Submitted by Don Doman.
You never know what you’ll find when you start cleaning up and paring down. We’re tearing out our old furnace for something smaller and more efficient. You couldn’t even see the old one until I started going through boxes and shelves . . . moving this . . . giving away that . . . and looking at treasures as they were uncovered. I came upon my 1997 plaque commemorating my joining The Art Wickens Foundation of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8.
I moved a few more items . . . opened some envelopes . . . and found a small booklet with the name A. H. Wickens scratched into the cover. Imagine holding in your hands the hatchet used by George Washington that cut down his father’s cherry tree . . . the hat of Napoleon Bonaparte . . . or the writings of Albert Einstein. What I had was the personal roster of members of the 1959-1960 Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 once owned by Art Wickens, the man who ran, ruled, and controlled the Rotary movement in Pierce County for over fifty years. I saw the names and faces of military commanders, major business founders, shakers and movers from Tacoma and beyond with just a quick fan of the pages. Every Rotary Club in Pierce County was either founded by the Rotary club of Tacoma #8, or by a club that #8 founded. We also reached beyond our county and state by founding Rotary clubs of Paris, France and Vladivostok, Russia.
The three by four and three-quarter inch spiral bound book has gold covers in honor of our fiftieth anniversary. Tacoma Rotary was an early conquest in the movement that brought about many community organizations. Tacoma Rotary was the eighth Rotary Club in the world. When I joined Rotary in 1990, I quickly recognized the need to protect our history and interviewed several of our long time members on videotape: Joe Gordon, Sr., Ted Kennard, Bill Leake, R. Franklin Thompson, and Em Wonders. Handwritten by Art near each member’s information was their place of birth and the date they were born.
The whole book reveals personal connections for me. Art also crossed off the members as they died or resigned and wrote the date (all in red ink). As new members joined, Art pasted in new information pages. On the back inside cover one of the last entries was Rabbi Richard Rosenthal who still provided words of wisdom occasionally at the beginning of our meetings for several years after I joined. In 1923 Arthur “Art” Wickens became the Club secretary, a position which he held for decades, and later even became the Rotary District Governor. His membership information reveals that he was born in Kansas City, Missouri (about ninety miles north of my birthplace, Nevada, Missouri) in 1908, quite a few years before I was born. When the Foundation was announced in 1971, it took Art Wickens by complete surprise. He was honored. In 1996, the year I became president, the name of the foundation was changed to the Tacoma Rotary Foundation. Past President and Past District Governor Bob Mallon passed on Rotary historical materials to me. One was a pocket knife, which I presented to club president Mark Anderson in 2017. Included were three old rosters. One of these was the Art Wickens spiral notebook, which I just re-discovered. Soon I will pass along several boxes of materials to current Rotary President Linda Kaye Briggs.