History of the Fitzgerald Rotary Club
The Rotary Club of Fitzgerald chartered on December 21, 1936, through the sponsorship of the Columbus Rotary Club and the efforts of Columbus President K. D. White. The Fitzgerald Rotary Club reciprocated by sponsoring the charters of the Douglas club in 1961, the Ocilla club in 1963, and the Ashburn club in 1968.
The organizational meeting was held December 1, 1936 in the office of J. C. McDonald. Twenty-six persons were selected as charter members and from the group seven directors were elected. From the directors the following were elected as charter officers: J. C. McDonald, President, J. H. Mayes, Vice-President, Harvey L. Jay, Secretary, and Neil Peavy, Treasurer. The club’s first Sergeant-At-Arms was Lauren Parrott. The Lee-Grant Hotel was selected as the meeting place every Tuesday at 12:30 o’clock p.m. The first meeting held at the Lee-Grant Hotel was December 8, 1936. The charter night banquet was held January 26, 1937, at 8:00 o’clock p.m. in the American Legion Home. Every member except one was present and there were about 75 guests present. K. D. White, President of the Columbus club, presided. J. Quentin Davidson, on behalf of the Columbus club, presented the Fitzgerald club with a bell and gavel. The highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the charter to our club by Joel Chandler Harris, Jr., who was then the District Governor. The primary fundraiser for the Fitzgerald Rotary Club is the Colony City Chase. The Chase consists of a 5-K road race followed by a one-mile fun run. This event was begun in 1988 and has been held continuously ever since. The road race was originally held on the Saturday immediately proceeding Memorial Day of each year but was moved to the fall to coincide with the City’s Fall Festival. The road race moved back to May in 2003. The money raised from this event is used to sponsor the Fitzgerald Club’s signature event, the Top Ten Banquet, held each year to recognize the top ten academic students in each class at the Fitzgerald High School (grades 9-12). The club has sponsored the banquet and recognition each year since 1978. There is an accent on fellowship in the club with many social activities each year. The Top Ten Banquet and Installation Banquet are high points of the social calendar. The Rotary Club of Fitzgerald has celebrated over 65 years of “Service Above Self” and looks forward to continued service and fellowship in the 21st century.