The Ashland Rotary Club officially began its work in 1919. Following a meeting in which 19 prospective members attended, Rotary International authorized the Superior Club to help organize the Ashland Club. This was completed at a supper meeting at the Elks Club in Ashland on October 22, 1919.
The presentation of the Charter was made by the Superior Rotary Club on February 5, 1920. A total of 111 Rotarians came from Superior and Duluth by special train and were met by members of the Ashland Club and a band at the Depot.
The Charter for the Club, as part of District 622, was presented by Clarence Hartley, President of the Superior Club. A feature of the meeting was the distribution of a special edition of The Superior Telegram which was published for the occasion. From that day to this, the Ashland Club has functioned in every imaginable community service.
In 1921, the Ashland Club sponsored a new club in Ironwood, Michigan. In 1928, Dan Brownell, then President of Northland College, served as District Governor of District 622 of which Ashland was then a part. In 1972-73, this Club furnished another District Governor in the name of Ed Evenson.
In 1968, Ashland petitioned Rotary International to disassociate from District 622 of Wisconsin and joined in District 558. It continues to be a member of the same district today which is now numbered 5580. It is truly an International District because it includes territories in both Canada and the United States.
The Club invited its first women members in 1989 shortly after the practice was affirmed by Rotary International. The first women members were Lois Koval and Lynn Gordon.
Community Service has been the hallmark of the Club throughout its entire history. It has sponsored scholarships for students from Ashland, Washburn, and Bayfield, who attend either Northland College or Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. It recently added another scholarship to support the education of a non-traditional student recommended by the Concentrated Employment Program (CEP, Inc.). The Club continues to maintain Rotary Park which it established across from Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1960. In the 60s, the Club also secured and paid for the Ashland Little League Charter. Ashland Rotary provided the initial seed-money for the Lakefront Trail on Chequamegon Bay. The Club was one of the first contributors to the Chequamegon Bay Habitat for Humanity chapter. It provided funds to match those of individual members. In the past, the Club purchased livestock for young people who intended to go into farming. It also regularly hosted local high school students at its weekly meeting.
For many years, the Club had a trailer from which they sold brats and other food at the Ashland County Fair, Applefest, and other selected places. The Club has also held lotteries for special projects. The Club sponsored the Bay Days bike race for many years. Today, the primary fund raisers are the Concession stand at Ashland High School's first home football game and the rose sale.
On the international front, the Club provided assistance to the Rotary Club of Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, and conducted a city-wide clothing drive for the people of West Berlin, Germany after WWII. More recently, the Club provided assistance to Rotary International’s program to eradicate polio in the world. The Club provides financial assistance to the Rotary Foundation for the Foundation’s various programs.
The Ashland Club ranks near the top of all clubs in the district for its support of the Foundation. Rotary member George Lombardi was a Rotary Ambassador to Mexico’s District 411 in Rotary International’s program for world understanding. Ashland Rotary member Gail Otis holds the Club record for consecutive attendance at Rotary Meetings – 50 years. As of September 2013, current Rotarian Diane Foris holds the current perfect attendance record. Norma Criley, a Northland College student, was one of the early recipients of a Rotary International scholarship. Recently, our club sponsored two participants in a Group Study Exchange to Lithuania.
The Club socializes, too. In the 1970s, Ashland and all the Clubs around the lake would gather once a year for a conference. Ashland sponsored one of these events at Telemark in Cable. The Club has held joint dinner meetings with Kiwanis from time to time. The Club also sponsors social events in order to include spouses including our June BBQ meeting and our Holiday social.
Rotary meets at Noon every Tuesday
The Niblick Bar & Grill
3000 Golf Course Road, Ashland, Wisconsin
The Rotary Club of Ashland is part of an international organization of community leaders. We strive to live by the four-way test of truthfulness, fairness, friendship and actions beneficial to all. Through the Rotary Club our members lead and participate in strategic humanitarian and community projects; encourage high ethical standards in all vocations; and help build goodwill and peace in our community. Quality weekly programs provide positive professional development; educate members on international, community and business issues while fostering fellowship.