West Bay Rotary Club History

Part I "The Early Years"


   Although the West Bay Rotary Club was officially chartered on May 18th, 1986, the roots of the club go back to 1985, when several members of the 100-member Camden Rotary Club began to discuss the possibility of a second, smaller club in Camden, one that would meet for breakfast.  In January '86, a letter to the club from member Howard Barrett stated, "there are those here who feel that a [second] club with shorter breakfast meetings would be good, especially as there are many who feel the club is too large. Two clubs would be supportive of each other, but each would offer somewhat different characteristics, so that more men of the area would be members of Rotary."


    In February of '86, the group received blessings of then-District Governor Sarando Giftos and the Camden Rotary Board of Directors, and had their first meeting as a provisional club on February 20th  at the Camden Harbor Inn on Chestnut Street.. An eleven-member board of directors was elected, which included Andy Shapiro, President; Jim Heard, President-Elect; Howard Barrett, Vice-President; Carroll Rikert, Secretary; George "Skip" Thompson, Treasurer; and Directors Owen "Chick" Bailey, Peter Heimann, Gene McKeever, Ernie Schoeck, Bob Tierney, and Don Woolston.


    An article in the February 22 Rockland Courier Gazette described the new club as "the brainchild of a so-called 'dirty dozen' members of the long-established Camden Rotary Club. 'This is going to be a very active, project-oriented club', vowed [president] Andy Shapiro. 'The club should accept as its primary goal the return of service to the community.'"


   By the time the club was chartered, its roster had grown to 32, including several who are still members today: Steve Dailey, Joshua "Skip" Day, and Paul Rogers.


 The first fund-raising project was a Boat Show held in June '86 on a vacant lot on Elm Street now occupied by Harbor Audio-Video. In July, the club moved its meeting place to the Camden Health Care Center where it continued to meet for 16 years until the facility was demolished. The first fellowship event was a picnic at the summer at Skip Thompson's family's summer home on Dyer Island, just off Vinalhaven on September 13th. At that event, the idea of the club's first major project was discussed: the club would fund a new house to be built by Voc-Tech students in Rockland. (The house was built, but it didn't sell until September 13, 1989. )


  In May of 1987, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Rotary International could no longer exclude women in its membership. Shortly thereafter, West Bay admitted its first female member, Julie Levett, soon to be followed by Judy Fuller. Current member Noel Cox joined the club on April 21, 1988.


   From a membership of 32, the club has grown to over 70, nearly a third of them women. An annual Christmas Tree Sale has been a successful club fundraiser since 1988, and the members still drive the residents of the health care center (now Quarry Hill) as they have since 1987. Despite the many changes that define any Rotary club, West Bay still prides itself on being a very active, project-oriented club that places primary emphasis on "Service Above Self".


Coming Soon: "Part II: the Formative Years"


-Terry Brégy, Club Historian, May 2003