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Welcome to Bennington Rotary's 60th Anniversary Year

January 1, 2011

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2011 is the 60th anniversary of the Bennington Rotary. We will be featuring stories about the history of our club. Chuck Putney is also putting together a publication for this purpose. Looking through old newspapers, it was interesting to see that Chuck did something like that for the club's 35th anniversary.

Robert Holden was the club's first President. In a 1980 article that celebrated the 75th Anniversary of Rotary International, Holden talked about the early days of the club. It was Herb Gates who got thirty business and professional men together to discuss beginning a club with Rotarians from Manchester and Bellows Falls in the Putnam Hotel on April 10.

When finally chartered in June, there were thirty four members who understood that service above self was their task and that they had a responsibility to the Bennington community to help. Their first fund raiser was a circus for which Rotarians sold tickets, carried water for the elephants and did other tasks. The result was not much money so the next fund raiser they tried was an auction which did somewhat better.

Among their first hands-on projects was the Deer Park, begun in September, 1953.

This was the first of many such projects in the community, including when necessary revisits to Deer Park to keep it in good shape.

Besides hands-on projects, Rotarians also sponsored programs helping young people. One of the first was an International Summer Program that was housed on the Bennington College Campus. Forty to fifty international students became accustomed to the United States before they started their college careers through this program.

In 1952, the Rotarians also started the Windmill, but as a weekly bulletin. Evidently, before e-mail, it was a good way to keep members informed. Learning more about our history should be fun in the coming months.

Author: Sally Sugarman (Club Member & Windmill Editor)

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