The beginnings of the Sunrise Rotary go back to discussions of the Rotary Extension Committee of August 27, 1987. Committee members included, from the Champaign Club: Dick Foley, Frank Keck, and Dick Knieriem; from the Champaign West Club: Bob Thompson, Mark Thorsby, and Rick Kirby; from the Urbana Club: Ron Hermann, Denny Kane, and Rich Shoop. Ours was to be a special club because it would meet for breakfast, would include women, and would be both a Champaign and Urbana Club.
At our formative meeting, on September 17, 1987, representatives of the extension committee and the core of the new club selected potential members.
From that initial meeting held at the Red Wheel on North Lincoln at 1-74, came our charter members, and a tentative schedule of meetings; October 1st – nominating of members and officers, October 18th – elections the Charter to be issued on or about October 30th following approval and our Charter night scheduled for December 1, 1987.
Charter members were: Cody Abbott, Scott Anderson, Marc Ansel, Rick Baker, Ted Bash, Mark Beckham, Ken Blount, Dan Eaton, Walt Franke, Tom Harrington, Jr., Bill Ireland, Jack Kamerer, Paul Kelley, Kim Martin, Jack Moore, Denny Mulvany, Ward Neff, Gary Olsen, Ed Perry, Mike Petry, Tom Pickett, Ron Pierson, Mike Royse, Lou Simpson, Jim Smith, Peggy Thompson, and Diana Williams. We began meeting at the Red Wheel at 6:45 a.m. each Thursday, but moved to Howard Johnsons in January of 1988 because of lack of space.
The establishment of our newsletter by Rick Baker, first proposed as “The Worm,” then as “The Earlybird,” was perhaps the glue that held the club together in the first few months of life.
Initially, our Board of Directors consisted of Cody Abbott, Dan Eaton, Kim Martin, Tom Pickett, Lou Simpson, Peggy Thompson, and Diana Williams. Dan Eaton was elected President; Peggy Thompson, President-Elect; Marc Ansel, Secretary; Denny Mulvany, Treasurer; and Bill Ireland, Sergeant-at-Arms.
With the invaluable guidance of many of the extension committee members and C-U Rotarians, finishing touches on our application to Rotary International and approval of our name and by-laws were completed.
Governor Scott Weller visited us in October, and Lou Simpson guided our Charter Night gala, assisted by Cody Abbott, Bill Ireland, and Dan Perrino of the Urbana club. We were fortunate to get Walter Maddocks, Executive Director of the World Wide Polio-Plus Campaign of Rotary International, to give the keynote address.
Our Charter Night on December 1, 1987 at Jumer’s Castle Lodge was a very special and enjoyable event. We were joined by many from both local and district clubs.
Soon committees and chairs were named, with Diana Williams for Club Service; Tom Pickett for Vocational Service; Kim Martin for Community Service; and Cody Abbott for International Service.
Our first community project was in helping WILL with the Auction for the fundraiser in April of 1988. Our first Rotary Foundation project was for Polio Plus for which we achieved 100% participation and over $6,000 in pledges.
We began to change ourselves into a functioning Rotary Club, and with the help of all we forged ahead under our own power. The first District Conference attended was held at Illinois State University, April 22, 1987, and our first International Convention at Philadelphia was attended by Bill and Peggy Ireland, Peggy and Bob Thompson, and Dan and Kris Eaton in May 1987.
Club activities that first year culminated in a Club Fish Fry on June 5, followed by family volleyball games at Jack and Carol Kamerer’s house. During that first year most of our time was spent getting to know one another, learning about Rotary and organizing ourselves into the Four Avenues of Service.
On July 1, 1988, Peggy Thompson assumed presidency of our club and began in earnest a program of organized growth and club participation. Led by Diana Williams and Kim Martin, community service became our focus.
We enjoyed an ice cream social at the Champaign County Nursing Home, helped the Don Moyer Boys Club, worked with our schools and other civic organizations to live up to the maxim “service above self” Steve Miller was our first new member following charter, sponsored by Mike Royse in the fall of 1988.
Club activity has marked the Sunrise Club from the beginning, and growth has been steady with average membership of 45-50. Leadership of the club has been capable and conscientious in the hands of our Presidents: Cody Abbott, 1989-90; Lou Simpson, 1990-91; Ed Perry, 1991-92; Gary Olsen, 1992-93; Dave Krchak, 1993-94; Robb Patton, 1994-95; Kathie Spegal, 1995-96; Penn Nelson, 1996-97; Jeanne Larson, 1997-98; Allan Penwell, 1998-99; Curt Anderson 99-00; Jen Shelby 00-01; Ata Durukan 01-02; Bob Rahm 02-03; Mary Hodson 03-04; Larry Johnson 04-05; Rasul Mowatt 05-06; Barb Lintner 06-07; Harold Adams 07-08; Ben Mast 08-09; Paul Conforti 09-10; Diana Dummitt 10-11; Bruce Hatfield 11-12; and Jeff Van Buren 12-13, Chuck Reifsteck 13-14, Tod Satterthwaite 14-15, Reuben Chambers 15-16, Rod Roberts 16-17, Bob La Charite 17-18.
The club has been honored by the District with many awards, most of them in the area of community service. It has always been the club’s philosophy to provide ample opportunities for “service” to all its members while retaining fellowship as our foundation. We continue to work together toward this goal.
Click the link below to download our brochure:
CU Sunrise Brochure
Interested in joining C-U Sunrise Rotary? Click the link below to download an application:
Application for Members