Club History

Wilmington Rotary Club #6184

The Wilmington Rotary Club was chartered on April 15, 1915. It was the second club chartered in North Carolina, and the 150th club of Rotary International. Our club's founders subscribed to the objectives of the international organization of business and professional leaders: providing humanitarian service, encouraging high ethical standards in all professions, and helping to build goodwill and peace in the world. Over a century, the Wilmington club directly sponsored many other Rotary clubs throughout eastern North Carolina, and is a "grandparent" to many others.

We are now one of six Rotary clubs in Wilmington, which meet at varying times and places. While some use the word "downtown" to describe us, that's a misnomer. We are the old, original Rotary club in Southeastern North Carolina. Our scope and our membership have always gone well beyond downtown Wilmington, and between 2018 and 2020, we didn't even meet in a downtown venue. Our members live throughout New Hanover County and some in Brunswick and Pender counties.

The club's current number, 6184, bears no relationship to the sequence of its founding. It is simply an administrative record-keeping tool used by Rotary International.

Starting in the 1980s, the club made serious efforts to recruit a more diverse membership, notably by abandoning Rotary's former "males only" rule. A 2015 look back at how the club diversified its membership is available in our "Documents" section. Go to Diversity history.

Weekly meetings, in person and online

We meet for lunch at 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday, in The Upper Room in the Tileston Building, part of St. Mary Catholic School, at 412 Ann Street in Wilmington's Historic District. Since resuming in-person meetings in July 2021, we have conducted them as "hybrids," with the option of joining remotely via Zoom software. Links to those meetings are sent to all members in the club president's weekly email newsletter. Those meetings are also recorded; links to the recordings are available in a members-only channel online.

100+ years of  'Service Above Self'

Since its founding, the Wilmington Rotary Club has been dedicated to serving both our community and communities around the globe by engaging in projects to address the needs of others.

Our club’s early efforts

  • Lobbied local and state governments for highway and bridge improvements
  • Encouraged preservation of Greenfield Lake as a public park, and helped organize the North Carolina Azalea Festival.
  • Developed amphitheater and Rotary Wheel Garden at Greenfield Park. The garden is the world's largest Rotary emblem; brick walls form the gear teeth and concrete walkways form the spokes.
  • Supported the Boys and Girls Homes of NC, including funding for construction and maintenance of Rotary Cottage.
  • Established an orthopedic clinic that operated from the 1920s into the 1980s.
  • Supported Hospice and Elderhaus facilities.
  • Established loan fund to help local students attend college

Our ongoing projects

  • Buying equipment for a rural health clinic in Honduras
  • Supplying needed materials and services, including medical clinics and medical supplies, for orphanages in Ukraine
  • Supporting families of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war in their homeland.
  • Williston Middle School adopted as centennial "Legacy Project" since 2011
  • Maintenance and improvements to Rotary Wheel Garden in Greenfield Park
  • Support for literacy efforts in six New Hanover County elementary schools, including helping to buy books for libraries, classrooms and students, and one-on-one tutoring.
  • Annual Rookie Teacher of the Year awards, which make cash grants to five first-year teachers in New Hanover County schools
  • Annual Service Above Self awards, which recognize law enforcement officers and other first responders who go beyond the call of duty in serving the public
  • Funding for KIVA microlending project in developing countries
  • Financial support through The Rotary Foundation for global efforts including End Polio Now.

For more on the club's major current projects, go to Our Projects.

Rotary Club archives at UNC-Wilmington

A detailed record of the club's  history, including documents, photographs and artifacts, is part of the special collections division of Randall Library at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
This archive originated as a private project of the late Herman Blizzard, a former club president and district governor.Before his death in 2005 he donated the archive to the University, which has catalogued it, digitized much of its content, and made it available online.
To browse the Herman Blizzard Rotary Archives, go to UNCW Digital Collections.
For guidance on using the archive, go to finding aid.

 Our 100-year anniversary history book

In April 2015, to mark the end of the club's first century, we published a detailed history that was distributed to more than 8,000 Wilmington newspaper subscribers.

A limited number of the printed publications remain in hand. A copy may be obtained on request from the club's sergeant at arms.

A digital copy, linked below, can be read online; a mouse click "turns" the pages.

Club Leaders
Bi-monthly club newsletter
Weekly program speakers
Our Facebook Page