The Rotary Club of Naples Bay is part of Rotary International, a worldwide service organization headquartered in Evanston, Illinois. The first Rotary Club was organized and founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1905 by Paul Harris, a young attorney with three other businessmen.
Our club was founded as the Rotary Club of Naples East on March 10, 1973. The territorial limit of the club was all of the area to the east of the western shore of Naples Bay. Today, Rotary no longer has territorial boundaries.
The Rotary Clubs of Naples and North Naples were the sponsoring clubs and charged with the original formation of our club. About twenty two local professionals and businessmen were among the original members. The Flaming Fountain Café served as the initial meeting place. A Charter Night was held at the Golden Gate Inn on April 17, 1973 and the charter was presented by the District Governor Joe Seldon, Jr. of District 696. The club was then on its own to forge forward and become a successful service organization in our community.
Fred Gartz, a local investment broker, was the Charter President. Other officers were: VP- E.T. Wainwright, Secretary- Mark Rasmussen, Treasurer- Millard Younkers and Sergeant at Arms- Richard Redenbaugh.
During the last 35 years, the club has met at numerous local establishments including the old Elks Club (demolished) in downtown Naples, Elks Club on Airport Road, Glades Country Club, Naples Bath & Tennis Club, Mirabelle & Villa Versailles Restaurants at the Gordon River Bridge, the Elks Club and presently back to the Naples Bath & Tennis Club at Airport Road. The club name was changed from the Rotary Club of Naples East to the Rotary Club of Naples Bay on January 1, 1998 and ratified by the Board of Directors of Rotary International on October 3, 2001.
Some of the early charitable endeavors by the club were contributions to the United Way, Youth Haven, scholarships to Lely High School seniors, restoring the playground at Bayfront Park, distributing tooth brushes and teaching dental hygiene to villagers in South America and raising disaster funds for cyclone and earthquake victims in India, etc.
The club’s main fundraisers have been golf tournaments, an annual Christmas Auction and celebrity Roasts (Tax Collector Guy Carlton, Bob Moates, Sheriff Don Hunter, State Representative Dudley Goodlette etc.). The majority of the proceeds were used for scholarships to deserving students from Lely High School.
Every year the club has held several social events such as soft ball games, cookouts, boat rides, visits to the dinner theatre, annual Christmas parties etc.
The club has an annual election of officers in December of each year. In addition to a President, President Elect/Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Past President, there is a Board of Directors. The Directors usually head up the Four Avenues of Service which include Club Service, Community Service, International Service and Vocational Service.
A mission statement was established on July 1, 2004 which highlighted the above and set the course for the future.