The Rotary Club of Englewood Celebrates 65 Years of Service

June 13, 2024 at 12:20 p.m.

By Chris Cameron

The Rotary Club of Englewood celebrated its 65th anniversary on June 4th with a celebration at the Englewood Chamber of Commerce. The Rotary Club of Englewood was the original Rotary club in Englewood, and in the years since its founding, has been joined by three other clubs (Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary, the Rotary Club of Englewood Sunset, and until recently, the Rotary Club of Rotonda/Placida). The club was also instrumental in the formation of the Englewood Elks Club and Englewood Masonic Lodge #360. The Rotary Club of Englewood was founded in 1959, when a group of local men met with the Rotary District Governor to discuss the possibility of a new Rotary club. A charter was issued on May 28, 1959, and the club’s first president was Ralph Horton, Sr. The Englewood Youth Foundation was organized and incorporated in 1967. 

Rotary is a service-oriented organization that works to benefit the community and the world, and the Rotary Club of Englewood sets a good example. One of their most visible community presences is the Englewood Youth Foundation, that benefits Englewood youth by maintaining a campground on the Myakka River, providing grants/financial assistance to under-served children & families, Rotary school programs such as Interact Club and Rotakids, scholarships, Josh the Otter Water Safety Awareness and dictionaries for third grade students. Other community outreach service projects include Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build, Kids Needs of Greater Englewood, The Jubilee Center and initiatives for the homeless and veterans. The club also hosts the Spring Fine Arts Festival each year on West Dearborn Street to help support the Englewood Youth Foundation and the club’s many service projects. They also support Rotary International’s initiatives such as eradicating polio, supporting solutions in developing countries to bring clean water, sanitation and hygiene to their citizens and protecting the environment.

Long-time club member, Esther Horton, who calls herself a “Rotary brat”, was one of the first women in the community to join the Englewood Rotary Club after membership was opened to women in 1989. Her father, L.A. Ainger, and her husband, Mac Horton, were very active Rotary members for many years, and Esther was impressed by Rotary’s service focus, both in the community and around the world. As she says, “If there is a need anywhere in the world, Rotary is there to help.” That is why she joined Rotary in 1993 and continues to be an active member today.

Current Club President Cindy Fitch stated, “I am proud to have been able to honor those who formed the original Rotary Club of Englewood 65 years ago, and to thank them for their impact on our wonderful community. Their efforts and the continued efforts of all of those who have volunteered to be a part of the Rotary Club of Englewood throughout the years have sustained the hopes and dreams of those original members, who had the foresight to bring the fellowship and commitment of Rotary to our community. Going forward, we will continue to dedicate ourselves to the basic premise of Rotary, follow the 4 Way Test, and to do good in our immediate and global communities.”

The club meets weekly on Tuesdays at noon at the Englewood Chamber of Commerce, 601 S. Indiana Avenue. Guests are welcome to come see what Rotary is all about. You can also learn more at