History of the Coronado Rotary Club
Club Photo The late Albert H. Foret, editor, manager and part owner of the Coronado Journal in the 1920s must be given credit for revealing a wonderful glimpse into the early history of Rotary Club of Coronado. Although Foret was not one of the club's charter members, he was the impetus behind the club's formation and also, thankfully, a man who loved to observe and record local history.
When he addressed the Rotary Club of Coronado at its 25th anniversary celebration in 1951, Foret described Coronado in the Fall of 1925 as a lovely community - quiet, little traffic, no traffic signals, condominiums or high rises and lots of open space that included many vacant lots.

Because of its vast holdings of businesses and land, the Spreckels Company was very powerful in Coronado, causing some resentment among the locals who were outside the Spreckels sphere.

Foret became concerned about a possible serious conflict, and conceived the idea of a businessmen's weekly luncheon meeting to promote better understanding and fellowship. Among the town's "movers and shakers" he contacted was one A.E. Holloway, an officer at San Diego Gas & Electric Co. As it turned out, Holloway was a member of the well-established San Diego Rotary Club, founded in 1911, the 33rd Rotary Club to be chartered. Holloway suggested Foret organize a Coronado Rotary Club to meet the goals he outlined.

Exhibiting his typical diligence, Foret started the process by inviting eight Coronado businessmen to meet Holloway and learn about Rotary. Foret's subsequent proposal to form a Rotary Club was received with great enthusiasm, and the vote to organize was unanimous. Twenty members were required to receive a charter so more businessmen were recruited. In all, 22 Coronadans signed on as charter members, and the application for charter was sent to Rotary International in November 1925. Ironically, Foret, the force behind the club's formation was not among the chartered members due to a change in his employment.

Bill Lambert The new charter, dated March 8, 1926 was presented at a dinner at the San Diego Yacht Club on April 19, 1926. Rotary Club of Coronado still has its original charter framed on the wall in its office. The club's first president was Bill Lambert, an electric light and power manager, who helped increase membership to 28 the first year. President Bill is pictured here, to our left.

Rotarians, then and now, are listed in membership in accordance with their classification, or occupation. The classifications of the charter members varied widely, and in some cases, reflected what was then considered normal commerce in the roaring 1920's: automobile sales and service, banking, realty, insurance, pharmacy, home building, plumbing, clergy, photography, high school administration, gasoline sales, dentistry, gas and electric power, produce retail, building contracting, bungalow rentals, lumber retail, law, sheet metal fabrication, printing, meat retail and ice distribution.

Between November 1925 and April 1926, Coronado Rotary Club had been meeting for lunch every week at the Blue Lantern Cafe, on the site now occupied by the Hotel Marisol. The cafe was a popular place with culinary art that rivaled that of the Hotel del Coronado. Regretfully, the cafe building was sold and moved to another location in Coronado. The Rotarians changed venue to the San Diego Yacht Club, then located on Glorietta Bay where the club's first official photograph (top left), was captured in May 1927.

In April 1929, the club moved again to the Coronado Country Club, where lunch was catered by the Hotel del Coronado. That summer, membership totaled over 40 and members began campaigning to meet at the hotel. The following April, the club moved into the Del's Silver Grill, now called the Coronet Room, and has been meeting at the world-famous hotel ever since. Club meetings were originally on Friday, but in 1941 the club moved them to Wednesdays.

The club's weekly publication, The Corotator, originally known as The Coroto, was first published February 15, 1927 and irregularly thereafter until January 28, 1932, when it was terminated due to expense during the Great Depression. Fred Boyer, with fortunate access to a newfangled mimeograph machine, revived the newsletter for a few months, but it could not be sustained. Then, during the 1937-1938 term of club president R.E. "Arch" Archibald, the newsletter was back on its feet and has been published regularly ever since. Today, The Corotator is distributed by email; you can view the current edition at www.coronadorotary.org.

The club has grown steadily over the years. In 1951, on the club's 25th anniversary, membership was 68. In 1961, it stood at 104. By 1976, on the club's 50th anniversary, membership was 115. And today, after more than 90 years, membership stands at 240. Today's membership reflects the great leadership enjoyed by the club, including an impressive seven District Governors over a period of 42 years.

Coronado Rotary has accomplished many projects through the years in the community, the region and the world.

The Coronado Rotary community project that is probably most dear to all ages is the city's Star Pine Christmas tree. After Coronado Rotary Park was established at the intersection of Orange and Isabella, Coronado Rotarians, with help from Emily T. Thompson, widow of Rotarian Charles Thompson, planted the tree in 1936. Today, the Star Pine stands as Coronado Rotary's commitment to community service.

Not to be outdone, the following generation of local Rotarians installed the concrete bench and the double water bubbler at the park. On February 23, 2005, in celebration of Rotary's Centennial, many members of the community joined Rotary Club of Coronado in christening the magnificent town clock at the park as the club's Centennial gift to the community.

Coincident with the city's renovation and expansion of Coronado Rotary Park in 2008-2009, the popular pedestrian gathering place was officially named "Coronado Rotary Plaza." Not only did the club provide the four new seating benches in the new plaza, but on July 8, 2009, club members and community christened the wonderful new plaza fountain "Jim Vernetti Fountain" to honor Dr. Jim's extraordinary service to humanity.

Rotary Club of Coronado's many other projects, community, regional and international, are summarized in the Club Projects section of this website.

Ninety years of Rotary in Coronado have elapsed with successive presidents leading the club to new heights. Membership has increased more than tenfold. However, those members who have passed on and who have worked so diligently to carry forward the traditions of Rotary shall never be forgotten. The present officers and members salute those Rotarians who have served so well, and at the same time look forward to even bigger and better days for Rotary in Coronado as they proceed to the club's own Centennial year in 2026.

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