Community service is a big part of the Charles City Rotary Club, where ‘Service
Above Self’ is not just lip service.
In 1919, 200 metal signs were erected within a radius of 30 miles of Charles City
reading "Charles City - The Tractor Town." In 1920, teams were appointed to solicit
members for the Charles City Building and Loan Association. Coach Howard Jones
and Aubrey Devine of the University of Iowa football team were brought here for the
football banquet in 1921. In 1922, ten dollars was contributed to the City Improvement
Association for their campaign to rid the city of rats. In 1923, the club assisted in the
Farm Bureau membership campaign. Walter Fluent founded the Student Loan
Fund with his International Convention expense money in 1924. In 1925, the club
passed a resolution prohibiting the ringing of the telephone during meetings. In 1926,
the club assumed the responsibilities for taking the High School Band to Council
Bluffs for the state contest. The entire club conducted a publicity campaign in
behalf of Miss Liza Niemack, a local girl who had just returned from her music studies
in Europe. The club purchased football season tickets for each of its members in
1929. The club endorsed the Boy Scouts fund raising campaign and contributed
$100 to it in 1930. In 1931, the dues were reduced from $25 to $15. In 1932, we purchased
25 planks for seats in the park.
The records for 1933-37 were lost in the Hildreth Hotel fire, but in 1936 Miss Gladys
Goddard gave a 15-acre parcel of land along the Cedar River north of town to the
Rotary Club of Charles City. A community park and picnic area was developed and
maintained by the club until 1960, when ownership of the property was transferred from
the Rotary Club to the Floyd County Conservation Commission. The parcel continues
to bear the name "Rotary Park" and serves as a wildlife area. In the summer of 1985,
under the supervision of Dennis Sande, fellow Rotarian volunteers planted over 500
pine trees at Rotary Park to promote soil conservation and provide refuge for wildlife.
In 1940 the "Sparks From the Rotary Wheel" were inaugurated. In 1942, the club
attendance fell into the "cellar" rating in the district. Rotarian Tom Marnette gave his
life in the service of his country in 1943. In 1944, the Student Loan Fund after 20
years showed total assets of $3,293.16 and had loaned $8,217.65 to 34 students. In
1945, a juke box was purchased for Teen Tavern, the youth center. In 1946, the club
was awarded for the best all-around program in the district by the President of
Rotary International, during the presidential term of Leo Schula. In 1947, the club was
awarded the certificate for the most outstanding community service in the district
during the term of Jim Keith. The hospital room fund, which was started in 1947, was
completed in 1948 with a major contribution by Dr. Joe Salsbury. In 1949, "Dean Laun
Day" was sponsored to honor a local boy who played football at Iowa State. Donald
Swartz was elected as the district’s representative in the Rotary Foundation Fellowship
Study in 1950. In 1952 waste receptacles were installed on main street corners. A
foot bridge was built at Camp Christie in 1953. In 1954, a radio series on the "Rotary
Program" was inaugurated on radio station KCHA.
When the new Floyd County Memorial Hospital was completed, the club completely
outfitted one room. For years an annual project to support the local hospital, and
add a measure of comfort to the patients, included the acquisition of wall hangings
which have been created by local artists. This has proven to be an excellent support of
the Charles City Arts Council and an appreciated contribution to the hospital and the
In 1981, the Shell Rock Music Association presented a show as a part of the District
Conference in Charles City. The success of the show and the acceptance of the group
by local fine art patrons established the event as a long-time annual project of the club.
Proceeds were used for community service project. In 1983 the proceeds were donated
for the restoration of the Junior High School Auditorium. The 1984 proceeds were
donated to the construction of the Senior Citizens Center in Charles City.
The club in 1991 constructed sun arbors at the ‘new’ Lions Field Municipal
Swimming Pool. Then in 1994 the Charles City Rotary and Lions clubs joined forces to
raise funds and provide the labor to construct a large community playground at Lions
Field Park, adjacent to the swimming pool. The fund-raising campaign was so successful
that there was enough left over after construction of the playground to use as
seed money for a new community recreational trial along the Cedar River.
Rotarians used their experience with the Lions Field Park playground to help the
Lincoln parents Organization assemble the new playground equipment at Lincoln
Elementary School in 2000.
In 2001 the club took on the massive project of re-painting every fire hydrant in
town as a fund-raiser, and in 2002 hosted a pasta supper fund-raiser at the Middle
School as Charles City welcomed the 10,000-plus participants in the Register’s Annual
Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). The club also donated a portable defibrillator
to the Charles City Police Department to be carried in squad cars for faster treatment
in health emergencies.
And in 2003, for its Rotary International centennial project, the Charles City Club purchased
and erected three wooden archways for the new Friends Garden established
at the head of the community recreational trail. The garden was created in memory
of Rotarian Robert Jakoubek, who passed away in 2002 and helped spearhead the
In 2009-2010 Rotary installed a new playground at Wildwood Park. In 2012, Rotary, along with other service club members, redid the service club entry signs bordering Charles City. Also, in 2012, Rotary purchased a Home for Haiti, which was built by Sukup Manufacturing and will be installed in Haiti in response to the devastating earthquake.