Daniel J. Sulger
Immediate Past President
Administrator: Chris Bridwell
The Rotary Club of Pensacola, the “Downtown” Club, was organized March 9, 1915, with 54 charter members and was the second Rotary Club in Florida. Today, the club has over 200 members.
The first officers were William Fisher, President; John A. Merritt, Vice President; H.P. Ball, Treasurer; M.E. Clark, Secretary; R.V.C. Smith, Acting Secretary.
The Rotary Club of Pensacola helped in the establishment of the Panama City Club in 1937, the Niceville-Valparaiso Club in 1948, the Cantonment Club in 1948, the Pensacola Suburban West Club in 1957, Gulf Breeze in 1973, Pensacola North in 1976 and Five Flags in 1981.
The club was originally placed in District 5, which included Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. As Rotary membership expanded the Pensacola Club was successively assigned to District 8 (1918), 39 (1922), 26 (1923), 167 (193 7), 242 (1949), 694 (1957).
Thomas M. Lloyd (president 1944-45) was elected District Governor for 1954-55, the first of nine Pensacolians to receive that honor. The second was Raymond Dyson (president 1959-60) for 1964; third, Harvey T. Cotten (president 1964-65) for 1968-69; fourth, William H. Randolph, III (president 1973-74) for 1981-82; fifth, Charles A. Schuster for 1985-86; sixth, Russell Hudson for 1986-87; seventh, David Paul Parks for 1993-94; eighth, Roger G. MacDonald (president 1991-92) for 1995-96, and ninth, Bob Spilman for 1998-99.
Among the Club’s Community services in its earlier years was the establishment of the Armstrong Park Playground, the construction of a lodge at Camp Big Heart, the sponsoring of a Boy Scout Troop, the building of a hut at the beautiful 4-H Timber, Grazing and Game Demonstration Camp which several Rotarians served as Trustees; the maintenance of a Student Loan Fund, which for over 50 years, has helped many of our youth through college (In 1969 through the generosity of Frances Ellis, widow of former Rotarian Don Ellis, the Pensacola Rotary Student Loan Fund is one of the participants in the Frances V. Ellis Trust).
In recent years the Club actively supports tUniversity of West Florida and Pensacola Junior College Foundations; it is also a 2,900 per cent contributor to the Rotary International Foundation and has had a total of 142 Paul Harris Fellow Awardees. In addition, the Pensacola Rotary successfully spear-headed the Escambia Bloodmobile Drive and has established a Deposit in the Escambia Blood Bank. Also successfully concluded a three-year capital improvement project at Scout Camp Euchee, 1982.
In 2015, the club marked its 100-year anniversary by funding a building the Rotary Centennial Playground. The world-class, inclusive playground is located in the middle of the grass fields along the waterfront of the Community Maritime Park. The playground was designed and built by local firms who have donated many hours to the project’s development. The playground was designed with no walls or hiding places, making it easier to supervise children. A rubberized play surface, courtesy of a $100,000 donation from Impact 100, is low maintenance and fall-friendly.
In 2019, club member Innes Richards was elected District Governor.
The club publishes a weekly bulletin called The Helicopter and has placed in the archives of the University of West Florida a complete history of club activities. Club membership is more than four times its original charter group.