HISTORY OF THE ROTARY CLUB OF WAIKIKI

Celebrating our 75th anniversary in 2013

Rotary Members Circa 1966 L-R Bill Wong, Ed Doty, Gil Moss, Ron Deisseroth, Kenji Okada, and Phil Norris. Bill Wong became President of the Ala Moana Club and District Governor, Ed Doty was President 1986-87, Ron Deisseroth President 1962-63, and District Governor Phil Norris was then President 1965-66

by PP Mark Moore

The Rotary Club of Waikiki was organized on May 15, 1939, by a committee of the following members of the Rotary Club of Honolulu in Hawaii:

  • Chairman, Wes Wilkie
  • Clifford Kimball
  • Leslie Hicks
  • Charlie Frazier.

The club Charter was issued by Rotary International dated June 20, 1939, as Club #5075.  Waikiki Rotary was founded as the 2nd Rotary Club in Honolulu, the 3rd on Oahu and the 6th in the Territory of Hawaii.

District Governor Wayne Stewart presided at the Charter dinner at the Waialae Country Club and installed Waikiki Rotary charter officers: Frank Van Cleve, Charter President; Mell Small, Secretary; P. D. Bull, Treasurer; Fred Fanger, Sergeant-at-Arms. The Board members were: Alfred Gfroerer, Henry Inn, Murle Ogden, William L. Sullivan, and Sam Van Culin. Other Charter members included: Chris Benny, Ernie O. Fickendy, Harry G. Good, Robert Hind, Roy C. Kelley, Paul M. Mead, Paul F. Summers, D. A. Sutherland, Ted R. Waters, Dr. William H. Wynn, George V. Minck, C. F. Camron, George W. Brooks and Karel H. Sheecha.

Waikiki Rotary’s first meeting was held at the Green Lantern Restaurant on Kalakaua Avenue, later  known as the Wagon Wheel.  From there, in the late 1940s, the club moved its luncheon meetings to the South Seas Restaurant at the corner of McCully and Kalakaua, then to the new Reef Hotel in the early 1950s, and to the Ala Moana Hotel for a short period before moving to the Hawaiian Regent Hotel.  The next move was made in the early 1980s to the Prince Kuhio Hotel on Kuhio Avenue where Waikiki Rotary remained until 2003 when the move was made to the present Waikiki Rotary home in the Pacific Beach Hotel.

The Rotary Club of Waikiki first met on Mondays at noon, but later changed to a more convenient day, Wednesday.  It was the custom in Hawaii up to the 1950's for business and financial institutions to close at noon on Wednesdays and open for business a half day on Saturday.  This made it convenient for Waikiki Rotarians to proceed to the golf course after the meeting or to socialize in the lounge.

The Rotary Club of Waikiki has provided 9 District Governors for the Hawaii Rotary District.  PDG Roy King is a current Waikiki Rotary member.

When Waikiki Rotary was chartered in 1939, it was in Hawaii Rotary District 100.  In 1950 District 100 was re-designated  as  District 150 and changed to District 500 in 1957.  In 1991, Hawaii Rotary was re-designated as District 5000.  Today, Waikiki Rotary is the sixth oldest Rotary Club of 48 clubs in District 5000.  For many years Waikiki maintained a membership of around 125 to 135, but in recent years has been under 100 members.

Waikiki Rotary has established Sister Club relationships with nearly 13 Rotary Clubs, starting with the Rotary Club of Tokyo-Asakusa in 1972, in 4 different countries (Japan, Taiwan, Australia, and the Philippines), and still maintains a relationship with several of them with some club-to-club events happening each year, and personal visitations and friendships continuing with others.

Waikiki Rotarians refer to their club as “The Friendly Club”.  Many other Rotarians call Waikiki Rotary “The Friendliest Club in Hawaii”.  Waikiki is a favorite Rotary makeup for Hawaii Rotarians and traveling Rotarians from all over the world.  Our standard of live music at our meetings being played before and selectively during the meetings, and our club song “Welcome to Rotary and to Waikiki” enhance the club ambiance for the friendly atmosphere.  Our club music and our club song are unique to Waikiki Rotary.

Waikiki Rotary attained distinction as a 100% Paul Harris Fellow Club in 2001-2002.  The club has earned many district and international awards that are shown on our club display banner which is set up at each club meeting, including RI President awards for club achievements, Rotary Foundation contribution awards, and several first place awards in the various avenues of service.

Waikiki Rotary has made substantial contributions to worthwhile causes in Hawaii and worldwide, and continues to be active in all avenues of service.