Posted by Jim Fitzgerald
One of the things the early Rotary Club of Marshall did was involve the wives, daughters, and sweethearts in the Rotary experience by holding some of their regular meetings at night so the ladies could attend, and holding other special meetings such as Father-And-Son, and Ladies-Night banquets at night also.
For the first five years of the club’s existence, the Ladies-Night meetings were generally considered Sweetheart banquets, with entertainment, dancing and special programs or performances of some kind or other. 
 One of the founding fathers of the first Rotary club in Chicago, Harry Ruggles, was a very moral man. He detested off-color language, malicious innuendo and classless humor. He argued in club meetings for clean language.
Little more than a year after Rotary had been formed, at an evening meeting in 1906, the guest speaker began a story.
Having heard it before, Harry also had heard the off-color ending, and felt it was inappropriate for the club, so he jumped up on a chair in the middle of the joke and yelled, "Come on boys, let's sing!" He then led the club in the singing of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."

This was not only the first time that members had ever sung in Rotary, but apparently, also the first time that a group of businessmen ever sang at a business meeting, anywhere.
Right then and there, it was decided that all subsequent Rotary meetings should be conducted so that any woman could attend without being embarrassed. This has been the unwritten rule ever since, just as the tradition of singing has endured.
There is not much evidence that singing was a regular part of the early Marshall club’s regular noon meeting, even though several of those early members were accomplished singers themselves, even to the extent of performing in club fund raising events and civic productions of one kind or another, but the conduct of meetings were conducted so that any woman could attend without being embarrassed.
Art Diamond, served as secretary for six years, was president of the club 1992 – 1992, and was the self-appointed song leader for many years before and after that, sharing the same passion for Rotary and singing as Harry Ruggles had done 86 years earlier.
Art was not an accomplished singer nor song leader, but what talent he lacked in either area was more than compensated for by his boundless enthusiasm. 
As I recall, for, the most part, the singing was off-key at best and participation in the singing by the members was spotty, but everybody had a good time. Then, Art smiled that great big smile of his and sat down, knowing he had done his part to make the meeting a good one.
It is appropriate now, that we should celebrate the wives, daughters and sweethearts of those early days of our club and remember the part that Harry Ruggles and Art Dymond played in the history of Rotary and of the Rotary Club of Marshall Texas, when “Celebrating A Century of Changing Lives --- And Beyond”, August 24, 2019, at the Marshall Convention Center.