Club History



Paul Harris along with three friends founded Rotary on February 23, 1905 in Chicago.  In 1908 San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle,  Washington, Los Angeles and New York became Rotary Clubs.  In 1910 Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada became the first club outside of the United States.   Dublin, Ireland, 1911, was the first in Europe.   Rotary rapidly expanded throughout the world.  The first non-English speaking country with a Rotary Club was Havana, Cuba in 1916.  Today there are nearly 1,200,000 members in 30,000 clubs in over 200 countries.  Their mission is to provide service to their communities and to foster peace and understanding throughout the world.

The Terre Haute South Rotary Club was sponsored by  the TERRE HAUTE ROTARY CLUB, one of the earliest Rotary Clubs in  the world, chartered in 1913.   For several years before the South club was founded, the Terre Haute Rotary Club had been planning to sponsor a second club in its area.  In the latter part of 1978 a team in the Terre Haute Club and the Rotary District  “put it all together.”  Terre Haute Rotary Club leadership at that time included Russ Greasor, President;  Mike Pettebone, District Governor’s Special Representative for the new club and Jim Rentschler, District Governor.   Mike Pettebone (who later became a member of the South club and also became the District Governor a few years later—the only District Governor from this club) completed the Extension Survey and submitted it to the Rotary District Governor in October.   A group of ten recruiters from the Downtown club provided assistance in finding Charter Members.

Within weeks the first orientation meeting was held on January 25, 1979 in sub-zero weather at which thirty-five men attended.  The official Organization Meeting was held February 8, 1979, again in zero weather; at which thirty-one became Charter Members of the TERRE HAUTE SOUTH ROTARY CLUB.  The South Rotary Club was the 28th Rotary Club in District 6580 which is in the lower third of Indiana.  It received its official Charter on April 3, 1979.


Rotary Club of Terre Haute South Charter Members

Richard Armstrong              Wilbur Keko              Ron Schwachenwald

Ben Blocksom                      John Kinney             George Smith

William Burdine                   Michael Lawyer        Moussa Solooki

Charles Cardinell                Doug Liebermann   Ward Watson

David Cox                             Joe Lugar                  James Wood

Curt DeBaun                                    Don McCullough     Greg Yoho

Dan Dietrich                         Jack Meneely                       Dan Zuerner

Elwood Ehrle                                    Randy Murphy

Sheldon Freilich                  William O’Rourke

Jerry Hile                               William Reed

William Hill                            Dennis Sapp

It elected Wilbur Keko its first president until June 30, 1979; Jim Backes as President-Elect,  John Kinney asVice-President; Dick Armstrong as Secretary; and Ben Blocksom as Treasurer.

Rotary International was for males only until 1987 when clubs in the United States allowed female membership.  That same year Susan Rose became this club’s first female member.  In 1989 Rotary International voted to allow female members thoughout the world.  Pam Freibus became the first South Rotary Club female club president in 1994..

The South Rotary Club has provided and continues to provide service to our nation, community, and the world.  The Rotary motto remains “Service Above Self”