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In the Beginning

 

The Rotary Club of Chariho was actually chartered as the Rotary Club of Charlestown-Richmond-Hopkinton back in 1974. The name was changed to Chariho in 1984. It’s quite possible with the incorporation of the town of Exeter as a service area, perhaps the name will be changed again in the future, to better reflect the communities served. Several Rotarians have said that the Club name did include Exeter, but we have not found the supporting documentation.

Joe Costanza of The Rotary Club of Wakefield visited Jacques de Laporte, (former owner of KayDee Handprints) in 1974 to introduce Jacques to Rotary. Joe then asked Jacques if he would like to join Rotary and help him “start up” a club for the Charlestown-Richmond-Hopkinton area. Jacques responded that he was just too busy, but he would help Joe find members. So Jacques and Joe found 2 interested people to join. And lo and behold! Busy Jacques deLaporte became president of the club, and not for one year, but for two!

To this day, Jacques says that “Rotary transformed my life”.  I have been a Rotarian for 33 years, having “made up” visits in Chili, Argentina, Columbia, British Virgin Islands, Germany, France, Italy and Holland. I have been received, as a Rotarian, with such warmth, all over the world.” Jacques really appreciated the time and effort of the Wakefield Rotary Club in forming the Rotary Club of Chariho.

The club was admitted into Rotary International on May 3, 1974. It served a population of about 11,000. The Club held their weekly meeting at lunch time at the former “Top of the Hill Restaurant in Hope Valley.

The first officers were:

President              

Jacques de Laporte Kay Dee Handprints, Inc. 
Vice President Edward Newman Edward H. Newman Law Offices 
Secretary Phillip Friend  Washington Trust 
Treasurer Harold Kenyon  Avery Funeral Home 

Sergeant-at-Arms

James E. Mello  Comfort Engineering 

The Directors were:

Robert B. Bitgood Western Auto
H. James Fleming Flemings Department Store
Harry Jones Greene Wolf Rock’s Restaurants
Richard Perrson Nordic Lodge
James Mello Comfort Engineering
Clifton (Gus) Woodmansee Woodmansee & Son

 

 

The original membership also included

Gideon Allen Greene Plastics
Richard C. Antonelli Washington County Mental Health Center 
Father Magar Bedrosian St. Elizabeth’s Church 
G. Stuart Douglas  Chariho Vocational Facility 
Bradley Friel  Suburban Cleaners 
Glenn Godden  Glenn Godden Agency 
John F. Grills  Sun Valley Motel 
William C. Harrison  Speedcraft Volkswagen 
Robert A. Perreault  Perreault Motor Cycles & Power Equipment
Richard Perrson   Nordic Lodge 
Anthony Rinaldo  Hope Valley School 
Thomas G. Russell  University of Rhode Island 
Charlie Sokolosky, Jr.   Narragansett Electric 
Raymond Thorpe  Town & Country Painting 
Father Samuel Turillo  St. Joseph’s Church 
Ralph H. Woodmansee  Woodmansee Insurance, Inc. 

The First Project

One of the first projects that brought the club together was the rehabilitation of an old market building in Hope Valley, off of Mechanic Street. This would be the future home of the first Health Center in Hope Valley. The Rotary of Chariho members got together and gutted this building. Under the direction of Harold Kenyon, the Rotarians partitioned off the area, put in the plumbing and the electrical. In a unique manner of fundraising, Jacques and some of the members would solicit other community citizens to “sponsor” carpeting. So you could donate enough money for one yard or several yards, whatever your wallet could spare. This was the manner in which the carpeting was purchased…and it was installed for free by Westerly Furniture Co.

More than just the knowledge of knowing that they were working to resolve a need in the community, Jacques still loves to think of the camaraderie that the group shared while working together, especially when they were painting the outside of the building.

The Strawberry Booth

One of the next projects was to build a permanent Strawberry Booth at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Ed Newman tells of how Harold Kenyon would somehow load a giant work shed onto a truck, and haul it to the Washington County Fairgrounds for several years. This would be the structure that the club would sell Strawberry Shortcakes from.  Finally, the group got together, under Harold’s stewardship, and built the Strawberry Booth that exists today at the fairgrounds. Ed spoke of how every year Tiny Greene (of Wolf Rock’s Restaurant) would supply the cream, and the shortcakes would be  freshly baked at West’s Bakery in Hope Valley. One year, a decision was made to purchase “pre-made” shortcakes. “Oh, they were awful”, said Newman. They have been freshly made shortcakes every year after that.