1961 – 1970



In the 1960’s Birmingham’s Rotary Club was involved with new projects such as the Group Study Exchange. Starting in the 1960’s, the Group Study Exchange immediately  became  a  popular  program.  This  was  a  program  where a group of four  to  six  young  professionals  from  a foreign  country  visited our country. In turn a group  of  our  business  community  members  visited  their  country.

In the Rotary year 1959-1960 Edgar G. Givhan,  M.D.  led  our  organization.  He  was  a  man  of  wit  as  well  as  competence  and   brought these qualities to his Rotary position. Givhan was followed  by  W.  W.  (Bill) French, Jr. Bill was president of Moore-Handley, Inc. and during his term there were excellent programs, outstanding club assemblies, and District Rotary participation.  Both  of  Mr.  French’s  sons,  James  S.  M.  French (Jamie)  and   W.

W. French (Bill) French, III also served as presidents of the Birmingham’s Rotary Club. Their grandfather, Dr. James Somerville McLester served as president in 1938-1939.

Allen Rushton had the distinction in  1961-1962  of  being  the  third member of the Rushton family to serve as this club’s leader. Of the  notable events during the year, there was  a  visit  of  Rotary  International’s  president,  Joe Abey, the re-establishment of naming the vice-president as the successor to the president, and a multi-club meeting of the Rotary Clubs of Birmingham, Ensley, Bessemer, and Tarrant. Allen Rushton’s son, Allen D. Rushton, served in the leadership role of Rotary in 1973-1974.


The Rotaract Club of Birmingham

It was the early 1960’s at a high school in Melbourne, Florida that the first Interact Club (a contraction of the words of action and international) was formed by a local sponsoring Rotary Club and Rotary International  .The club  included boys and girls from the ages of 14-18  who  were  in  their  secondary  school years and was maintained as “a service club modeled along  the  lines  of  a  Rotary Club” (A Century of Service – David C. Forward).

The concept quickly spread throughout the U.S. and was a success. It was 1968 when  some  Rotary  members noticed that there  was a gap “in  the chain  of service” between Interact and the Rotary  Club  membership.  To  accommodate the young adults whose ages were between the two groups, Rotaract was formed in 1968 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The  club  was  designed  to utilize the services of  young adults between the ages  of 18-30.

Across the nation and the world, Rotaract has been involved in  a  multitude of projects, including organizing a milk  bank  in  Argentina, volunteering  members’  time  as  volunteers  and  tutors   for   elementary schools, vaccinating stray dogs against rabies in Brazil, donating blood for certain African nations and rebuilding homes for the elderly in Britain. The organization, like Rotary International, has also been involved in the polio projects.

In October of 2003 a Rotaract Club was formed in Birmingham by club founders Mike Mahon and John Peinhardt. The club received a charter from Rotary  International  in  2004.  The  club  has  been  responsible for  the  Ready to Learn  project  (developing  libraries  for  2nd  grade  city schools)  and  Ready  To Succeed, working with high school students as mentors. The club has an association with the largest Rotary Club in the world (Rotary  Club  of  Birmingham) and is now the largest Rotaract Club in the world – quite a pair.



Leaders Leading Our Club Into The 1960’s

A physician, Dr. Edgar G. Givhan, was at the Rotary helm during 1959-1960. Born in Montevallo, Alabama, Dr. Givhan was known for his “delightful admixture of wit and competence.” He guided the club with a “pleasant re-interpretation of friendships in Rotary.” (quotes from the 75 year Rotary roster dedicated to Frank Spain and Roy Hickman)

W.W. (“Bill”) French, Jr., president of the Birmingham, Moore-Handley Company, was credited with outstanding Rotary District participation. The French family has been involved with the Birmingham Rotary Club since the early 1920’s. A familiar name known to members of our club, Allen Rushton, led the club during 1961-1962. Allen Rushton “had the distinction of being (at the time) the third  member  of  his  family  to  serve  as  president  of  our  Rotary  Club”. Mr. Rushton’s son, Allen “D.” Rushton, served as president in 1973-1974. During the elder Rushton’s administration, our club co-hosted the Rotary Club District Conference with the Tarrant, Bessemer, and Ensley clubs. That year the club also “re-established  the  practice  of  naming  the  vice-president  as  successor  to the president.”

At the time during 1962-1963, Henry C. Goodrich was the vice-president and director of The Rust Engineering Company as well as the president of Birmingham’s Rotary Club. He served Rotary during “the colossal celebration of the club’s 50th anniversary.” A new membership number of 280 members was attained  during Goodrich’s  year. Following  Henry Goodrich  as the leader of  our club was William H. “Bill” Hulsey. Born in Carbon Hill, Alabama in 1901, Bill Hulsey’s administration “was characterized by the high good natured humor which” reflected Mr. Hulsey’s personality.


The Golden Anniversary

As we slowly pace our way through our centennial year for The Rotary Club of Birmingham, we acknowledge the special events that were a part of this past 10 months. In February of 2014 the special events of this centennial year will become a memory, just as they have for our Golden Anniversary, 50 years ago. Let us remember the events that were the backdrop for Rotary’s 50th birthday.

This club celebrated its first 50 years in 1963. Our membership in that year totaled 265 members. Rotary International celebrated its first 50 years in 1955.
From the book, A Century of Service, The Story of Rotary International by David C. Forward, we learn that our “father club” gave scholarships to 494 young men and women from 57 countries in 1955. Rotary International also published a 50-year book and released a motion picture, The Great Adventure.

Here in Birmingham in February of 1963 special events were scheduled for our Golden Anniversary. A special luncheon was held at the Tutwiler Hotel on February 6th, 1963 with a 93% attendance. Col. William J. Rushton, the 40th president of our club, served as the Master of Ceremonies. Rotarians who had been members for over 30 years were reintroduced. The program that day focused on the principals of Rotary and the history of this club. A large party for local Rotarians was held February 7th at the Birmingham Country Club with the Master of Ceremony being William H. Hulsey. Members were greeted by Rotary President Henry C. Goodrich. The conclusion of the 50th celebration occurred at a luncheon on February 13th, 1963 where Frank E. Spain, past President of Rotary International, introduced Nitish C. Laharry of Calcutta, India, who was at that time, the President of Rotary International. Many of our members at that time were involved in the planning of our Golden Anniversary, just as was the case 50 years later in 2013 for our 100th anniversary.