Service Above Self
The Rotary Club of Albuquerque Del Norte
 
Welcome to “The Greatest Rotary Club in the World!”
 
That may seem to be a bit brash and braggadocio, but it’s been our club’s rallying refrain for more than two decades: to keep us motivated to do our best, to do better than we’ve done before, to be who we say we are. As you browse through our website, I hope you catch the euphoria that really has made the Rotary Club of Albuquerque Del Norte among the very best in all of New Mexico – if not the world.
 
If you are looking for a place where you can team up with business and professional people who have a wealth of talent, and make the time to do good in our community and in our world - to “be a gift to the world”- then we invite you to contact us and see if we fit your aspirations.
 
Join us in making a difference in our world.

In the beginning, there was one …

In the beginning, there was one Rotary Club in Albuquerque, founded in 1916, only 11 years after Rotary itself was founded in Chicago. Until 1987, the Only Rotary Club in Town wanted to keep it that way. In fact, the Rotary Club of Albuquerque voted down the idea for a second club three times in a 10-year period. Each time it came up, the Only Rotary Club in Town felt that a second club, competing with their club, would “dilute” Rotary by creating “mediocre clubs.” But not all downtown club members felt that way. At that time, Rotary clubs were limited in the number of career professionals it could have as members – i.e., only one banker, one lawyer, etc. In 1987, another committee was formed, led by Albuquerque Rotary Club President Bob Grant, to bring up the issue again. This time, the vote was favorable and the Rotary Club of Albuquerque Del Norte was born. As irony would have it, the theme for Rotary in 1987-88 was “Rotary: United in Service, Dedicated to Peace.”

On Charter Night, no charter?


When the Rotary Club of Albuquerque Del Norte was chartered on February 23, 1988, the club
had 80 members signed up. Shortly after, eight more joined – or as first Club President Chuck
Gara noted, “88 in ‘88”. Charter night was set for February 20, but Rotary International had not
yet officially approved the charter application. A new Charter Night was scheduled for February
27, but moved to March 5 so as not to conflict with a New Mexico Lobos home basketball game.
But on March 5, as Charter Night arrived, there was another hiccup. The official charter had not
yet arrived in Albuquerque as RI had promised. So Rotary District Governor Neal Johnson,
working with the Albuquerque Marriott’s hotel staff, grabbed the hotel’s wine list on which Club
President Chuck Gara hurriedly wrote “De Facto Charter” and the make-shift document was
duly signed by the district governor. Weeks later, the new Club Board approved a motion to keep
the hotel’s wine list brochure as its original charter.
U.S. Senator Pete Domenici was not able to attend the club’s rescheduled Charter Night, but he
telegrammed the Club President: “Congratulations! How does it feel to be a part of history in the
making? The Rotary Club of Albuquerque Del Norte is the first new Rotary Club in
Albuquerque in 72 years!”

Traditions were born in those early-day meetings 1988-1992


Some of the wacky – and not so wacky – traditions that make up the Del Norte Rotary meetings
30 years later were born in the club’s first four years. Some of them include:
 

“The Welcome Song”

Words to Del Norte Rotary’s “Welcome” song to visitors were written by Meg Woodward, the
club’s first pianist. It is sung to the tune of the Norte Dame’s fight song and goes like:
“Hello and welcome to Al-B-Q; Del Norte shares warm greetings with you.
“And when you come back our way, we’ll shout out a hip hooray! O-le!”
 

Fines for improper behavior

The club’s original constitution spelled out the various “fines” to be ordered by the Sergeant-at-
Arms for non-attendance, not wearing one’s Rotary pin, and simply “outlandish or improper
behavior” – which now includes cell phones going off – with fines ranging from $1 to $10.
“Thought of the Day”
Chuck Gara, the club’s first president, started the tradition of closing each meeting with the
“thought of the day.” The first “thought of the day’? “A different world cannot be built by
indifferent people.”
 

“We are the Greatest …”

The catchy “We are the Greatest Rotary Club in the World!” braggadocio motto was started in
1992 by then Club President Harvey Collier – long before David Letterman began to call his
late night show “the Greatest in the World.” As Harvey noted: It doesn’t say we’re the best, or
the biggest, but “it keeps us motivated to do our best, to do better than we’ve done before.”
 

The North Wind newsletter

Even before it officially became the Rotary Club of Albuquerque Del Norte, the club’s
newsletter was officially named “The North Wind” while holding provisional meetings in 1987-
88. Its first elected editor was Larry German. Over the past 30-plus years, it has been both a
weekly, a bi-monthly, and a monthly publication.

Rotary Del Norte Foundation

The Rotary Del Norte Foundation was formed in 1989, a year after the Club was founded. From
that date to now, every member of the Rotary Club of Albuquerque Del Norte has been a
member of the Foundation – the giving arm of the club. The Foundation is managed by a Board
of Directors drawn from the club’s membership. Since its founding, the Foundation has
distributed over $1 million in charitable grants. Annual funding over the years has come from
generous donations made by individuals, and from fund-raising efforts such as golf tournaments
and annual Gala or Sweetheart Balls held over the past 30-plus years.
Local and Global Community Service Projects

Local and Global Community Service Projects

Other than raising funds through its Foundations to serve local needs, the Rotary Club of
Albuquerque Del Norte has long put “sweat equity” to work in the way of service projects to
help those within our local area as well as international projects to provide hands-on events to
those who need a helping hand. Del Norte Rotary’s first fund-raising project was a bike tour of
the Rio Grande to raise funds for Rotary International’s efforts to fight polio around the world.
Local service projects have ranged from collecting cans to help the Roadrunner Food Bank to
painting stairways at St. Martin’s Center to helping the Veterans Integration Center conduct its
annual “Stand Down” in support of needy military veterans. The club has also provided hands-on projects in Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico working on water projects, low-cost shelters for needy families, to providing food and medical supplies to the Navajo Nation during the
Coronavirus Pandemic of 2019-2021.

Rotary will continue to grow and help others around the world.