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The Commercial Club atop the McCandless Building in downtown Honolulu was the first regular meeting place of the Rotary Club of Honolulu in 1915.


The Rotary Club of Honolulu was granted its charter on July 1, 1915, with 29 members signing the official document. Since that time our membership has grown to over 160 members, 48 other Rotary Clubs have been chartered in Hawaii on the four main islands, and Hawaii became a separate District in 1938. Our Club is #14 and Hawaii is District 5000 of Rotary International.

Sumner Paxson, manager of the Schuman Carriage Co., was the club's first president and Ed Towse, one of the originators of the Republican Party in Hawaii as well as Territorial legislator, was the second.

The "Service Above Self" manifested by Honolulu Rotary started from the beginning and continues effectively to the present, although the focus has changed with the times. World War I efforts included entertainment of soldiers stationed in Hawaii, money and letters for soldiers in France and thousands of dollars raised in Thrift Stamps.

In the 1950's our club appropriated an endowment to Children's Hospital to fund the treatment of harelip and cleft palate cases. The surgeries were provided without cost by Rotarian Dr. Jim Morgan. Honolulu Rotarians later funded a memorial fireplace for Camp Erdman at Mokuleia, distributed 120 tons of supplies to the tribal mountain people of Vietnam, contributed manpower and equipment to the Special Education Center of Oahu and continues the career information program for local high school students began over 25 years ago.

Honolulu Rotarians developed the Children's Justice Center for sexually abused children and created Friends of Foster Kids to support foster parents and strengthen foster parent organizations. The annual Friends of Foster Kids picnic is an eagerly anticipated feature of that participation. Rotarians volunteer for numerous other projects throughout the year, including literacy campaigns and the District Rotary Gives Thanks day.

The Rotary Club of Honolulu has established Sister Club relationships with The Rotary Clubs of Taipei, Taiwan; The Rotary Club of Kyoto, Japan; The Rotary Club of Tokyo Shimbashi, Japan; and The Rotary Club of Pusan, South Korea. We also sponsored The Rotary Club of Esso, Russia.

The essence of Rotary is not only service above self, but fellowship; and the Rotary Club of Honolulu is dedicated to enhancing the club experience of our membership with informative, entertaining and timely programs and special off-site programs and Rotarian-led seminars. New members are asked to attend four special evening dinner meetings of the newcomers group, Hui Ho'owali, so that they can build friendships and their knowledge of the club before receiving their permanent badges. Participation on committees is encouraged as is interaction with our mainland and international guests.

The Club's meeting place has changed many times over the years, from the Commercial Club in downtown Honolulu to the roof garden of the Alexander Young Hotel, to various Waikiki locations. Since 1961, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel has been home for the Rotary Club of Honolulu. But no matter where our Rotarians gather, the strong sense of fellowship and service prevails.