The initial effort to form a village Rotary Club was begun by James A. Percival in 1979 and 80.
During that time frame, Hot Springs Village may have had a population of 2000. The area that was developed within the Village ended where the Danville Road now crosses under Balearic Road and under Desoto Boulevard. At that point on DeSoto there was a cattle gate and beyond there, a rutted dirt road. The DeSoto, Cortez, and Coronado were only golf courses. The Coronado golf course actually had no electricity or club house, and power to run the irrigation system was supplied by a generator.
Through an ad in the La Villa newspaper, Mr. Percival learned of several other Rotarians in the village who shared an interest in forming a local club. Among those were Dick Tricker and Warren Brown, both of whom eventually became charter members. (Dick and Warren were often called the twins - by the way - because they looked alike, were close friends, and always seemed to be together at meetings and in club pictures.)
The first efforts at forming a new club were put on hold because the District Governor at that time felt the village was not quite ready - not properly organized to support a new club.
New efforts to form a club started again when Clark Deem became interested. Again, through an article in the La Villa in October 1983, Clark requested former Rotarians to contact him if they were interested in discussing the formation of a new club. This time, 13 former Rotarians expressed an interest – so a meeting was held on November 29, 1983 at the Coronado Center. Members of the Hot Springs National Park club who lived in the village were invited to attend. Those included Clark Deem, Doug Brown, Lloyd Collins, Howdy Jennings and Art Lawson. There were 5 former Rotarians who joined the group – Dick Tricker, Joe Roberts, Bob Sanders, Jim Hardwick and Bill Schmuck.
From this meeting, the decision was made to proceed in contacting various people in the various Rotary classifications to develop interest in becoming provisional members. The results of the initial contact were negative and revealed a lack of knowledge about Rotary. Organizing efforts were temporarily halted.
In 1984 Clark Deem attended the Rotary International Convention held in Birmingham. In England, Clark realized that the initial results of the Hot Springs Village group were not unique. Similar attempts to organize a new club were often slow and fraught with false starts.
So, upon his return, the persistent Clark renewed his efforts. Another planning session was held in November 1985 (a year after the original effort). In addition to Clark, 5 others attended that meeting – Howdy Jennings, Lloyd Collins, Don David, and the twins Dick Tricker and Warren Brown. The meeting was held on December 7th, at Mary Lee’s Restaurant.
After confirming approval of the then District Governor (Charles Fager) and the president of the National Park club in Hot Springs (Mark Fleischner), an Ad Hoc Committee for Club Extension was formed, with Clark Deem as chairman. Committee members and prospective members totaled 14. Both of the Hot Springs Rotary clubs (National Park and Oaklawn) became co-sponsors of the club.
At a meeting January 20th, 1985, the presidential gavel was officially turned over to Greg Miller. Twenty nine members were listed in the club application. And the club was chartered on February 13th, 1985. The actual charter was presented at the first Charter Night Banquet held in the Majestic Hotel on March 15th, 1985.
Major projects were established early in the life of the Village Club. The first two being
The Lloyd Collins Scholarship Fund, and Support for Polio Plus
Both projects survived through the years. The scholarship program continues to help many young people gain an education. The goal for the club for Polio Plus in 1987 was set at $6,381 over a five year period. At the end of that year the club had a total of $4,830 in cash and pledges. One hundred percent of the membership made pledges toward Polio Plus. By the end of 1988, the club, with funds from the July flea market, had raised $9,140 - well exceeding the original goal in only 2 years.
Back in the mid-80’s, the club contributed to a local Jessieville student’s exchange trip to Soviet Union. This was the club’s first international project.
The club’s first fund raiser was a trap shoot and shotgun raffle. That went away after several years due to liability issues. The Flea Market Extravaganza replaced the trap shoot. The flea market quickly outgrew the original outdoor location at the Cortez Pavilion, and then moved to the Coronado Center.
Before Happy Dollars, the club raised funds by Passing the Pig. The Pig was a large ugly piggy bank.
At the time of the club’s charter, the average age of the membership was 48. Of the 29 charter members, 21 were active, and 8 were classified as senior active. The Happy Dollars “twist” that the new club has started modified the amount of time taken for each dollar.
Back Row: Rick Northen (left), Tom Seibert, Bo Lea, Floyd Turnage, Jack Moore, Wes Tucker, Randy Bruckner, Lenny Gish, and David Whitlow
Middle Row: Bill Schmuck (left), Joe Roberts, Roy Foster, Gerald Bruni, Bob Smart, John Bowser, James Powers, John Myhre, and Gene Parker
Front Row: Jack Smith (left), Dick Tricker, Warren Brown, Clark Deem (Governor’s Special Representative), Charles Fager (District Governor), Greg Miller, John Bloodworth, Frank Wells, and David Triplett
CHARTER MEMBERS, Rotary Club of Hot Springs Village