Rotary Club of Walnut Creek – A Brief History
Walnut Creek gained a new community friend in 1937 when, on April 7, the Rotary Club of Walnut Creek (RCWC) was chartered. It was the brainchild of OP. (Opie) Erdahl (who became charter president) Bill Gean and Dwight Porter. But the Club was not easily born. Walnut Creek was little more than a village “out in the country,” with a population of not much more than 6,000, and portions of Main Street still unpaved.
The first challenge was to find a sponsoring club; after no small amount of searching, the needed support was finally elicited from the Rotary Club in Contra Costa’s most populous and prosperous community, Richmond. After nine months of weekly meetings and many informal confabs in the local coffee shop, a Rotary district representative made his way out to “The Creek” and gave the group official sanction to begin formation of a club. Another four months of organizational meetings followed, leading to that April day when 22 local men, each in a different field of endeavor, became the charter members of the Rotary Club of Walnut Creek.
In the early years, the nearest Rotary clubs were in Oakland, Berkeley and Pittsburg. Men from Orinda, Lafayette, Concord, Danville and points in between turned to Walnut Creek for Rotary membership. The next nearest club was formed in Martinez in 1944, with many more clubs to come in ensuing years, until today, more than a dozen Rotary Clubs with combined membership well in excess of 1,000 are in the area that was originally under the umbrella of the Rotary Club of Walnut Creek.
Originally, the club’s territory was the area between Concord and south toward Danville and west to Lafayette. In later years, RCWC ceded the Alamo to that club, Pleasant Hill to that new club and the Rossmoor area of Walnut Creek to that new club.
(When initially formed, Rossmoor took only members from that area for the new membership. Later, there was a movement by Rossmoor to gain membership at the expense of the original Rotary Club of Walnut Creek. The activity was mediated by the District Governor. At the insistence of RCWC, recruitment outside of the Rossmoor area was discontinued.)
Later, the Walnut Creek Sunrise club was formed with the assistance of RCWC and the charter president was a member from RCWC. In recent years, the Rotary Club of Diablo View was formed with the assistance of RCWC. The charter president of that club was also a member of RCWC.
Women joined the ranks of Rotary in 1989, and Walnut Creek Rotary’s first female member was Claudine Fletcher, a motivational speaker. Although two women were earlier nominated to serve as president relocations prevented each of them them from serving. Pam Raumer became the first lady president to serve a full term (2007-2008).
Today, there are a significant number of active female Rotarians among the club’s ranks.
Worldwide, Walnut Creek was the 4191s1 club in the Rotary movement. Since that time, more than 25,000 clubs have been formed and now are thriving in more than 150 countries worldwide. (RCWC was initially chartered as club number 4191 – hence, the post office box currently held by the club. After World War II, may original clubs no longer existed so Rotary International (RI) renumbered all clubs except the first four chartered clubs. RCWC was renumbered as Club 465 as a result of this process.)
Matched Club from Tokyo and Student Exchange Program
The Rotary Clubs of Walnut Creek and Tokyo-Kohoku have had a continuous student summer exchange program since 1967. Separate from any Rotary International involvement, this program is directly between these two ambitious Rotary clubs.
Each year, a college-age student visits during the summer months. Within the Rotary world of over 26,000 clubs, our pro-gram is the longest without an interruption.
Visiting from Tokyo is Chiaki (center). On the left is Sergio, an exchange student from Walnut Creek to Tokyo.
The understanding, goodwill and fellowship generated through this program enhances Rotary International’s philosophy of making the world a better place in which to live.
Kohoku visitors for the 75th anniversary of Rotary Club of Walnut Creek
Several times, the two clubs have traveled en-mass to visit for special anniversary occasions. 1985 brought the two clubs together in Honolulu, Hawaii for four days of Rotary fellowship at its best. Many individual Rotarians have traveled purposely to renew contacts. On both sides of the Pacific Ocean, serious earthquakes have occurred — each club has responded with financial aid.
The success of the matched clubs is attributed to the extensive participation of the individual Rotary members. The benefits derived for the students are immeasurable. A greater understanding of cultures has been a decisive factor in the success of our program.
Read on for more interesting history of the Rotary Club of Walnut Creek
(Many meeting are both live and Zoom™. See: Our Meeting Schedule)
Tuesday - 12:15 PM
Heather Farm Community Center - Lakeside Room
301 N. San Carlos Drive
Walnut Creek, CA 94598