History of Pikeville Rotary

The Twenties

In February of 1922, Walter Mayo, an Ashland, Kentucky Rotarian and a frequent business visitor in Pikeville, began conversations with Norman A. Chrisman concerning a Rotary Club in Pikeville. These talks continued and later included J. Frank Record, then president of Pikeville College. Norman and Frank became enthused about the possibility. As a result, in early April of that year, Rotarian Mayo met with Chrisman, Record and 15 other Pikeville business and professional men at the Jefferson Hotel. At that meeting the 17 Pikeville men agreed to form a Rotary Club by signing a charter application with the Ashland Club to act as sponsor. On April 20, 1922, 22 members of the sponsoring Ashland Rotary Club came to Pikeville for the formal organizational meeting. Thus began "Service Above Self" in Pikeville. From its beginning, the Pikeville Rotary Club has been an active influence for progress in the community. The club was admitted to Rotary International on May 1, 1922.


Rotary was instrumental in organizing The Kentucky Society For Crippled Children with Pikeville Rotarians Dr. Z. A. Thomason, Tom Harman, Don Flannary, Norman Chrisman and others taking the lead. The Pikeville Rotary Club and individual Rotarians provided leadership in the formation of the Lonesome Pine Council, Boy Scouts of America during this period.


Working with county extension service agents, Pikeville Rotary held meetings with Pike County farmers -- one of the first urban-rural relationship efforts in the area. Support of the Scouting Program continued. The highlight of assistance to and involvement in Crippled Children's work occurred when a young Pike County girl, badly crippled, was sent by the Club to the Crippled Children's Hospital in Louisville for corrective treatment and surgery. Upon her return to Pikeville after two years in the hospital, the young lady walked, without help, down the middle of the table during a Rotary meeting. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. In 1928, the Rotator, the Club News publication, was started and continues today.

The Thirties


A program of meeting with other community service clubs was started. Pikeville Rotary gave leadership to a slack water project for the Big Sandy River. The Club gave active support to 4-H and scouting leadership training projects. Other projects carried out by the Club during this period were: Vocational Guidance, Christmas Baskets for the Needy, a Blue Ribbon Health Campaign, a Washington Essay Contest, a campaign for better roads and road markings, a Back-To-School movement, and Club "Adoption" of an underprivileged child. In 1932, the Pikeville Club won the Attendance Award at the Rotary District Conference held in Middlesboro, Kentucky. Rotarians attending were: G. H. Hughes, Ogden Dunbar, Frank McClelland, Harrison Bowles, E. S. Shurtleff, F. A. Connolly, N. A. Chrisman, I. Williams, Cecil Greer, C. I. Russell, A. S. Johnson, M. D. Flannary, Rush Sword, Tom Harman, R. E. Hodges, J. F. Record, R. E. Doyle, R. G. Wells, W. A. Call, and John Grant. Many of the Rotarians' wives also attended the conference. In 1932, Rotarian Rush Sword started a 20-year career as Secretary of the Pikeville Rotary Club. A remarkable contribution to Rotary and an example of "Service Above Self," Rush is now an Honorary Member.

During the twenties and thirties, Pikeville Rotarians had a difficult time making up missed Club meetings. The Ashland Club was the closest and it took a round trip on the C & O's Big Sandy "Flyer" to do it. Leaving Pikeville around 6:45 a.m. and as Norman Chrisman, who made the trip quite often, puts it, "Got back up here sometimes at 11:00 at night and sometimes about 6:45 p.m., depending on what time the afternoon train left Ashland."

The Forties


In 1940, along with the Pikeville Kiwanians, Pikeville Rotary honored local members of the Kentucky National Guard. The Pikeville Rotary Club, during the war years, sponsored and participated in "War Bonds" campaigns. In 1943, a Student Loan Fund was started by the Pikeville Club and the Club sponsored the Pike County Fair. In 1944, the Club promoted a Pike County Honor Roll Display Board and supported a Community Playground Center. In 1946, the Club took an active role in efforts to improve our municipal water supply, sewage and gas distribution systems. In 1947, Pikeville Rotary sponsored a "HIRE THE HANDICAPPED VETERANS" campaign. The end of the forties decade found the Pikeville Club active in a Juvenile Delinquency Program and providing milk for needy children at local schools. Support of scouting and work with crippled children continued. Pikeville Rotary's A. A. "Gus" Page, President of Pikeville College, became Governor of Rotary District 235.

The Fifties


In 1951, our Club was a co-sponsor of a proposed Community Youth Center, co-sponsored the annual 4-H Club Fair, and assisted in the "Kentucky Test City Program." In December of 1951, Pikeville Rotary had the first Pancake Day, an event that has become an annual community fixture (celebrating its fiftieth year on December 7, 2001!). In the early 50's, Rotarians had fried an estimated 63,000 pancakes and raised approximately $16,000 since that first Pancake Day, thus enabling the Club to continue and expand its support of many worthy causes. In the early fifties the Club initiated several projects to develop international affairs, Club programs on International Service by Pikeville College students and teachers and support of the Rotary Foundation Program. In the next two years, the Club sponsored a Traffic Safety Program and helped in the formation of a school safety patrol. Support of the Crippled Children's Program continued.


A project to place the "Rotarian" magazine in Pikeville College and all high schools in Pike County was initiated in 1956. A Dental Clinic was sponsored by the Club in 1957. At about this time, support for Pikeville College took the form of a "Living Endowment." A "4-Way Test" program was carried out in 1958. Also in 1958, Club membership turned out in the spring to "Set Up" the Girl Scout Camp on Dewey Lake. No one will forget the 1957 flood in Pikeville. Many of the priceless Club records were destroyed; the meeting place was heavily damaged; and many of the members suffered heavy losses. Despite all this, the Club missed only two meetings. You can't keep Rotarians down.

The Sixties


A Scholarship Recognition Program was started recognizing outstanding English and math students with savings bonds awarded to top 8th grade graduating students in those fields. The Club supported traffic changes and safety regulations proposed by City Government. In 1962, the club endorsed and supported a City School Bond Issue and participated in the Camp KYSCO Project. In 1962-63, Pikeville Rotary with Pike County Chamber of Commerce developed a "Protect and Care for Our Forests" campaign and was active in support of the Pikeville Concert Association.


In 1965, Pikeville Rotary started a Scholarship Recognition Day by having the two top scholars and principal from each of Pike County's 10 High Schools as guests at a club meeting. During this period, the Club sponsored youth delegates to the Lexington Spoke Conference, Boys and Girls State, and mock U.N. Sessions. In 1966, the Club started a Savings Bond Award to the valedictorian of the Pikeville High School graduating class. Support of Pikeville College, scouting, and work with crippled children continued.

The Seventies


In 1971, the Club started a program of taking a meaningful message to all junior high school students in Pike County. Rotarians visited all 10 of the county high school and junior high student bodies with a message on America and their part and future in this great county. We continue to support Pikeville College, scouting, work with crippled children, Pikeville Methodist Hospital, community improvement and other worthy causes. Significantly, where good citizenship is at work, one will find Pikeville Rotary there as a Club and, equally or even more importantly, individual Rotarians living "Service Above Self."