The History of the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville by Joe Miller

The Rotary Club of South Jacksonville was formed in 1955.  Its founding club was the Rotary Club of Jacksonvlle (Florida's First Rotary Club which celebrated 100 years in 2012).  The club banner displayed on the home page of this blog site states that we are the Treaty Oak Club.  Treaty Oak is within 200 yards of our meeting location.  It is one of the oldest and largest Oak trees in Florida and the nation.   For a brief history of Treaty Oak and the area surrounding the tree, click on the following link:  

The first Club President of the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville was Frank Sherman.  As a boy, Sherman was one of the first Jacksonville Beach Lifeguards, serving alongside member Gifford Grange.  In his teenage years, Frank's first job was to serve as a doorman at the old St. James Hotel, which is now Jacksonville's City Hall building in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.  It was here, at the Old St. James Hotel, that Rotary Founder Paul P. Harris first met George W. Clark in 1892.  Clark and Harris became lifelong friends.  Clark became the first Rotary President of Florida (Rotary Club of Jacksonville) and was one of the first 26 Honorary Rotarians in the world.  Paul Harris likely asked Clark to create the second Rotary Club in the world, but in 1905-1906 Jacksonville was rebuilding from the complete city destruction by the 1901 Great Fire.  Clark's marble manufacturing plant and mortuary were destroyed in this conflagration.  His new building, with 6 floors, was now one of Jacksonville's tallest structures.In the early 1930's, our President Sherman, against all reason, established the first large grocery store on the south bank of the St. John's River. The only way to cross the river was by ferry.  This meant that he had to rely on customers on the south side of town.  As this side of the town grew, his business prospered. This led to the first bank on the South Bank of the St. John's river (actually it was at a counter near the back of his grocery store).  Friends and colleagues warned him of this folly but American Bank grew to be one of the largest banks in North Florida.Regarding healthy living, Frank believed his physician who told him 'orange juice and vitamins' were the key to good health and a long life.  He shared this information with everyone he met.  His own bank employees were provided free vitamins and orange juice daily.  In fact, Sherman hired a bank greeter.  Her job was to greet everyone as they entered the bank and offer them unlimited free orange juice.  This 'orange juice welcome' continued to be an American Bank tradition for over 25 years.

In his lifetime, Sherman was known as a visionary.  He is attributed for establishing the first shared banking computer in Florida, establishing micr coding (the letters at the bottom of a check), and the creating the first drive-thru bank in the U.S.A.  In addition, he is responsible for the creation of the Friendship Fountain in 1963, which was restored to better than its original luster in 2011.  He saw a need and funded the construction of Memorial Hospital of Jacksonville and donated to Jacksonville University for years. He also assisted in the founding of the San Jose Country Club.

Though his knees were failing him and he had to strain to hear, his health was strong until the last moment.  He went home, took a nap, and never woke up.  He was 93. What a life!  Frank's wife Helen passed away three months earlier in a similar fashion.  Upon their death, Frank Sherman and his wife Helen (an accomplished pianist) willed their money to good causes.  They donated a majority of their wealth to Emory University to create endowments for the Emory's Candler School of Theology.  These endowments included  the Sherman Scholarship Endowment, the Sherman Fund for the Ministry of Church, and the Florida Preaching Institute.  According to university officials, millions of dollars of scholarships have been funded but the original Sherman donation is still intact.  

Frank's words to all throughout his 93 years of life were from the scriptures (Proverbs 22:6) "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it."  He believed that to make the world a better place you must work with children early in life. Frank passed away two hours after attending a South Jacksonville Rotary meeting.  

Past District Governors

Three club members in the entire history of the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville have held the distinguished position of District Governor of Rotary District 6970.  The first selected, was Past President/Past District Governor Paul Mori.  Governor Mori, a distinguished radiologist and founder/owner of the city's largest radiology firm joined the club in 1956.

Bob Langley, Jr. was the second member to hold Rotary's top regional position. Also a Past President of our club, Langley, is the son of Charter Member, Bob Langley, Sr.  At one time, the Langley family had four family members in the club.  The Langley family established one of the earliest automobile companies in the city.  Their Langley Oldsmobile (circa 1906), was one of the dominant businesses in the region.Past Club President George Linville was selected to serve the Rotary District 6970 in 1988.  The year before, he had served as President of the Florida Association of Realtors (75,000 members). He owned his own real estate company which he operated with Rotary ideals.  George was an accomplished auctioneer and provided his services free of charge to local clubs and organizations for fundraising.Connection to a fourth District Governor The Rotary Club of South Jacksonville has funded and supported the creation of two clubs.  The Rotary Club of Southpoint is one such club..  One of its members and Past President of Southpoint is Cynde Covington. Cynde married South Jacksonville member and Past President Barry Covington.  Cynde Covington served as District Governor of District 6970 for the 2010-2011 year.Distinguished Club MembersRotarians as a whole are very accomplished individuals in their field or classification.  This holds true for most members at all of the nearly 34,000 Rotary Clubs throughout the world.  Seldom do they seek or request attention and rarely do they discuss their achievements.  This section is for our club to understand the fine men and women of our own club who made a mark on Jacksonville, North Florida, and maybe the world.

Those members marked as HONORARY MEMBERS have been recognized by the club's Board of Directors and are considered members of the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville but are exempt from attendance requirements.  They may join us for lunch at any time.  Honorary Members are reconfirmed every year.  Over the years, several other citizens of Jacksonville have been recognized by our Board.  These individuals will be added to this list soon.Honorable Harvey Schlesinger - (1940-     )   [Honorary Member 2011-2012 Federal District Judge Harvey Schlesinger was added to our club roster in 1977?.  Judge Schlesinger served as a Federal Magistrate locally for years.  One of the duties of this position was to hold the Naturalization Ceremonies for North Florida.  Thousands of immigrants became American Citizens under his judgeship.  Though in a demanding position, he found time to donate hundreds of hours to charities including the Boy Scouts of America.  Very few people know that Harvey actually started the Empty Bowls Luncheon charity in Jacksonville which is closing in on 30 years of helping the needy and raising millions for its cause.

Rear Admiral Robert Byron Fuller (Former POW)  {Honorary Member 2011-2012 Homecoming Project BIO  Medals and Awards "America! My America! How beautiful you are! I stand here tonight as a free man thanks to the American people, the love and devotion of my darling wife and mother, and to our great Commander-in-Chief." March 8, 1973 By Fuller, Upon his release from the POW Camp and arrival in Jacksonville.  Daily Record Story About Rear Admiral By Fuller

Cody Skinner (Charter Member 1955)  DECEASED At one time the title 'Dirt Poor' might describe might describe this distinguished member.  Cody and his brother owned a section of land which extended from I-95 to close to the Intercoastal Waterway and bordered by Baymeadows Road on the South and Beach Blvd. on the East.  This huge track of land was known as Skinner's Dairy.  This dairy provided most of the milk production for Northeast Florida.  In the 1960's, with the advent of minute markets, the brothers expanded to small stores known as Skinner Dairy Stores.  These stores sprinkled the city and provided milk, bread and other staples from the first drive-thru stores serving these items.  Later, when the city expanded, the Skinner's sold large sections of South Jacksonville and became land barons.  Cody and his bride live well into their 90's.  YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN HIM.  Cody's son, a former member of South Jacksonville Rotary) is Jacksonville Circuit Court Judge John Skinner.  Judge Skinner authored "The Skinner Miracle," about the trials and tribulations of owning so much land, which is now in its second print. For an interesting story about the Skinner family and the family land holdings from 1899,  read this article by the Florida Times-Union:

Harold Ashley DECEASED (Charter Member 1955) Jimmy Howard   DECEASED Harold Ashley and Jimmy Howard must be mentioned together.  It was the duo of Harold and Jimmy who spent over 15 years together (700 or more meetings) at the main registration table welcoming our club members and guests as they arrived and checking them off in the registration book.  Jimmy was a retired head of Jacksonville's Imeson Airport, Jacksonville's largest airport prior to Jacksonville International Airport.  However, Jimmy's club classification was titled "Stamp Collector."  This was because another member held the classification of Airport Management.  Harold's family held large tracts of land throughout North Florida.  Upon his death, Harold established a trust which funded a major portion of Jacksonville University's football program.  A large plaque is placed at the entrance to the football grounds noting this significant donation.

Ash Verlander - Read this article about the fine life of Ash Verlander.

Sheffield, Fritz  DECEASED  - Read Fritz's obituary:

Fritz (along with his partner, John W. Lee) donated 900 acres of land to the University of Florida, College of Law, in 1973.  In 1997, he donated $290,000 to the University of North Florida to create a real estate professorship.  The University of North Florida now has a Sheffield Building named in his honor.  Of all of his awards and honors and real estate developments, Fritz was most proud of his Lifetime Achievement Award from the North East Florida Association of Realtors.

Bill Warner - While a club member, Bill was the highest ranking military reserve officer in the State of Florida.  He has a passion for auto racing and was one of the country's stand-out photographers of the sport for Road and Track and other racing magazines.  He actually raced in the now famous Cannon Ball Run, where world-renouned auto racers created a secret competition to race from New York to California.  This event was later made into a movie. Bill enjoys tracking down rare automobiles and restoring them to their original luster.  In 1996, he took his passion for restoration and auto racing and turned it into North Florida's premier charitable event by founding the Amelia Concours D'Elegance, now one of the outstanding automobile events in the world.  In 2011 the Concours celebrated its 16th year and in that time has donated millions of dollars to area charities.  Each year it showcases nearly 100  of the world's most incredible automobiles on the golf course at Amelia Island.  Celebrities from around the U.S. and other parts of the world, fly in to enjoy the three day event.  Several of our club members still volunteer for the event and hold top positions in its administration.  Visit the Concours website at  You have to watch this event video to understand the magnitude of this incredible event.  Way to go Bill! 

Jack Bush - DECEASED Jack was a long time member and fine citizen of Jacksonville. His automobile business was considered one of the outstanding dealerships at the time.  Jack's claim to fame was his college football days.  A large man, he was a college standout for the University of Georgia.  Though most of our club members graduated from the University of Florida, Jack stood out as having played for its arch rival, the Georgia Bulldogs.  Every year these two teams face off in the Georgia-Florida football game which has been sold out every season for over thirty years.  One of the few men not taken off to war during WWII, Jack played in the 1942 Georgia - Florida game when Florida suffered one of its greatest losses. He was actually on the practice squad but because the team had insufficient players he was able to start. The final score was Georgia 75, Florida 0.  Jack did say that most of Florida's top players were off serving the country but he could still cast a humble grin when the game was mentioned.  He was drafted and served from 1943 until 1946 when he returned to the University of Georgia.

Bob Massey, Sr. - Seldom does a club member serve on the Board of Directors more than one year.  Bob Massey, Sr. holds the all-time record for Board membership.  For more than 20 years, he served every club President as their Parliamentarian.  In this position, he served the club as its divining rod keeping the club on the straight and narrow and reminding the Board why things were decided in previous years and how a rule or regulation should be interpreted.  His son Bob Massey, Jr. a member since 1990, remains active in the club.

Gifford (Giff) Grange - DECEASED (June 2011) A man of few words but LARGE THAN LIFE.  Physically, Giff was a big man and had character which was even bigger.   A fourth-generation Jacksonville native, Giff joined the Navy and was accepted into the Naval Academy.  He left the Academy to enroll in the University of Florida.  In order to pay tuition,  he worked in a real estate firm.  After graduation he opened his own real estate company in Jacksonville which he operated for more than 30 years.  He served two years in the Florida State House of Representatives and ten years on the Jacksonville City Council.  His health remained strong until his final day on earth.  His son Dinkins, a member since 1994, remains active in our club.

PAUL HARRIS FELLOWThe Paul Harris Fellow is an award which represents a $1000 donation or gift to Rotary International's Polio Plus Campaign.  Each member may accept the award or have it presented to a friend, co-worker, volunteer, or family member.  The recipient receives a Paul Harris Fellow pin and a Certificate.  MAJOR DONORS have donated funds exceeding $10,000 to the Paul Harris Fellow program.FIVE OR MORE PAUL HARRIS FELLOWS         PP Barry Covington  MD   (MAJOR DONOR)  Ken Wilson PH +8 PP John Callender  PHF +6 PP Vicki-lynne Gloger  PH +6 PP Allan Clark  PH +5PP  Mike Darragh PH +5

Marcus Drewa  PH +5

Tom Edwards, Jr.  PH+5

PP Ted Johnson  MD PH+5

PP & PDG Bob Langley MD +5

PP Lee Mercier  PH +5

TWO OR MORE AWARDS George Amrstrong - George Baldwin - David Bissell - Martha Bogdan Skip Booth - Harlan Bost - Karen Bowling - Tyrie Boyer Bruce Bullock - Jason Burnett - PP John Callender - Larry Cavallaro PP James Chansler - PP Allan Clark - PP Barry Covington Lenny Curry - PP Mike Darragh - Marcus Drewa - Tom Edwards, Jr PP Vicki-lynne Gloger - PP Jerry Hanks - Joy Hardaker - William Harrell PP Robert Harris - Charles Hyatt - Bill Jaycox - Doug Johnson PP Ted Johnson - PP Hobart Joost - Sandra Kessler - Jim Lanahan PP PDG Bob Langley - Bruce Maddern - Dale Malloy - Earl Mally Casey Martin - Bob Massey - Doug Matthews - Wally McCullough Emory Meek - PP Robert Meek - PP Lee Mercier - Joseph Miller PP Mayo Mills - Ted Montgomery - Jorge Morales - PP Dick Morales Rick Morales - PP PDG Paul Mori - Rick Mullens - Morgan Ogilvie Aylin Ozdemir - Roger Painter - John Parrish - Mary Alice Phelan PP Jay Plotkin - PP Bobby Purser - Ron Raymond - PP Joe Ripley Keith Stein - P Odette Struys - Tom Trout - PP Jimmy Tucker Bob Uible - Jane Upton - Warner Webb - PP Al Wilkinson PP Gary Wilkinson - Ken Wilson


Rotary International and the Rotary Club has always honored those with Perfect Attendance.  Perfect Attendance is described as attending every meeting (48 meetings per year) and/or making up (attending another meeting) at another club anywhere in the world.  Prior to 2005, members had to adhere to the requirements above.  Since 2005, members are also allowed to make-up missed meetings online.  



Emory Meek  (Right)  48 years (2304 meetings) with PDG Tommy Grimes (Left)


      NAME                YEARS Meek, Emory                     48 Drewa, Marcus      42  Johnson, Ted       36 * Wilson, Ken        34  Hanks, Jerry       33 * Cavallaro, Larry   28  Meek, Robert       26 * Purser, Bob        24 * Grange, Dinkins    22  Booth, Skip        20  Callender, John    20 * Phelan, Mary Alice 18 Darragh, Mike      17 * Mercier, Lee       16 * Massey, Jr., Bob   15  Miller, Joe        14  Montgomery, Ted    12  Scott, Dean        12 * Boyer, Tyrie       11  Hardaker, Joy      11  Harris, Robert     11 * Keith, Scott       11 Gentry, Carolyn    10 Joost Jr., Hobart  10 *  Struys, Odette     10 ** - denotes Club President Our Patented South Jacksonville Rotary Welcome Song  (Approximately Since 1965)This welcome song is sung at every meeting immediately following the introduction of visitors and guests.  For years, the club prided itself on having a pianist lead the club in song and play for the club during lunch.  The longest running pianist was the wife of former club member and Past President Ken Weiss, Sarah Weiss. After turning 80, Charter President Frank Sherman took his place of honor at the Head Table.  He proudly led the club in the Welcome Song until his final day on earth.  He added one line at the end of the song which was "Give em a hand."


We here in Rotary Welcome You Today

So Glad You Came Along Glad You Came Our Way

A Hand of Fellowship Is Yours In Sunshine, Or In Rain

We Here In Rotary Say Welcome, Come Again.

Most Memorable Programs Past President Hurricane Harry Reinhardt (Miami Hurricane and Major Contributor to the University of Miami) was able to divert Coach Jimmy Johnson to speak to our club.  The club invited its spinoff club, The Rotary Club of Mandarin, to join us for this grand event.  With visiting Rotarians and guests, over 250 people were in attendance.

Club Secretary

There have been three women who have held the position of Club Secretary since the formation of the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville.  They have provided an invaluable service to Rotary and our own club.

Secretary One:    1955- 1975 E.J. Sadler:          1975-1990

Patti Chapman:    1990-Current Patti is a remarkable club secretary.  Not only does she hold the position as club secretary for our club but after ten years serving our club, the Westside Rotary Club hired her as its secretary.  And, for the past four years, Patti has served the District 6970 as the District Governor's right hand.  Congratulations Patti Chapman.


Today, it is hard to imagine a time when smoking was acceptable. But from the time of the formation of our club in 1955 until 1990, members were allowed to smoke during the meetings.

First Woman Club Member

In the early 90's, Rotary requested that clubs allow women as members.  The first woman in Jacksonville to join Rotary was Past President of Jacksonville University and now President Emeritus, Frances Kinne.  The first woman to join the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville was Julie Catlin who joined on Aug 20, 1990. Vicki-lynne Gloger was inducted in Feb of 1992 and was the first female president of the club.  To read more about this historic event go to:


Over the years, family members of our Rotarians have been added to our roster.  They must qualify in the same way as other members.  Two families (The Langley and Morales family) have had four family members in the club.

Joost III, Hobart Sr., Hobart, Jr., Stephen Grange, Gifford, Dinkins

Langley  Bob (Charter Member) Died at 98, Robert III, Ron, John, Bill

Massey Sr., Bob , Bob Jr. Meek Emory,

Robert Morales, Dick, Rick, Jorge,

Ed Ranney, Tom, Tom Jr.

Skinner, Cody, John Verlander, Ash,

Chris Wilkinson, Albert, Gary

Good Government Award The Rotary Club of South Jacksonville formed the Good Government Award in order to recognize those individuals who served the City of Jacksonville selfishly and above and beyond the call of duty.  This is a list of those with exemplary service to our local government and City of Jacksonville.

PP George Linville 1993-94

Jessie B. Smith, 1994-95 Robert Milligan 1995-96 John Delaney 1996-97 Don Van Fleet 1997-98 Nat Glover, John Delaney, Harry Shorstein 1998-99 Henry Cook 1999-2000 Robert O Johnson, City CFO 2000-01 George Marshall, John Curtin 2001-02 Audrey Moran 2002-03 Rick Mullaney 2003-04 John Fryer 2004-05 Bill Scheu 2005-06 PP Jay Plotkin 2006-07 PP James Chansler 2007-08 NOT AWARDED 2008-09 NOT AWARDED 2009-10 Kevin Hyde 2010-11

Frank Sherman AwardThis award was created soon after the loss of our Charter President Frank Sherman.   Those receiving this award are considered to have the same ideals and character as President Sherman.1993-94 NOT AWARDED 1994-95 PP Frank Sherman 1995-96 Bob Shircliff 1996-97 Bill Gay 1997-98 David Baker 1998-99 I.M. Sulzbacher 1999-2000 Ash Verlander 2000-01 Bill Warner 2001-02 PDG Paul Mori 2002-03 Walt Bussells 2003-04 Cmdr Robert J. Perry, USNR 2004-05 PP George Linville 2005-06 William Harrell 2006-07 Delores Weaver 2007-08 PP Cody Skinner, Scott Keith 2008-09 PP/ PDG Paul Mori 2009-10 NOT AWARDED 2010-11 Baxter LutherGIANT SHOES and Diamond Pin


Every year in July, the office of President of our club passes to the new President.  The new President is presented with GIANT SHOES (He has some big shoes to fill - started by P.P. Ted Johnson- President 1981) and a diamond rotary pin which is the same pin that has been carried by nearly every President to hold this office.

Three Tenors In the early 2000's the club was repeatedly serenaded by the Three Tenors.  Jeff Edwards, Mike Darragh, and Lee Mercier harmonized their voices to entertain the membership.

2005 Rotary's Centennial Celebration  (South Jacksonville gets in on the action)

Rotary International celebrated 100 years in 2005 with numerous functions, celebrations, and events.  One idea that was proposed, was to create a special Centennial Bell and pass it among the first 100 clubs of Rotary.   This idea became a reality but instead of one bell, three bells were cast and divided among the 100 clubs.  In February 2005, one of the bells arrived at the Rotary Club of Jacksonville.  The Rotary Club of Jacksonville was the ??th club and the first club in Florida.

Club member Joe Miller had made arrangements to pick up the bell after the Rotary Club of Jacksonville's meeting and bring it to a South Jacksonville Rotary meeting the next day.    Club President Jay Plotkin along with PP/PDG George Linville were photographed with the bell.

Jacksonville's Most Famous Rotarian

Jacksonville, Florida, actually has produced two famous Rotarians in regards to Rotary International. The Rotary Club of Jacksonville's first president, George Clark,  was established as the 26th Rotarian in the World.  A terrific personal friend and mentor of Paul Harris,  Clark hire Harris in 1892 after he arrived in Jacksonville.  They were lifelong friends.  When the Rotary Club of Jacksonville was formed, Clark was named the First Rotarian of Florida.




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