The idea of a Rotary Club in Santa Monica originated with four businessmen in the fall of 1920. Ernest English took the lead in organizing since he had been a Rotarian and had some knowledge of forming a club. On January 11, 1921, Rotary International referred the proposal to the governor of then District 23, comprising the states of California, Nevada and Arizona and the territory of Hawaii. He in turn referred the matter to the presidents of the Los Angeles and Long Beach Clubs for investigation.

During 1921 a survey of the city was made to determine that the required number of membership classifications existed. In January 1922, an organizational meeting was held and officers elected. On February 1, 1922, our Club was officially chartered as Rotary Club number 1086.

The fifteen charter members were: Jack H. Kirkpatrick, President: Joe C. Gilbert, Vice President: Ernest L. English, Secretary: Ted Fach, Treasurer; Russell K. Hart, Neil Nettleship, & Theodore D. Plumer, Directors: and members Oscar A. Anderson, Sam V. Carlisle, Len J. Murray, Dick Neelands, Roland Speers, W.H.L. Symington, J. Walter Todd, and Harry B. Wilson. Within a few weeks Kirkpatrick resigned as president due to his relocation to Ukiah, and Joe C. Gilbert succeeded him.

Since its inception our Club has met at several locations, including the original Santa Monica Athletic Club at 1441 Ocean Front, the Uplifters Ranch in Santa Monica Canyon, the Brentwood Country Club and the Miramar Hotel. In 1977, during the presidency of Ed Rafeedie, the Club began meeting at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. Starting in 2017 the Club meets at The DoubleTree Hotel.

Our Club has sponsored three other clubs in our district: the Westwood Village Club in 1929, the L.A. Westside Sunrise Club in 1988 and the LA Cedars Club in 2007. In 1955 John English, son of founder Ernest L. English and our President in 1947-48, was elected governor of our district. He also served a partial term as governor in 1958 following the death of the incumbent. In 1988 Archie Morrison, our President in 1982-83, became our Club’s second district governor. Our district, originally designated as number 23, has also been designated numbers 2 and 528, prior to the current 5280. Club member Jim Dyer was elected District Governor for 2013-2014, but unfortunately, he passed away before the start of his term.

In 1967, we established two scholarships at Santa Monica High School in honor of past president Russell Hart and one at St. Monica’s in honor of past president Tom Fox. In 1982, we established a scholarship at Santa Monica College in honor of past vice-president Nick Holt and a scholarship at Olympic High School in honor of John English. In 1983 under President Dick Rice we established two vocational scholarships at Santa Monica College, which are named in honor of Archie Morrison.

On the occasion of our 50th anniversary, during the presidency of J. Scott King, we established the Santa Monica Rotary Club Foundation. Four years later, following changes in the bylaws of Rotary International, our Club inducted Esther Johnson as the first woman member of Rotary. The following year in Munich, Germany, Esther became the first woman delegate to a Rotary International convention.

As our Club made history with the first woman Rotarian, we also had our first woman President with Dorothy “Dee” Menzies in 2003-2004. A recent accomplishment was the celebration of our 95th anniversary at the Santa Monica Pier Carousel.

Rotary’s Four-Way Test

From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements of ethics is The Four-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served as RI president) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.

This 24-word test for employees to follow in their business and professional lives became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to this simple philosophy. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions:

Of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Rotary Club of Santa Monica meets Fridays at noon at the DoubleTree Suites. For more information or to attend a meeting, please contact Savi at or 310.917.3313.



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *