History of Cheyenne Kiwanis Club

Edited and extended by Le Jones - 2002

 

Late in the year of 1914, the idea of organizing an association, which would become known as "Kiwanis," was conceived in Detroit Michigan by Allen S. Brown. He promoted the idea among his friends and acquaintances, and a temporary organization was soon formed. Terms of organization provided that Brown would receive cash imbursement for each new member that joined.

 

Originally, the new organization was known as "The Supreme Lodge Benevolent Order Brothers" or familiarly, as "The BOB". A committee, appointed to recommend a new name for the group, enlisted the aid of the Detroit City historian, who recommended a phrase from the language of the Otchipew Indian tribe, 'Nun Kee-wan-nis,' which seems to have had a multitude of translations. The word "Kiwanis" was coined from the recommendation of the name committee. Reciprocity of commercial favors among the membership was one of the original purposes of the organization, but the practice soon lost favor, and commercialism within the club has since been discouraged.

 

The first official meeting of the new organization was held at the Griswold Hotel in Detroit during the first week of January 1915. A board of directors and officers were elected, the new name was adopted, and the final draft of the Articles of Association was approved. On January 21, 1915 , the Secretary of the State of Michigan signed and recorded the charter of Kiwanis. That date has been designated as the official birthday of Kiwanis International. Four years later, on May 21, 1919 , the International Organization, in convention at Birmingham , Alabama , failed to renew founder Brown's contract, and bought out his interests in Kiwanis.

 

On January 27 1922, Kiwanis International signed, sealed and dated the new club charter for a group of sixty-five men whom had come together to form a Kiwanis Club in Cheyenne. A gala Charter Night Banquet was held at the Plains Hotel on March eleventh. Representatives from other Kiwanis Clubs in the area, and from the Colorado-Wyoming District office, were in attendance to witness the presentation of the charter. The original charter, issued that night, was later lost, and a replacement charter was provided by International. Then, in 1976, the replacement charter was destroyed in the explosion of the Equitable Life Assurance Society Building where it was hanging in the office of club president, Lloyd Flynn. The charter currently displayed in the board room at the Kiwanis building is our second replacement copy.

 

The first president of the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club was William Bradford Ross, an attorney, who would be elected Governor of the State of Wyoming within a year from the club's charter date.

 

Cheyenne 's new service organization lost no time in undertaking challenges in the arena of community services. On July 1, 1922 , only four months after its official chartering, the Kiwanis Club raised $195.00 to begin the development of Kiwanis Park . A committee for the maintenance of Kiwanis Beach in that park survived until 1942. The stone beach house, built by the club at a cost of $1000, still stands to the north of Kiwanis Lake at the ninth green in Cheyenne 's Municipal Golf course. Since 1988, Kiwanis volunteers have continued to serve in the city park, volunteering for the annual spring cleanup of the shores of Sloan's Lake .

 

In September 1922, the club engaged in its first boys' and girls' work by creating a "students fund" to be used in assisting worthy Cheyenne boys and girls through the University of Wyoming . Kiwanis continued to award scholarships to area high school students for many years, a tradition which continues today through the club's sponsorship of the Laramie County Junior Miss program. The Junior Miss Scholarship program for Cheyenne found itself without a sponsor in 1967. They asked the Kiwanis Club to take over to assure local High School Junior girls the opportunity to compete for the honors offered. Cheyenne 's Junior Miss, Karen Morris, gave the entire State of Wyoming an unprecedented thrill when she was named America 's Junior Miss for 1974 at the nationally televised program in Mobile Alabama .

 

The increasing popularity of automobiles, and the state of development of the area's highways in 1922, was demonstrated by the fact that among the first committees named by the Kiwanis Club was the Committee for Good Roads.

 

Throughout the 1920s, interclub activities between the three service clubs of Cheyenne Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions were common. In March 1923, the Kiwanis Club, helped entertain seven hundred delegates to the Rotary Club District Convention at Cheyenne . In April 1924, Kiwanis held an Athletic Conference in conjunction with Lions and Rotary, raising nine hundred dollars for development of the local high school athletic field. Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis joined with the American Legion, still swollen by large numbers of World War I veterans, in the staging of a big banquet in December 1927, "voted one of the best interclub banquets ever held."

 

The Kiwanis Club organized a Boy Scout Troop in 1925, and the Sea Scouts in 1933. The Kiwanis Board of Directors acted on a motion to sell the Sea Scout House on Sloan's Lake to the Lions Club for one hundred dollars in 1957.

 

Continued on History on Cheyenne Kiwanis Club 1

 
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Club Contact Information:

Mailing address:  P.O. Box 1266
                            Cheyenne, WY 82003
Kiwanis Treber Building:  1804 Pacific Avenue
                                         Cheyenne, WY 82007
Phone and fax: 307.638.3763 email (Club Administrative Secretary): kiwaadmsect@cheyennekiwanis.org