Anthony Wayne Rotary members describe the club with words "family" and "fun".
Anthony Wayne Rotary Club stresses service with fun

When the 82-member Anthony Wayne Rotary Club gathers for lunch each Wednesday at Pine Valley Country Club, members add a fifth question to the famous Rotary 4-Way Test. “Is it fun?” they ask.

The words “fun” and “family” pepper the narratives as Rotarians describe their attachment to the service club.

“When I moved back to Fort Wayne I didn’t know anyone,” said Bob Moore, a former club president. Then he visited the Anthony Wayne Rotary Club. “I found everyone to be very friendly and everybody just became my friends over the years,” he said.

“I’ve been in many different [Rotary] clubs around the country, and they’re all basically cut out of the same silk,” he said. “They’re in it because they want to help other people, and this is just a really fun way to do it.”

“I have been told several times that we are the ‘fun club,’ ” club President Carol Keplar said in an email.

Dick Walls joined the club in March of 1971. “It was the New Haven Club, but we met at Club Olympia, and then our name was changed to the Anthony Wayne Rotary Club in ‘72,” he said. Walls held the gavel in 1977-78. “I was able to get everyone active in doing something,” he said, “and I was able to promote a lot of enthusiasm.” He said it is important that members see Rotary as more than a luncheon club.

Mark Stetzel, another past president, said everyone has assigned duties, and the duty roster rotates. “You don’t just sign up, pay your dues and say you’re a Rotarian,” he said. “It’s expected that if you’re in the club, you’re going to participate.”

Members represent every branch of endeavor. “Diversity has always been valued in Rotary,” said Aron Dellinger, another past president. Dellinger, of Leo, has been a member since 1987. Years earlier, he was one of the high school students chosen to attend Rotary meetings.

Today, October to April, one senior from each of eight high schools is invited to attend a month of luncheons. Students from Bishop Dwenger, Blackhawk Christian, Carroll, Concordia Lutheran, Leo, New Haven, Northrop and Snider high schools then are considered for two $4,000 scholarships.

A visiting student might be asked to share where they hope to be a decade in the future, or to name the most influential person in their life. “That question gets some different and interesting responses, from their teachers, to their grandparents, parents, coaches and church leaders, youth group and Sunday School teachers,” Keplar said. “The reasons are the things they have taught them, or teaching them about their faith, or always being there for them. It is always interesting to hear their responses.”

“While they visit they get to network with different leaders and Rotarians from in and around Fort Wayne in many different professions,” she said. “They get a taste of what Rotary is all about. They see that even as adults you can volunteer and make a difference in our community and around the world.”

Keplar said Anthony Wayne Rotary Club members come from all over Fort Wayne, and from Leo, Kendallville, Decatur, Yoder and Huntertown. Keplar and her husband Jeff live in Ossian. Jeff Keplar is a former president. Carol said she worked closer to the Downtown Club — which meets at Parkview Field — but joined the Anthony Wayne club because Jeff belonged to that club. “I felt if we were both going to be in Rotary, and since Rotary is a service organization, it would be best if we were both in the same club so we could put all of our efforts involved in the same projects instead of being pulled in two different directions,” she said.

“I have since changed jobs and still live in Ossian, but have stayed as a member of Anthony Wayne Rotary not so much for the networking, but for a different reason,” Carol Keplar said. “The members of Anthony Wayne Rotary have become my dear friends and family. Both Jeff and my parents are deceased, and we each have only one brother and they both live out of state. With Rotary, I have many brothers, and even sisters that I never had. I actually have some ‘dads,’ with the older members who love to look out for me,” she said. “It is really nice to have family, my ‘Rotary Family,’ close by.”

“You’ve got both the family aspect and the sense of service,” Moore said. “Our motto is Service above Self. So we do a lot with kids, high school kids that you see here today. We also pass out dictionaries to third-graders every year, and we get involved in a lot of international projects — clean water in Mexico and medical instruments in Nicaragua.”

The club joins Rotary International in supporting student exchange programs and polio eradication and other health programs. Locally, the club restores historical monuments and markers, and supports Kate’s Kart books for hospitalized children and Community Harvest Food Bank.

“We give back to the community that has given to us,” Keplar said.


The Anthony Wayne Rotary Club meets each Wednesday at Pine Valley Country Club, with a buffet lunch available at 11:30 a.m. and a program and business meeting from 12:15-1:15 p.m. Membership is by invitation. For information, email Rotarycarolk@gmail.comor call (260) 402-8252.

Rotary Clubs recite the Rotary 4-Way Test before each meeting. The Anthony Wayne Rotary Club recites a fifth test:

“Of the things we think say or do: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Is it fun?”