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 - Pages 47-48:  M. Eugene Newsom 19th President

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M. Eugene Newsom

Rotary's 19th President




Rotary Biography of


Durham. North Carolina. U.S.A.

President, Rotary International. 1929-30.

(Deceased: 14 Sept., 1948)

M. Eugene Newsom was born in Littleton, North Carolina, and was graduated from Trinity College, now Duke University. For almost 25 years he operated the Durham Book and Stationery Company. In 1930, he entered the banking business and served as President of the Citizens National Bank of Durham for a number of years.

In 1915, he assisted in the organization of the Rotary Club of Durham and was President of that Club for two years. He served Rotary International as President (in 1929-30), Director, District Governor, and as committee chairman and member.

Having been active in many civic movements, Mr. Newsom was twice Mayor of Durham, and President of the North Carolina Merchants Association. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Duke University, and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Lincoln Hospital.

From Rotary International,

35 East Wacker Drive,

Chicago 1, Ill., U.S.A..

March 1954.



From The Rotarian

November 1948.

Rotary loses a past leader,

but memories of his service linger.

As it must to all men, death came to M. Eugene Newsom on September 14, 1948, and throughout the world Rotarians who knew this hospitable businessman of Durham, North Carolina, as their International President in 1929-30 mourned his passing and talked again of his large and selfless service to the movement.

That year of "Gene's" as President it was one of the most jubilant in Rotary's history. It marked the 25th year of the movement's founding and when 11,019 people from 63 nations poured into Chicago, Illinois, for the Silver Anniversary Convention, they set a record for Convention size which stood until 1947. The smiling man with the gavel there on the Convention platform was Gene Newsom, exhorting the throng to 'Search "in the foundational fiber of our institution for those elements upon which the future structure can be built with permanency."

Away back in 1915 a Washington, D.C., Rotarian names George W. Harris, later an international Director, took some time off from his business of photographing Presidents and other famous faces and visited Durham. He was there to see if he could interest local businessmen in starting a Rotary Club. He made no sweeping claims for Rotary - just put it forward as a means of bringing about closer friendships between business and professional men. One of his most eager listeners was young M. Eugene Newsom, owner and manager of the Durham Book and Stationery Company. Gene became the first President of the new Rotary Club of Durham later that year.

That was Gene Newsom's start in Rotary. A decade later Rotarians of his District (old Number 37) made him their Governor. In 1926 he was elected a Director of Rotary International, and during his 33 years as a Rotarian his quiet eloquence was to be heard in many an international Committee as a member or Chairman.

It was at the Dallas, Texas, Convention of 1929 that Rotarians of the world chose the Durham stationer for their highest office and heard him ask: "Can we not hold Rotary to that simple place in life where the great, average Club in Rotary can understand and interpret and apply those principles which live in Rotary today?"

Bright as it was, Rotary was but one facet of Gene Newsom's life. There was his business and growing out of that his service as President of the North Carolina Merchants Association; for a time, also, he was president of a local bank. There was his community of Durham, for the love of which he twice served as Mayor. There was his alma mater, Duke University. For many years he gave his time to help it as a member of the executive committee of its board of trustees. There was Lincoln Hospital, which he long aided, too, as chairman of its executive committee.

And there was his family. The father of four sons and three daughter - the oldest of whom was 17 during his year as President - Gene was the proud head of a large and happy home. And it was often quipped, a Dallas reporter starting it all, that Gene's greatest ability to preside over large groups came pretty naturally. After all, he has so much experience at home! Gene is survived by those four sons and three daughters and by his wife, Annie Laurie Newsom.

The sympathy of President Angus Mitchell, the Board. of Directors, and the Secretary and his staff was conveyed at once to the Rotary Club of Durham and to Mrs.. Newsom and her family, and, at the request of President Mitchell, Immediate Past President S. Kendrick Guernsey represented Rotary International at the funeral services.

Sincere, earnest, yet ready of wit, Gene Newsom thought the world needed more friendliness and he often borrowed James Whitcomb Riley's words to tell what was in his heart. Perhaps you recall hearing him say them:

Oh, the world's a curious compound,

With its honey and its gall,

With its cares and bitter crosses,

But a good world after all.

An' a good God must ba ve made it

Leastway's, that is what I say

When a hand is on my shoulder

In a friendly sort o way --.

Joseph A. Caulder




Gene was President of R. I. in 1929-1930. He was from Durham, N.C. and a real southerner. We were always glad to meet Gene but especially so if he had his pretty wife Annie Laurie with him.

I well remember a dinner party some Toronto fellows put on for him at the Granite Club. Annie Laurie was extremely popular with our crowd that evening.

Gene passed on September 14th, 1948 and another fine Rotarian and citizen had left us.


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