The Rotary name derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices. Ever since Rotary's founding in 1905, its objectives have continued to grow and adapt to social and economic conditions. The first Rotary International motto "He profits most who serves best" came from the 1911 convention in Portland, Oregon. In 1932, Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor created the Four-Way Test, which was adopted by Rotary International in 1943.

The St. Louis Rotary Club (Club 11) was the first in our region, and as Rotary spread nationally and internationally, the Webster Groves community showed great potential for a new club. During the fall and winter of 1923, members of the St. Louis Club began their canvass of Webster Groves businesses, seeking new members for the second club in our region. Under the leadership of John Hall, the Club 11 members personally visited business at the local garage, bank, drugstore, lumber company, utility company, feed store, real estate office, cleaners, school district superintendent's office, and other local establishments.


After a sufficient number of potential members had been signed up, the organizers secured a charter from Rotary International (RI), and seventeen members were inducted on Charter Night, February 17, 1924: George J. Bopp, Dwight Bradley, Wayne Brown,  William A. Gore, Percy Harrison, Carl H. Holekamp, Charles E. King, E. H. Lewis, Minter C. Moredock, Dudley Sanford, Henry Schulz, William Stoecker, William A. Straub, Arthur N. Trembley, Lyman Warren, Dr. A. W. Westrup, and Edward F. Wilson; Carl Holekamp was elected to serve as the first president.

On March 15, 1924, The Rotary Club of Webster Groves was duly elected to Rotary International as Club 1670, the first Rotary Club in St. Louis County and the second oldest in the St. Louis area. 

Classifications of the Charter Members evoked a typical small town feel, typical of the time: auto dealer, railroad station manager, lumber merchant, banker, feed store owner, dry cleaner, physician, and real estate broker. The new Rotarians were truly wonderful gentlemen, some of whom were widely regarded as "most unforgettable characters" -- “Pop” Gore, Carl Holekamp, Doc Westrup, Charles King, Bill Straub, and above all Hank Schulz. 

Fellowship was great, cordial, and sincere. These men were bound together by community interests, and they operated with zeal and zest, promoting business, as well as welfare for handicapped children and support of cultural organizations.  By 1926, they were involved in buying band instruments and uniforms for the Webster Groves High School band and providing an electric organ for the High School Choir. The Rotary Club’s involvement with music was a natural fit, spurred on by dynamic leadership of Bill Gore, Superintendent of Schools, and Hans Lemcke, the High School band director.  In 1926, the Club sponsored its first new Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Maplewood; over the years the Club has sponsored four other clubs, including one in Russia.

The Club’s small town feel persisted for twenty years or so, until changing urbanization conditions modified the eligibility of certain occupations: the local St. Louis County Gas Company was absorbed by Union Electric and Laclede Gas Company; trains no longer stopped often enough to justify a Station Manager; super-markets supplanted neighborhood grocery business; and public agencies began caring for disadvantaged children and providing student loans. As a result, membership expanded into a much broader range of occupations.