The Hartford Rotary Club was founded in 1924 by 18 business and professional men and became part of an international organization dedicated to promoting community service and ethical business practices. Club members met weekly “rotating” among businesses for lunch, lectures and comradeship. The motto, “Service Above Self” is still used today.
1920s and 1930s
Members supported youth and scholastic projects, encouraged city improvements, held annual parties for less fortunate children, and picnics for disabled Civil and WWI veterans. The Club lead drives for humanitarian aid during the Depression. Meeting programs and sponsored community lectures covered important topics of the day. Rotarians increased Hartford’s exposure in the state and nation.
1940s and 1950s
While continuing to support the schools, youth and community programs, the Hartford Rotary recognized Armed Forces personnel at their meetings and promoted pride in local businesses. The first Honors Banquet for Hartford Union High School academic achievers was held in 1959 and continues today.
1960s and 1970s
Hartford Rotarians began fundraising events to support increasingly larger service projects, including an annual brat fry, dinner auctions, and food service at the Buckskinners Encampments, car shows and airshows. The first foreign student was hosted for a year in Hartford, and we began college and technical scholarship programs for high school seniors. Young Hartford businessmen also took advantage of Rotary International’s Group Study Exchange program and traveled to various countries for six weeks, including Sweden in 1971, Australia in 1973, and the Philippines in 1976. Groups from Indonesia, Sweden, Argentina, South Korea and Philippines spent a few days in Hartford in the 70s and 80s.
1980s and 1990s
Main Street revitalization was Rotary’s main target in the 80’s. Tree planting, Centennial Park along the river, and the walkway next to City Hall all were Rotary projects. Rotary members also planted trees in residential areas in the 90’s.
The VISION project began in 1992 with the first of 22 homes built in Hartford. Students from Hartford Union High School carpentry, architecture, landscape and interior decorating classes were involved with one house per year.
Rotary members promoted a fine arts series in the 80’s, and “Kids From Wisconsin” in the 90s. Income was augmented working the food service counters at the Bradly Center in the 90s. Currently money is raised with the annual golf outing and wine tasting events plus a Packer ticket raffle.
2000s until Today
The VISION project and its collaboration with the high school students, teachers, and local businesses continued until 2013. The club also supports a myriad of organizations, groups and events, including the construction and maintenance of Rotary Park, the Honor Flight, suicide awareness, the Pink Pumpkin Run and the Boys and Girls Club.