Reading Rotary History

Rotary Club of Reading, Pennsylvania
Chartered on December 1, 1913

88th Rotary Club to be Chartered

“The idea of a group of business men, in businesses not allied to each other, banding together to become better friends, to exchange business ideas, and to help their communities, was first brought to fruition by the formation of a Rotary Club in Chicago in 1905 by Paul P. Harris. The inherent need for such an organization among businessmen and its place in their communities became very apparent when similar clubs began to be organized in many other cities. The first Rotary Club organized in Pennsylvania was that of Philadelphia on November 30, 1910, Charter #19. Soon after that Pittsburgh and then Harrisburg were organized.

 “Business men in Reading, particularly William W. Keck, a partner in Croll and Keck, Clothiers, Bernard R. Knisely and Otis H. Bennett had received news of this new organization from friends of theirs in Harrisburg and Scranton. After several informal get-togethers in Croll and Keck store in the summer of 1913, a meeting was called in the Mineral Spring Hotel on September 13, 1913, which was attended by 52 businessmen of Reading and vicinity. This meeting was presided over by the late Judge W. Wagner, who introduced the guests, among whom were representatives of the Harrisburg Club, particularly John S. Musser, President of the Harrisburg Club. The most important representative of Rotary at this meeting was Glenn C. Meade of Philadelphia who had been president of the National Rotary group for the year 1912-1913. His story and appeal, plus those of the Harrisburg and Scranton men, were immediately fruitful and the group presented and elected the following officers:

  • President — William W. Keck
  • Vice President — Joseph W. Essick
  • Secretary — Dwight J. McCann
  • Treasurer — J. P. Hennesy
  • Sergeant-at-arms — John Hartman

The Board of Directors included E. L. Hettinger, Theodore C. Auman, Reverend John Hackenberg, A. D. Nelson and the above officers.

 “This group of officers of the new organization went to work to line up men to actually become members of the Rotary Club of Reading when organized; and were successful in securing 31 pledged members who were the following:

William H. Albright Henry Johnston
Theodore C. Auman Stanley R. Kaufman
Jere H. Barr William W. Keck
W. U. Barr Bernard R. Knisely
0. H. Bennett C. V. Kratzer
William M. Croll Dwight G. McCann
John B. Dampman L. C. McCann
Joseph W. Essick Albert D. Nelson
Charles J. Esterly Maurice Roeder
Keyser Fry S. S. Schweriner
William I. Goldman Harry Shaaber
J. H. Hackenberg H. V. Vastine
John Hartman, Jr. Richard Wetzel
J. P. Hennesy M. F. Wilkinson
E. L. Hettinger Howard Ziegler
Conrad B. High

“This group petitioned for charter in the International Association of Rotary Clubs, as the organization was then known, and pending permission to form a club officially, engaged also in securing additional members. The court as of October 1, 1914 approved the incorporation of the Rotary Club of Reading, PA, and the Club was granted Charter #88. At the time of the formal incorporation, there were 95 members of the Club.”

From this early beginning, the Rotary Club of Reading has grown and prospered. In the process it has contributed much to the fabric of our community.

Learn More About the First 100 Rotary Clubs at Rotary First.