WINCHESTER — There are 79 clubs in Rotary International’s District 7570 but only one 100-year bell.

Only 10 of the district’s clubs have had the honor of ringing that bell to celebrate their 100th anniversary of their local organization.

On Thursday, the Winchester Rotary Club became the 11th.

It happened at the start of a special lunchtime celebration in the Rotary Shelter in Jim Barnett Park. Club President John Elrick, standing before the organization’s 158 members that attended in person or were viewing online, rang the bell to open the meeting.

“We are here to celebrate and bask in the accomplishments made by your club,” said Brian C. Barbour of Warren County, governor of the district’s Area 1 that includes Winchester. “Every member of this club is testament to the motto, ‘Service Above Self.’”

The Winchester Rotary Club was formed in 1921 and has attracted an array of members, including many of the region’s most prominent political, business, community and religious leaders of the past century. Its presidents have included Dowell J. Howard (1934), who was Virginia’s state superintendent of public instruction from 1949 to 1957; Harry F. Byrd Jr. (1940), a former publisher of The Winchester Star who served in the U.S. Senate from 1965 to 1983; J. Kenneth Robinson (1954), who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971 to 1985; Stewart Bell Jr. (1965), a renowned local historian who served as mayor of Winchester from 1972 to 1980; and Michael M. Foreman, a respected local historian who served as clerk of Winchester Circuit Court from 1975 to 2003.

The Winchester Rotary Club is committed to helping others. It raises money for services that aid local families, donates dictionaries and coats to area children, provides medical and dental services to residents of developing nations, offers scholarships to college-bound teens, supports programs to help people overcome addictions, advocates on behalf of environmental and preservation issues, and sponsors numerous community events and activities including the annual Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival at the Frederick County Fairgrounds.

Tara Ellis, governor of Rotary’s District 7570, drove up from her hometown of Bristol, Tenn., to wish a happy 100th anniversary to the Winchester Rotary Club.

“It is a very, very special thing you all have accomplished,” Ellis said.

She noted that 135 of the club’s current members have earned the Paul Harris Fellow recognition for raising at least $1,000 for the nonprofit Rotary Foundation, which strives to improve the lives of disadvantaged people in the United States and around the world.

“Your club has raised more than $1 million for the Rotary Foundation in the last 20 years,” Ellis said. “With clubs like yours, everything is possible. ... You all serve to change lives every day and there is no limit to what you’ll achieve.”

“Here’s to another 100 years of phenomenal work,” Barbour said.

To learn more about the Winchester Rotary Club, visit

— Contact Brian Brehm at

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