hotel and into the basement room to remain there for three years. Chafin' Sores, the rider of the range, first appeared in Rotary annals in 1958.

— the 60's

In 1961 the Walnut Grove Hotel was sold and remodeled to become the Boon Dox. Rotary meetings then moved upstairs to the main dining room, to continue there for seven years.
In 1963, Ben Kato was attendance chairman when Walnut Grove was #1 in our October attendance for the entire District at 99.13%.
In October 1968 there was the surprise closing of the Boon Dox followed by a move to Tony's for the day. The following week the meeting was at the Grand Island Mansion for the District Governor's visit.
The odyssey continued. The following week Rotary moved to the Steamboaters. Because of the size, sometimes you could see the speaker, but most of the time you couldn't.  The meal price was increased to $2.50.  Rotary stayed at the Steamboaters until it closed in 1970.

— the 70's

The meandering next took the Club to the meeting room in St. Anthony’s Hall in Walnut Grove to stay for just over a year. In March 1972, it was on to Locke to the T -12 building to remain for six years. Those who arrived late at the Monday meetings were usually assured of a steak from Ai's since the pasta was probably gone. It was in Locke that the Van Meyer Christmas fashion shows became legend. The T-12 was the scene of many great Rotary events.
25th Anniversary was celebrated May 1973 at the Ryde Hotel.  The last meeting in Locke was in July 1978 when the T -12 building was sold.
Walnut Grove Rotary then moved the meeting location to Wimpy's Marina at New Hope Landing on July 24, 1978.  Those members seated by the windows often enjoyed the entertainment on the dock below more than the Rotary program - especially in the summer. There were times when it was difficult or impossible to reach Wimpy’s.  Once when the Miller’s Ferry Bridge at Giusti’s was ‘broken’ by the Fish & Game, and then the Tyler Island and Thornton flooded in 1986 which prompted a two month move to The Rusty Hook in Hood. We moved back to Wimpy’s just when the Miller’s Ferry Bridge at Giusti’s was “broken” by the Fish & Game Department.  The Walnut Grove Rotary continued to meet at Wimpy’s until 2011, ending a 33-year run.

— the 80's

As history writes it, 1989-1990 was a year with a touch of class.  Gil Labrie was president and wore a tie at every meeting.

— the 90's

On February 2, 1993, Rotary was recognized for our 52 years of continuous charted relationship with the Boy Scouts of America.
February of 1994 began a multiple year run of the Dental Clinic in Mexico.  This began the International Project which successfully provided free dental care over the course of  3—4 days.  Many of our Rotarians participated in this project.  The annual Dental Clinic  event was in Mexico.  Visiting Mulege, Baja, Palapas, and Punta San Francisquito.  Members flew their private planes carrying medical equipment, club members, volunteers and dentists.  They worked endless hours each trip helping local residents smile brighter. 
Formal invitations for the 50th Anniversary were gold lined and cordially invited the membership to the Ryde Hotel on April 25, 1998.  President, Fred Wheeler, welcomed Rotarians and their guests along with noting the many accomplishments, friendships, and fun our club within our club.
County of Sacramento California Board of Supervisors issued a Resolution in Recognition of the Walnut Grove Rotary’s 50th Anniversary.  Among the Resolution, mention of Mr. William R Dorsie as the only current member from the original 29 Charter Members.  The Board of Supervisors, Be It Resolved, extended their congratulations of multiple contributions to the betterment of our community, and on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary offer sincere best wishes for continued good fortune and success in your service to others and your community.

— the 2000's

After the realization that Y2K was a bust, Rotary went to work with Inbound and Outbound Exchange Students in 2009-2010.  Eventually, one of the inbound students married a local family member and they are living happily ever after.  Swim lessons are important and Rotary often sponsors our students in a learn to swim program and the older kids continue to participate in the Rotary RYLA program where each student returns with life changing goals.

— the 2010's

In 2011 the Club moved the meetings to Tony’s Place and enjoyed an open menu and bar if one chose to tip a few.  This location was dark and sometimes crowded.  Russell built a new podium, and we mounted equipment to view slides and videos.  We needed to scrap our old storage cabinet and build a more compact one.
During 2013, President Dave Stirling and Committee, gathered the club for a 65th Anniversary celebration.  The celebration continue full of a fun and thankful evening.  Dave noted the amount of work accomplished serving the people of our community.  Projects, programs, and sponsorships while maintaining lifelong friendships and having fun in the process.
2013-2014 was yet another busy time.  The Paul Barnes Park Restoration, supplies for Mexico village residents, restoration of the Jean Harvie Community Center parking lot and children bus stops where built in a variety of places in Walnut Grove, Locke, and Hood.
Four, Automatic External Defibrillators were donated to Walnut Grove and strategically placed throughout town.  The annual International Project, free dental care in Baja Mexico continued forward.
Taps and Sick Calls changes hands in 2015 to Jim Cook with the passing of Bill Slawson.  This report grew and became the infamous Jim Cook report where sports, stocks, local, State, US, and World news is wrapped up in 8 minutes.  Those stinkin’ Dodgers.
After a meeting in May 2017, several Rotarians became ill which led to a special meeting and the decision to move, ultimately to the Walnut Grove Presbyterian Church.  This swift move left us making our own lunches.  One of our newest member, Barb McGowan, took the reins to organize a spread of food unlike anything we had ever seen.  Rotary spruced up Koinonia Hall and installed new HVAC and an audio/visual system.  At this time it remains our current meeting location. 
Member, Joey Sanchez, was featured in the truth searching film Apache Blues, a special unit formed to rescue soldiers pinned under the hottest, most tenuous situations.  Joey received accommodations from Honorary Member and Sacramento County Supervisor, Don Nottoli.  During our 2018-2019 year our then President, Emily Pappalardo, made Rotary history by giving birth to a beautiful baby boy during her Presidency term.
2018 was a landmark year where we celebrated our 70th Anniversary at the Grand Island Mansion.  This star struck evening included several past Presidents and members in attendance.  Missing for a very long time, our Bell showed, in full tuxedo, as a gift for President Larry.  The evening was magical as memories where shared, people embraced the time together, and then, the Bell was gone.

— the 2020's

2020 challenged us the entire year with Covid-19. Somehow, Rotary was able to complete its 35th Annual Scholarship Dinner, Reverse Raffle, Silent Auction Dinner before Covid-19 cancelled 10 meetings and the world ‘shut-down’ to get ahead of the pandemic virus. In June of 2020, our meetings resumed in the new online world of Zoom. If not for member, Tim Cook, and his youthful knowledge of technology, who knows how this virtual leap would have been achieved.  Because of Tim, our Club didn’t miss a step.  President John Stutz and President-Elect Rob Globus did an amazing job of leadership during this time. President Rob was in full swing adapting to new ways of life when his Presidency began.  Sadly, our lunch format changed due to all the new catering regulations.
In August 2020, the website went live keeping our Rotary club members and community connected in a whole new way.  In a short period of time, was the link to the community for the vast majority of our club.  It includes history and traditions, in memoriam, current news, youth events and activities, the travels of our bell, fundraising, projects and events, and of course, our scholarships.  For the full effect—visit soon.
The pandemic continued to ‘open and close’ our in-person meetings throughout Rob’s Presidential journey.  He handled everything like a pro and somehow managed a full year of amazing Rotary club service.  Rob barely had enough room on the back of a t-shirt to list the full number of accomplishments in 2021.  It was a year of so many first experiences!  First ever international speaker in real time; First ever online meeting; First ever silent auction.  What a year it was!
2021 continued to see our club once again bobbing and weaving around obstacles with our annual fund raiser.  As California shut down again and without missing another step, the Club dove into the world of online auctions for our annual fund raiser.  A magnificent committee, led by Douglas Hsia, somehow pulled off a record-breaking, “Tonight’s the Night”, year of fundraising.  While very different from the traditional dinner, Douglas still managed to coordinate a terrific Zoom finale during the last hour of the auction and our MC’s Jim Cook and Daniel Wilson keep things alive with their usual sense of humor.  This is yet another example of just how resilient the Rotary Club of Walnut Grove is.
In July of 2021, Douglas Hsia stepped into the International arena and became the club International Service Director.  District 5180 International Services Committee is guiding the RCWG to play the role of a host club, headed by Douglas. Our efforts are to locate and partner with an education outlet to mitigate the Asian Hate Sentiment. The international sponsoring club is the Rotary Club of Hong Kong Harbor District 3450. It is a great example of peace building efforts among clubs.
Fortunately, the 2021 Demotion dinner in June was a pleasant in person gathering at Giusti’s Place.  Along with the passing of the gavel from President Rob Globus to President-Elect Jan LeRoy, the Demotion dinner committee made sure to include Past President John Stutz who was robbed of such a roast.  It was truly a Back to the Future event. Shortly thereafter, the sudden and tragic loss of our great friend...Giusti’s Place by fire, left just about everyone speechless and with a heartache that is indescribable.  Giusti’s Place is over 100 years, 4 generations deep with stories, memories, and friendships.  Over the years, it’s the place where just about everything happened and where celebrations took place. Including our annual Demotion Dinners.
As we prepared to enter 2022, the Annual Fundraiser Committee has already been underway for 2 months.  At the helm is Committee Chair, John Stutz.
Our June 2022 Demotion Dinner found us returning to Wimpy’s where owner and new member Gerry Goodie and his wife, Nancy, hosted a grand meal. The evening included a magical roast for outgoing President Jan.  With her family present, we saw doves fly and past presidents decapitated. The room was filled with incredible people whose Service Above Self brings so much to our small community.  It also marked the first ever induction of Co-Presidents to our Club. 
Co-Presidents Laura and Tom Uslan in their first month, honored a long overdue choral performer, our Glee Club leader, named the new Sheriff, and Rebranded the now Cook News Network, CNN, with an experienced anchor and roving reporters.  They pinned multiple Paul Harris Award recipients.  Oh my, it’s going to be a good Rotary year.
Our DG, Karen Cendro, “Served it Up” and visited our club 3 times.  Each visit brought reports of the fabulous Rotary work being conducted in our District 5180 and stories that can only be told at Rotary.   On behalf of our club, Karen presented our incredible Dennis Leary a Lifetime Achievement Award for his 66 plus years of exemplary service.  Dennis’ father is a founding member of our club.  Yet, Dennis has found a way to carry that torch to a much greater level.  There is no better way to end 2022.  Karen always brings Rotary closer to us, which is a testimonial of true leadership.
Our 2022-2023 Co-Presidents, Laura and Tom Uslan, continue to keep our membership young at heart with playful awards during their presidency.  It all started with the infamous Jim Cook report being rebranded to CNN—Cook News Network where his son, Tim Cook occasionally offers a whole different outlook filled with SNL like spoofs of Father Sarducci.  There has been poof the magic Rotarian, a super greeter wears a cape, a leprechaun, a graduate, our peace man, money was literally thrown at our Treasurer, and an attorney defended a longtime, dedicated member falsely accused of bell theft while the real thief was  found, charged, and fined.  A lost hat was returned to its owner along with a bottle of Crown Royal.  When it happened a second time, it was Snoop Dogg’s 19 Crimes and a QR code that let’s you Rapp while drinking.  Dunking a basket has a donation made in your name to Rotary International.  Our wonderful Co-President’s even had a grandbaby.  Yes, Rotary is fun.
In 2023, after two years of absence, The Annual Fundraiser returned to an in-person dinner at the Jean Harvie Community Center in all its elegance and beauty.  For some in our community, it has been two years since seeing each other.  By nights end, a sigh of relief was heard knowing we raised enough to continue our Rotary work of funding our scholarship programs, serving our community, personal dictionaries to 3rd graders, Captain Encouragement for our elementary schools and all the other Rotary things we do.
The winter storms of 2023 saw record breaking 700 inches of snow in the Sierras, Delta water levels at the tippy top, and patrols working 24/7 through rain, hail, and cold.  During a rare sunny patch in April, Rotary sponsored three events.  An E-waste recycling, Rotarian Work Day, and People of Action Day.  The future is here—Starlink arrived.
What better way to close our Anniversary Program than with the announcement of a record breaking 22 Scholarships recently awarded to phenomenally deserving students.   You Made a Change!

— May 25, 2023, Our 75th Anniversary

The world has seen incredible changes in these 75 years.  Social media and the www are in.  Many people work from home, swipe right, and no one smokes indoors.  Casual attire is the norm, retails stores are being replaced by the internet, and our TV streams whatever you want, whenever your want.  From days of even and odd gas lines, now vehicles are larger, often electric, and can drive themselves. Home phones are replaced with smartphones that take pictures—you can be in touch with everyone you’ve ever met.  It only takes a few seconds for news to cycle and writing letters is considered a charming hobby.  Remember vinyl, eight tracks, tapes, CDs, and mini discs?  All gone.  Everyone recycles now.  Paper books can be replaced with digital versions where you can take your library everywhere.  The milkman is gone and taking pictures of yourself is normal to become a celebrity striving for views.  Everyone, or at least 78% of people have a computer.  Schools now teach using Chromebooks.  Online gaming has replaced Pac-Man, except at Wimpy’s.  Thomas Brother and encyclopedias are now a tablet.  People have personal assistants named Alexa, Siri, and Google.
One sure thing is Rotary, and specifically, our club!  As our founding members did back in the day, we continue to promote integrity, End Polio Now, and support education.  As we pass this incredible Rotary journey to those following, may you experience all of the wonderful times and fellowships at the Rotary Club of Walnut Grove.  May your next 75 years be so rewarding!  Happy Anniversary to those here now and all of our members in spirit.
July 1st, James Fowler embarks on his 2023-2024 journey as our President.  And, we are super excited to welcome Emily Pappalardo as President-Elect.  With the Board in place, let the year begin!
CLICK HERE for the Anniversary link.
CLICK HERE for the Online Anniversary Program.