District 7280 History

It is interesting to note how we have become known as District #7280. As early as 1915 this district was known as District #3 and later, prior to 1921, it was known as District #6. Then in 1922 it was changed to #33 which remained in effect until 1937 when it became #175. This lasted until 1948 when it changed to #259. In 1957 it became known as #728 and in 1991, with the more frequent usage of computers which required 4 digits, it became known as District #7280.

During the 1915-1921 era when we were known as District #3 and District #6, the district went as far south as perhaps Maryland and as far north as Montreal so it was international. The district was over 1,000 miles in length. It was not possible for a district governor to visit all the clubs in a year.

When it was decided that our district should be all in the U.S.A. and just in northwestern Pennsylvania, some clubs in Pennsylvania petitioned Rotary International to just continue as an International District as part of Canada.

As an example, the Erie club did not participate in District 7280’s activities. This feeling was still in existence up until the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s. W. Terry Powell (P.D.G., 1971-72, Wesleyville) helped a great deal to help turn this thinking around in Erie County and with the Erie club, as he helped to organize additional clubs in Erie County.

The number of members in the very few clubs was perhaps less than two hundred. As additional clubs were formed, the membership increased. We reached a high point after World War II. In the early 1950’s, our average membership in Rotary District 7280 would exceed 2200. This is without the following clubs that were chartered after 1969: Rich-Mar, Linesville, Kearsarge, Presque Isle, Elk Valley, Meadville A.M., Cranberry, and Vernon. These eight clubs have helped to keep the membership at about 1900. Perhaps it is not being kind to the other 39 clubs who have not kept up their membership to the 1950 level.

In 1971, there was a membership campaign among the clubs that had 25 members or less. It was based on percentage of increase. It worked as most small clubs enjoyed an increase. The winner was Portersville/Prospect. They raffled live turkeys and made some money for their club. Lots of fun!

Up until 1964 we had no youth exchange students. Rev. Albert “Bert” Marriott (P.D.G., 1964-65, Meadville) and Dr. Jack E. Stefanick (P.D.G., 1987-88, Sharon) got this started for Rotary District #7280. The students in past years have always put on a successful program at our district conference. This program is presently being very successfully run by Chairman Larry Franklin (Greenville).

When the clubs were asked to vote on getting youth exchange started in our district, the request was made by then District Governor Bert Marriott. Bert’s own club of Meadville was against getting involved. Today this is one of the strong programs in the Meadville club.

The difference between the Meadville club and P.D.G. Bert Marriott is a great strength of Rotary. It provides an example that proves that Rotarians have different opinions and because of the difference Rotary is much stronger as they are very democratic.

The district governor is normally nominated by his or her club. Often there are more than one nominated. The District Nominating Committee selects the stronger, and this district governor is then elected at the International Conference. The person is known as District #7280 nominee.

The District #7280 is governed by the district governor, serving as chairman of an Advisory Board, which includes all past district governors who are current members of Rotary and who reside in the district. Note that their function is that only of an Advisory Board. The serving Governor makes the decisions and operates the district. His term is for only one year.

The outline for the Advisory Board to follow is known as a codification.

At this point it is important to make it known that some of the early clubs were formed and were helped be organized by clubs outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As an example, the Erie club was assisted with its organization by the Rotarians from Buffalo, New York. This club was chartered January 1, 1914.

The first Rotary club outside the U.S.A. was formed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Compilation  P.D.G. Charles “Chuck” M. Waltenbaugh