The Rotary Club of Greenville is the oldest and largest Rotary Club in South Carolina. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Atlanta, it was organized January 7, 1916, as Rotary Club # 205. Greenville leads District 7750 in fundraising, both locally through its Roper Mountain Holiday Lights project, and internationally through contributions to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. It is one of the 50 largest Rotary clubs in the world.
The club has sponsored many landmark projects in the Greenville community, including the original Textile Hall, Furman’s original gymnasium and Manly Field, Rotary Lake at Camp Greenville, a YMCA Health Center, and the Rotary Family Literacy Center.
Most other Upstate SC Rotary Clubs trace their roots back to Greenville, which directly sponsored 14 of the clubs in District 7750:
June 1, 1917
May 20, 1937
February 14, 1937
January 27, 1956
February 11, 2003
April 6, 1953
Became inactive and reorganized June 26, 1980, sponsored by Pleasantburg
April 1, 1920
January 10, 1955
May 10, 1961
July 1, 1928
September 14, 1961
April 1, 1916
April 30, 1923
December 28, 1927
1916 Greenville Rotary club organizes; first in South Carolina. Club #205 in RI. Club sponsors Spartanburg Club.
1917 Rotarians’ first project: build Textile Hall. Club sponsors Anderson Club.
1917 Rotary and the Greenville News co-sponsor Christmas party for 20,000 soldiers from Camp Sevier at Textile Hall
1919 Rotary pledges fund-raising campaign for Furman gymnasium
1919 Dedication of Furman’s Manly Field, second Rotary fund-raising project
1920 Club commits $10,000 for Boys Work program. Club sponsors Newberry Club.
1922 Ground broken for Furman gymnasium; Rotarians raised $60,000
1923 Rotarian Pete Hollis named superintendent of new Parker School District. Club sponsors Union Club.
1924 Club votes to raise $5,000 for “Rotary Lake” at Camp Greenville
1926 At request of Rotary International, Greenville Rotary considers meeting weekly. Members vote “no”
1927 Greenville celebrates “Rotary’s Boys’ Week” with gigantic street parade. Club sponsors Walhalla Club.
1934 First Rotary Christmas tree for destitute black children
1936 Greenville Rotary celebrates 20th anniversary; 8 original members present
1937 Club hosts all-day picnics for 600 underprivileged children in City Park. Club sponsors Easley & Fountain Inn Clubs
1938 Club wins second place in community service in world-wide Rotary International competition
1939 Club records 100 percent attendance
1940 Directors earmark $600 for Christmas baskets for needy black families
1941 Club celebrates 25th anniversary; 6 charter members present
1945 “Four Way test” introduced to Greenville Rotarians
1947 Greenville Rotary Foundation established
1948 Club raises $15,500 for a YMCA Health Center
1950 President John Plyler tells Rotarians that Furman will develop a new campus north of the city
1951 Club celebrates 35th anniversary at the Poinsett Hotel Ballroom; charter member Heyward Mahon speaks
1952 Club provides two fellowships for international students at Furman
1953 Club sponsors Greer-Lyman-Taylors Club
1955 Speakers include “South Carolina’s most illustrious native son”, former Secretary of State Jimmy Byrnes, and General Mark Clark, president of the Citadel. Club sponsors North Greenville Club.
1956 Rotary lunch costs increase from $1.20 to a “staggering ” $1.50. Club sponsors Greenville East Club.
1957 South Carolina Junior Senator Strom Thurmond addresses the club
1959 Rotary sponsors Poinsettia Classic Basketball Tournament
1960 Rotary Charities, Inc. begins
1961 Club sponsors Pleasantburg and Simpsonville-Mauldin Clubs
1962 Cuban Missile crisis. Only fatality is Greenvilian — Major Rudolph Anderson, son of a longtime Rotarian
1963 100 percent attendance of 216 members
1965 Rotary Civic Chorale wows Rotary International meeting in Atlantic City
1966 Greenville Rotarians celebrate Golden Anniversary with banquet and pageant at Memorial Auditorium
1967 Contributions to Building funds for Red Cross, St. Francis Hospital, Salvation Army Boys Club
1970 Club takes over sponsorship and management of Singing Christmas Tree
1977 Club sponsors first Law Enforcement Day
1978 Members make downtown Greenville redevelopment a project
1979 Rotary gives $7,000 for scholarships at South Carolina colleges
1979 First Father-Son-Daughter Day
1980 Club provides funds for music instruction in Greenville schools, scholarship at Brevard Music Center, and scholarships for Singing Christmas Tree participants
1982 Club helps save Sirrine Stadium
1984 Club underwrites District Science Fair
1985 Singing Christmas Tree receipts $45,000
1988 First women members: Jeanet Dreskin and Virginia Uldrick
1988 Club makes $50,000 donation to Polio Plus
1992 Roper Mountain Holiday Lights begins
1996 Read to Me Program starts
1997 $20,000 sent to Rotary International for programs around the world
2001 85th Anniversary celebrated at the Poinsett Hotel ballroom
2002 Club Membership exceeds 400 members under first woman president, Beth Padgett
2003 Club sponsors Greenville Evening Club
2004 Named Club of the Year by District 7750 under Terry Weaver’s leadership. Raised $250,000 to establish Rotary Family Literacy Center, club’s largest fundraising project in history, in commemoration of RI Centennial
2006 Established Twin Club relationship with Rotary Club of Fukui, Japan. Greenville sends delegation of members to visit Fukui
2007 Presidential Candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain each address a regular Club meeting
2012 Named Club of the Year for District 7750 under Elizabeth Lyon’s leadership (3rd woman in the presidential position for the club). Elizabeth initiated a diversity effort for the club.
2013 Named Club of the Year for District 7750 under Judith Prince’s leadership. “Service Above Self” Scholarship created to recognize high school seniors making a difference in community & school service.
2016 A Peace & Conflict Resolution Conference was held at Furman. The Club celebrated it’s Centennial.
2017 After 25 successful years the club fundraiser, Roper Mountain Holiday Lights came to an end.
2020 President Jane Dyer initiated a new fundraiser for the club, Kringle Holiday Village.
2022 The Peace & Conflict Resolution Conference expanded to all of District 7750.