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History of Sertoma Club

The first official luncheon meeting of the founding Club was held on April 11, 1912, at the Coates House Hotel, then the fashionable hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. The founders of the first Co-Operative Club were George W. Smith, M.D., Charles E. Allen, M.D. and William R. Rowe. These three men are now recognized as the Founding Fathers of The Co-Operator Club of Kansas City, Missouri, and of Sertoma International.

In December 1920, Edward G. Freed, then President of the Kansas City Club, invited representatives from other clubs to meet together to consider forming an organization. Representatives from the Wichita, Manhattan, and Topeka, Kansas Clubs, and the Kansas City Club attended. The International organization was immediately formed, and Freed was elected the first International President.

On June 21, 1921, the first convention was held in Kansas City. Attending were 32 delegates representing six Clubs: Kansas City, Topeka, Manhattan, St. Louis, Chicago and Omaha. James P. “Daddy” Summerville, Charter President of the Kansas City, Missouri Club, was elected the second International President.

sealThe Co-Operettes had its beginning in 1923 when the wives of the Members of the Co-Operative Club of Manhattan, Kansas, organized the first auxiliary, called the “Co-Op Lassies”. In 1928, the Co-Operettes became a national organization.

Radio was used to promote the activities of the early Sertoma Club when Radio Station WHB in Kansas City – at that time one of the very few official government licensed broadcasting stations – offered the Club air time (the owner of Kansas City Station WHB, E.J. Sweeney, was a local member). This was another Sertoma “first”.

“Make Life Worthwhile” was the slogan accepted by the organization in 1926. It was as good then as it is today.

The well-known Sugar Bowl classic in New Orleans had its beginning in Sertoma. In 1934 the New Orleans Club began this very successful project when former International Director Warren V. Miller introduced the resolution that the Club sponsor a football contest to be held in New Orleans during the Christmas holiday season.

In the early 1940s, confusion emerged between the Co-Operative Club name and consumer cooperatives. A contest was announced with a $500 cash prize offered for a name which might be selected. A total of 49 names were submitted. The Board of Directors narrowed the list down to seven to present to the 1948 Albuquerque Convention: Ambassadors, Century, Cooperators, Monarch, Operative, Sertoma and Sponsors. Noble W. Hiatt, then President of the North Indianapolis, Indiana Club, coined the name SERTOMA from the slogan, SERvice TO MAnkind, and his idea was selected. The official name change became effective on June 21, 1950.