The Boise Downtown Rotary Club is the oldest club in Idaho. The move to organize a Rotary Club in Boise began with a letter dated June 30, 1916 from R. R. Alexander, later the club’s first secretary, to Dr. F. C. Witherspoon of Montana, the Governor of the District 14 International Association of Rotary Clubs. Subsequent correspondence with Dr. Witherspoon and International Secretary Chesley R. Perry resulted in the designation of Charles E. Cochran, President of the Portland Club, as acting Deputy District Governor, to assist the Boise Club with its organizational plans.
On March 2, 1917 a list of 100 approved classifications was received from Secretary Perry and the Organization Committee began its work. Chairman Alexander and the committee worked rapidly and on March 29, 1917 a selected group met for luncheon at the Chamber of Commerce and created a temporary organization. It was moved, seconded and carried that April 28, 1917 be fixed as the date for the ceremonies establishing the club at eight o’clock in the evening.
The second meeting was held April 5, 1917 and the following officers were elected: C. A. Barton, President, H. F. Lemp, Vice President, R. R. Alexander, Secretary and Rev.Willsie M. Martin, Treasurer. C. C. Anderson, F. F. Johnson, Joel L. Priest were elected directors and F. B. Jones became Sergeant-at-Arms. On April 28, 1917 the Boise Rotary Club was installed at an Owyhee Hotel Banquet attended by more than 100 prominent business and professional men from Boise, Portland and Salt Lake City. Charles E. Cochran of Portland, Deputy District Governor who installed the above listed officers, conducted the simple ceremony of installation. A copy of the front page of the Idaho Statesman dated April 29, 1917 covering the installation is in the Boise Rotary Office and the archives at Boise State University.
Formal application for membership in the International Association of Rotary Clubs was made May 27, 1917. The charter membership roster closed on that date named 50 members holding 41 classifications. The Boise Rotary Club charter was granted on June 17, 1917. Boise was the 320th Rotary Club formed. Future meetings were set for luncheons on Thursday and the tradition remains to this day.
In January 2002 the History Committee asked Arthur A. Hart, noted historian of Boise, to prepare biographical information on the Boise Rotary Founding Fathers. The original document is in the Boise Rotary Office and a copy is in the archives at Boise State University.
A details account of each past president’s term of office provides a detailed looks at the club’s history.