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From the Twenty-Eighth Anniversary Program

     A chance meeting on a Canadian Saguenay River cruise resulted in the formation of the Westerly Rotary Club.  Dr. Hayes Cluxton, in the early fall of 1957, while on one of these cruises met Walter Thompson, a member of the Providence Rotary Club.  The two men discussed the possibility of forming a Rotary Club in Westerly.  Upon returning to Providence, Walter Thompson contacted the Immediate Past President of the Providence Club, Paige A. Seaton.  Paige Seaton was authorized by Austin Ley, Rotary District #7950 District Governor, to pursue the project further.

     In the meantime, Dr. Hayes Cluxton met with Clarence Vars, and between the two they signed up a total of 25 business and professional men in the Westerly-Pawcatuck area.  During the next few months many informal meetings were held, with visits from Austin Ley and Paige Seaton.  On June 24, 1958, the new Westerly Rotary Club held its weekly dinner meeting in the Parish House of Chirst Episcopal Church where further organizational plans were discussed.  Paige Seaton who had been guiding this new club, attended this session and the following officers were elected:  Clarence Vars, President; Richard Rosebury, Vice President; Fred Rayner, Treasurer; Dr. Hayes Cluxton, Secretary; Rev. William Kite, Club Chaplain; Charles P. Hamm, Sergeant-at-Arms.  Directors elected were:  Henry L. Babcock, Thomas J. Burdick, Don Livingston and Antonio C. Trovato.

     On June 28, 1958, the area's newest service organization received its charter at the Ocean House, Watch Hill, thus culminating nine months of planning and organizing.  At this Charter Night, more than 200 visiting Rotarians and guests from clubs in Rhode Island and Massachusetts attended.  Paige A. Seaton had the honor of calling for the formal opening of the Charter ceremony.  Philip Lovejoy, former General Secretary of Rotary International and consultant to the USA delegation drafting the UN Charter at San Francisco, was the speaker for the evening.

     Over the next twenty-eight years this Club provided community service to 23 local organizations as well as to the Rotary International Foundation.  Among the beneficiaries were the Westerly Hospital, Narragansett Council - Boy Scouts of America, Math Counts - RISPE, South County Community Action Program, Westerly Community Chorus, Meeting Street School, Westerly Youth Athletic Leagues, Library Association of Westerly, Westerly Band and scholarships for Stonington and Westerly high school students, to name a few.

     By June, 1986 the Club had grown to seventy members and eleven members had achieved Paul Harris Fellow status.



First Officers:  Left to right - seated:  Kite, Vars, Seaton; standing: Rayner, Rosebury, Cluxton

Celebrating 50 years  -  June, 2008

    Beginning in July, 2007 The Westerly Sun featured a series of monthly articles celebrating The Rotary Club of Westerly and continuing the works of those who came before them.  The beneficiaries of projects between 1983 and 2008 included WARM Shelter, Jonnycake Center, Westerly Pee Wee Football, the Humane Society, Westerly Public Library, Chorus of Westerly Summer Pops, Literacy, PolioPlus, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, One-Room Schoolhouse project in Rhode Island and Montana, Plan USA, Pure Water, Rotary Park in Westerly. 
   The One Room Schoolhouse project took the club to the Granville and Hancock schools in Vermont, to 13 schools in Garfield County, Montana and to Prudence Island, RI.  Pens, Pencils, notebooks, toys were some of the items supplied to the schools; however, in Montana a "much needed bathroom was installed to replace an outdoor privy" and in Rhode Island a shed was built.  

    International Night  -  a special evening celebrating our District's high school student exchange program, which was initiated in 1993.  Our Club originated the International Night dinner attended by members of each of the District's Clubs and those students who have been in the US for the past school year and the next school year's US students who will be going overseas.  Clubs sponsor US students going overseas to study and members provide home and care for overseas students during their US study visit.

    May 2003 marks the beginning of Rotary Park - a six acre plot of land on Airport Road.  The Club raised over $100,000 with the help of the town, the state and Westerly residents to create a beautiful little garden with gazebo, a picnic area, walking paths, tennis and volleyball courts, two playground areas.  Paul Duffy, recreation Department director, said, "people decided that this was an important thing and they wanted to dedicate their time and donate their money; contractors wanted to do this for the kids and for their neighbors and their relatives and for themselves."


Women in Westerly Rotary

In 2018 Rotary marked thirty years of Women in Rotary.  Westerly Rotary's first Women in Rotary were Joan McCormick and Mary Krupinski.  Both joined in June of 1989.  They were followed by Rona Mann in October of 1989.  Our current Club President, Kathryn Taylor, became the second woman to join the Rotary Club of Littleton, New Hampshire in January of 1989.  She became a member of our Club in January, 2008.


         Joan McCormick                              Mary Krupinski

The Next Fifty Years

Since 2008 the membership continues the Rotary mission to serve.  We have operated the food and beverage concession to benefit the Chorus of Westerly's Summer Pops event every year and raised funds for the benefit of Jonnycake Center of Westerly, Westerly Pee Wee Football, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Warm Shelter, Westminster Youth String Ensemble, Literacy Volunteers of America, the Columbus Day Parade Committee.  Our collaboration with Reforest the Tropics to bring an education on climate program to the students of Westerly Middle School has completed five years.   Some of our members have participated in Fundraiser Walks benefiting other organizations.  In 2019, the Club joined with Bricks and Murals and the Celico Family to bring Harmony Trail outdoor instruments - Griffin, Merry and Piper - to Rotary Park, residing near the 2018 installed Peace Pole and the Children's Garden.   We have joined with other Rotary Clubs for the Guatemala Water Project, projects in Mexico where our Past President Dan Alvino volunteers in winter.  In 2019 our Club sent funds to Chikumbuso providing a year of education for Nine year old Whyness Phiri who lives with her Grandmother and three brothers.  The Board recently approved continuing education financial aid to Whyness and another child of Chikumbuso.

Since the pandemic of 2020, our Club has made the Community's needs a priority with programs of collecting food for Jonnycake Center of Westerly, RI Center Assisting those in Need and Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center; making deliveries to those unable to get out; Random Act of Rotary with Chamber Gift Certificates.  We continued our Pasta Night to benefit Jonnycake's Emergency Fuel Assistance Fund, Concession Stand during Summer Pops to benefit the Chorus of Westerly, as well as our Education project with Reforest the Tropics in Westerly Schools.