Birthday bash marks 60 years for Bearden Rotary

Sandra ClarkOur Town Leaders, West Knox

The Rotary Club of Bearden celebrated its 60th anniversary on Dec. 20 with a festive lunch and giant birthday cake at Bearden Banquet Hall. It was a full house for the celebration.

The club was organized on Dec. 10, 1959, as our town’s third Rotary Club (chartered by the Rotary Club of Knoxville, which also had chartered the Rotary Club of South Knoxville).

Several longtime members attended Friday’s party including Arthur Pickle, the oldest living charter member; Jim Coffin, who joined in 1968; Jean Baird, the second woman to join (in 1987); and Dr. Walter Beahm, who joined in 2008.

Club president Janice Mitchell joined the local club in 2014 when she relocated to Knoxville. She previously had participated in Rotary in other cities. Becky Duncan brought good wishes from the Rotary Club of Farragut. Gene Russell won a football signed by Phillip Fulmer and David Cutcliffe.

Richard Bettis told a funny story about former president Phil Parkey ensnaring him to serve as club president, and when Mitchell asked former presidents to stand, it seemed like half the room rose.

Anyone tempted to write off Rotary as a bunch of (older, whiter, richer) folks should think again. Photographs scrolled behind the entertainers showed Rotary club members at work, cleaning Fourth Creek, donating dictionaries to third graders countywide, stocking the library at Pond Gap Elementary School, painting and landscaping at public buildings during World Rotary Day.

Jean Baird had some funny tales about the crew that delivers Mobile Meals. Volunteers read to kids and staff the annual Free Flu Shot clinic. Charles Garvey talked about the club members who rang the bell for the Salvation Army during a recent weekend. The list is long.

The club meets most Fridays at 12:15 p.m. at Bearden Banquet Hall. Explore membership for 2020. The Rotary Club of Bearden is the real deal.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of

Jim Coffin of Coffin Shoe Co.

Art Pickle of Rose Mortuary, Mann Heritage Chapel.

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