By Tim Priebe
August 16, 2022

Service above self at The Rotary

Rotary Club of Edmond president Beth Case hopes to continue the tradition of meaningful work through engaging members.
The Rotary Club of Edmond Past-President James Boggs welcomes incoming president Beth Case. (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

For nearly 85 years, The Rotary Club of Edmond has been serving its residents, providing professional development opportunities and encouraging lifelong friendships. The club boasts a rich history of community service and involvement by local leaders.

Continuing international history

The Rotary Club of Edmond is a small part of the larger organization, Rotary International. Rotary International is a worldwide group of people who want to make a difference in the lives of others. 

Rotary International was started by Paul Harris, a Chicago attorney. He formed the Rotary Club of Chicago on February 23, 1905, so professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. 

“Our club is full of amazing people from all sorts of industries and backgrounds,” said Edmond Rotary Club President Beth Case. “Our club’s theme this year is Imagine: Strengthening us through a spirit of significant giving.”

Rotary members believe in a shared responsibility to act on our world’s most persistent issues. Their causes include promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, saving mothers and children, supporting education, growing local economies, and protecting the environment.

“The Rotary Club is fun! We have a robust speaker schedule, and we are educated about our community each week,” said Case. “It is a great way to learn about the city and state we live in and where we can potentially make an impact or learn about a service, industry, or organization that impacts us.”

Forming the Edmond Clubs

The Rotary Club of Edmond was chartered on April 25, 1938, making it one of the oldest clubs in the state. According to an Edmond Sun article about the event, “this action unite[d] with more than 4,400 other cities all over the world where Rotary clubs have come to play a leading part in the progress and development of the life of the community.”

Nearly 50 years later, in 1986, members recognized the need for a noon club in Edmond. The Edmond Evening Club, under the leadership of then-president Bill Cather, sponsored the chartering of the Edmond/Central club on January 19, 1987, with 28 charter members. Less than two years after the formation of Edmond Central, on November 13, 1988, the Edmond and Central Clubs sponsored the chartering of the Edmond Summit Rotary Club—a breakfast club.

The Rotary Club of Edmond throughout the years peaked at approximately 50 members in the 1970s. But by 2004, the numbers had dwindled to only ten or so members, and accordingly, the board approached the Central noon club about the potential of merging the two clubs. Although the Central club was much larger, it was determined that the surviving club in the merger would be the original Edmond club—so as not to lose its 1938 charter. The clubs officially merged on July 1, 2005.  

“The Rotary Club of Edmond has been around a long time. Sometimes the things we do in the community make a big splash, and other times, they are quietly behind the scenes,” said Case. “You might not see us picking up trash or delivering mobile meals.”

Serving the community

The main pillar of Rotary is “service above self,” and President Beth Case has a vision for strengthening club service and community relationships. 

“Because the last two years saw us separated but together via Zoom, we couldn’t fellowship like we once could. This year, we want to get to know each other on a deeper level,” said Case. “I am excited about our plans to orchestrate this throughout the year with fundraisers, volunteer opportunities, and site visits.” 

Case was recently named club president in July 2022 and has been a member of The Rotary Club of Edmond since 2017. She will serve as president for one year alongside 16 other board members, and she believes the key to achieving meaningful work is through engagement.

“I had an incredible role model in my father. He epitomized the motto of Rotary: Service about Self,” said Case. “I think that is why Rotary has been such a great fit for me. I value honesty, integrity, and the service of others.” 

Rotary President Beth Case was recently inducted and will serve for one year. (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

The organization’s most recent project included the Miracle League of Edmond. The Club was able to donate new equipment and a new sound system to be used at games. 

“While the financial donation was important, our volunteer opportunities with the kids are the most meaningful,” said Case. “Spending an evening with these kids on the field so that the parents can simply sit and watch is the true spirit of Rotary: Service above Self.”

One of the club’s favorite volunteer opportunities is bell ringing for the Salvation Army during the holidays. Some members sing while they ring the bells, and others bring their children and encourage them to wear the red apron to see how serving others can change lives. The late Stan Kelley of Edmond was a pivotal member of The Rotary Club of Edmond and had a significant role in organizing the event in previous years.

“We also have a long and impactful relationship with Ida Freeman Elementary School in Edmond,” said Case. “Our club has had a Rotary Reader program in place for many years, where up to 25 club members volunteer to read weekly or bi-weekly in the classrooms. The students and club members look forward to seeing one another.” 

The club has previously sponsored a Rotary Reader Corner, where they provided seating when the new media center was built a few years ago. Each week, Rotary has the guest speaker of the meeting sign a book, which is donated to the school in honor of the speaker.

In May, the club honored three Edmond high school students with scholarships and a local business, Edmond Dental Associates, with a community award, which not only supported individuals but also showcased the connections provided by Rotary. 

“One of our scholarship recipients announced that he wanted to attend dental school. Immediately after the meeting, the student and the doctors connected, visited, and a relationship was formed,” said Case. “Making meaningful change in a person’s life through relationships is an important part of our club’s purpose.”

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About Tim Priebe

Tim is a public speaker, author, publisher of Edmond Business, and the owner of Backslash Creative. He helps businesses that are worried they don’t have the expertise or time required to invest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan.

Tim started the Edmond Business online magazine in May 2020 to fill a need in the community when The Edmond Sun shut down and stopped publishing their monthly magazine, The Business Times.