Our History

A Brief History of the Rotary Club of Caribou
    CARIBOU — The first meeting of the Rotary Club of Caribou was on December 31, 1924 at the Motoaka Club.  The Rotary Club of Presque Isle sponsored the club (1923) with assistance from the Rotary Clubs of Houlton (1920) and Fort Fairfield. Several other Rotary members from the neighboring towns attended arriving on a special railroad car. Nathan Perry, a Presque Isle Rotarian, and the personal representative of District Governor Herbert C. Libby, presided over that first meeting. Frank Peabody of the Houlton Club extolled the benefits and rewards to be derived from a Rotary Club in town. The twenty Charter members included: RW Boone, RN Brown, JC Briggs, GM Carter, NA Currier, EH Doyle, CK Dunham, RF Gardiner, RC Gary, FL Gregory, AB Havey, PH McNelly, J Partridge, OT Pierson, G Ritchie, EW Russ, WE Sincock, AG Vose, AW Spaulding, HO Spencer, AG Vose. The first officers elected were: WE Sincock, President; AG Vose, Vice President; RF Gardiner, Treasurer; CK Dunham, Secretary; and RC Gary, Sergeant-at-Arms.
    The club was granted its Charter by Rotary International on February 17, 1925 as club number 1914. The Charter was signed by Everett Hill, President and Chesley R. Perry, Secretary, both of Rotary International. Charter night was held April 14, 1925 in the Lewis Bean Garage. President Sincock introduced District Governor Herbert Libby of Waterville, who presented the Charter and followed with an excellent talk on Rotary. Rotarian Fred P. Stevens of Presque Isle and Rotarian Herbert Foss of Fort Fairfield led a “Sing Along”. From this humble beginning, the Rotary Club of Caribou became known throughout the District as the “Singing Club”.
    The club first met for the noon meal on Wednesdays at the clubrooms of the Matoaka Club and later rotated among area churches, which competed for the quality of the meals.  Later, the meetings were held at the old Vaughn House until it burned, then at the Veterans Memorial Building, and back to the new Caribou Hotel. In later years, the club has met at King Henry’s Restaurant, the Caribou Country Club, Yusef’s Restaurant. For the last several years, meetings have been held at the Caribou Inn and Convention Center.
    The Rotary Club of Caribou is noted for its singing, which takes place at the beginning of each meeting and typically includes a patriotic song and two other traditional Rotary songs. Rotary members refer to each other by first names without titles.  Members are expected to attend meetings and functions and may make up at other clubs. 
    Rotary was formed on February 23, 1905 by attorney Paul Harris and three other businessmen in Chicago, Illinois.  One of these men was Hiram Shorey, a Maine native living in Chicago.  The club was originally formed as a professional and social club for the networking of its members, but eventually Rotary became the world’s first service club dedicated to providing community service.
    The Rotary name derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among the members’ offices.  The founding principles of Rotary included service to members’ vocations and local, national and later international service to those in need.  Rotary International was formed in 1922, which included clubs from six continents.
    In 1989 Rotary International amended its rules to allow women to join Rotary Clubs.  The Caribou Club soon followed suit, inducting women into the club, and electing its first female president, Pam Scheppele in 2000.  Previously, spouses of members and other women participated in Rotary as Rotary Anns. Rotary Clubs attempt to include members from all classifications of business and professions.
    By 1925, when the Caribou Club was chartered, Rotary International included about 2000 clubs with 108,000 members in 34 countries. Rotary currently has over 32,000 clubs with 1.2 million members in 200 countries, including over 145,000 women.
    The Rotary Foundation was formed in 1917 by Arch Klumph to provide an endowment fund for Rotary’s many service projects around the world. Major international projects include Polio Plus, dedicated to the worldwide eradication of polio, water and sanitation projects; international Youth Exchange, World Community Service, and worldwide literacy. The Rotary Club of Caribou has contributed to many of these worthwhile projects, often cooperating other clubs in District 7810.
    An early club project in 1925 was the sponsorship of a Boys Band that performed around the County. The band even traveled as far as Boston to perform. The band was formed with the intention of providing a worthwhile youth activity in the community. Many other projects to help youth and the community have been funded over the years through the generosity of Rotary members and through public support of the club’s fundraising activities. Recently, the Rotary Club of Caribou has contributed funds for the Little League fields; scholarships; ski building, trails, and lighting; Wellness Center; scouts; and the future Childrens’ Discovery Museum. Funds are raised from a variety of efforts including an annual snowmobile lottery.
    From the beginning, Rotary has been a service club dedicated to helping others. The Motto of Rotary is Service Above Self. Rotarians observe the 4-Way Test:
    1) Is it the TRUTH?
    2) Is it FAIR to all concerned?
    3) Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
    4) Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
    The Caribou Club’s current club number is 6360, which changed when Rotary International set up a new numbering system several years ago in order to provide an orderly method of numbering new clubs all over the world. The original club number (1914) reflected the order in which the club was admitted to Rotary International. Caribou was included in the first 2000 clubs worldwide.
    The club first belonged to District #8, which included Maine, New Hampshire and part of Massachusetts. In 1937 clubs in Aroostook and Washington Counties became part of District #192 and later District #781, which included the Maritime Provinces and part of Quebec. Today the Rotary Club of Caribou belongs to District 7810 of Rotary International which includes 28 clubs in New Brunswick and 12 clubs in Aroostook and Washington Counties in Maine.
    The current District Governor is Richard Rogers from the St. Stephen, NB. Caribou has had four past District Governors including SW Collins 1958-59, Stanley Brewer 1966-67, Pat Snow 1984-85, and Frank Smith 1993-94. Officers for 2008-9 include: Alan Hitchcock, President; Pam Buck, President Elect; Mark Draper, Vice President; Kristie Moir, Secretary; John Weeks, Treasurer; Douglas Hunter and Stephen Lunn, Sergeants-at-Arms. The club member with longest standing is Don Collins who joined in 1949.
    Information regarding the history of the club was gleaned from various sources including several monthly bulletins such as “BITS” from the 1920’s with Carroll Dunham as editor, the “Caribou Harvester” from the 1980’s with Paul Findlen as editor, from previous histories, and from the Rotary International website.
    The original club Charter and possibly some club records were lost in a fire several years ago. The lost Charter was replaced on February 23, 2000. Currently, the club provides a website with information, links to District 7810 and Rotary International, and a monthly schedule of events and programs, all which can be found at http://caribourotary.org.
    As the Rotary Club of Caribou completes its 85th year of service, its members support the City of Caribou’s 150th Anniversary celebration in 2009 and look forward to many more years of service to the community, nation, and world. 
Submitted by:      Alan Hitchcock    President 2008-9