The Rotary Club of Marquette, was issued Charter #204 on March 1, 1916, the first club in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and only the second club in the current District 6220.

Frank J. Jennison, cashier of the Marquette (Union) National Bank, is credited with bringing Rotary to Marquette. Frank brought the idea of Rotary to Marquette after a July, 1915 business trip to Piqua, Ohio where he attended a meeting of the Rotary Club of Piqua. Upon hearing that his cousin, William Jennison had been elected president of the club in Bay City, Michigan, Frank was determined that Rotary should be part of Marquette. He began correspondence with the International Association of Rotary Clubs and began to discuss the idea of a Marquette Rotary club with his business colleagues.

On November 9, 1915, Allen D. Albert of Minneapolis, international president of Rotary, wrote to Frank Jennison and appointed him to form a local organizational committee. In this letter of appointment, President Albert cautioned Jennison's Marquette committee to select prospective members carefully, to make sure that they were associated with reputable businesses, that they were capable of close friendships, and that they could express the larger spiritual element which had accounted for the rise in Rotary.

The next two months saw rapid progress and a surprise. Potential members were recruited and some organizational meetings began. Frank hoped that his cousin's club of Bay City would be official sponsor of the new club but the International Association informed him that they were in the wrong District - The Upper Peninsula of Michigan was part of District 9 that also included Wisconsin and Minnesota. It was requested that the Sponsor be the Rotary Club of Superior, the first Rotary Club in Wisconsin. On the morning of January 25, 1916, the District Governor, W.J. Zimmers of Milwaukee, a delegation of seven Superior Rotarians led by their President and three Duluth Rotarians led by their Secretary arrived by train in Marquette to spend the day becoming acquainted with their hosts and the community. By that evening they were satisfied by their investigation and had dinner with fifteen of the eighteen prospective Marquette Rotarians and discussed Rotary basics and the mechanics necessary for establishing a club.

January 29th saw the formal organizational meeting, adoption of a club constitution, election of officers and a schedule of fees and dues. On March 1, 1916 the Rotary Club of Marquette received their formal charter, #204.

While vocation was the original basis for membership, Rotary proved to be no ordinary trade or business organization. Founder Paul Harris and his associates were motivated just as much by fellowship and service as by profit and philanthropy.

RI Presidential Visits

The 6th RI President (1916-17), Arch Klumph, visited the Rotary Club of Marquette on September 17, 1916. In addition to talking about the merits of Rotary, he mentioned his idea of developing an 'Endowment for... doing good in the world.' That idea was approved at his 1917 Convention and later became The Rotary Foundation.

The 7th RI President (1917-18), Leslie Pidgeon (1917-18), visited the Rotary Club of Marquette on January 24, 1918 to encourage the development of new clubs in the area. Fifteen prospective Rotarians from around the UP were invited, including some for Sault Ste. Marie, Menominee, Escanaba, Houghton and Hancock.

Past International President (1910-1912) and Rotary Founder Paul Harris and his wife visited Marquette, the Marquette Rotary and the Marquette Society for Crippled Children conference on October 6-7, 1933. He was quite interested in providing help for crippled children (The first donation by the Rotary Foundation was to the National Crippled Children's Society.) and several members of the Marquette associated with the local society then helped establish the Bay Cliff Health Camp.

RI President Hugh Archer (1989-90) and his wife, Mary Jane, visited the Rotary Club of Marquette in a January 8-9, 1990 snow storm to spread the word about his theme of Enjoy Rotary, ideas for implementing an Endowment for the Rotary Foundation, the SHARE program and the ongoing process to bring Rotary to Russia. He was also present for a question-answer reception and the presentation of several Paul Harris Fellow Recognitions.

In November, 1987, the first business and professional women were invited to join the Rotary Club of Marquette. Fresh new ideas for service, fellowship and commitment to the ideals of Rotary invigorated and inspired the club's members. The Rotarian label was no longer gender-based and a renaissance was begun as new members were added and the five avenues of service were inundated with fresh new ideas and programs. Now in its 94th year of service, the Rotary Club of Marquette maintains about 115 members and has sponsored numerous other clubs. Its history and traditions closely parallel the history and traditions of the City of Marquette and its members truly believe that the visionary Paul Harris's idea of "service above self" applies just as much, if not more, now than it did when he originated it 101 years ago.

Credit for most of this synopsis of the history of the Rotary Club of Marquette should be given to Richard F. O'Dell, former Rotarian, whose book Reaching Out, a history of the Rotary Club of Marquette, Michigan from 1916 to 1981 presents an in-depth, scholarly treatment of the club's history and the history of the City of Marquette. Additional information by the editor of that book, member and PDG Pryse Duerfeldt, has been added as part of his research on the genealogy of the Rotary Clubs of District 6220.