Union City Rotary Club
Club History
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Paul Harris Fellows
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Rotary International
Rotary District 6760
Rotary History

The Union City Rotary Club, made up of 140 members representing a variety of local businesses and professions, has established itself as an organization whose ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise has benefited the community since its beginning. Union City Rotarians encourage and foster the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service; high ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; the necessity for each Rotarian to dignify his occupation as an opportunity to serve society; the application of this ideal of service by every Rotarian in personal, business and community life; and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of those involved in business and the professions united in the ideal of service.

Union City rotary club charter member Gus White's previous history of the organization notes that the group was established in 1936 under the sponsorship of the Jackson and Trenton Rotary Clubs. Thanks to the efforts of Rotarians Happle Hunt and Gale Fawcett of Trenton and Bond Wilkinson and Sam Franklin of Jackson, business and professional men in Union City who had previously been associated in a local organization known as the Union City Civic Club became part of the international movement.

In August of that year of that year a group of potential members met at the old City Hall to organize the Union City Rotary Club. The first meeting of the new group took place August 28 in that building's assembly room.

New members elected Gus B. White, Jr. president: Cecil Grigsby, vice president, Carl J. Timm, secretary: and Walter J. Mayes, treasurer. Those formed the first Board of Directors, along with Walter G. Reynolds, Cyrus B. Dement, Walter Howell and Franklin Yates.

A few months later on December 4, at a dinner hosted at City Hall, the Club was presented a charter by District Governor C. P. Daniel of Kingsport. Edgar Hudgins gave the welcoming address and Joe Davis of Fulton, a fellow Rotarian, was speaker for the occasion. A response was forthcoming from President White. All 30 charter members were in attendance for this session, according to Club records.

Among the 30 well-known citizens who made up the new Rotary Club were James Rippy, Sr. and Tom Elam. Others whose names are on the first roll include Will Andrews, Embrey Beck, Clem Burdick, Bryant Edwards, Hunter Elam, Ellis Carnett, Carlos Elkins, Leon Evans, Noel Glover, Charley Haskins, Walter Phillips, Cecil Mathis, Phil Morson, Hugh Sitton, Frank Kimzey, Ken Woodruff, Howell Bransford, Don Kerr, and Dr. R. G. Latimer.

The Union City organization was given the club number 4017 and recognized as part of District 6760.

Letters of congratulations from Rotary Clubs around the world soon began to arrive. President White found it necessary to seek the assistance of some local teachers and citizens fluent in foreign languages to interpret some of these missives.

Rotary currently meets at noon Friday at The Hampton Centre'. In the past, the meetings have been called to order at the former Davy Crocket Hotel, The Grill, Lexington Café, Red Top Inn, Park Café, Biltmore Motel and Bonanza Restaurant.

The 2003 Rotary Club currently includes on its membership roll third generation local Rotarians. The White family's association extends back to the first Union City Rotary president, Gus White. His son, the late (former president) Barry White, and his grandsons, former president Bart White and Skipper White. Bart White and Skipper White are current active members of the Club. The Critchlow family was first represented by the 1950 president Ed S. Critchlow. His son David G. Critchlow, Sr. and his grandsons, David G. Critchlow, Jr. and Scott Critchlow are now on roll. Walker Tanner saw his son E. B. "Buzz" Tanner, and his grandson Congressman John Tanner, join him as Rotarians, as past presidents and as Paul Harris Fellows.

Two district governors have risen from the ranks of the local Club. Carl Timm was elected in Trenton for the 1972-73 term. Gus B. White received the honor in 1961 in Murfreesboro and was serving when his son became local Rotary president in 1962. During the terms of these outstanding Rotarians, the district conferences, under the chairmanship of Barry White, were distinguished with the largest attendance in the history of the district organization. Many current members may recall that a young and relatively unknown Barbara Mandrell provided musical entertainment for the conference held during Rotarian Timm's term.

Robert A. "Fats" Everett, a favorite son who represented this Congressional District for many years in Washington, was made an honorary member. The only other honorary member is James Harris who has led a regional awareness campaign for ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

As the Union City Rotary Club looks to its second century of service to the community, members can recall with pride the group's many contributions. These include such diverse outreach efforts as donations to the Crippled Adults Hospital of Memphis - An early beneficiary of Rotary's efforts: Sheriff's Youth Town; student and citizen exchange programs that contribute to understanding between cultures; Rotary Relays, a program to promote competition in high school track and field; and impressive college and technical school scholarship that has won attention far beyond the local level, and sponsorship of a book program for youth from birth to age five named "Obion County Reading Railroad".

The Union City Rotary Club promotes Rotary International's "Four Way Test":

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICAL to all concerned?

Members of the Union City Rotary Club continue to actively practice the motto, "Service Above Self", which has defined the group's purpose for more than a half a century. In so doing they validate the comments of the Club's first president, who praised the group and the individuals in it as "a hub for the forward turning wheel of advancement in this community".

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