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Remembering Rotary's History with Beth Elwell

February 7, 2009

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In 1988, Beth Elwell and Pat Moulton were the first two women to be invited into the Bennington Rotary. This was an historic occasion. Until then, Rotary had been an all male organization, but Rotary International voted to include women at that time.

When asked how she felt about being selected, Beth said that she was honored and delighted because what she knew of Rotary was very good. Her brother, George, was in Rotary. John Kennedy, whom she admired greatly, recruited her.

What impressed her most was the community service aspect of Rotary. It was an organization she could believe in. "What we gave back to the local and global community was significant."

Beth also enjoyed making connections to community members that she might not have had access to otherwise. At that time, you were fined if you sat next to the same person two weeks in a row.

The speakers were always interesting. She learned about topics that she would have never considered before. There was also the camaraderie of singing and sharing a meal together that created a bond. She looked forward to seeing those faces at Rotary. "I don't think I appreciated it fully. I didn't think about the gender aspect of it until I realized how important it was to many, and then, there were people who were not happy. No one made me feel uncomfortable about it."

Beth was in Rotary for ten years. When she entered, she was in the Estate Appraisal business. She now teaches at Molly Stark school.

Rotary made a huge impact on Beth's daughters. They worked with her during the Spirit of Sharing and helped her with the garbage at the Car Show. She and Pat were assigned to the garbage detail. They brought it to a new level and made it an honor to be on the garbage crew. Her daughters, married and with careers, give back to their communities as they saw their mother do.

Author: Sally Sugarman (Club Member & Windmill Editor)

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