History of Space Center Rotary

Starting in 2007, Space Center undertook the project of capturing all the club history and detail documents.  This project was initiated by and continues to be maintained by Rotarian Jerrold DeWease.  For more detail, click on the Space Center Detail History on the left side of this web page.

Formation of Space Center Rotary Club 1963-1964

In 1963, Fred Lane, then President of the La Porte Rotary Club, conceived the idea that the territory around Seabrook would possibly support a Rotary Club.  With the rapid development of the Space Center area, it was felt by District Governor Virgil Lee that a survey should be conducted to determine if a club could be organized in that area.  Ed Bracher and Bill Avery, both past District Governors, made a preliminary investigation and felt that a Rotary Club would prosper there. 
On Monday May 11, 1964, Ed Bracher, past District Governor of District 589, J. A. Newborn, and Ellis Bareiss met for lunch at Mike Kouchoucous's NASA Grill to discuss organizing at club in the Space Center area.  It was agreed, following the meeting to ask Governor Virgil Lee (District 589, 1963-1964) to appoint Ellis Bareiss as his special representative to carry forward organizing a Rotary Club in the Space Center area.
On May 15, 1964, an evening meeting was held at the Nassau Bay National Bank with the following present:
  • J. A. Newborn, of the Suburban Journal
  • Ivan Brown, President, Nassau Bay National Bank
  • Bob Stevens, President - Elect of the Rotary Club of La Porte
  • Carl Springer of the La Porte Rotary Club
  • Ellis Bareiss, Special Representative, & a member of the Rotary Club of Pasadena; and
  • Bob Gardner, Southwestern Savings & Loan Company. 
Prior to the meeting, the group made a tour of the area with Messrs. Brown, Newborn, and Bareiss.
A tentative survey form was filled out to determine the possible number of classifications in the territory.  It was discovered that the list included 84 separate classifications, representing different businesses or professions.
Territorial limits were checked with Dick Proctor, Secretary of the Rotary Club of Houston, since the Houston Club had jurisdiction over the area in the vicinity of the NASA Space Center.  Subsequently, a formal request was filed with the President of the Rotary Club of Houston, Erwin Neinen on May 19, 1964.  The territory to be encompassed by the club would be as follows:
          Genoa-Red Bluff Road on the North
          The Gulf Freeway on the West
          Clear Creek, Clear Lake and Taylor Lake on the South
          Red Bluff Road on the East
The Board of Directors of the Rotary Club of Houston approved the release of the territory and on June 11, 1964, the membership of that club approved the release.
Ellis Bareiss completed the Rotary International Extension Survey and forwarded it, along with his recommendations, to the District Governor, Virgil Lee on May 22, 1964.  His recommendations are a follows:
"Having visited this area on several occasions, I am literally overwhelmed with the vast amount of building and new businesses moving into the area.  As you know, predictions are that by 1970, there will be 250,000 people living in the immediate area.  It is equivalent to a city the size of Austin, Texas.  New places of businesses are opening just as rapidly as space is available.  It appears from a brief discussion of its possibilities that there will be a least 200 good solid Rotary classifications in the area within the next five years.  Many large companies, professional men, and smaller businesses have signed contract for space just as rapidly as arrangements can be made to accommodate them.  I have reference to such companies as Joskes, Foleys, perhaps Sakowitz, and others.  Also several new churches and schools will be in operation in the area soon.  This looks like an ideal area to start a fine Rotary Club.  The people I have met and talked with will make good Rotarians.  It is my recommendation to proceed as rapidly as possible." 
Governor Lee received the survey on May 23, 1964, and transmitted it and his recommendations to Rotary International.
When sufficient interested parties were contacted, the men voted on June 15, 1964, to apply for a charter in Rotary International, thus Space Center was added to the list of more than 11,800 communities in 126 countries throughout the free world where Rotary plays a leading part in the progress of the community. 
Another Rotary Information meeting was held (July 9, 1964) to further indoctrinate the prospective new members.  At this meeting, the Special Representative planned to have at least one Past District Governor and possible some other "seasoned" Rotarians in attendance to inform these new members.
(One of our current members, Vince Lipovsky, was one of the original Charter Members)
Rotary International approved the admission of Rotary Club of Space Center (Houston), Texas on August 6, 1964.  A letter from Beth Mavestry, Extension Services, Rotary International dated August 6, 1964, notified Ellis R. Bareiss, "Congratulations to you and your club on your success in extending Rotary to this community.  The application for the provisional club has been received and before long we hope to advise District Governor Bracher of the admission of this club to membership in Rotary International." 
Preparations began for the Charter Presentation soon after the official notification was received from Rotary International.  In a letter to Mr. President from Fred Lane, Arrangements Committee dated August 27, 1964, detailed several things that had to be done.  Fred Lane noted that Rotary International had indicated a special interest in the new club due to its location and the type of membership which includes Gordon Cooper, one of the original astronauts. 
The Charter Presentation was held on September 28, 1964, at 7:00 P. M. at the Houston Yacht Club, Shoreacres, La Porte, Texas.  Banquet tickets cost $4.50 per person, including tax and tip.  Ellis R. Bareiss, Governor's Representative presided.  District Governor Edwin G. Bracher presented the Charter to Ivan E. Brown, President, Rotary Club of Space Center.  The Rotary Club of La Porte was the sponsoring club.  In the recap, it was stated that 184 tickets were sold.
The new club held regular luncheon meetings on Mondays at 12:15 at the King's Inn.  The initiation fee was $20.00 and the annual dues were $25.00.  The Board of Directors met on the third Tuesday of each month.  A club banner was designed by Martin Grace in 1965 and was approved that same year. 
The community service program of the club began almost immediately as the Space Center Rotary Club began work to establish a public library in the Clear Lake area.  Citizens of the area, along with the Club, organized the library and established temporary quarters in the ClearLakeCityRecreationCenter in January 1965.  Since that time, numerous Rotarians and spouses have served on the Library Board.  Club members also participated in a variety of projects at the library: renovating the building, changing of partitions, constructing shelving, painting, and landscaping.