HARRY L. RUGGLES, PIONEER
VETERAN MEMBER OF ROTARY/One SONG LEADER
FOR 54 YEARS
By PDG Norman F. Kloker
ROTARY/One 1949-87, President 1985-86 District 6450 Governor 1989-90
Song leader for 54 years at the Rotary Club of Chicago, Rotary’s first club, Harry Ruggles also was the designer of the first Rotary emblem.
At a "Round Table" meeting in 1951, (left to right) Charles A. Schmitt, Ken Ruggles, Eldon Gleason, Harry Ruggles, Herb Angster, and Henry Hughes.
1905 Pioneers at a speaker’s table in 1951, (left to right) President Tom Sexton, Al Rivenes, Max Goldenberg, Harry Ruggles, and Bob Fletcher.
When I became a member of the Rotary Club of Chicago in 1949, Harry Ruggle's ability to lead a very large membership of Rotarians in song was unbelievable. It was difficult to get to know him, except when I was able to join him at the head table.
It was at the Round Table that I learned about the time when Paul Harris was faced with the possible failure of the Rotary Club, and was considering disbanding it, Harry said: “Come on fellows, let's sing,” and the magic worked.
He utilized singing to break-up a heated discussion. He not only inaugurated club singing in the Rotary Club of Chicago, but was responsible for its acceptance in the early Rotary world. Harry sponsored at least 60 of the club's first 100 members.
Because of my regular attendance at the Club's “Round Table,” I became better acquainted with Harry Ruggles than it was possible at the Tuesday Club meeting. The Round Table was held, on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, at lunchtime in club member Toffenetti's Restaurant in the Chicago loop.
This was the place for enjoying fellowship and making friends, the place where Rotarians learned more about each other. This was where I learned that Harry was a country boy; who had lived on a farm in the lower peninsula of Michigan.