History of the Rotary Club of Clearwater Beach
The Rotary Club of Clearwater Beach received its charter on November 2, 1953. A club for Clearwater Beach was the dream of Clifford Anderson McKay, Sr., owner of The Letter Shop, WTAN radio station, and the Beach Views, a weekly newspaper published and distributed by the McKay family on Clearwater Beach for 45 years. Already a Rotarian, he organized the Rotary Club of Clearwater Beach while a member of the Clearwater club.
Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Clearwater, Malcolm Duggan, Governor of Rotary District 244, chartered the Club and installed the officers. Charter Night was November 2, 1953, at the Clearwater Yacht Club on Mandalay Avenue. Clifford Anderson McKay was charter president and an active member until his death. Amos Smith was second president of the Club.
The 25 charter members of the new Club included some members of the Clearwater Rotary Club. Others were businessmen on Clearwater Beach and retired Rotarians.
The Charter Members were: Lou Anderson, Fred Andrews, Dr. Douglas Carr, George Cassell, John Cosgrove, R. O. Downie, Curtis Earl, Gilbert Fields, Marshall Forrest, Henry Henriquez, Burt Hilton, Ed Hurlabaus, Harold Keating, Herb Langford, Harry Marland, Clifford McKay, George Peck, James Pitman, Alex Rackowe, Jack Ransom, Charles Rudderham, and William Stautz.
Still active 25 years later were Clifford McKay, Marshall Forrest, George Cassell, Curt Earl, Henry Henriquez, and Gilbert Fields.
Curt Earl loved to tell the story of being called off the golf course at Pinehurst, North Carolina, to answer a phone call from Clifford McKay, asking him to join the new Club. One more member was needed to make the Club eligible for charter and Clifford knew exactly where to find him. Curt was very active in the Club for the rest of his life.
According to Mr. McKay, the purpose of the new Club was to provide Clearwater Beach a service club and to provide Rotarians visiting Clearwater Beach a small, friendly club, conveniently located where they could make-up while on vacation.
Marshall Forrest voluntarily urged members towards regular attendance.
Henry Henriquez, owner of the Pelican Restaurant on Mandalay Avenue, treated the entire membership to yearly steak dinners. At one point Rotary board meetings were held in the evening at the Pelican Restaurant and usually included a “gentlemanly” game of poker.
Clifford Anderson McKay, Jr., was Clearwater Beach Rotary nominee for Rotary Fellow. Receiving the Fellowship from Rotary International, he went to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) for the school year of 1956. Then in 1957, Rotary Fellow Royei Asaoka from Japan was entertained by the Rotary Club of Clearwater Beach during the Christmas holidays.
The Club sponsored a successful Little League Baseball Team for a number of years. They also provided scholarship assistance to local high school graduates to pursue higher education.
Bingo games at the Memorial Civic Center were conducted by Beach Rotarian Gil Schutzendorf, and the Club took over its operations for several weeks out of the year for their annual fund raising project. Later fundraisers included golf tournaments, triathlons, fishing competitions, and a giant rummage sale chaired by Rotarian Helen Mezas.
Pat Lokey, who joined in 1987, was the first female member of the Club.
The Club is still thriving today. Please call for more information.