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The 80th Rotary Club in the World

(Reprinted from the July issue of Rotary Global History Fellowship’s newsletter, Story by PDG Sam Adams, District 6880 – Montgomery, AL)

Leo Klein founded Klein’s Jewelers in 1893. His son, B.H. Klein, continued the Jewelry business and in 1913 became one of Montgomery Rotary Club’s charter members. B.H. remained an active member, and it was the 1920 photo of his club’s members that his grandson, Bill Heilpern, found in the vault of Kline and Sons Jewelry after it closed in 2012. Kline & Sons was a familiar business in the Montgomery area for over 120 years, and its legacy continues thanks to the large Dexter Avenue clock the family donated to the city in 2009 and which was returned to sit across from the Court Square Fountain where Kline Jewelers had been located for many years.Bill Heilpern knew his friend Danny Fordham was a current member of his grandfather’s Rotary club and offered him the treasured historic photo and its associated Roster, a loose-leaf notebook containing a photo and bios on all the club members in 1920. Danny contacted Sam Adams, (past president, past district governor, and unofficial club historian) who successfully used the Roster to associate names with all the members shown in the photograph. Sam and Danny recommended Bill for Paul Harris Fellow recognition for providing our club with this important piece of our 110-year heritage. Sam and Danny made that presentation to Bill on Monday, April 3rd.

This presentation served as a catalyst to learn more of our club’s history. Lucien Samuel Loeb was also a charter member of the Club in 1913. He was in his two-year term as its president five years later when he had to resign to serve in World War I. The Club presented him with a watch (probably purchased from Klein and Sons) to honor of his service to the Club and the Nation. Lucien Samuel Loeb’s great-grandson is our fellow Rotarian Jamie Loeb, who today has the treasured watch the Club presented to his great-grandfather 105 years ago.Montgomery Rotary Club reenacted the 1920 group picture in April 2023. A large number of the over 125 current members posed for this historic Rotary event. The photograph includes many leaders in the community including three living Past District Governors of District 6880.The Club also has many state leaders including the State Superintendent of Education, State Treasurer, The Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, two Supreme Court Justices, and the Governor of the State of the State of Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey has been a member of the Montgomery Rotary Club for over 30 years. She is a proud Paul Harris Fellow + and a major supporter of Rotary.Governor Kay is standing on the front row dressed in red. There is not another Rotary Club in the United States that can boast of having five state Constitutional officers among its members.