The Joseph A. Caulder Collection
Past Rotary International Director 1928-29   -  Regina, Sask., Canada

"Eyewitness to Rotary International's First 50 Years"


JOSEPH A. CAULDER - An eyewitness to Rotary International's first 50 years.

Album 1 - Pages Pages 143-44: Charlie Newton

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Charlie Newton

The 7th Rotarian




Harry Ruggles

I want the Rotary world to knew a few facts regarding my old friend Charlie Newton and of the many years that he worked so hard and faithfully for Rotary in the first years of its existence. I do not believe that the majority of Rotarians in this year of 1948 know of Charlie's great contribution to Rotary in its early years.

Charlie was the seventh member to join Rotary in the year 1905 and is now No.2 Rotarian in the world in point of membership. Charlie is responsible for the luncheon club idea and that one contribution is sufficient to give him everlasting credit in early Rotary history.

Our first meeting were held at each members place of business. We lived in various parts of the city and met after dinner in the evening. Charlie's first suggestion which we adopted was for us to meet at some restaurant and then go in a body to the members' place of business. He afterwards suggested that we hold our meeting at the place where we met to eat. These were at Burton F. Whites Restaurant, The Brevoort, Morrison, Stratford and Sherman House hotels. We afterward met for luncheon at Vogelsanga Restaurant (in the basement) on Madison Street. These were called meetings of the "Ways and Means Committee". No attendance credits was given for these meetings. After continued effort by Charlie and a few other members he had rallied to his cause, we finally made our weekly noon meetings official meetings and discontinued the evening meetings.

The first Constitution and By-Laws adopted in January, 1905 were drawn up by Paul Harris, Max L. Woolf, and Charlie Newton. Charlie was a member of nearly every committee which revised our Constitution and By-Laws until his removal to Los Angeles. He always insisted on observance of the rules by the members of the club and its officers. He was so vigilant that he was called "The Watch Dog of the Constitution". He was a born fighter and took great delight in criticizing acts of the officers and Board at Directors which he considered not proper and Charlie was usually right. Members with a grievance or complaint would tell their troubles to Charlie, and if he a agreed with them, he could always be counted on to lead their fight. Charlie always had the courage of his convictions, and his one thought always was, what is best for Rotary.

In the early days Charlie was one of the most active members. He never wanted to be an officer or director. He preferred to work on committees, and every year he was on several committees, especially membership, which he was on year after year. Charlie repeatedly turned down pleas of the membership to take the Presidency until he was practically drafted in 1923. His record as President was outstanding. In the early years Paul Harris and myself tried to persuade Charlie to take the Presidency, but he flatly refused until we finally landed him in 1923.

Charlie and his wife were always very active workers on B. O. Jones Christmas basket Committee. On many occasions they delivered baskets to the poor and needy in terrible weather. Charlie and his wife have always been interested in the welfare of the unfortunate.

During Charlie's year as President, the Chest Fund was adopted and the Crippled Children's work was given great impetus. He was also active in promoting Boys' Week and Boys' Clubs. Charlie was a strict disciplinarian. He enforced the membership attendance rules, and over one hundred members were dropped at one meeting. Prompt payment of dues was enforced. His "Know the man at your table" stunt was one of the outstanding things during his year.

Most of the things that Charlie originated have been copied and followed by the Rotary Clubs of today. So Charlie, we in Rotary Salute you.

Joseph A. Caulder


Charlie Newton

I did not know Charlie Newton until we met at the Chicago Convention in 1955, which was the 50th Anniversary. Charlie and his old pal Harry Ruggles have both been living in California for some years but both came to Chicago for the great event.

Charlie was member number 7 in Chicago Club, number 1, in 1905. He is credited with first suggesting the luncheon idea as in the early days the meetings were rotated and held in the evening. Charlie told me that in those early days the business idea was so strong that when the Club had 200 members he wrote the insurance for about 180 of them. The first Constitution and By-Laws for the Chicago club were written in 1906 by Paul Harris, Max L. Woolf and Charlie Newton.

He was a stickler for seeing that all the Club rules were obeyed. This energetic member worked on several committees each year and several times refused the Presidency, but in 1923 he was drafted as President. During his year he got the Club active in Boy's Work and other worthwhile civic institutions. He insisted on dues being paid on time and attendance rules being obeyed. This created an all-time record when he dropped 100 members from the Club at one time.

All organizations need Charlie Newtons.


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Charlie Newton's

Letter to

Joseph P. Caulder

Dated July 21, 1955

[Click on Letter to Enlarge]



Charlie Newton's

"Points on

Early Rotary History",  1955.

from Volume 2, page 96

of the Caulder Albums

(distributed at the

1955 Convention)


Copyright Daniel W. Mooers

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