Richardson Rotary Club History
It all started in 1937 when Richardson was a tiny town. The WPA (Works Progress Administration, part of the New Deal during the Depression) had wanted to build a Community House in Richardson. There was considerable opposition to letting the federal government do anything for the town, but Mayor Tom Jackson finally made the decision to let the WPA go ahead.
The following year, Tom Jackson and Clifford Huffines got together to talk about an organization composed of community leaders who could discuss projects that would make Richardson a better place in which to live. They were enthusiastic about the town's future and invited about sixty men to the new Community House to review their ideas. There was an air of excitement as the group talked about the possibilities for the things to be done. This first organization was named the "Richardson Civic Improvement League" and scheduled to meet twice a month.
The group’s second meeting drew a smaller group, some forty to fifty, and the enthusiasm had already begun to wane.  At this meeting a proposal was made to provide lights for the town's football field, but when the assembled men learned that the cost of the lighting project would be $2000.00, many were appalled and the meeting broke up in dissent.   It had been only a few years before that Richardson had essentially defaulted on a bond issue to build a municipal water system and on warrants issued for a wastewater system forcing the city to file suit against a large percentage of the population that had failed, or been unable, to pay their utility bills.  The Great Depression was just beginning to fade and the town's finances were not very healthy, so there was little enthusiasm for such a costly capital project.
But, twenty of those who had attended did sign a note to fund the project, the forerunner of today’s Richardson Sports Incorporated. Only seven men attended the third meeting, and only two men attended the fourth. That marked the end of the "Civic Improvement League".
In the summer of 1938, Ben Jackson of the Garland Rotary Club convinced a group of men to meet to consider organizing a Richardson Rotary Club. The Garland Club held their August 9th meeting in the Richardson High School gym and many Richardson men were invited to attend. At this meeting, the Richardson men first heard the message of Rotary. The impact of the message was enhanced by the attendance of ten Dallas Rotarians and many other Rotarians from all over North Texas.
The Rotarians from Garland and Dallas made their pitch that night and fourteen men from Richardson stepped forward.  There was only one problem:  fifteen members were required to get a charter.  Clifford Huffines, who would become the first President, decided that his minister, Fred Thompson, who was away and could not attend, would probably want to be a member.  Huffines signed Rev. Thompson’s name to the initial list and, without regard to the first point of the Four Way Test. The Richardson Rotary was formed even though there was still considerable skepticism on the part of the Richardson men after the failure of the Civic Improvement League. The grim outlook for the club was reflected by the nominating committee when they chose their president saying, "Let's elect Cliff Huffines. He's been so enthusiastic about it, let it die in his hands."
The Club was officially chartered on September 14, 1938 by Rotary International with the Rotary Club of Garland as the sponsoring club. At the first meeting, there were members of other clubs in attendance, especially the Dallas and Garland clubs.
Shortly after the club's founding, Cliff became quite ill and had to delegate the duties of continuing the organization to the other members. Cliff said, "I learned that no member is a good member unless you can give him a job to do and expect him to do it."
The founding Rotarians deserve our thanks and praise for their efforts. They were ones willing to carry the message of Rotary out into other organizations. Those first club members wanted a service organization, but needed the structure to get going. As their lead-off project, with an interest in youth, the club sponsored the first Boy Scout Troop in town.
Carl Tinch, Club Historian