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Strathroy Rotary Club Beginnings


The first meeting of the Strathroy Rotary Club was held in 1985 at the Bear Creek Golf Club but this meeting wouldn’t have even been initiated without the insight of John Eberhardt and the Rotary Club of London. The London Club agreed to sponsor and undertake the formation of the new club and John, a member of the  London Club, chaired a committee established to assist in the task of organizing a new club in Strathroy.

John Eberhardt spent several months approaching businesses,  professionals and community leaders in the town of Strathroy with the idea and invited them to be a part of the new Rotary Club.  Thirty of these people attended the first information meeting to discuss the viability and commitment of bringing Rotary to our small town. These weekly meetings led to the creation of a Provisional Rotary Club. From the very beginning the membership of the club included both men and women and because this didn’t conform with Rotary International rules the club would continue to meet as a Provisional Club. In December 1987 the Strathroy Club resolved that an application would be made to charter the Strathroy Club with a unanimous commitment to the continued operation of the club on the basis of both female and male membership. This application along with the letter of resolution was forwarded to Rotary International in Chicago on February 16, 1988.  It wasn’t until later that same year that, because of a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that this restriction of membership to only men was discriminatory,  Rotary International finally amended its constitution. Hence, the Strathroy Club made Canadian Rotary history by becoming the first club in Canada with female members.

Besides John Eberhardt, some of the founding members that were at that very first meeting were John Asher, Ian Barrie, Bob Bailey,  Marcel Derdaele, Jim Morrison, the first president of the provisional club and Gord Hale, who would become the first president of the newly chartered club.  Some of the first women members would include Janet Gibbons, Marilyn Buttery who would later become the first female president, Joyce Cushman, Terry Phillips, Nancy Barkman and Anne Wolf.  The full list of original 27 charter members was submitted to Rotary International November 15, 1988. 


December 6, 1988 would be the official day the club was ultimately granted its charter status by Rotary International and they went on to celebrate their Charter Night in February 4, 1989 at the New Canadian Club in Strathroy.