First morning Rotary Club in District 5000

Pete Muller, Past District Governor

 Founding President: Hilo Bay

When I was a member of the Hilo Rotary Club back in 1977, I had taken a Group Study Exchange team of six young up and coming businessmen to Austria for six weeks. While touring the Austrian District, we attended many clubs and I was impressed by the number of morning clubs they had.

I thought this would be a good idea to bring back to Hilo, since we were losing many members who said that lunch was not convenient.  

Sooo, when I returned from our six-week adventure, I called our then-District Governor (Mike Lyons from Maui) and asked him why we didn't have a breakfast club in Hilo.  His answer—"Why don't you start one"!  Well, O.K. I'll try, was my answer.

The year was 1977, the year that Rotary International was told that it had to admit women.  This caused some of the old-timers to resign from Rotary and the rumor got started that Muller was starting his own breakfast club and did not want any women in it.  I don't know who or how this rumor got started but it, of course, was totally false.  

Another complaint was that Muller is taking members away from the Hilo Club to join his breakfast club.  That, too, proved to be not true.  The only people that came with me from the Hilo Club were: Chuck Schuster, Bob Sheehan, Preston Barnes, Bob Cole and Charlie Wallis.  The rest were past Rotarians who had resigned and came back because breakfast meeting suited their schedule and others were brand new Rotarians who liked the idea of a breakfast meeting.

So we were the first breakfast club in the district, Chartered June 22, 1988.  Spencer Oliver who with his brother Andrew were operating a popular restaurant called “Roussells” in the Kaikodo Bldg at the time, which is where our CharterNight was celebrated.

Later, when I was District Governor in 1995, I also started the first “dinner club” in the district,  “Honolulu Sunset Club.” Again, some old-timers predicted that a dinner club would never work. History has shown them wrong.

Carol Van Camp was our first of many women Rotarian members.  She was also our first of many women presidents, in 1996-1997.  So far, the first 25 years we had six woman presidents and some of our most active members are women.

A brief history of the Reyn-Spooner Rotary Aloha shirt.  That was the first “Hawaiian/Rotary” shirt for D-5000. It put Hawaii Rotary on the map during my year as District Governor. We sold more than 5,000 shirts worldwide and all the profit was used by Hilo Bay to produce "Paul Harris Fellows."  We offered any club
member the opportunity to donate $ 500 and Hilo Bay would match that donation.  Hilo Bay Rotary presented each incoming president of Rotary International a “Hawaii Rotary Shirt” courtesy of the Rotary Club of Hilo Bay.