Club History

Club History

Our Heritage 
 
The Rotary Club of Saratoga was chartered on December 21, 1955. Our first president, Richard "Dusty" Rhodes, provides us with an insight into the first years. 
 
Meet Dusty 
 
We recently had the opportunity to meet with Dusty Rhodes, Club president from December 1955 to June, 1957. We sure learned a lot about the Club's heritage. The following are excerpts from the interview. 
 
What was Saratoga like in 1955?
In 1955, Saratoga was a charming, quiet town with lots of open space and beautiful orchards. 
 
How did the idea for a Rotary Club come about?
Saratoga was not an incorporated city in 1955, when Ray Cartmell, a local mail carrier, decided to invite several local businessmen to join him in organizing a newcomer's club. This group met for lunch on most Wednesdays at the Hacienda Restaurant. Ray arranged for speakers who were familiar with activities in Saratoga and Santa Clara County. 
 
How was the Saratoga Rotary Club formed?
In mid 1955, Ray came up with the idea of forming a local Rotary Club. There was already a Lion's Club in town and Ray thought that another service club would benefit the community. We contacted the well established Los Gatos Rotary Club and sought help in forming a local club. President Bill Mason and an active committee gave us all the support and encouragement we needed. 
 
How large was the Club?
We had twenty names on a petition for the Saratoga Rotary Club - but alas, Ray Cartmell's name was strangely absent. It's still a mystery why Ray, after coming up with the idea, chose not to be a member. We became the 51st club in District 155 in Rotary International's 51st year. 
 
When was the Club chartered? 
The Club received its charter on December 21, 1955, from A.Z. Baker, then president of Rotary International, at a large meeting of all District 155 clubs at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. A second Charter Night was given to us by the Los Gatos Rotary Club a month later at the Alamaden Country Club. To the best of my knowledge, no other Rotary Club has had two Charter Night celebrations. 
 
What were the early objectives? 
Stabilizing our membership was one of our first objectives as 20 members were required to a form a Rotary Club. Our membership dropped from 20 to 16 at one point in the first few months. By mid 1956, we were back to 25 members. Our Board invested a lot of personal time in eventually establishing a well-rounded organization. We chose Club Service as our first endeavor. 
 
What were some of the first year's highlights? 
We were proud to be asked by District Governor George Chaffey to present a program at the District Conference held at Hoberg's Resort in Lake County on April 6, 1957. The title of our program was "A New Club Looks At Rotary" and it was well received. 
After about one year, we were ready to become active in Vocational Service, Community Service, and International Service. 
 
Editor's Note: Today the Saratoga Rotary has approximately 125 men and women members and has contributed over $2 million to worthy community groups. 
 
Dusty. a retired Santa Clara County Judge of the Superior Court, drops in on the Club from time to time.