History of Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast

In 1965, Sam Hamra received a telephone call from Ernie Olson. Ernie said the Springfield Rotary Club received some encouragement from District 607 and Rotary International offices to charter and sponsor a new Rotary Club in Springfield. He, along with Frank Gamble and Les Kennon, were the three Springfield Rotary members assigned as principal charter club sponsors and who were empowered to start a new club in southeastern Springfield. The geographical limits were to be east of National Avenue and south of Grand Street, meaning no one could join the new Rotary club unless they lived or worked in these geographical limits.

In June 1967, the first organizational meeting was held in the basement of Lamplighter Motel, with 32 members present.  A charter application was prepared and signed by 32 applicants.

The officers elected were:
President - Sam Hamra Jr.
First Vice President - Fr. Bill Magill
Second Vice President - Frank Gamble
Secretary - Ernie Olson
Treasurer - Creed Petty

Since Graham Clark, president of School of the Ozarks near Branson was governor of District 607 at the time, members decided they wanted the charter issued while Clark was district governor.  Clark said, if the papers were signed, he would come to Springfield, then fly the document to Rotary International headquarters to be sure to have the charter before the end of June, while he was still district governor. He did this and the club was chartered on June 28, 1967.

The first meeting of the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast was at Lamplighter Motor Hotel on Thursday, July 6, 1967, with Hamra presiding and Clark as speaker. The first weekly bulletin, entitled Rotary, appeared on July 10, 1967, with Leonard Ernstmann as editor. Meetings were on Thursdays at noon at Lamplighter Motel at the northeast corner of Glenstone Avenue at Sunshine Street.

Since few of the charter members knew much about Rotary procedures, customs, etc., they invited members of the downtown Rotary Club of Springfield to speak at the weekly meetings. The first sergeant-at-arms was John A. Simpson. He provided great entertainment for the club that first year.

Much time was spent by Bill Magill and his committee planning for the charter presentation night of Sept. 21, 1967. The time finally arrived and approximately 150 persons, representing more than 30 Rotary Clubs, attended at the Lamplighter.

Clark, now past district governor, presented the charter to Hamra.  His wife, June Hamra, accompanied by Wilfred Adler, provided music for the special program.  Dr. C.B. Thomas of Lebanon, District 607 governor, presented the club slogan as a gift: “It’s more important to get Rotary into a man than to get a man into Rotary.”

It was an evening enjoyed by all. Various clubs provided Rotary gifts to the club, which the club continues to use today. Since this was the first Rotary Club chartered in the area after the Springfield Rotary Club was formed, it was newsworthy and was covered well by the news media.

Charter Members
Bartley, Imon                         Leigh, Doug
Becker, Daniel L.                   McClernon, Harry J.
Blades, Ross Dees                McDaniel, Carl K.
Carr, Donald L.                      Magill, Rev. Wm. H.
Cohen, Herbert R.                Nixon, Charles
Cole, Jack O.                          Olson, Ernest P.
Donegan, George J.              Pettey, Cread F.
Ernstmann, Leonard F.        Rich, Donald L.
Gamble, Franklin                  Riebold, Hubert A.
Gordon, Samuel S.               Robinson, Ralph B.
Graham, G. Gaynerd            Ross, Jack
Hamra, Sam F. Jr.                  Shain, J. Aubrey
Harbin, David F.                    Simpson, John A.
Jordan, Joseph W.                 Stretesky, Rudy J.
Jurras, Mark I.                        Waddell, Kenneth E.
Krause, Jerry                          Yarnell, Duane


Rev. William Magill
was the second president for 1968 - '69. He left town before his term expired, and Dr. Doug Leigh filled his unexpired term.  He also served a full term for 1969 - '70. He was the only president to serve more than one term.

The club met with the Springfield Rotary Club on Feb. 18, 1969, at the Student Union, Southwest Missouri State College, to celebrate the downtown club’s 50th anniversary. The club hosted a group of Australians in May 1969.  In October, the club held its first fireside chat. Membership grew from 48 on June 30, 1968, to 67 members on June 30, 1969, and 72 on June 30, 1970.


Dan Becker
served as president for 1970 - '71. The club met for a time at Bonanza Sirloin Pit in December 1970. Membership on June 30, 1971, was 81.


Don Handley
served as president for 1971 - '72. The first hands-on project for the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast was a Neighborhood Watch Program, in cooperation with the Springfield Police Department. The project was well supported, with members volunteering and providing funds. The club was commended for its involvement. In June 1972, the club hosted a Group Study Exchange team from England.  On June 30, 1972, membership was 84.


For 1972 - '73, Gaynerd Graham served as president. In the fall of 1972, a new title appeared in the Spokesman: “Fearless Forecaster.” Ross Ausburn, a former Oklahoma football great, forecast the winners of the weekly college football games. It was reported that some Rotarians were caught gambling because of the forecast. The club continued to hold a yearly fireside chat.  The club met at  John A. Simpson’s home for the annual meeting, a tradition that continued until 2014.  On June 30, 1973, membership was 85.


Jim Jones
served as president for 1973 - '74.  His goals included developing a  pictorial membership directory and initiating a club comprehensive orientation program. The club reached 100 members in January 1974.  At the Riverside Inn in Ozark, during the Installation Banquet, outgoing President Jim Jones handed the gavel to incoming President John Simpson and all the members walked out. Membership on June 30, 1974, was 111.


Simpson served as president for 1974 - '75. In October 1974, he broke one arm and injured the other, so both were carried in slings. On Feb. 13, 1975, the board approved plans for two printings of the “Let’s Go Bikes” booklets. Ten thousand copies of the booklet were printed. The club worked with the Springfield Police Department to keep a low rate of accidents involving bicycles. Bike reflectors were produced for the purpose of distributing them to the neighborhood children. In April 1975, six New Zealand Rotarians were entertained as a part of the Rotary Group Study Exchange program. Membership on June 30, 1975, was 116.


Jim Osborn
was president for 1975 - '76. A family picnic was held at the Buena Vista Ranch picnic grounds. The first Past Presidents Dinner was held. In February 1975, cash contributions of $3,600 were given to the City of Springfield to provide restrooms at Phelps Grove Park. Membership on June 30, 1976, was 107.


In 1976 - '77, Charlie O’Reilly served as president.  The club sponsored the re-settlement of a Vietnamese family.  The club hosted a Group Study Exchange team from Italy.  Ernie Olson, the first secretary of the club, returned for the 1977 Installation Program and was presented the first Paul Harris Fellow.  Olson served as secretary until June 1971.  Membership on June 30, 1977, was 116.


In 1977 - '78, with Joseph Green as president, the club combined the Annual Fireside meeting with the club assembly. Several members encountered heart problems during that year, including Green. President-elect Gary Lipscomb ably carried on for Green from time to time and was installed as president on June 29 at Hickory Hills Country Club. Membership on June 30, 1978, was 120.


was president for 1978 - '79. The club entertained a Group Study Exchange team from New Zealand and one from Sweden, then sent several students from the area to Camp Enterprise with the Kansas City Rotary Club.  Past President Don Handley served as District 607 governor for 1978 - '79.  Mac McCartney served as District 607 secretary.  Membership on June 30, 1979, was 134.


In 1979 - '80, N.L. "Mac" McCartney served as president. The Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast joined with the Rotary Club of Springfield in a social event celebrating Rotary’s 75th Anniversary.  In celebration of this anniversary, the club also joined the Rotary Club of Springfield in sponsoring a supplement to the local newspaper commemorating Rotary’s anniversary. Interesting programs featured Missouri Gov. Christopher “Kit” Bond and Attorney General John Ashcroft, a former club member.  The club sponsored a young man from the area to join others in District 607 on the Group Study Exchange Team visiting Sweden. A family picnic was held at Doug Leigh’s “farm.” As of Sept. 11, 1979, we had 14 Paul Harris Fellows and three Paul Harris sustaining members. Membership on June 30, 1980, was 137.


Neil Eskelin
was president for 1980 - '81. As of Sept. 1980, we had 18 Paul Harris Fellows and seven sustaining members. On April 18, 1981, a Group Study Exchange Team from Sweden, District 238, presented an excellent program, which contributed to the number of high quality programs for which the club is famous. The club toured the R.T. French plant. The membership in June 1981, was 143.


In 1981 - '82, Olin Grooms served as president. Barneby and Flanagan's (at the Lamplighter Motel) was closed on one occasion by the Health Department, which caused the president and Board of Directors to do a fast search for a place to meet that week. The club met at the Bonanza but returned after a couple of weeks to the Lamplighter.  A short time later, the restaurant closed permanently and the club went through the same experience a second time. The club met at the Sheraton Hotel and then moved to the Wooden Nickel Restaurant.

Grooms served the club well in those times of crisis. A milestone was reached during 1981- '82 when the membership reached 150.  In August 1981, the club had 21 Paul Harris Fellows and 12 sustaining members. Membership on June 30, 1982, was 147.


Guy Bates Jr.
served as president for 1982 - '83. For the first time in its history, the club made a long term commitment to a community project, agreeing to underwrite a unique animal survival program at the Springfield Dickerson Park Zoo. The club hosted a Group Study Exchange team from Hong Kong. Membership at the end of June 1983 was 146.


In 1983 - '84, Larry Baughman served as president. The club was no longer constrained by geographical boundaries. A joint meeting with the Rotary Club of Springfield featured speaker Skip Kreidler, of Tulsa, who was internationally known for his presentation on the importance of the Four-Way Test.  A Group Study Exchange team from New Zealand visited the club.


served as District 607 governor and Rex Johnson served as president in 1984 - '85.  At the Shrimp Feed, the first club picture was made. The club donated funds for remodeling the Golden Lion Tamarian Exhibit at Dickerson Park Zoo.  A breezeway roof and backdrop was added to the exhibit to cut glare on the window viewing areas. The Youth Projects Committee was created on July 1, 1984.

The District 607 Conference was held in Springfield with the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast hosting a “Bull Roast” evening at Fantastic Caverns. At one luncheon meeting, Mike Lampe, from the Dickerson Park Zoo, brought a bald eagle and gave a presentation on the impressive bird’s travels throughout the United States.

The Installation Banquet was at University Plaza.  Decorations included 50 to 60 large flags, representing countries from all over the world. The flag arrangement brought home the international aspect of Rotary, as well as added a lot of color to the evening. Rotary International’s convention was held in Kansas City in June 1985.  More than 20 members attended the convention. Membership at the end of June 1985 was 167.


In 1985 - '86, Jerry Stiefvater served as president. The club moved the meetings from the Wooden Nickel to the Sheraton Hotel. The move was described as leading the club from a dark cave into sunny daylight.

The club contributed $10,000 to the Ronald McDonald House. It was its first major gift. During this year, the club produced hard cover membership directories. The club hosted a Group Study Exchange team from New Zealand. When a program canceled at the last minute, the CEOs from GE, French’s and 3M stepped up and did a roundtable on “Problems Doing Business Today."  It was the best program of the year.  Membership on June 30, 1986, was 165.


Andy Dalton
served as president for 1986 - '87.  Interesting programs included ones in which the state candidates for political office spoke to the club. Membership on June 30, 1987, was 173.


For 1987 - '88, Jim McLeod served as president. The most important highlight of the year was the onset of Rotary International’s PolioPlus campaign, for which our club pledged $62,000.  The celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the club’s charter was on Sept. 17, 1987.

Local scholarships were doubled from $3,500 to $7,000, with the intent of granting $1,000 to a student from each of the city’s seven high schools. By an amusing coincidence, at one school the scholarship committee was faced with choosing between twins of equal qualifications and need. In the true spirit of Rotary, the Board approved an additional $1,000, so each of the students could be given a full scholarship.

The club hosted a Group Study Exchange team from Bangladesh.  McLeod appointed a committee to recruit female members. On Jan. 23, 1988, a dance was held at the Shrine Mosque for PolioPlus. Hank Thompson was the star performer. Membership on June 30, 1988, was 176.


Harry Kirkpatrick
served as president for 1988 - '89. The club arranged for the contribution of surplus medical ultrasonic equipment to RI for a university hospital in Honduras. The equipment was donated by Smith-Glynn-Callaway Clinic. The first woman to join the club was Carol DeHaven on Nov. 10, 1988 (she was still a member in 2023).  A family picnic on Aug. 27 included catered barbecued food, Sno-cones, popcorn, games and hot air balloon rides.

The club co-sponsored the first Springfield Rotary Basketball Tournament. Four area clubs provided teams, each paying a $100 entry fee. Spectators made contributions as the price of admission. This resulted in a $500 gift to Special Olympics, inter-club activity and great fellowship.

In November 1988, the club voted to establish a Rotary breakfast club and our sister club, Springfield Sunrise, was chartered on June 14, 1989. Membership in the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast on June 30, 1989, was 166.


For 1989 - '90, Steve Benton served as president. In April 1990, the club hosted a Brazilian Group Study Exchange team. The club’s nominee for the District 607 trip to Brazil, Roy Vinyear, was accepted. Roy spent approximately five weeks touring Brazil as a part of the District team. Jim Cantrell served as sergeant-at-arms and frequently accompanied the membership on his banjo as all joined in singing some of the old time classics. Membership on June 30, 1990, was 169.

Jerry Stiefvater
served as District 607 governor and Steve Scott served as president for 1990 - '91.   A golf tournament was held for the first time. The House Committee saw to it that all banners were either repaired or replaced, new holders for displaying flags of other clubs were made, as well as a large wooden storage box to hold and protect the renovated work. Dan Emrie led the work team. The Basketball Tournament was expanded from four to six teams.  The club began the practice of giving cups to speakers. Dr. VanCleve of SMSU spoke about the ramifications of the current Gulf War.

The most significant project the club undertook that year was providing $10,000 seed money to begin construction of the Ozarks Greenways Project, a walking/biking path. This was an ideal undertaking to benefit our community and fit well with the “Preserve Planet Earth” theme. The money was pledged as $7,500 for 1990 - '91 and $2,500 for 1991 - '92. In addition, seed money was contributed to Leadership Springfield. Membership on June 30, 1991, was 171.


For 1991 - '92, Danny Correll served as president. Four students participated in the Summer Student Exchange program. The club participated in the Russian Relief Project. The club hosted a year-long exchange student from Turkey, a Russian Exchange team and the Philippine Group Study Exchange team. A bus trip in August to Erntefest in Freistatt was a memorable experience. Miss Missouri 1991, Soncee Brown, spoke to the club at a weekly luncheon. After many years at the Sheraton, the club moved to the Mid America Cancer Center in the spring of 1992.

The club was recognized by the Springfield School District for its mentorship program with Central High School. This program followed the selected students from their junior year through their first year after high school. The primary emphasis was on preparing the students for the workplace. Membership on June 30, 1992, was 182.


Mike Williamson
served as president for 1992 - '93. The club hosted a Group Study Exchange team from District 4840, Paraguay and Argentina.  For its 25th anniversary project, the Club  committed not only money, but also time and talents of its members for a Habitat for Humanity home on the west side of the city. The club committed $25,000, plus in-kind support.

This was the first year of Rotary International's Presidential Citation. The Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast has received the award every year since its inception.

A Rotary meeting sign was constructed for display outside the Mid-America Cancer Center to help Rotary visitors find their way to the weekly luncheon. To celebrate the club’s 25th anniversary,  Gov. John Ashcroft, a former member and current honorary member of our club, spoke at a banquet and singer John Davidson entertained.  Simpson served as master of ceremonies. Membership on June 30, 1993, was 200.


For 1993 - '94, David Caffey served as president. The club entertained a Group Study Exchange team from India. Our club gave $20,535 to the community that year for scholarships and various community projects such as Boys and Girls Club’s summer program, Special Olympics, Leadership Academy and The Kitchen.

The highlight of the year was the completion and dedication of the Habitat for Humanity house on April 10, 1994.  Forty-five members volunteered and provided many hours of labor and a donation of $25,000.

On Sept. 28, 1993, all three clubs in Springfield joined together for a joint meeting that was a debate on “The Economy of the Nineties - Where Are We Headed.”  It featured economists Arthur Laffer and Robert Kutner. The Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast challenged the Springfield Rotary Club to a softball game at Fassnight Park. Membership on June 30, 1994, was 191.


Doug Nickell
served as president for 1994 - '95. A joint campaign named “Save Our City” was started with all three Springfield clubs.  The project’s purpose was to assist the Springfield Police Department in providing better protection for the citizens of Springfield through the acquisition of drug sniffing dogs. Three drug sniffing dogs were purchased at a cost of $6,500 each. The project also included training for the dogs’ handlers and outfitting special police vehicles for the dogs.

Partnering with St. John’s Regional Health Center, the Springfield clubs’ donation of $16,000 enabled the Springfield Police Department to convert a donated ambulance to a Mobile Crime Scene Van.  A Group Study Exchange team from Indonesia and one from India, visited our club.  With the help of Springfield Southeast, the first Rotaract Club in Springfield was established on June 14, 1995. Membership on June 30, 1995, was 191.


For 1995 - '96, Barbara Lucks served as the club's first female president.  A Group Study Exchange team from Thailand visited in April 1996. In conjunction with Ozarks Technical Community College, the club sponsored a career booklet called the Career Passport. The self-guided booklet was used in a week-long “TECHSPO” event for helping students make decisions on future careers.  Cathy Reser retired as executive secretary after serving 25 years.  Theresa Robertson was hired on May 1, 1996, to serve as executive secretary.  Membership on June 30, 1995 was 193.


Steve Rice
served as president in 1996 - '97.  He proposed an idea for a project for the three Springfield Rotary clubs. The Rotary clubs worked together to fund the printing of a local resource guide book that would tell teenagers everything they could do in the summer, as well as why, when and how to become involved. The project was named “Super Summers, Springfield.”  The project took two years to complete, at a cost of $30,000.  Seventeen thousand copies were distributed to all seventh through eleventh grade students in Springfield.

The New Member Mentor program and mixer meetings were established. A Paul Harris Fellow Appreciation reception was held for the first time and became an annual event. A “Blue Ribbon” committee was appointed to review and update the club by-laws and create a club manual of procedures. Kelly Weber, a Springfield high school student, went to Wales on a long-term youth exchange program.  Membership on June 30, 1997, was 194.


In 1997 - '98, Gene Molnar served as president. The year saw the completion of the Super Summers Project. The club hosted the District 6070 Rotary Conference. Jim McLeod served as district governor and David Caffey was district treasurer. The opening session of the District Conference was at the Clarion Hotel in Springfield.  Springfield Southeast held a “Shrimp Feed” for the conference.  A golf mixer with the Springfield Rotaract Club was held.  Membership on June 30, 1998, was 196.


Marty Ross
served as president from 1998 - '99. A Leadership Education Training Seminar was created to help make the transition into the next Rotary year as smooth as possible. A Long Range Planning Committee, chaired by Steve Scott, reviewed the structure and activities of the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast, identifying areas in need of improvement or change.

An Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Committee, chaired by David Caffey, produced a now infamous video starring Lisa Nally, Brent Dunn and John Simpson. The screenplay was written by Joe Meystrik and helped make Rotarians more aware of the importance of organ and tissue donations. Oscar Awards were handed out at the Installation Banquet.

A special banquet was held on April 1, 1999, at the Tower Club. The Service Above Self Banquet honored a Rotary International recipient of the Service Above Self Award.  Dr. Steve Rice was chosen by Rotary International from hundreds of volunteers who had demonstrated exemplary humanitarian service, with an emphasis on personal volunteer efforts and active involvement in helping others. This is Rotary International’s highest honor for an individual Rotarian. A maximum of 150 recipients may be selected each year.

Our District designation changed from 6070 to 6080. Membership on June 30, 1999, was 196.


For 1999 - 2000, Ken Coleman served as president. Our club hosted an exchange student from Venezuela. We began the Youth Mission Minute Program, where individuals and organizations working with youth, were honored during our weekly luncheons. We hosted a Friendship Exchange team from England and held a Fall Mixer at Bass Pro. Membership on June 30, 2000, was 185.


Paul Sherard
served as president for 2000 - '01. Under his leadership, Southeast joined in the Second Annual Rotary Clubs’ Rock’n Ribs Festival. Marty Ross served as co-chair of the event and Southeast provided leadership and money for the event, which raised more than $33,000 for local youth charities. Membership at the end of June 2001 was 185.


For 2001 - '02, Steve Montgomery served as president. Southeast introduced 30 new members, increasing to 202 members.  In addition, Southeast sponsored a new Rotary club, the Rotary Club of Springfield North. The new club was chartered with 36 members. Responding to the terrorist events of Sept. 11, 2001, Southeast sponsored a community Youth Forum for high school and middle school students and participated in Rotary International’s refugee project in Afghanistan.


Under the leadership of Brent Dunn for 2002 - '03, Southeast made a special trip to the United Nations in New York City in July 2002. Rotarians and their families spent time touring the U.N. building and heard briefings on its work in the world. The tour also included a visit to Ground Zero, where an attack on America occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.

Southeast celebrated its 35th anniversary with a fall dinner and auction at Jude Ranch south of Rogersville.  On Nov. 21, 2002, Southeast joined with the other area Rotary clubs to hold a joint club meeting at University Plaza Convention Center.  The speaker for the event was Duane Sterling, the retiring general manager of Rotary Foundation. The club raised more than $31,000 for PolioPlus, Rotary International's commitment to rid the world of Polio.  A raffle raised funds for PolioPlus and Cindy Howell won His and Her Rolex watches.  The Club purchased a new drug dog for the Springfield Police Department to replace one of the dogs that Southeast purchased in 1995.


A key goal for President Brad Bodenhausen in 2003 – '04 was to make the international aspect of Rotary more tangible for members of our club. A highlight of the year was joining together with Club Rotario Tlaquepaque El Refugio in Mexico as “Twin Clubs” in Rotary service.  Additionally, numerous international exchanges emphasized the global network of friendship and fellowship available through Rotary.  The club hosted Group Study Exchange teams from India and Japan, a Friendship Exchange team from Thailand and a Youth Exchange student from Ecuador. Rotary’s international scope also provides many service opportunities.

The club donated funds to build a house for a family in Nicaragua and sponsored the production of educational videos about drug abuse prevention and environmental protection for distribution to all the schools in Tlaquepaque – our first community service project in partnership with our Twin Club.


Bonnie Keller
served as president for 2004 - '05.  This was the year that Rotarians worldwide celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Rotary International. Southeast was entertained weekly by the Centennial Sarge Team, which was comprised of past sergeants-at-arm.  Various interesting programs included one by the U.S. Treasury secretary and one by U.S. Attorney General (and Southeast’s honorary member) John Ashcroft. The Installation of officers was changed from an evening banquet to a recognition luncheon on the last meeting of the year. It is a practice that is continued today.

In honor of the 100th Anniversary of Rotary International, Southeast joined with the other clubs in Springfield to sponsor a joint venture with 417 Magazine. A special section in the 417 Magazine promoted Rotary’s service mission and celebrated the 100 years of Rotary. In addition, the joint Rotary club meeting for 2004 - '05 featured an outstanding video presentation on Rotary and a Paul Harris impersonator.

The Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast formally committed to K-Park at Jordan Valley Park, an interactive sculpture park, as our Centennial Project. The project was formally dedicated on May 21, 2005.  This "park within a park" features our club as the sole presenter to benefit children of Springfield and surrounding areas.

This lead role was achieved and approved by the City of Springfield through an initial $50,000 commitment of club funds and member contributions which underwrote a master plan, purchase and installation of Kinetic Man, signage, and a portion of The Rock. Our commitment is long term and ongoing.  The Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast continues to serve in a leadership role to ensure the interactive areas of K-Park are selected and funded according to the wishes of the club, working in conjunction with the City of Springfield and the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department.

From June 18 - 22, 2005, a group of Southeast Rotarians journeyed to Chicago to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Rotary International at the 2005 Rotary International 96th annual convention.  A rented bus provided transportation for the group, who stayed at the Comfort Inn & Suites on Ohio Street.  Southeast members were joined at the convention by two members from our Twin Club in Mexico.  A special dinner was at the top of the John Hancock building. Members of Southeast, our Twin Club friends and other Springfield Rotarians watched the sun set over Chicago and then feasted on a lovely meal and wonderful fellowship.


Bob Hammerschmidt
served as president for 2005 - '06.  The annual theme, Service Above Self, was exemplified as Southeast Rotarians again attained the Presidential Citation.  Our crowning achievement was the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Nixa.

With a club survey as our guide, we initiated Rotary Fellowship Luncheons and meetings devoted to “mini-classification talks” to help get to know each other better.  Our club streamlined the membership proposal process and officially adopted K-Park and Club Rotario del Refugio as long-range projects.

The membership screening committee was expanded to help improve the quality of our new member proposals.  Club By-laws and Manual of Procedure were also brought up to date.


Under the leadership of Shawn Harris, Southeast caught the attention of the Rotary International in 2006 - '07. Along with the other Springfield Rotary Clubs and Rotaract Club, Southeast received a Rotary International award for the Mobile Food Pantry project as one of its Best Cooperative Projects for 2006 - '07.  In addition, Southeast received the RI Membership Development Initiative Award for developing and implementing creative strategies to positively impact membership. Member Jim McLeod was selected to serve on the Rotary International Nominating Committee to select the Rotary International Directors.

Membership at the end of the 40th year was 230.

One of the highlights of the 2006 - '07 Rotary year was returning to an annual Christmas event. A large crowd of Rotarians and their spouses enjoyed the festive evening at the Vandivort Center on Walnut Street downtown. Entertainment was the Skinny Improv group.

On June 28, 2007, members gathered together at Hammons Field, reserved exclusively for the event, to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast. Because of the goal to capture the club’s most treasured traditions with the celebration, the board moved the July Shrimp Feed to serve as the foundation for the June 28 event. Entertainment included the Strolling Garbonzos, a video presentation of club memories, breakout discussion sessions and ended with a fireworks show, provided by the Past Presidents.


For 2007 - '08 under President Rob Montileone, Southeast Rotary continued its outstanding record of giving. The club supported a myriad of local and international projects including  participation in the Rock 'n Ribs Festival, which netted approximately $130,000 for children of the Ozarks, and the Rotary basketball tournament, which raised nearly $11,000 for Special Olympics.

Among the other projects supported were;  Rotary Mobile Food Pantry, Polio Plus, Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, UMR chapter of Engineers Without Borders, Convoy of Hope, and a joint project with the Club Rotario Tlaquepaque El Refugio in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico,  for which we donated $4,000 toward the rehabilitation of a Child Care Center.

Fellowship was in full swing and was highlighted by our Christmas Party at Highland Springs Country Club. Club member Steve Smith and his band, The Sneakers, provided the entertainment. The Fifth Thursday Make Up Opportunity fellowship event was established and proved successful.  We also participated in joint programs with the other Springfield clubs when we helped host the all-city luncheon at which former U.S. Sen. John Danforth spoke, the District 6080 meeting at which we sponsored a table discussion, and the Zones 29 & 30 Zone Institute where we provided financial support, supplies and volunteers.


During the 2008 - '09 Rotary year, Anne Keckeley Brown served as president of the club.  One of the highlights of international service was a trip to visit the Club Rotario Tlaquepaque El Refugio in Mexico.  A delegation of 12, including members and spouses, witnessed the plaque unveiling of the project to rehabilitate the San Miguel Child Care Center.  The group also participated in activities with the children, attended Rotary meetings and purchased supplies for a soccer field.

Other international projects in Africa and Honduras were supported during the year for almost $9,000. A highlight of the year was the luncheon held in June 2009 with the other Springfield Rotary Clubs.  Rotary International President-elect nominee Ray Klinginsmith of Kirksville, Mo., was the featured speaker and spoke on vocational service and international projects.  Membership at the end of the year was 229.


Southeast Rotary continued its reputation of excellence during the 2009 - '10 Rotary year under President Brad Toft.   Many individuals stepped forward and provided leadership to many projects.  Rock ' Ribs was again led by SE members and resulted in a record amount of support to Ozarks children's charities. The club also strengthened its relationship with our Twin Club in Tlaquepaque, Mexico, by providing financial support for construction of restrooms.

Of special note, the Long Range Planning Committee was convened and helped solidify the future of our club. Club members were especially grateful to be able to support the Polio Plus Challenge through our Four of Clubs raffle.


The 2010 - '11 Rotary year was marked by two key projects.

First, President John Horton wanted to create a hands-on project so Southeast Rotarians would be able to see the faces of those they were helping.  The club was able to duplicate a program from Farmington, N.M., with an drug education program teaching 5th graders about the dangers of methamphetamine usage.  More than 30 club members served in various capacities as they provided the education to almost 2,500 elementary kids, who will hopefully never experiment with the most addictive, destructive drug.  Don't Meth with Us has educated thousands of students of public and private schools in Springfield since then.

Secondly, we were able to spread the gift of Rotary by chartering yet another club.   The feeling was Springfield was large enough to have an evening club, so a committee led by Bonnie Keller started the Rotary Club of Springfield Metro.  The new club was chartered on March 9, 2011, with 63 members.  Southeast only lost four members to this new club.

Southeast has now chartered five new clubs: Sunrise, Rotaract, North, Nixa, and Metro.  Southeast also continued implementing the recommendations of the Long Range Planning Committee.  We started automating the attendance process with scanners, continued the Polio Plus challenge fund raising with our weekly progressive raffle and our leadership with Rock 'n Ribs to reach the $1 million mark in donations to children’s charities.


Springfield Southeast accomplished several of its goals during the 2011 - '12 Rotary year under the leadership of Brent Baldwin. In September 2011, a groundbreaking was held for the new Springfield Wagon play feature at K-Park. The installation of the wagon was celebrated with an official ribbon cutting event in June 2012 led by K-Park Committee Chair Jeff Cumley.

After several months of informational meetings and new member recruitment, led by committee chair Gerry Lee, the Interact Club of Glendale High School held its charter banquet in January with the induction of 25 new members. For the first time in club history, every Southeast member donated to the Rotary Foundation Annual Programs Fund.

Our club sent a small delegation of members for service projects with our twin club in Tlaquepaque, Mexico.  Southeast continued its leadership of other previously established projects with volunteer and financial support of Rock 'n Ribs BBQ Festival, Don’t Meth With Us, the Rotary basketball tournament for Special Olympics, and the World Community Service auction. Springfield Southeast focused on membership recruitment, diversity, and retention with the addition of 26 new members bringing total membership to 226 at year end.


Springfield Southeast accomplished a great deal during the 2012 - '13 Rotary year under the leadership of Laura Ward.  In October 2012, Southeast Rotary continued its partnership with Club Rotario Tlaquepaque El Refugio, by partnering on a project to improve kitchens and provide fencing for two daycare centers in Tlaquepaque. In addition to $8,000 from Southeast Rotary, the Rotary Club of Ozark also made its first donation to this international project.

We continued our relationship with the Interact Club of Glendale, and worked with it to donate school supplies to the Instituto de la Juventud Juan Pablo, and made a donation of $1,000 to the school in June.  Also in October, the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast co-sponsored the Haunted Hustle 5k Run/Walk with the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield to bring attention to Rotary, Polio Plus and to highlight the work of the Ronald McDonald House.  More than $3,000 was raised for the two charities.

After the resignation of executive secretary Theresa Robertson after 16 years of service, we contracted this year with Club Management Services.  Sarah Austin was our first executive secretary under this new contract.

The club continued its leadership in joint Rotary projects in Springfield with volunteer and financial support of Rock ’n Ribs BBQ Festival, Don’t Meth with Us, the Special Olympics basketball tournament, and the World Community Service auction.  Southeast added 14 new members, and increased diversity within the club by adding 8 new members from underrepresented demographic groups, bringing total membership to 232 at year end.


The president in 2013 - '14 was Jim Conley.  We continued a public relations campaign with local television stations featuring the "Rotary in Motion" public service announcements.  Rock 'n Ribs raised about $140,000 for children's charities this year, bringing the 15-year total to just under $1,5 million.  The Community Grants committee split $10,000 among 13 community organizations, including the SUAC Dirt Project, Crosslines, Springfield Regional Opera, The Smile Center, Arc of the Ozarks, Ozarks Food Harvest and the Doula Foundation.

The K-Park Committee received a Rotary District Simplified Grant of $1,000 for picnic tables at K-Park at Jordan Valley Park.   The club also launched the Hands-On Projects Committee to provide opportunities for members to become involved in local projects.  It adopted The Kitchen's Rare Breed youth service program for several projects.

The World Community Service committee disbursed $14, 910 for five projects:  Indian Widow Projects; Well Aware; a Springfield Metro Rotary Club water project;  Chocolate University, and our Southeast Rotary Club Twin Club Committee's work in Tlaquepaque, Mexico.

 The club donated just over $58,000 to the Paul Harris Foundation, bringing the all-time total to nearly $817,500.

The club added 15 new members and ended on June 30, 2014, with 229 members.


The club president in 2014 - '15 was Heather Ramsey.

The 16th annual Rock 'n Ribs  BBQ Festival raised nearly $182,000 for seven children's charities; Southeast Rotarians gave $68,200 in cash donations and $95,120 in in-kind donations to Rock 'n Ribs.  The 28th annual Rotary Basketball Tournament raised $13,567 for Special Olympics, including $8,874 from Southeast Rotary members.

The Community Grants committee awarded $10,000 for 11 programs, including Care to Learn backpack program, Child Advocacy Center, The Gardens Independent Living Community, Habitat for Humanity, Hand in Hand Multicultural Center, Harmony House, and OACAC.

The K-Park committee received a Rotary District Simplified Grant of $8,400 for a shade sail system to cover the picnic table pod at K-Park.  The Hands-on Project committee led the painting of the exterior of Rare Breed's transitional living house for homeless teenagers.

Club members partnered with Leadership Springfield's Leadership Academy to provide a career fair during its business day.  Southeast Rotarians representing eight different career paths led small group discussions with 32 top area high school juniors.

The World Community Service committee disbursed $15,275 for five international projects, including Pro Mujer, our Twin Club in Tlaquepaque, a Syrian Refugee Food Shipment, an OTC Nicaraguan Dental Care project, and a Nepal Teacher Training project.

The club welcomed 17 new members and ended the year with 225 members.


The club president in 2015 - '16 was Rick Van Pelt.  In this year, the club's annual golf tournament became a fundraiser instead of solely a fellowship event.  It raised about $10,000 for our club's Don't Meth With Us and Community Grants committees.  The Rotary Basketball Tournament raised $12,120 for Special Olympics, including nearly $8,100 from Southeast rotary members.

The Community Grants committee disbursed $10,000 to eight projects, including kitchen equipment at The Fairbanks, Springfield Regional Arts Council, Girls on the Run, Oxford Healthcare, Rare Breed, Discovery Center, Midwest Foster Care and Adoption, and National alliance on Mental Health.

Club members donated about $48,000 to the Rotary Foundation and PolioPlus, bringing the total donations to the Foundation from our club over 49 years to $902,000.

The club also established the Rotary Club of Southeast Springfield Endowment Fund with a separate Board of Directors to raise and disburse funds for the issues of Springfield and the surrounding community, including poverty, children, child abuse, housing, hunger, health, hygiene, education, and safety, plus the six focus areas of Rotary International.

The club welcomed 15 new members and ended June 2016 with 229.


The club president in 2016 - '17 was Bill McNeill.

The 30th annual Rotary Basketball Tournament in March raised $13,210 for Special Olympics. The second annual Octoberfest Golf tournament on Oct. 10 raised more than $13,000 for the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast Endowment.

The Community Grants Committee awarded $10,000 to nine organizations and projects.  A Rotary District 6080 simplified grant with matching funds from Southeast Rotary went to the Drew Lewis Foundation in July. The $22,000 donation helped build infrastructure at the Fairbanks to help launch the Northwest Project, an anti-poverty program in Springfield.
Southeast members gave more than $51,000 to the Rotary Foundation and an additional $4,600 to PolioPlus. Total all-time giving to the Rotary Foundation from the club reached $958,000.
The club, through dues and the  World Community Service auction, provided $13,200 in grants for three international projects.

The Vocational Awareness recognition program in June for the first time included videos honoring outstanding a Springfield police officer, a Springfield firefighter, a Greene County sheriff's deputy, and a Springfield teacher.   Family and friends talked in the videos about the honorees and their accomplishments.

In May, the club dedicated a new picnic area at K-Park. The tables are arranged in the shape of the Rotary logo.  Tables, the underlying concrete pad and the shade sail above them are in Rotary colors of blue and yellow.  The new Ted Andrews Memorial Bench honors the late Rotarian, who worked extensively on the shade sail project. The bench was funded by his family.

The club welcomed 22 new members and ended June 2017 with 231 members.


The club president in 2017-'18 was Lori Barnes Miller.   The club's meetings moved to Ocean Zen restaurant in July after Mercy Springfield Hospital closed its meeting room on the second floor of its C.H. "Chub" O'Reilly Cancer Center and remodeled the space for offices and treatment spaces.

The club celebrated its 50th anniversary with a banquet at the White River Conference Center on Sept. 9, 2017.   Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who is an honorary member of the club, and his son, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, were the keynote speakers.

The club received a $10,000 grant from Safeco Insurance, by the efforts of club  member Bill White, a Safeco agent.  The grant supports Don't Meth with Missouri, the anti-drug program for elementary and high school students that the club founded.

The 3rd annual GOLFtoberfest in October raised money for local charities and the club's charitable foundation.  The 31st Rotary Basketball Tournament raised about $13,000 for Special Olympics.

The annual World Community Service auction raised $8,613 in February 2018.  The club's Board of Directors added another $4,000 and other clubs in Springfield contributed $18,000 for a $110,000 to-be-decided Water Mission project.  The rest of the funds will come from District 6080, Rotary International, and the the host club and district of the water project.

The club awarded $10,000 in Community Grants to local organizations during this Rotary year.  Some of the grants went to the Springfield Public Schools Foundation, Springfield Victory Mission, Abilities First, Champion Athletes of the Ozarks, the Drew Lewis Foundation, and Isabel's House crisis nursery.

The Hands-on Committee continued to organize service projects of serving meals once a month at The Fairbanks.  It also organized a landscaping service project at Lutheran Family and Children's Services.

The club also helped Rotarians from other clubs plant  trees in Jordan Valley Park and club members volunteered to plant dozens of tree seedlings donated by the Missouri Conservation Department at other sites around the Ozarks.

The club again contributed much of the leadership for the 19th annual Rock 'n Ribs BBQ Festival in April at Ozark Empire Fairgrounds.  The festival raised about $140,000 for children's charities this year.

The year wound down with the annual float trip in June.  The club added 12 new members and ended June 2018 with 220 members.


The club president in 2018-’19 was Bill Squires.

The club added two new Paul Harris Fellows, making its total 472.   About three-fourths of our members, 154, contributed $33,441 to The Rotary Foundation, bringing the 51-year total to $1,048,417.

The World Community Service Committee contributed $10,392 to an international water project.  The PolioPlus Committee’s weekly raffle raised $3,286 for PolioPlus to help eradicate polio around the world.

The Community Grants Committee awarded $10,000 in two funding rounds to organizations in the Ozarks.  The club also obtained a district simplified grant and contributed $12,000 to the Drew Lewis Foundation to renovate its offices at The Fairbanks on North Broadway Avenue.

The club had two rounds of Rotary Fellowship meetings at members’ work sites.

Club members led and staffed the 20th (and it turned out to be the last) annual Rock ‘n Ribs Festival at the Ozarks Empire Fairgrounds in April to raise about $85,000 for nonprofit groups that serve children.  The club also competed in the 32nd annual Rotary Basketball Tournament in March to raise $16,592 for Special Olympics of the Ozarks.

The Hands-On Projects Committee recruited about 10 members once each month to serve and clean up a community meal at The Fairbanks for the Northwest Project, which helps people in northwest Springfield overcome poverty.  The club also organized and led a Fun Run that raised $6,000 for The Fairbanks.

The club held two blood drives at Community Blood Center of the Ozarks:  28 donated in August and 57 donated in January.

The club presented Rotary’s Four-Way Test Award to Brandi O’Reilly, who later became a member.

Fourteen people joined the club as new or returning members.  Membership was 222 on June 30, 2019.


The club president in 2019-’20 was Patrick Harrington.  The coronavirus epidemic ended in-person indoor meetings in March for the rest of the year.  The annual recognition and installation banquet was at K-Park at Jordan Valley Park on June 25, 2020, so members could socially-distance.

The club added six new Paul Harris Fellows.   About three-fourths of our members, 154, contributed $39,039 to the Rotary Foundation, bringing the 52-year total to $1,095,404.  The PolioPlus Committee’s weekly raffle raised $1,687 for PolioPlus.

The Community Grants Committee awarded $10,000 in two funding rounds to 10 organizations in the Ozarks.  The 32nd annual Rotary Basketball Tournament in March was canceled but still raised $13,886 from sponsorships for Special Olympics of the Ozarks.

Fourteen members participated in Don’t Meth with Us presentations, which again educated about 2,000 fifth graders across the city about the dangers of illegal drugs and misuse of legal drugs.

Springfield Southeast paired with Columbia Sunrise Rotary Club to host an inbound international exchange student.  Our club donated the funds for the exchange and Columbia Sunrise found host families.

The club had two rounds of Fellowship Luncheons at members’ work sites before the pandemic shut down events like that.

Twelve people joined the club as new or returning members.  The club had 220 members on June 30, 2020.

The club president in 2020-’21 was Rusty Worley.  In-person meetings resumed in the fall after being paused since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic but a Zoom attendance option continued to be eagerly embraced by many members.

The club added six new Paul Harris Fellows, and the club sent $43,166 to the Rotary Foundation from 155 members and club matching funds.  At blood drives, 39 people donated on behalf of the club in September and 39 donated in January.   Instead of a basketball tournament, the club participated in a March Madness competition that raised more than $13,000 for Special Olympics.

The club honored Mark Walker as its Volunteer of the Year. 

The club gave 10 grants of $1,000 each to community organizations.  It also arranged for a District Simplified Grant with matching funds from the club that helped the Ozarks Regional YMCA fund its Y on the Fly program.  Golf’toberfest raised $2,500 for Don’t Meth with Us and $10,029 for the Springfield Southeast Rotary Club Endowment.

In the spring, the club helped launch the ROAM (Rotary Outdoors and Activity Movement) app that challenged people in Springfield to log 1 million hours of physical activity, in an effort to reduce obesity.

The club added seven new or returning members.  Membership on June 30, 2021 was 211.

The president in 2021-’22 was Lisa Blumenstock.  A big challenge was re-establishing previous club attendance standards after they had been suspended during the pandemic.

 The club added 10 new Paul Harris Fellows, and the club sent $44,720 to the Rotary Foundation from 143 members and club matching funds.  At blood drives, 31 donated in September and 44 donated in January.  The citywide Rotary Basketball Tournament raised $13,381 for Special Olympics.  The club also donated $7,559 as part of a $26,129 project to improve Miracle Field, made $1,000 grants to 10 local nonprofit groups, and spent $409 to help The Fairbanks pay for school supplies for needy students.

The club honored Judy Bilyeu as Volunteer of the Year and honored Jeff Cumley with a Lend-a-Hand Award.

In March, community dinners at The Fairbanks resumed and the Hands-on Committee organized club members to serve the food once a month.  The club helped provide band instruments to a high school in Chihyahua, Mexico, in a partnership with other Springfield Rotary clubs and the Rotary Club of Delacias, Mexico. The club led a citywide Peace Pole project that led to the dedication of the first of five planned peace poles in K-Park.

The club sponsored four students to attend Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA).  Golf’toberfest raised $2,500 for Don’t Meth With Us and $16,558 for the Springfield Southeast Rotary Club Endowment.

The club welcomed 12 new or returning members and ended the year on June 30 with 195 members.

The 2022 - ’23 president was Lori Johnson Murawski.  She was the first president whose father was a president of this club.  (Current member Rex Johnson was president in 1984 – ‘85.)

The club became a 100% Paul Harris Fellows Club in the spring of 2023, raising the number of current Paul Harris Fellows to 191 (558 all-time).  Southeast members gave $36,822.85 to the Rotary Foundation.

The Community Grants Committee awarded 10 grants totaling $10,000.  With the help of KY3 and ADsmith Marketing & Advertising, two 30-second PSAs were aired on KY3 and other local media outlets online and on television to bring awareness to Rotary, focusing on the 4-Way Test.  The Public Relations Committee launched an Instagram page and created a Southeast Rotary brochure for interested guests and speakers.

The Basketball Tournament Committee raised a record amount of $16,784.50 for Special Olympics in the event’s final year, making the total about $300,000 raised over 35 years.

Don’t Meth With Us programming was no longer needed as a part of the SPS curriculum. The committee dissolved DMWU and transferred the balance of their funds ($44,000) to the Southeast Rotary Endowment.

A grant project totaling $14,050.34 was completed in partnership with Watershed Committee of the Ozarks providing a shed and planting materials to the Watershed Natives program. This project was made possible by a Southeast Rotary donation of $7,025.17, and a District Simplified Grant totaling matching funds of $7,025.17.

The Lend-A-Hand award was presented to Dan Emrie in April 2023 and Jason Flores in June 2023.  The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented in April 2023 to Brian McDonough.

The Rotary Outdoor Activity Movement (ROAM) completed a few challenges through the year to promote physical activity to members and the community prior to its conclusion in January 2023.

The Golf’toberfest Committee hosted the 8th annual golf tournament fundraiser, raising $18,720.70 for the Southeast Rotary Endowment through 26 teams made up of 104 golfers. The Fellowship Activities Committee conducted 9 socials during the year.

The New Member Orientation Committee conducted two New Member Orientations for 12 new members.  Monthly new member luncheons were hosted at Archie’s Italian Eatery throughout the year by the Welcoming Committee.  The Membership Development Committee shepherded 25 new members through a revamped process that sped up the time from application submission to new member introduction.

The club ended June 2023 with 203 members.