History of the Rotary Club of El Dorado
 
The first Rotary Club was organized in Chicago on February 23, 1905, by Paul Harris, a young lawyer. Harris gathered together a group of men engaged in different forms of public service in the spirit of friendship and understanding. That membership foundation – one person from each business and profession in the community – still exists in Rotary.  At first, the new club members met in rotation at a different member’s business, thus the origin of the name, “Rotary.”  There are now more than 1.224 million Rotarians in 33,855 clubs in 168 countries.

Sid Brooks and a few other men organized Arkansas’s first Rotary Club in Little Rock in 1919. In May 1919, El Dorado’s businessmen organized to form the state’s seventh Rotary Club with 24 charter members. Membership grew to 30 the following year, but surprisingly during the oil boom years of the 1920s, the club almost folded. The club met at the downtown Garrett Hotel until 1972.  The club has since moved several times: Oak Tree Restaurant (1972-74), St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (1974-2002), and at First Baptist since 2002.  Today, the El Dorado Rotary Club has nearly 70 active members representing virtually every business and profession in the city.  Women were first admitted in 1989; and the club elected its first female president in 1994, Sherrel Johnson.

As of 2010, two men have been Rotarians for 50 years or more: Carl Garrett and Dr. David Yocum.  Five other men have been Rotarians for 40 years or more: Truett A. Conn, Robert Ellzey, Knox White, and Jerry Young.  In the El Dorado Rotary Club’s 91-year history, seven members have been elected Governor for District 6170: W. C. “Bill” Alley (1968-69), Larry Combs (1999-2000), Claude Haswell (1958-59), O. Wayne Mays (1993-94), T. Shad Medlin (1976-77), Harold Thurston (1946-47), and Arthur Pope (1933-34).