History of the Rotary Club of Steubenville

During the late fall of 1920, the seeds of Rotary were planted in the city of Coshocton, Ohio. The members of the Coshocton Club contacted Edgar Bower and Howard Morrow, discussing the idea of a Rotary Club in Steubenville.

After numerous informal meetings of those who had been contacted and who had expressed a desire to become charter members, officers were elected and regular meetings were held. Charles D. Simeral was elected president; John Beiswanger, vice president; Edgar C. Bower, secretary; and Howard Morrow, treasurer. Simeral, Beiswanger, John G. Belknap, Earl G. Richards and Harry D. Wintringer comprised the Board of Directors.

Finally, in April 1921, Steubenville Rotary was chartered as Club No. 88 1, District 6650 in the Rotary National family. The club grew rapidly once it got underway. Fifteen new members were welcomed into membership the first year, and at the end of the second year, the roster carried 61 names. Membership had reached 128 in 1966.

The Rotary Club of Steubenville met at the Fort Steuben Hotel from the beginning of 1921 until the middle of the 1970s, when it became necessary to leave the hotel. For a very brief period, the weekly meetings were held at the Federal Terrace Restaurant. In August 1977, the club began to meet at Westminster Presbyterian Church. After nine years, the club moved to the new YWCA building on North Fourth Street, where Rotary still meets every Friday at noon.

A milestone in Rotary history was Aug. 25, 1989, when the club first admitted women members. Three women were inducted on that date —  Alice Barbarossa, Geraldine Cohen and Jeanne Davis. Geraldine is the first Steubenville female Rotarian to become a Paul Harris Fellow.

Throughout its history, the Steubenville Rotary Club has a long and illustrious tradition of financial involvement and active participation in charitable and educational projects and endeavors, which have served to benefit the citizens of Steubenville and Jefferson County. A few of these projects included the annual Christmas Party for the benefit of handicapped children; the establishment of a student loan fund in 1950 to make interest-free loans to college students; the Rotary International Student Exchange Program; sponsorship of a local park as Rotary Park and previous sponsorship of the Interfaith Chapel at the former Ohio Valley Hospital.

Newer projects include contributions to the Steubenville City of Murals, the Old Fort Steuben, the United Way of Jefferson County, participation (with float) in the yearly Christmas parade in Steubenville and “adoption” of Garfield School. During the 2000-2001 year, each of our active Past Presidents (20 in number) selected a project or charity to receive $250 from the Rotary. These have been varied from children’s sports and the Salvation Army to the Animal Welfare League and Adult Literacy Council. In addition, the student loan fund has been revised, providing $500 “Service Above Self” scholarships to a student from each local high school. In 2009, the club honored its first Rotarian of the Year (Karl Brandt) and its first Citizen of the Year (Kenneth Moore).

From its inception, the Steubenville Rotary Club has been a leader, as well as a positive and influential force, in the life of the community. It has continued to grow and flourish over the years. As it has for more than 80 years, the Steubenville Rotary Club will strive to continue to set an example of service to our community and our world for many years to come.
May 2014 Update

The years since 2008 have seen some significant changes in Rotary International, as well as some differences in the way Steubenville’s club is able to operate.

Mark Miller became part of the club, playing his guitar at each of our meetings, and then reporting on our programs. The Herald Star has been so generous in its reporting on the activities and programs of this Rotary Club.

2008 saw an Octoberfest as a membership drive, which has continued over the past several years, growing with enthusiasm – and better food – as time goes by. With Chuck Govey’s help, the club again participates in the Salvation Army bell ringing campaign each holiday season. Also during the Christmas season, our club joined with two Weirton clubs to hold a Christmas party at Mountaineer.

Suzanne Kresser, Karl Brandt and Jodi Scheetz began an instruction committee for new member orientation. Membership has fallen significantly over the past five years, and each new president has been encouraged by RI to seek new members to fill the roster.

Field trips became popular over the past several years. We have visited WTOV9, hosted by former member and past president Tim McCoy. Ross Gallabrese and visiting Rotarian Alex Marshall welcomed us to The Herald Star newsroom, where we found a special edition on Rotary handed to us by the end of lunch. Father Richard Davis invited us to Franciscan University for lunch in the Gentile Gallery and to tour, the new Friary completed there. At the completion of the construction of the new Steubenville City Building, Christine Hargrave and Buzz Cattrell of Cattrell Companies, the general contractor, led a tour of that facility.

Our club loves to host GSE Teams. Visitors from Sweden, France and India have been hosted by this club, with much enthusiasm. Jim Emmerling still maintains daily contact with his fellow Rotarian from India. When the French team visited, the district conference was held at Moutaineer Resort and many local Rotarians attended the conference that year. Before the conference, the visitors, all part of the wine industry in France, were treated to a wine tasting in Weirton on their was to the meetings.

There have been significant efforts to increase the giving of Paul Harris Fellowships. Kyle Brown and Kathy Musso have provided “Foundation Moments” to help our club understand the far-reaching influence of these funds given to the Rotary International Foundation. Fundraising was also enhanced by Rotary Radio Days through local radio stations and various types of raffles.

Steubenville had its first “repeat” president, when Marty Hauser accepted the challenge of leading the club a second time. We currently have our first pregnant president-elect in Ashley Steele, although we understand that the new “man of Steele” will be born before her term begins.

John Brown reintroduced us to “Career Day,” where high school students are paired with club members who are employed in the students’ areas of interest. When Carolyn Glaub was president, she and Alan Hall, of the Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, teamed up to present a book to the library each week in honor of that week’s speaker.
In 2013, after nearly 30 years of organizing the annual children’s Christmas party, Donna Hauser passed the reins to Suzanne Kresser, who did a splendid job, with lots of help from many Rotarians.

The website is now handled at Em-Media, and is updated weekly with program information and links to District and International materials. Rotary has added a new avenue of service, “New Generations,” with a focus on youth and on families as part of Rotary’s challenge to be up-to-date in its efforts at effective service. All of the websites — local, district and international — have been made more user-friendly and more personal for each Rotarian.

Locally, our club held its first Past Presidents’ meeting, with 25 people in attendance. It was also announced the Jim Emmerling, our immediate past president, has been selected by our district to serve as an assistant governor beginning July 1, 2014.

As we prepare to bid farewell to President Jim Baber and District Governor Deborah Esbenshade, who have enjoyed a wonderful working relationship, we will also transition from RI President Ron Burton’s “Engage Rotary-Change Lives” to RI President-elect Gary Huang’s theme to “Light Up Rotary.” Our incoming president, Ashley Steele, is excited about the new theme and the chance to serve as our president.

Rotary is facing many challenges to remain relevant in this rapidly changing world. Steubenville Rotary is looking forward to its role of service as we face the newest Rotary year.
2018 Update
(Prepared in 2009 with information from Guy Jacobs, R. Peterson Chalfant, Robert P. King and Christine Hargrave. Revised in 2014 by Christine Hargrave and again in 2018.)