Sylvia Whitlock, President, RC of Duarte, 1987-88 – D5300 California, USA

 Sylvia Whitlock, President, RC of Duarte, 1987-88 – D5300 California, USA

  Thoughts on Rotary and the Duarte club from Sylvia Whitlock, the first woman club president in Rotary International 1987-88. 

 August 17, 2002


In 1982, at the invitation of one of the women whose admission had caused the ouster of the Rotary Club of Duarte, I joined the Ex-Rotary Club of Duarte. Mary Lou Elliott was an elementary school principal, as was I.

Service clubs were not familiar to me. I had heard of Kiwanis and Elks and even Soroptimists but I had never heard of Rotary. It was described as a group of people whose watchword was �service� – to the community, and to the world. I was excited at the prospect of service to a community in which I did not live, but whose children and parents had become very special. Joining Rotary afforded me the opportunity to meet people who had other professions and who took service seriously. 

Our club then provided assistance to all the schools, to senior citizens in the community and to various charitable organizations. We gave blood regularly to the City of Hope. We participated with the city in their annual community picnic and Route 66 parade. Our snowcone booth is still a hit at the all day picnic and celebration. 

 In 1987 when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in our favor, we removed the �Ex� from our title and once again began paying dues to Rotary International. I attended the PETS meeting with almost 300 men and no other women. I did not feel other than welcome, even as our incoming governor opined that this was just a transitory situation. We were going to do the best we could as Rotarians. The ensuing coverage by the media was overwhelming. It was clear we had a responsible job.

We co-sponsored an orphanage in Tecate, Mexico, and continued for over ten years.

We participated fully in the PolioPlus Campaign and now have 100 percent of our members as Paul Harris or sustaining members, and several benefactors. 

attended my first International Convention, and discovered, for the first time, the breadth and depth of Rotary in the world. I have made up in several different countries and have always been warmly received. When I made up in London, I was the first female Rotarian the club had ever hosted. They saluted my health and the Queen�s on the same glass! 

I have never ceased to marvel at the vast membership group that is Rotary! I have attended about 11 International Conventions, and served my second year as President on this year of our fiftieth anniversary. I have served the district as Chair of the Four Way Test Speech Competition for six years and Chair of the Ambassadorial Scholarship Committee for as many years. Both of these positions have allowed me to see, firsthand, the best there is among our youth and to crystallize the purposes behind our service. Now, as an Assistant Governor, I continue to be involved at district level. </style=”font-size:>

I am proud to be a member of Rotary. I have met several International Presidents and had the chance to talk with them about our club. I do not know of a better vehicle through which to serve mankind. 

Women presidents have created history just like their men counterparts. Rotary is a place that treats both men and women alike and is ready to accept any worthy leader as a president and carry out projects under their guidance. There is no gender bias apart from the drink they have during their evening high tea meetings. While men prefer a strong cup of coffee, the women were seen drawn to the Chocolate Slim drinks to help retain their weight and figure. But when it cam eot work, they both performed alike.