History of The Kiwanis Club of Mount Airy, MD 

(Prepared by Bill Butts from interviews with several veteran club members and originally presented as part of the Mt. Airy Kiwanis Club’s 2008 Charter Night Celebration) 

Mount Airy Kiwanis is a club with a rich tradition of community leadership, close-knit fellowship, and a track record of identifying and responding to service opportunities and needs. What I want to share with you tonight is some highlights from that history—including a few of our colorful characters and memorable members, and some examples of our service projects and fundraisers over the years.

Our Club’s Date of Organization:  April 4, 1949

The Club’s First Charter Night:  May 11, 1949

Charter Members:  32 in all; (see website for all the names); Charter President – Ray Selby, who worked for Potomac Edison as local manager, officed downtown on Park Ave.

Charter Members:  32 in all; Charter President – Ray Selby, who worked for Potomac Edison as local manager, officed downtown on Park Ave.

Conrad V. Brieger, Jr.                       B. Myers

C. Robert Browning                           A. Cecil Pool

L.L. Browning                                    L. Eugene Purdum

Hubert P. Burdette                            Edmund C. Pusey

Kenneth Burdette                              M. V. Runkles, Jr.

George Keith Byers                           Clarence B. Saas

Dennis Corrick                                   J. W. Spaulding

Rev. Wesley Dodge                           Walter L. Spurrier

J. Stanley Grabill                               Samuel R. Steel

Harry E. Hahn                                   S. Lowry Stroh

William S. Hood                                Howard E. Thompson

Wesley Leatherwood                         AsaH. Watkins

James M. Lednum                            Ira D. Watkins

Lester L. Lowman                             Oliver O. Welsh

James I. Windsor

Sponsors:  3 nearby Kiwanis Clubs:  Ellicott City, Taneytown and Westminster

Meeting Places:  #1: Calvary UMC, #2: Old Fire House, #3: American Legion, #4: Christi’s-1993-95 (pre-Steele Mill and pre-Pane e Vino), #5 – Memories Charcoal House, 1995-2000, #6- Senior Center (in approx. 2000-2001, when Frank Johnson was President), #7-Mt. Airy Volunteer Fire Company House as of Spring 2010 due to changes in the usage policies for The Senior Center.

Meeting Dates:  It’s always been on Wednesday evenings… probably because during the time that the club was founded, most businesses closed at noon on Wednesdays to give their employees a break in the middle of the week for personal business… and also to enable them to stay open late on Fridays or on Saturday mornings.

Some Notable Members:

  • Ira Watkins – owned local lumber company; extremely hard of hearing. Well-known of announcing, “I can’t hear what they’re saying, so I’m going home”… and he would, week after week.
  • George Free and Harry Bellison – long-time club song leaders
  • Rudy Watkins– strong tenor voice, but always finished about 5 beats later than anyone else and never sang the words
  • Harry Bellison– related to Bob Wagner by marriage, and I live in his house. Harry’s wife,Pearl,  taught most of the children inMountAiry. Harry was manager of the local A&P, then affiliated with Citizens’s Building and Loan, located in the old bank building at Prospect andMain.
  • Bob Browning– first in the grocery business, then Browning Insurance
  • Ken Burdette– a Mount Airy Hall of Famer and also involved in the insurance business
  • In the mid-1960’ sMount Airy Kiwanis led the charge to create a local library in Mount Airy, which would be initially located upstairs in the old Flatiron Bldg. Leading that charge was Kiwanian Dwight Walker. Paul Beall, another Kiwanian, built most of the shelves (and more) for the library. Some of you may remember when the library moved locations, from the Flatiron Bldg across the street to the upstairs of the Town Hall (if so, then you recall the human chain of Kiwanians and other local citizens passing box after box of books from the old to the new location). And the Kiwanians stepped in again when the library moved from the Town Hall to its current location on the first floor of this building, below theSeniorCenter.
  • Dwight Walker, was in his mid-70’s when he marriedMarion. And he will be remembered for his andMarion’s monthly wedding celebrations. Dwight was a bright and knowledgeable guy and he provided many memorable programs to the club on a wide variety of topics
  • Louis Dixon– former mayor (one of 4MountAiry mayors to belong to the club; the others were: Jerry Johnson, Frank Johnson, and Paul Beall).
  • Jerry Johnson – many of you recall Jerry, while mayor in the 1990’s, for reaching out to a community inMissouri that sustained significant damage when theMississippi overflowed. Jerry’s example and the ensuing outreach by theMountAiry community became a model that the town replicated in 2003 forLouisiana andMississippiGulfCoast communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
  • Asa Watkins (Ira’s brother) – President in 1953 and very instrumental in getting the MAVFC started.
  • Downey Day– one of the hardest working members, but would never accept the position of a club officer (Downey was also one of our club’s Hixon Fellows)
  • Dick Wilson – one of our youngest members and a local PE teacher. Sadly, killed on his bike. TheRichardWilsonTrail, inWatkinsPark is named in his honor.
  • Wayne Norwood – another MA Hall of Famer and instrumental in creatingProspectPark out of a wild natural area.Wayne led the charge to clear the underbrush and create the park. The club then built and installed picnic tables and benches… which local teenagers promptly tossed into the pond in the middle of the park.
  • Cy Witte – one of our two members who started out wanting to be a priest. Cy actually attended two years of seminary, before deciding to become an educator instead. He went from teaching college students to teaching kids in Inner City Baltimore, because he felt there was greater need in the city and he wanted to help.

Former Club Presidents – the list is printed in your program; and while some of us have been fortunate to be President on two occasions, only one,…. Lew Dixon, has the distinction of being a 3X club president. …..

Lieutenant Governors: — a total of 6: … 2 are deceased: Lowery Stroh and Roscoe Molesworth,…..while 4 are still active: Andy Mason, Bob Wagner, George Woodfield, and Jim Jacobs;

Hixson Fellows: we’ve had 8…. 5 are still with us: Andy Mason, Bob Wagner, Jim Jacobs, George Woodfield, and Lee Fogle… and 3 are not: Lew Dixon,Wayne Norwood and Downey Day.

Eras in the History of the Mt. Airy Club:

Possibly four this far:

  • The Era of the Local Business People and Business Leaders (most of early members were notable community leaders, businessmen, and over the years, several o four members have served in leadership capacities for the town—e.g., mayor, council and committee members.)
  • The Era of the School Teachers (a couple of those were in there too)
  • The Era of  Several Employees of the Same Company, e.g., Verizon and Vitro Labs
  • The Era of the Female Member, whether Home-Grown or Transfers In….(4 Female Presidents- Wilma Colburn, Shirley Hunter, Marion Taylor, and Stephanie Dahlquist;…. Marion and Steph are both transfers to our club as is also Judy Jaworek, our Newsletter Editor.)

The Personality of Our Club

We are known as a warm, outgoing and welcoming club. “We are also known as a “singing club”, as was evidenced by our singing earlier this evening. Our enjoyment of singing has been enhanced a very great deal because we’ve had a marvelous key-board accompanist for about 20 years, namely our illustrious Treasurer Angie Moore. Angie began playing for us while still a teenager, before she and other women were permitted to join Kiwanis.” What a difference and contribution Angie and our other female members have made to our Club!!

Some of Our Club’s Service Projects

  • Our club was instrumental in starting the 1st Mount Airy Public Library, and assisting with its moves. More recently, we have contributed  a Kiwanis-logoed Reading Rug andChild & FamilyActivityCenter to the Children’s section, and we’ve funded the Library’s Children’s Summer Reading Program
  • We were part of the founding force for the Mount Airy Voluntary Fire Company.
  • The impetus behind the establishment of Prospect Park and the enhancement of Watkins Park with the installation of a Parr Fitness Course.and the Richard (Dick) Wilson Memorial Trail. Wayne Norwood had everything to do with the gettingProspectPark established—the very first ofMt. Airy’s public parks… and Lou Wiser, with his excellent PR skills and connections, was the catalyst for the Memorial Trail at Watkins Park.
  • Thanks to Andy Mason, our club inaugurated The Diamond Jubilee, the opportunity to salute our elderly citizens, age 75/+ . When the numbers grew too large for our club to financially support by ourselves, we approached and developed a sponsoring partnership with the other local service clubs—Lions, Rotary and Jaycees. The support team now includes the Chamber and the American Legion as well.
  • Scouts – broad support (lots of fundraisers and Christmas Trees) from the beginning, with members as liaisons with the programs, Annual Scout Nights and presentations and financial support for individual scouting projects. In the last few years, the support and involvement has been with both the local Boys & Girl Scout Programs.
  • The club has had  a Long History with the Local Schools – The club sponsored and conducted Children’s Day for many years; Chartered and launched the Key Club at South Carroll HS; has service partnerships in place with both TwinRidge Elementary and Mount Airy Middle School, including the 5-year old Mentoring Program at MAMS, which has already spawned a buddy program with 2nd graders at Parrs Ridge Elementary and has the potential (we hope) to some day serve as a foundation for a Builder’s Club.
  • In terms of  development and support of youth leadership, the club’s involvements include: Boys & Girls State, the HOBY Leadership Weekend , and support for the American Legion-sponsored statewide oratorical contest.
  • The Mt.Airyclub and its members were staunch supporters for the duration of the Ride-A-Bike for Carroll County ARC and the Mount Airy Ride portion. Wayne Norwood was instrumental in getting us involved and we raised more money than anyone, thanks primarily to Larry Frederickson.
  • For several years, the Club provided free Thanksgiving Dinners, inviting any local residents not enjoying a Thanksgiving Dinner elsewhere. The dinners were provided first at Old Towne and then at Christy’s. Lew Dixon’s connection with the owner of Mt. Airy Cold Storage enabled us to get a good deal on the turkeys.
  • Annual Christmas Gifts and Canteen Cards for Springfield Hospital
  • Monthly support for Mount Airy Net, plus Easter Baskets and Monthly Birthday Bags for children of Mount Airy Net families
  • Annual Mount Airy Lions Club Carnival – for many years, several of our members have assisted the Lions during the week-long Carnival. For the past seven years, it’s been a club-wide service opportunity.
  • Many of our members provide several hours each week of volunteer service at the Senior Center…. and we host monthly ice cream socials at Sun Valley Assisted Living.
  • As Part of our Young Children Priority One local initiatives, purchase of books for St. James pre-School, and Baby-Board Books for Carroll County Healthy Start program
  • Several of the club’s members have served as Mayor, Town Council members, on various

Town commissions. In 2012, the Mt. Airy Kiwanis Club partnered with BeLocal Mt. Airy to co-sponsor and co-direct the Mt. Airy Community Needs Assessment. Many of the findings from that study reiterated findings and preferences voiced earlier by Mt. Airy citizens in response to the 2008 Mt. Airy Town Survey. The influence of both studies is clearly evident in the most recent Update to the Town’s Master Plan, which was finalized by the Town Planning Commission in the late Fall of 2014 and adopted by the Town Council in January of 2015.

Some of The Club’s Fundraisers

When it Comes to Our Club’s Fundraisers over the Years, There Have Been some Creative and Histerical Gems…. There has also been a recurring theme as the majority of our club’s fundraisers have to do with FOOD!

  • Chicken BBQ’s in conjunction with Mt. Airy Days– cooked down on the Calvary UMC lawn and served inside in the old Fellowship Hall (some of you may remember the unique cookers that the club used for those BBQ’s—55 gal drums split and made into charcoal cookers by Cy     Witte’s son, Bruce—not the most efficient system, but it’s how our club got into the food prep business.
  • Then there were Bags of Candy at Halloween… and who can forget the Benson Fruit- cakes… the gift that keeps on giving… and giving….and giving…
  • There were also Light Bulbs sold door-to-door (Steve Benny)… and Large Coloring Books (really large, e.g., nearly 3 ft. high.
  • For many years, our Club did a raffle at the annual Mt. Airy Firemen’s Carnival. … And long before there were Slurpee’s and Slushes, our club sold Frozen Cokes at the Fireman’s Carnival. They were extremely popular; unfortunately too popular and the Firemen made up stop.
  • Milt Hunter used his connections with the Carroll County Farm Museum to get us into the events held there as a food vendor and for many years a significant share of our revenue has come from food sales at The Maryland Wine Festival, the Fall Harvest Festival and The Fiddler’s Convention. We are still involved in some of those events and as attendance at local festivals here inMountAiry continues to grow, we’re getting involved in those as well.
  • A mainstay of our club’s fundraising continues to be our semi-annual Pancake Breakfasts which have a reputation for great food, fun and fellowship and growing attendance on an annual basis. The recognition for the operating consistency of these fundraisers over the past 10+ years goes to Angie Moore- our permanent Pancake Breakfast Project Chairperson. And it was our own club member and former mayor, Frank Johnson, who suggested that we also provide the opportunity for advertising on the placemats we use for the breakfasts, enabling the club to essentially double our revenue from these events.
  • And last, but not least, five years ago, we approached the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce to partner with us in producing and distributing The Mount Airy Phonebook. Former club president Tom Ogle and Chamber President Tim Barkley got that ball rolling, and the resulting phonebook has quickly become a mainstay in our community.

And as you are no doubt aware, that partnership has taken quality and impact of the  Phonebook and the Orange Pages to a whole other level. The Phonebook featuring White   Pages of combined residential and business listings in alphabetical order) and the Orange Pages (categorized business listings with display advertising) is provided free and mailed to  all 11,100 residents within the 21771 zipcode. Additionally, the Business Edition of the Phone Book, featuring just the Orange Pages, is mailed to more than 15,000 households and  businesses in the areas immediately surrounding 21771—including all of Woodbine, Monrovia, and New Market.

All net proceeds from the annual phonebook projects are shared evenly between the two organizations and distributed back to local charities and worthy causes. Since 2005, in excess of  $40,000 has been distributed back to the community as a result of The Phonebook.

The Kiwanis Clubs of Westminster, Taneytown and Ellicott City got the ball rolling 65 years ago by sponsoring a new Kiwanis Club in Mount Airy, MD. In looking back, it was time and effort well-spent, as this club and its members have been making an impact and a difference ever since.