The Joseph A. Caulder Collection
Past Rotary International Director 1928-29   -  Regina, Sask., Canada

"Eyewitness to Rotary International's First 50 Years"


JOSEPH A. CAULDER - An eyewitness to Rotary International's first 50 years.

Album 1 - Page 99-102:  Henry J. and Ann Brunnier

Rotary Anns and Inner Wheel

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From -

The Rotarian,

November 1951

WHO STARTED IT? For the answer to that one, I ran down a rumor that led straight to H. J. ("Bru") Brunnier, the San Francisco structural engineer (he helped design the big bridges out there) who was Second Vice-President of Rotary in 1917-18.

"In 1914 the Western Clubs," he says, "joined to start a special train from San Francisco to Houston, Tex., for the Convention there. Until we got to Los Angeles, my ANN was the only lady aboard and so someone gave her the nickname, "ROTARY ANN." In Los Angeles Mrs. MERRILL got on the train, so she and ANN were the only ladies with about 90 men for the rest of the trip to Houston.

"We were trying to get the Convention in 1915, so all sorts of stunts were planned and someone wrote a "Rotary Ann" chant. When we arrived in Houston, some Rotarians grabbed ANN, put her on their shoulders, and marched around the depot singing this chant. We were all kids then, remember."

At the Convention the BRUNNIERS met the GUNDAKERS from Philadelphia - Guy who was to be R.I. President in 1923-24, and his ANN. She, too, was soon being called "Rotary Ann," so it would appear that there were two original "ANNS" -Brunnier and Gundaker.

Guy's helpmeet passed on recently, but "ROTARY ANN" Brunnier still keeps up her old habit of accompanying Bru to Rotary Conferences and Conventions. And she is as vivacious and as charming as that day 'way back in 1914 when West Coast Rotarians carried her about on their shoulders in the Houston railroad station and chanted "Our Ro-tary Ann, Ro-tary Ann!"

SHOULD "ANNS" ORGANIZE? Since 1918 the R.I. Board has frowned upon the use of "Rotary" in any women's auxiliary units. Recording a decision in 1934-35, the official Manual of Procedure notes:

"The Board takes no action with regard to the advisability or inadvisability of the formation of clubs of women relatives of Rotarians, but believes that the best interests of all concerned will be better served if they would refrain from using the word 'Rotary.'"

The Board of 1949-50 went further. It agreed that "there shall be no legal recognition of women's clubs auxiliary to Rotary Clubs." Sounds pretty final.

(Reprinted by Permission)


From the early days of Rotary the Boards have decided from time to time that there must be no ladies Rotary Clubs. This was likely sound thinking.

That, however, does not mean that Rotaty International frowns on Rotarians' wives who want to carry on good work, in keeping with Rotary ideas, whenever and wherever there is the inclination and work to be done. Especially in Texas in the early days steps had to be taken to curb women's Rotary Clubs.

In England the Inner Wheel was formed in 1923 and has grown until in 1950 there were 50 Inner Wheel Clubs in G. B. & I. with 15,000 members compared with 650 Rotary Clubs with 30,000 members. In 1950, May 23rd and 24th, at Harrogate, England an Inner Wheel. Conference was held with 2,200 ladies present.

However, in 1920 when Norman Tovell was President of the Toronto Club, a Layette Committee was formed by the wives of Rotarians. In 1941 the name was changed to Inner Wheel. Now in 1959 the Inner Wheel is prospering and for 39 years has done a great job in making clothes for newborn babies. About 120 ladies meet every Wednesday for nine months a year and thousands of dollars worth of beautiful garments go to the needy mothers of Toronto and to far away countries. During World War II to England, and after the war to France, then Greece and now Korea.

The work is financed by birthday contributions by the men and also by contributions by the Rotary Club members when a child or grandchild is born. The proud father is an easy touch at these times. So perhaps all this was started by Ann Brunnier and Ann Gundaker at Houston in 1914.



Copyright Daniel W. Mooers

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