Rotarian Nancy Smith gave a brief presentation Thursday about what life was like in Rome when Rome Rotary was established in 1914.
She focused on the club’s first president, Houston County native Dr. George B. Smith, grandfather of her husband David. George Smith came to Rome in 1908 after he finished his studies at the University of Georgia.
He became Rome Rotary president in August 1914, establishing in Rome the fourth club in Georgia, after Atlanta, Savannah and Macon. At the time the Tribune Herald announced that Rome was the smallest town in the world to have a Rotary Club.
Nancy Smith said that back then, Rome was “crawling out of” the economic turmoil caused by the Civil War. “It was just starting to boom.”
At that time, there were five banks with a combined $3.5 million in assets in Rome. Electrical power was provided by hydroelectrics and 11 miles of street car rails still existed in the town.
It was in these flourishing days that George Smith and others came together to form Rome Rotary, but the charter wasn’t given to the club until two months after they first organized.
Nancy Smith said Rome Rotary’s development has been in step with her family’s own legacy.
George Smith was an important Roman. Along with being a doctor at Harbin Hospital, he was instrumental in founding the Northwest Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America, was on the original board for Darlington School and was chairman of the board for State Mutual Insurance Co.
Smith said the legacy of Rome Rotary’s first president still lives in the membership of herself and others in the club who were related to him.