Service Above Self:
History of the Las Cruces Rotary Club

This history is from a pamphlet commissioned by the Rotary Club of Las Cruces in 1989.  It was written by Jennifer L. Holberg, who was an NMSU undergraduate at the time. 

Acknowledgments  Introduction: Rotary  The Early Years  The War Years
  The Post-War Period   The 1950's  The 1960's  The 1970's and 1980's 
Food, Fun, and Fellowship  Charter Members  Presidents

Food, Fun, and Fellowship


Although always an exemplary service organization, the Rotary Club of Las Cruces has also excelled as a social group.  Fellowship is an important goal of the group which has developed through the years at a number of restaurants throughout Las Cruces.  Records do not exist to definitely establish where the group met in the 1920s, though possibly Bob’s Café was one place; however, receipts do remain from the 1920s and show that the club ate at the Pullman Café, the Tortugas Café, and Carl Holmes’ Club Café.  In fact when Bill Erwin joined in 1937, Rotarians were eating at the Club Café for thirty-five cents each week.  During the 1940s, the club’s meals were provided by the Reeves sisters, who ran a boarding house, by Mrs. George Frenger, and by the Tortugas Café.  During the 1950s, the Rotary meetings were held at Vonnie Lee’s, the Tortugas Café, the W. I. A. building, the Circle Café, the Shamrock Drive Inn, Gillespie’s Steak House, and the Town and Country Restaurant.  In the next decades, the club met at the Mission Inn, the Palms Motor Inn, and finally, the Holiday Inn.  (Since this publication, the club has moved several times, first to the Best Western Mesilla Valley Inn, later the Day’s Inn, to Lorenzo’s de Mesilla, to the Las Cruces Convention Center, to the Columbus Conference Center at the America's Best Value Inn, then to La Posta de Mesilla.)

Two other important yearly social events were the annual picnic, held at a variety of locations, such as Soledad Canyon, Leasburg Dam, and the homes of members such as Adlai Feather, and Ladies Night.  Ladies Night featured programs of all varieties, including international speakers, masquerade parties, and dramatic performances.  Bill Erwin remembered a unique Ladies Night: 

Col. A. W. Chilton was in charge of the program and we were copying something that was on the radio…. Dr. McBride had an idea that we fix up a little white pig in a baby basket.  He made a talk at Ladies Night and said in his business he had run into an infant that needed attention and needed someone to take care of it for about two months.  Then he pulled out this baby basket that had this white pig in it.  We drew names to see who would take care of this infant for a while and P. M. Baldwin received the basket.  It was brought to his table and when he looked into it here was this white pig.  Dr. McBride had fixed the basket so that when he gave it to P. M., he opened up something in the basket that would let the pig out.  Before the night was over, the pig was out about three times, and P. M. was chasing [it] all around the room. 

Currently (1989), Rotary International boasts 24,050 clubs with 1,066,850 members in 465 districts and 165 countries.  The Rotary Club of Las Cruces has approximately 150 members, including almost fifty Paul Harris Fellows, the highest honor awarded in Rotary.  Ralph Stucky was the club’s first recipient of the award.  His wife, too, received the award after traveling to every meeting in the district but one during Stucky’s term as district governor.  The club’s statistics, however, pale in comparison to the contributions it has made to the Las Cruces community and to the many individual lives its activities have touched.  The benefits provided by this club demonstrate that “Service Above Self” is a fitting motto.