History of Edina Rotary

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By M.E. "Micky" Lane

"Hearty congratulations Edina Admitted 26 August. Please Advise New Club Also Sponsor Club" - signed Beth Mavety Rotary International

The above telegram, read to the members of the newly formed Edina Rotary Club at its meeting on Aug. 29, 1957, by then District Governor Evlad C. Bank, would probably be considered the official "birth notice" of the District's newest baby -- the Rotary Club of Edina. However, as in any conception and birth, the "idea" that became the Rotary Club of Edina started many weeks before. The "christening" of the new club took place on the evening of Oct. 7, 1957, when the club was formally presented its charter.

"Godfather" of the Edina Rotary Club was Sam S. Thorpe, Jr., a longtime Edina resident and Minneapolis Rotarian. "A Rotary Club in Edina has been a special dream of mine for a long time," commented Sam at our Charter Night Banquet. His dream started taking form in early 1957 at the District Rotary Conference in Rochester, Minn., when Sam broached the idea to District Governor John Lysen. The District Governor thereupon appointed Sam (to be assisted by Fred Rogers) as his special representative to survey the Edina-Morningside area on the potential possibilities for a Rotary Club. Evald C. Bank, newly elected District Governor who would take office July 1, 1957, concurred on the survey and the appointment of the special representatives.

Sam Thorpe and Fred Rogers (then a member of the St. Louis Park Club) canvassed the community and decided there were at least 26 people interested in forming a club. On Jun 17, 1957, Sam sent his Survey Report to Rotary International with the following comments i his Surveyor's Viewpoint: "A very fine, high-class Village with good business sections and more industries are likely to move in to it. Many Minneapolis Club members live in Edina. Lots of good help from both Minneapolis and St. Louis Park."

With the completion of the survey and an OK to proceed, the next steps required to iron out the problems involved in forming a new club were undertaken. Because the territorial limits of the St. Louis Park Club encompassed Edina, and Morningside was in the Minneapolis Club territory, it was necessary for both of these clubs to take the necessary action to relinquish these two communities. The Rotary Clubs of St. Louis Park and Minneapolis so agreed and then proceeded in typical Rotary fashion to serve as co-sponsors for the new club to be formed in the Edina-Morningside area.

During this preliminary period, Sam Thorpe held several meetings at his home with prospective Edina-Morningside members and there as also a meeting held at the Minikahda Club. Fred Rogers, Robert Crabb, Don Judkins, Ralph Nelson, Kermit Wilson and Bill Crear were among the present members who attended one or more of these preliminary meetings. May 23 and May 28, 1957, seem to be remembered as the dates of the most important of such meetings. On July 8, 1957, 14 prospective members, plus three members of the Minneapolis Club and two from the St. Louis Park Club, voted to apply for a charter from Rotary International. This action was approved by the Board of Directors of both the Minneapolis and St. Louis Park clubs.

The new club was officially organized at a meeting on July 18 with the election of officers and a Board of Directors consisting of Kermit Wilson, President; Micky Lane, Vice President; Don Judkins, Treasurer; Robert Crabb, Secretary; and Ralph Nelson, Frank Tupa, Lew Russell and Fred Rogers as directors. This meeting was held at the Biltmore Inn -- selected as official meeting place for the new club -- and the officers and directors held their first official meeting on Tuesday, July 23.

The standard Constitution and Bylaws recommended by Rotary International were adopted by the Board of Directors at its first meeting. The last meeting in March was approved as the annual meeting date for the club and Thursday noon, 12:10 p.m., was set as the regular meeting time for the club. Annual fees and dues for members were also established. President Kermit Wilson also made tentative appointments of the directors who were to be in charge of the various club activities.

The first official luncheon meeting of the provisional club was held at the Biltmore Inn on Thursday, July 25, with 18 members and seven visitors in attendance. Regular weekly meetings continued from thereon, with attendance becoming official for club records as of Sept. 1, 1957. Frequent meetings of the officers and directors of the club were also held during those first few months following the club's formation. Micky Lane was assigned the responsibility of working out plans for a Charter Night Banquet in cooperation with the other officers and representatives of the St. Louis Park and Minneapolis Rotary Clubs. Director Lew Russell, owner and operator of the Biltmore Inn, worked closely with this group in making plans for an outstanding Charter Night affair.

The sudden death of Lew on Sunday, Oct. 6, the day before our Charter Night Banquet, was a shock to our new club and its members and cast a note of sadness over what otherwise was a most successful affair. Mrs. Russell and the staff of the Biltmore, knowing how much Lew had looked forward to making the banquet a success, worked extra hard that evening. Their reward was the unanimous opinion of all the "old timer" Rotarians present that the Edina Charter Night Banquet was the best they had ever attended. Over 400 Rotarians and their wives from around the state attended the Charter Night party. With some 25 Rotary Clubs represented, the Edina Club was certainly given a most auspicious christening.

It was only fitting that "father" Sam Thorpe should serve as emcee at our Charter presentation party. As special representative of Gov. Evald C. Bank, "Father Sam" also had the privilege of introducing the 21 charter members of the new Edina Rotary Club and presenting them with their Rotary lapel pins. [Charter members were Donald Burris, Arnold Chester, William Crear, Jr., Robert Crabb, C.J. Danens, Kenneth Edwards, Stan Fredrickson, Randolph Graell, Harvard Gross, Warren Hyde, Don Judkins, M.E. "Micky" Lane, Ralph Nelson, Fred Rogers, Francis Row, Lew Russell, Harold Schuyler, Frank Tupa, Wally Westberg, Kermit Wilson and Ken Zinser.]

Edina's new Rotarians were a bit overwhelmed by the gifts from the other Rotary Clubs in District 595 who were anxious to get us off to a good start. The following gifts were presented to our club on Charter Night:

  • Bell and gavel, pins and book "Object of Rotary," Minneapolis Rotary Club
  • Flag, St. Louis Park Rotary Club
  • Lecturn, St. Paul Rotary Club
  • Badge Box, Hopkins Rotary Club
  • Song Books, St. James Rotary Club
  • Plaque for Meeting Place, Richfield Rotary Club
  • President's Brief Case, Mankato Rotary Club
  • Road Sign, Buffalo Rotary Club

In addition, cash gifts were presented to the club to help it start off on a sound financial basis by the Rotary Clubs of Albert Lea, Alexandria, Cannon Falls, Chatfield, Excelsior, Faribault, Gaylord, Glencoe, Le Sueur, Madelia, Monticello, Northfield, New Prague, New Ulm, St. Peter, Shakopee, Stillwater, Wayzata, Mountain Lake and Sauk Centre.

Thus, with the encouragement and good wishes of Rotary Clubs of District 595, the Edina Rotary Club became a part of this great, world-wide fellowship known as Rotary.