About Our Club

 
image

A thoughtful look at our Club history is perhaps the most effective single way to find out what really matters in our struggle to find better ways to live and serve.

The history of the present Rotary Club of North Rockland (Haverstraw) dates back to 1926 when, on May 1, the Nyack Club sponsored our Haverstraw Club. At that time, Haverstraw was the brick-making center of the Eastern seaboard. The charter listed 23 members with Arthur R. Thomas as Charter President and George W. Basley as Secretary. It is interesting to note that Mr. Thomas was the brother of the internationally famous Socialist Norman Thomas, who was a candidate for the Presidency of the United States several times. Mr. Basley was the father of Warren Basley, who along with Ken Rowe were the second longest active members (1944), being surpassed by only one other active member, Bill Meyer (1936-2006).

The tide of Rotary has encompassed a great part of North Rockland's history, business and community life. The relationships evolving from the weekly meetings, the numerous major league baseball outings, boat rides, paper drives during WWII, fellowship nights, golf outings, card parties, pancake breakfasts, spaghetti dinners, District Conclaves, and the meetings at the Presidents' homes compile the priceless memories that have bound us together for so many years.

The first meetings were held at the famous United States Hotel, located at the foot of Main Street in Haverstraw, which became the site of the Haverstraw Post Office. Over the years, our meeting places have changed. The club has met at The Wayside Inn, The DelBello, Bolley's, Mike Ryan's, Tor Haven/Terrace on the Hudson, Francesca's/Iwona's, and The Talk of the Town. Member Joe Marino hosted the club at his Tor Haven Casino until his death. The restaurant was renamed Terrace on the Hudson; the location was our club's home for a record 20 years. We moved to the Peppermill Grille in Stony Point in 2005, later renamed Noel's Irish Pub & Restaurant, since 2013 Lynch's Restaurant.

Over the years, our club has sponsored numerous community projects. Among them was the purchase and presentation of the first ambulance to the Haverstraw Volunteer Ambulance Corps. For several years, we sponsored a Sea Scout Troop, which had its own seagoing craft, a surplus Coast Guard boat obtained by our club.  We have awarded more than 100 scholarships to college-bound students in various fields of study and vocations.

Thomas McDermott who lived in Haverstraw but was a member of the Nyack Club, was District Governor in 1949-50. John F. Kaemmerlen, a school administrator and former Superintendent of the old Haverstraw District, moved to the Hudson Club from our Club, and became District Governor in 1951-52. Another Haverstrovian, Hugo Mellion, a Spring Valley Club member, became District Governor in 1956-57; his son Franklyn Mellion, District Governor in 1974-1975.

During the 1950s and 60s, the Haverstraw Club developed a reputation and became the most popular "makeup" Club in the District. It was variously described, by visiting Rotarians as "wild," "alive," "informal," "fun," "insane," but always, "a great bunch of guys." They always came back.

The year 1976 marked our 50th anniversary and we held a magnificent dinner dance to celebrate.

The first two women admitted to North Rockland Rotary in 1988 were Emily Martin, a real estate broker, and Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar Carole Tjoa, a healthcare administrator.

In 1994, Patricia Gordon, a property manager, became the first lady president of our club..

In 1996, the role that our club played at the international level was significant, as we were successful in obtaining Matching Grants for a humanitarian project to purchase podiatric equipment for the Diabetes Foot Clinic at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Zerifin, Israel. Charles Slater, President 1996-97, was the recipient of District 7210's "Rotarian of the Year" award for his efforts in bringing this project to fruition.

Carole Tjoa who became Club President in 1997, attended the 50th anniversary of The Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship program held in Los Angeles to remember Rotary founder Paul Harris who died in 1947. Generous contributions in his memory helped fund Rotary's educational programs to promote peace and better world understanding.

The year 2001 marked our 75th year as a chartered Rotary Club. The anniversary, with the installation of our 2001-02 officers, was celebrated with a formal dinner at the Italian-American Club in West Haverstraw. Many past presidents and former members traveled great distances to be a part of the gala event.

In 2005, for our Rotary Centennial project, we joined the Village of Haverstraw during its 150th anniversary, in co-sponsoring the Rotary Centennial Memorial Clock, located near the Village Hall. We also placed a 100th anniversary commemorative plaque at the Haverstraw Town Hall, listing the names of North Rockland Rotary past presidents.

Our Rotary Centennial celebration took place at The Patriot Hills Clubhouse, and we recognized outstanding citizens who exemplified Rotary's four avenues of service. We continued sponsorship of the North Rockland High School Interact Club, founded in 1998-99.

The year 2005-2006 marked the beginning of a new century of service for Rotary International. Our club donated to a LA Rotary District to help Hurricane Katrina victims. At our 80th anniversary gala, we honored community leaders who best exemplified this year's Rotary theme "Service Above Self." We made a North Rockland High School scholarship in memory of William (Bill) H. Meyer.

The year 2006-07 was the first in our club's 80-year history that a current club member, Carole Tjoa, became District Governor.
In 2007-2009, she served on The Rotary Foundation Alumni Advisory Committee, and in 2011, founded the District 7210 Alumni Association to encourage alumni who benefited from Rotary programs to reconnect with Rotary.

In 2007, our club awarded a scholarship in memory of past club president Robert C. Anderson.

2007-08 saw one of our members, Tom Zugibe, elected as Rockland County's District Attorney, and in 2009, he was honored at our annual gala.

Our club celebrated fun and fellowship in 2009-10 with the President's Halloween Party, and Spring Fling. We contributed to an international service project to help earthquake victims in China, and donated toward a Shelter Box for earthquake victims in Haiti.

Hosted by Drew Kessler, our first-ever "Mr. Legs Pageant" was held on May 19, 2011, at the Hudson Water Club. "Contestant" Rotarian and non-Rotarian community leaders who participated in this fun-filled event helped raise substantial funds for North Rockland scholarships and humanitarian programs.

Francis "Bud" Wassmer, Rotarian since 1970 and former Mayor of Haverstraw Village, became 2011-12 club president and spearheaded efforts to build a World War II Monument in Haverstraw Village to honor those who served.

Sonia Crannage, an elder law attorney, was 2012-2013 club president. We helped Hurricane Sandy victims in the North Rockland community, and raised funds for the Stony Point Clock. The Interact Club was formally chartered, and we held a career day at North Rockland High School.

As we move forward, we dedicate ourselves to the principles of Rotary and uphold our motto of "Service Above Self."