Rotary marks 50 years

The Rancho Santa Fe Rotary can now tally 50 years of giving back to the community.

They’ve put books on the library shelves and flagpoles in the village, helped foster teens at San Pasqual Academy in Escondido and brought water to parched lips in parts of southern Sudan.

To celebrate 50 years of good work and their club slogan of “Making Dreams Real,” the club will host a golden anniversary party at 6 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

Along with drinks and dinner there will be live entertainment by the Alley Cats, the top doo-wop group in the country.

Past presidents and members from the local Rotary governing board will be in attendance.

Service and friends

The Rancho Santa Fe Rotary’s roots go back to 1959, when 25 local Rotarians wanted to form their own group. The Ranch Rotarians had been involved with groups in Del Mar and Encinitas but they wanted one of their own according to Roger Rowe, who has been a member since 1962.

“Over the years as the community has grown, the Rotary has also grown in numbers,” Rowe said.Rowe, a self-described “civic junkie,” served as Rotary president in 1973, when the group had about 33 members. Now, the membership is about 90.

Rowe started as a fifth grade teacher and eventually the Rancho Santa Fe School District superintendent. He was always involved in the community service projects that catered to youth. Roger R. Rowe School was named for Rowe in 2001.

“It’s just been a labor of love,” Rowe said. “Something I’ve really enjoyed.”

He said the work he’s done through Rotary has always been worthwhile and the friendships made have led to lifelong support and have become a “resource forever.”

Locally, the Rotary has their helping hands in just about every organization. They support the community center, library, garden club, senior center and host the annual Rancho Santa Fe Fire and Patrol dinner. During Rancho Days, the Rotary hosts the big community barbecue.

But their help isn’t just limited to the Ranch.

“We do an enormous amount of community service with nonprofits around San Diego,” Realtor Heather Manion, who’s been a member for six years, said.

She said she always thought the group was just “a bunch of men” but soon found that the group is made up of 50 percent women.

The Rancho Santa Fe Rotary also participates in Rotary International’s big causes.

Last year, the club helped purchase a water drilling rig to drill wells in Sudan that serve entire communities. The Rotary raised some $300,000 for the cause in a year.

Two weeks ago in San Diego, Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and philanthropist, pledged $250 million toward polio eradication, which is a project of Rotary International. Rotary

International has raised more than $650 million for the anti-polio cause since 1985.

The Rancho Santa Fe Rotary is always looking for new members. To find out more, visit


Rotary’s golden anniversary party

  • Feb. 9, 6 p.m.
  • Inn at Rancho Santa Fe