A rich history rooted in fellowship and community service

Rooted in a rich tradition of service, the Buffalo Rotary Club will celebrate its 70th anniversary on April 25. Founded on the principles of fellowship and support, Rotary’s humble beginnings have spread across the globe, weaving the spirit of service into communities world-wide. 

The name, Rotary, stems from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of its members. The first Rotary Club blossomed from a meeting in 1905 between a few businessmen in Chicago, who discussed the idea of getting acquainted with other business owners in an effort to help each other obtain more clientele. What we now think of as networking, the spirit of service grew in those early Rotary meetings, with the idea of “Each member having some thought and welfare for the other.” -Hiram Shorey, a founding member of Rotary.  


Buffalo Rotary:

The Buffalo Rotary Club meets every Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Huikko’s Bowling and Entertainment Center. Members have the chance to network and gain fellowship with people from the Buffalo business community. Each week, a guest speaker presents a program on various topics ranging from business, government, media, literature, art, education, sports, medicine, and community service. 

The Club was established in 1954. Members of the St. Louis Park Rotary Club traveled to Buffalo in an effort to expand Rotary’s reach and charter a new club. The first meeting was held on April 21, 1954, at Backstroms in the Soo Town neighborhood. Twelve members of the St. Louis Park Rotary were present, along with a number of the businesspeople who were to become founding members of the Buffalo Rotary Club. Officially chartered on April 29, 1954, the club’s first president was Fred Lienbach, owner of Lienbach Equipment Company. 

Today, 69 Rotary members have served as Buffalo’s club president. Buffalo resident, John Halverson, served as the 39th president, from 1992-93. John joined Rotary in 1967 when he first moved to Buffalo. John became a Rotarian for a variety of reasons, “A little bit of everything. The organization was doing well for a number of years.” Mr. Halverson stated that he is proud of, “The many people I got to know and do things with. Everybody was together.” John stated that he enjoyed attending community events and fondly recalls the food stand at Buffalo Days. Mr. Halverson is hopeful that Rotary will continue to grow and would like to see membership numbers increase.

Current Rotary President and BHM Superintendent, Dr. Scott Thielman, first began attending rotary meetings in September 2010. “I was invited to attend the Buffalo Rotary Club meetings when I was hired by the BHM School District. I have been a part of other civic organizations in other communities and was drawn to membership by Rotary’s object/motto of “Service Above Self.” Giving back to my community and serving others has been my primary focus throughout my career.” 

Dr. Thielman is proud of the ways Buffalo Rotary has served the community. “The ways that our Rotary Club meets the needs of our community is quite extensive and has evolved and grown stronger over the past  70 years. The different commitments for our club exemplifies what is means to be a Rotarian. The campaigns and commitments include: Toys for Tots campaign, Beds for Kids, Adopt A Family campaign, Student scholarships, local grants that support our community as well as the international projects that serve and meet community water and immunization needs.”


Student Exchange:

The Buffalo Rotary Club is committed to serving the community and has been involved in many facets of assistance and engagement. A key area of service has been in the realm of student exchange programs. The Rotary Club works in collaboration with a program called North Star Youth Exchange. Rotary club members host foreign exchange students from over thirty countries around the world who come to Minnesota to attend school and experience life in America. The mission of the North Star Exchange is to, “Build world peace one student at a time.” The program now offers short-term exchanges, along with traditional year-long commitments. In June, the Buffalo Rotary Club will host a foreign-exchange camp, the only one of its kind in the United States. 


Buffalo Rotary Music Trail:

The Buffalo Rotary Music Trail was created in 2014. The trail consists of 11 percussion-themed musical instruments which form a trail between Downtown Commons and Sturges Park. People of all ages can enjoy strolling alongside Buffalo Lake, while stopping to play the instruments. 

Rotary Club President, from 2013-2014, Warren Stoltman held a vision for the trail and worked with several community organizations and businesses to make it a reality. A dedication sign stands in Sturges Park, thanking the many folks who worked to establish the trail, one of many projects the club has completed over its 70-year existence that has helped to make Buffalo a unique and vibrant city.


Community Leadership:

Rotarians are leaders in multiple areas of service. Highlights include club service, which strengthens fellowship and club-level functioning; vocational service, where members serve others through their vocations; community service, which includes projects and activities done to improve life in the community; international service focuses on the expansion of the Rotary’s humanitarian reach around the world; and finally, new generations service focuses on positive change implemented by youth through leadership development activities and the Rotary Youth Exchange program. 

Buffalo Rotary Club members are part of a community of friends who are committed to creating positive change in the world, with a motto of, “Service above Self.” As the club celebrates their 70th year, members look forward to continuing the tradition of service, outreach, and leadership in the community of Buffalo.



The Drummer and The Wright County Journal Press

PO Box 159
108 Central Ave.
Buffalo MN 55313


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