Rotary 100 — William B. Curtis
This is the latest in an occasional series of posts leading up to the centennial of the Glens Falls Rotary Club in April 2022.
William B. Curtis walked into the Glens Falls Chamber of Commerce office without an appointment in 1918 and asked to speak with chamber President Benjamin Franklin McCreary.
“I understand the Chamber of Commerce is looking for a secretary. I am fully qualified to hold the position. I have credentials,” he asserted. “I will start work tomorrow and will work four weeks. At the end of that time, I will know whether or not I want to stay with you. We can talk terms then.”
When the chamber board chastised McCreary for hiring Curtis without consulting the board, McCreary said, “What could I do? The man is here and hired himself.”
Things did work out to Curtis’ liking, and he was involved in Glens Falls civic life for decades to come, including as volunteer secretary for the Glens Falls Rotary Club.
On April 11, 1946, the Rotary Club honored Curtis for 20 years consecutive service as secretary, and more to come.
“Presidents come and go, but secretaries, we hope, go on forever,” said Rotary President J. Thatcher Sears, at the weekly Rotary Club luncheon at The Queensbury Hotel.
The club presented Curtis with a diamond-studded Rotary International pin and a “substantial” cash collection from members, The Post-Star reported on April 12.
“You are a splendid Rotarian friend and this club feels honored in honoring you,” Sears said.
Curtis not only kept club records. He wrote and published The Weekly Letter, a newsletter that was often quoted in Rotary district and national publications.
“The Letter,’ for twenty years, has been a reflection of the character and traits of its editor,” said Rotarian Russell M.L. Carson, a local environmental author and business executive.
“Fair play, frankness, social and economic broadmindedness, avoiding extremes, absolute mental honesty, ribbing, barbed or in fun, as occasion calls for, and an occasional mistake to demonstrate that editor and paper, like the rest of us, are only human, are distinguishing marks of both. Bill’s editorial ability, backgrounded by his legal training and love of solid reading, have given the Glens Falls Rotary Club’s house organ a qualitative flavor and have made it a real contribution to Rotary.”
In the debut The Weekly Letter issue on April 8, 1918, Curtis said he had agreed to take on the position for a few months.
“Once it was seen that there would be a vacancy in the office, there developed the same enthusiasm among the members toward taking the job as the unbroken colt has for the collar. Some members, fearing the draft, left town.”
Click here to read the most recent previous post in the series.