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                                                             Marlborough Hotel

Fourteen years after the first four Chicago Rotarians met to form the first Rotary Club in 1905, seven Asbury Park businessmen were invited to a luncheon in the old Marlborough Hotel on Grand Avenue by J. Lyle Kinmonth to meet Gus Crane of the Elizabeth Rotary Club. The purpose of the January 21, 1919 meeting was to discuss the possibility of establishing a Rotary Club in Asbury Park. Around the table with Mr. Kinmonth were Harry A. Watson, Robert G. Poole, Amos E. Kraybill, Ernest A. Arend, Harrison C. Hurley and Jesse G. Walker.

Mr. Crane was skeptical that such a club could be formed. Factional differences were rife, there were obstacles to municipal, commercial and social development of the community and improvement projects were stunted by personal jealousies. In spite of this skeptical attitude, Mr. Kinmonth was emphatic that Mr. Crane’s opinion was erroneous, that a Rotary club could be formed and that it would be a success.

Under the direction of Mr. Kinmonth, the weekly meetings were continued until the 25 charter members were in attendance – the minimum number of members needed to form a Rotary club. In April 1919, the fledgling club received its charter from the International Association of Rotary Clubs as the 496th Rotary Club in the world.

Mr. Kinmonth became the first president of the club, Harry Watson, vice-president, Jesse Webster, secretary, Robert Poole, treasurer. Elected to the first Board of Directors were Ernest Arend, Dr. James Ackerman, J. K. Brownwell, Amos Kraybill and the club officers.

The charter members were drawn from the city’s leaders and respected citizenry. Such a distinguished group drew only the most prominent speakers to weekly luncheons.

Service to the community started immediately. On May 29, 1919, charter member Albert Robbins persuaded the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders to delay the rebuilding of the Main Street bridge over Deal Lake until after the summer season, avoiding inconvenience to summer visitors. Later that fall on October 1, 1919, a Rotary Committee was appointed to take up the matter of improved highways between Asbury Park and New York.

By now the International Association of Rotary Clubs had expanded to 15 countries and the Asbury Park Club was taking its proud place in the developing history of Rotary.