By: Rebecca Miller
Stryker Rotary began with twenty charter members, back in 1949, after a Delta Rotary member noticed that Stryker did not have a chapter and encouraged several businessmen to start one. Those original twenty members were William Betz, Ervin Bly, Dale Carlin, E.L.Elliott, J.W. Fraker, Delbert Goll, Chas. Goll, Otis Hitt, E. Harris, Paul Jaggers, Delbert Ludwick, Chas. Lehman, Harry Osborn, Bernard Pessefall, Marvin Rupp, Raymond Rex, Marion Steensen, N.S. Short, D.O. Spiess, and Gerald Woodward.
Did you find one of your ancestors in that list? One of those first members, Charles F. “Chuck” Lehman, was still living when Stryker Rotary celebrated their 60th anniversary, but passed away since then, on February 5, 2012 at the age of 91.
The group still meets every week, now on Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. at Stryker United Methodist Church. It has remained much the same through the years, continuing to be a non-religious club focused on helping others in the community, but did make one big change internationally in 1989 and in Stryker in 2002. That change was to allow women to join, and in Stryker that happened when Wendy Koch joined. Since then the group has had 12 women join, with five presently remaining.
In that same year they were given the award for Most Improved Club in the District. President Terry Wieland stated that they are glad to continue to be so involved in the community, and participate in many events such as Stryker Heritage Day. This year they manned a Chicken Porta Pit booth, selling chicken dinners to raise funds. The funds will go right back into the community.
Wieland also said that their biggest concern is the age of the members. “We definitely need to get younger people to join us. It used to be that you had to be a businessperson, but now other community members are welcome, including retirees. All it takes is a desire to benefit our community!”
Over the years, Rotary, whose motto is “Service Above Self”, has been known for giving money to International Polio Foundation to eradicate polio around the world. Stryker still supports that effort financially, as well as promoting any number of local efforts. “We have been involved with Habitat for Humanity, helped at the admissions gate at the county fair many years, and annually given a scholarship to a Stryker High School graduate. This year we helped with the Young Leaders of Williams County. All three rotaries, Montpelier, Bryan and Stryker have participated in getting it going. Ultimately we would like to see some of them become Rotarians.”
In reminiscences of his time in Rotary since he joined in 2014, Stryker Rotary President Terry Wieland shared that he had been a member in the 1970’s for about five years, before he and his family moved to Michigan. When they moved back to the area, buying a home in Bryan, he wanted to get involved with Stryker again and so rejoined Stryker Rotary. “I love all the things we do to help people,” Wieland said, “and look forward to coming up with new ideas of ways to benefit Stryker and the surrounding community.”
Concerning the fact that they are marking 70 years, Wieland said that sometime in September they plan to have a dinner or celebration of some kind. It is an important milestone and despite the fact that the group is down to 13 members right now, Stryker Rotary is still doing good for the community and that is what matters.
The members of Stryker Rotary in August 2019 are Sixty Year member Fred Grisier, President Terry Wieland, Secretary Treasurer Ron Short, Membership Registrar Betty Beck, Media Secretary Bruce Rosebrock, and members Wendy Koch, Steve Planson, Judy Keller, Beth Rediger, Nate Johnson, Ken Keller, Ruth Wieland, and Larry Soles.
“You can see we have a very small club,” Wieland said,”but we get so much cooperation to do things from such a small group that it is an honor to be the President of the Club.”
Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org