The Kiwanis Club of West Racine was formed and recognized on November 11, 1976. We were sponsored by the Racine Club and the Greater Racine Club, supplying the much needed support to get the club going. Our first officers were President Bob Zach and Vice President Glenn Kirchner. One charter member, Wally Cooper, is still with the club.
Breakfast meetings were held at the Golden Lantern Restaurant on Washington Avenue with 23-25 members. We never knew what area would be set up for the meeting. Sometimes we were in the bar area, sometimes upstairs. Cost for the meal varied from week to week, causing major problems for the treasurer. Dues often didn't cover expenses; it took a lot of creative bookkeeping to keep the club afloat. At times it was necessary for members to prepay their dues so that expenses could be met.
The club finally moved to the Hatch Way Restaurant which was located at Washington Avenue and Emmertsen Road. We met there until the IRS closed the doors. Fortunately we found Obies Restaurant on Lathrop Avenue which worked for our breakfast meetings for several years until the owners retired and closed the doors. We moved to the YMCA for a short period and then to Dania Hall on State Street. Finally, at a chance meeting with the PR Manager of St. Mary's Hospital, we learned that St. Mary's was looking for sevice clubs to use some of the space available at the hospital. Our weekly breakfast meetings have been held there since September 4, 1985.
Our club is proud to boast of five lieutenant governors in our history: Bob Witteman, Chuck Bruhn, Mike Wagner, Cheri Esch Franch, and our present LG, Reed Sampson.
In 1989, Susan Boles became the club's first female member. Cheri Esch Franch became the Club's first female president (2005-2006). Barbara Walker in 2006 was the club's first female member to receive the Kiwanis Hixson Fellowship Award.
Early fundraisers included selling cheese crocks, city of Racine Sesquicentennial (1884-1984) plates, a Racine Signage Plaque, and catering for groups such as Racine physicians, S.C. Johnson executives, and Downtown Days on Sixth Street, where we served Buffalo burgers prepared on our charcoal cookers.