top of page


Grand Rapids Centennial Rotary Club

Extension Club  1990 

Prior to GR Rotary becoming a charter club, meetings were held as an extension club with friendly debates on the name of the club. Current name was was chosen with the "The River Rats" being their nickname -  named for the loggers that would send the logs down the Mississippi River and keep the logs from jamming.  Weekly extension club meetings were held at 6:45 am weekly at the First Grade at Old Central School.  Some could not make this early morning meeting time and membership was low so they moved the meetings to noon at the Sawmill Inn beginning in 1990.


Original roster of Grand Rapids Rotary Club - Pokegama Chapter  March 1990  included:


Roger Kline  -  President

Ken Spangler - Vice President 

David Broberg - Secretary 

Helen Blanz -  Treasurer 

Other members include:  Gerry Beck, Jack Mooty, Terry Wilkey, Bob Shankland, Ellen Tholen, Robery Affeldt, Jerry Beck, David Cloeter, Bob George, William Hoolihan, John Kelsch, Lauren Lamp, Dale Maunu, Richard Perrott, Robert Pertlichek, Church Scherer, Donna Vennie

The Centennial Rotary prided themselves as being a "hands on" club.  They actively participate, serve and lead the club embracing the services ideal.  Only two members remained on the club 15 year later - David Broberg and Donna Vennie.  Some members moving outside of the area or stepping down for various reasons. 


Rotary International Founder Paul Harris has been memorialized by the GR Centennial Rotary in the form of a Yellow Brick on the Yellow Brick Road - Central School Grounds.  Our club was awarded the Rotary International Presidential Citation for balanced achievement in all four avenues of Service 3 times throughout the last 15 years and hope to receive it many more time in the future. 

Rotary Charter Club 1991 to present

Our club was chartered in April 1991 as an official Rotary Club.  The original members, spouses and guests held a charter dinner to celebrate the occasion.   Members were very active with programs nd projects bringing their hidden skills and creativity to each meeting and discussion. 

Club President   1990 - 2006 

Roger Kline -  7/90-6/91          Robert Zuelke   7/97-6/98                   David Marty  7/04-6/05

Chuck Scherer  7/91-6/92        Mary Ives  7/98-6/99                           Donna Vennie  7/05-6/06

Paul Olson  7/92-6/93              Jeff Wartchow  7/99-6/00            

Pam Gesme   7/93-6/94           Cindy Feyder  7/00-6/01

KC Jones    7/94-6/95              Steve Arbour   7/01-6/02

Russ Walk    7/95-6/96              Terry Lawler     7/02-6/03

Marry Rittmiller  7/96-6/97       Roger Hoyum    7/03-6/04


The clubs domestic major projects and activities included geranium sales, annual Thanksgiving Dinner,  Reverse Lottery, Highway Clean Up, Reading is Fundamental, fundraisers for American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity, Second Harvest Food Bank, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, GR Police Department, Itasca County Historical Society, Judy Garland Museum, Salvation Army Bell Ringing, The Ground Floor youth center, Bridges Kinship Mentoring  Chili Feed,  Camp Bluewater, Pike for Vet Program, Bowl A Rama fundraiser, Community Cage, and Reading Computers for elementary aged children.


Internationally we have traveled abroad to implement service projects and items collected  which were distributed to Honduras, Group Study Exchange to Korea, donations to Yugoslavia, funds to build homes in Haiti, funds for Guatemalan Literacy Project, funds for solar oven in

Afghanistan and Tsunami relief in India. Other travels were completed to Ecuador donating toothbrushes and sexual protection. 


* Scholarships are given to two high school seniors toward post secondary education in the amount of $ 500 each on an annual basis. Awarded students come to our Rotary Club to share their future dreams and talk about what they wish to study.  One Minnesota North ( ICC ) potential student is awarded a $ 500 scholarship each year, often being a non-traditional student.  

* Civic Leadership Awards are given to middle school students in the Itasca County area to students in grades 7, 8 and 9.  These schools include Grand Rapids, Bigfork, Greenway, Nashwauk, Deer River and Hill City middle schools.  Rotary 4 Way Fest Essay Contest has 3 winning essays each year and these are sent up to district level competition/  Essay award winners won $ 2000 in scholarships. 

* South Dakota Conservation Camp near Custer State Park in South Dakota has been a great Rotary camp for students since 2002.  Bob Erdman has been donating his time to this since inception. We sponsor 2 student each year to attend. 


* Hokey Open -  Hokey Open Golf Tournament to provide scholarships for local students

* Car on Ice -  tickets sold to be able to determine when a car would go through the ice.  This fund raiser brought all kinds of attention ( good and bad ) to the club with funds raised going to the winning date, Girl Scouts Campfire and Rotary 

Geraniums -  Since 1999,  selling of geraniums because very popular working with Bloomers Garden Center to complete this fundraiser 

* Candle Sales - These beautiful candles were a great fundraiser over the years.  The candles were produced by IDAC  Itasca Development Achievement Center.  It was a win-win for both Rotary and the IDAC staff whom all have some type of disability. 

* Ice Cream Sales -  Beginning in 2004,  working in conjunction with the Tall Timber Days event, we sold ice cream bars. 

*   10,000 Giveaway -  Reverse Lottery  - was a great fundraiser for Rotary in 2005. TBoth the evening Rotary Club and the noon Centennial Rotary joined together to purchase the Performance Tent at KAXE Radio following the 1st year of this fundraiser.  As part of this fun event,  a money tree was brought in to offer more winnings.  Winner was from Frazee, MN whom was unable to attend. David Marty, Doctor Carlisle and Roger Hoyum were instrumental in this fundraising success. 

*   $ 15,000 Giveaway - Reverse Lottery -  Year 2006 of the Reverse Lottery was once again jointly completed with both Rotary groups.  Lunn DeGrio was the lucky winner.  Funds completed the tent purchase and also purchased the grand drape, snow machine and Green Room for the Reif Center. 


Rotary raised funds for the Rotary Foundation though donations from Rotary members and matching donations. These often came from Rotary members that were auctioned off with donations going to the foundation. Our club matches a donation of $ 100 for each member on an annual basis.  


The Sewer :  We have had many membership drives with the Rotary Club to recruit new, active members for the club. One membership drive was exceptionally unique called "KISSING A PIG Membership Drive.  This membership drive took place in early 1992 to get the Rotary group to 50 members.  The club was split into two groups the "Rats" ( lead by David Broberg ) and the "Exterminators" ( lead by Queen Exterminator Pam Bowers )  both competing to find the most new members.  The losing team was supposed to "kiss a pig".  It was later determined that the better prize for the winning team would be to have a dinner prepared and served by the losing team.  Exterminators served the Rats a lovely dinner in 1992 at the King Rats Sewer.  


Other Membership Drives included 1992-1994 when the goal was to increase membership by 19 members. Though not making the goal, they added 10 members to the Club that year.  In 2004-2005, Rotary President David Marty offered each Rotary member as free ticket to a Reif program, Guys on Ice, if the club membership would grow by 10 members. Though they were one short in membership - David still gave all a fun evening at the Reif. 

Membership has gone up and down each year.  Growing from 1991 with 28 members all the way to 40 members in 1993.  The largest membership was in 1995 with a whopping 51 Rotarians.  Membership seems to have stabilized with about 30 members on average. 


We miss many of the talented and active members that have been a part of our Centennial Rotary. Since 1991, the following members have  moved away or had to leave our fun group: 

Sue Herboldt    Terry Lawler      Chuck Scherer      Paul Olson        Jerry Danielson 

Bob Zuehlke     Jane Bobich      Helen Blanz          Tammi Myers     Russ Walk

Dick Ferrao      Pat Medure       Mark Proeschel    David Cloeter     KC Jones   

Roger Kline      Pam Bowers      Jeff Borg              Terry LaValle


Many Rotarians express fun, fellowship and friendship as the reasons they became members of the GR Centennial Rotary Club.  There were always opportunities for fund during the weekly meetings, service projects, annual picnics and Holiday Parties.   Pictures of an annual picnic with the

50's Theme are attached from 1994. 

One year KC Jones was elected to hold a poker game at his home for his Rotarian friends. 6 brave Rotarians attended the game with prized for coming.  Other prizes included "Smelliest" to Paul Olson and "Worst Dressed" to Donna Vennie.  According to those present, Paul was a great bluffer and everyone should avoid playing with Donna as she will steal your money.  Good memories of fellow Rotarians. 

bottom of page