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Rotary Club of St. Thomas II Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Some of the members of Rotary Club of St. Thomas II

May 19 will be the 40th anniversary of the founding of Rotary Club of St. Thomas II. The history of the club begins in 1957 when Rotary came to the Virgin lslands with the chartering of the Rotary Club of St. Thomas. At that time St. Thomas and other clubs in the Caribbean were un-districted. Because of the close proximity to Puerto Rico, the St. Thomas and St. Croix clubs were placed under the Puerto Rico District in 1968. These clubs petitioned Rotary International to return them to their un-districted status, citing language and cultural barriers.

ln 1969, a “Group P” was established, and the two St. Croix clubs, St. Thomas, Tortola and later St. Kitts were placed under the administrative supervision of Past President Patrick M. Rice of St. Thomas. This sub-grouping continued until District 404 was established in 1974 with Dr. John Watts of Grenada as the first district governor.

District 404 was composed of clubs in Jamaica, Cayman lslands, Haiti, and the Bahamas in the north down through the Virgin lslands, the Windward lslands, Guyana and Surinam in South America. Geographical distances and travel related problems made administration of so vast an area most difficult.

ln 1981, the district was again divided and a new District 405 was established. District 404 retained 28 clubs, with Anguilla and St. Maarten being the southern limit of the district. Because of the continuing rapid expansion of Rotary lnternational, District 404 was re-numbered, becoming District 4040 on July 1, 1991. Then on July 1, 1992, it was again re-numbered, becoming District 7020.

Circa 1975, several members of Rotary Club of St. Thomas began urging the organization of a second club to permit improvement in attendance by make-ups.

Efforts in this direction were unsuccessful until Rotary lnternational changed its policy of geographical separation to one, permitting clubs to share the same geographical area.

During 1978 President Costas Coulianos released the following seven members from Rotary Club of St. Thomas, three of whom were past presidents, and charged them with establishing a second club. The seven members were past president Macon M. Berryman, Leslie Cooper, Thomas J. Lawrence, past president Dr. Eric L. O’Neal, Rabbi Stanley T. Relkin, past president Patrick M. Rice and Jack Weinberger.

At that time, Dave Maas, the founder and past president of Rotary Club of St. Thomas was residing in North Carolina but continuing the practice of law on St. Thomas part of the year. He was an honor member of the club and was asked to assist in this organizing effort. Thus, Maas served as organizing president and Macon as organizing vice president.

In the spring of 1979, at the request of Costas Coulianos, Maas called a meeting to explore the possibilities of starting a second club. The result of that meeting was the Rotary Club of St. Thomas II with Macon M. Berryman the founder and Dave Maas the club’s first president. Patrick M. Rice was affectionately called the godfather of the new club, with the official position as secretary.

The other charter members included Kendrick Bragg, Darwin Creque, Joe Davis Sr., Bob Davis, Hank Feuerzeig, Steve Gegus, Frank Mclauglin, Aubrey Nelthropp, Leo Penha and Dick Spenceley for total of 18 members. Jack Weinberger died before the new club was chartered.

The first provisional meeting for Rotary Club of St. Thomas ll was held on April 4, 1979, at the Virgin lsle Hotel. Noon on Wednesdays was chosen as the meeting day and time, and lunch cost members a mere $7.50 back then.

The Rotary Club of St. Thomas ll was chartered on April 14, 1979, and the charter was actually presented at the District Conference Banquet on May 19, 1979, on St. Thomas.

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