Posted by Jim Fitzgerald
A Century of Serving Our Youth began within weeks of it's admittance into Rotary, when Rotarians of Marshall decided that defending and helping children, essentially changing and reshaping their future, was to be one of their top priorities from the very beginning and has continued as a major part of the Marshall Rotary club’s service projects in one form or the other since then.
During the first few months of its existence, the club explored several ways to assist the children in need. First, and foremost, Rotarians understood the importance education played in a young person’s life, so providing educational opportunities to the young boys and girls became the dominating element of Youth Services throughout the years and still is.  Since Rotarians were boys themselves, they are very much interested in boys of whatever age.
While Rotarians are deeply interested in girls of every age and in every stage of living, they didn't understand them, so they adopted the plan of working for the girls and with the boys, but always leaving girls work to the mothers.
They knew that paved streets, vibrant industries, white ways, railroad differentials, and such, would be necessary to meet the expectations of and sustain the ideals of service and prestige that came with Rotary, but they also realized that the future of this world we live in is in the hands, or soon will be in the hands, of the boys and girls who are now growing up.
Several Rotary clubs had a Boys-Work committee, including the Rotary Club of Marshall Texas. The chairman of this committee in Marshall was George Handler. But, important as work was, they believed that there is a direct and positive relation between the amount of education a boy receives, and his successes in later life, so they focused on that.
It was generally known at the time, “that of 150,000 boys without a grammar school education only one ever wins distinction as compared to the same number of boys who acquired a grammar school education.
Further that, of the same number going through high school, eighty-seven succeed, and of the set number receiving a college education, eight hundred become distinguished. In other words, a complete education has eight-hundred times the chance to make a success than the boy without an education.”
The Rotary club maintained and used its close relationship with the youth of our community in various way and through many programs throughout the following years.  They did this, by sponsoring father-and-sons banquets, holding special meetings at the schools, informally sponsoring various activities such as “The Knot-Hole Club”, and by creating specific programs and committees to deal with matters otherwise unmet by other organizations at the time, such as “The Crippled Children’s Fund”. All, or most of the programs were funded from the pockets of the Rotarians (a source of great pride). 
 Because of the potential stigma attached to handouts and such, for the most part, the boys and girls who received any assistance, were not named or publicly recognized outside of the club meetings, unless it was in the nature of a prize or award, so the surviving public records and reports only mentioned what went on without mentioning names. The records show however that this type of informal help was very important, with anywhere from two to five youth-related committees being a part of every administration through the current officers and committees in charge of its operations this year.  The scope of these committees, however, did not include all the activities and help provided by the club.  Many acts of spontaneous assistance and support are found in the reports at meetings over the entire duration of the club.
Initially there were two types (loans and grants) of formal, or structured, programs created that did take applications and keep records.  The first such structured program was a loan fund to support boys and girls with potential but without means to go to college.  It was known as the Marshall Rotary Student Loan Fund.  Rotarians decided that a limited amount of money could fund the education of several students, by “loaning” the money to needy students, who would then repay the loan with interest back to the fund, to be loaned out again. 
The Rotary Club of Dallas and San Antonio had been the first Rotary clubs to institute a Student-Lone-Program and Rotary Club of Cuero soon followed.  The first Student Loan Fund in Marshall Texas was created August 1,1923 following the examples of those clubs.  Before it ended close to two hundred students had been helped by the fund.
To fund the program initially, the club members immediately subscribed eight hundred dollars, including an initial contribution from Mr. & Mrs. Frank Davis, of five hundred dollars, and an additional three hundred dollars from the other members.  From this, a loan was made to one boy that year who attended A & M College.  It was quickly realized, however, that the program would need more than eight hundred dollars if it was to continue. 
Rather than deny seven applicants who had already applied for assistance, the club secured a short-term loan of seven hundred dollars from the bank to fund the additional loans, and quickly subscribed the additional money to pay off the debt from the bank and have enough left over to continue the program indefinitely.  The Marshall Rotary Student-Loan program continued for nearly a quarter-century after that, and Marshall Rotarians continued to support and contribute to the fund throughout the "Great Depression" and the stock market crash of twenty-nine.  The program would help almost two hundred students complete their education during that period.
In September of 1946, the program was discontinued, because of dwindling interest and because loans from other sources had become widely available and was converted from a loan-program to a grant-program. The balance of $210.29 in the checking account was transferred back to the club at that time to start a new checking account for the scholarship fund.  The students at that time who were still in the loan program were allowed to complete their education and repay their loans as all previous students had.  
As payments were received, additional funds were transferred from the account.  The first check (#390), transferring these last few payments, was made September 24, 1948, in the amount of $745.54.  At that same time US Series-F Bonds, in the amount of nine thousand dollars, were turned over to the club and added to the account.  A further check (#392) in the amount of $500.00, written August 1, 1951, transferred the majority of the remaining balance in the account to the club.
The last payment ($13.00), was received February 4, 1952, came from the last student (Mary Joyce Gerlach), who was the last student in the program to pay off her loan. 
The final check (#393) was written to close out the bank account, February 20, 1953, at which time $157.80 was transferred to the Marshall Rotary Scholarship account and the Marshall Student Loan Program came to an end. 
The story of the Marshall Rotary Scholarship Program, which has played such a significant and fascinating role since taking over the responsibility of seeing that worthy and needy children continue to receive assistance and have their lives changed, will be featured in a separate and equally fascinating story of their own, and share an equal part in our history of serving youth and changing lives.
It is our hope that some way, somehow, somebody will know of a family member or friend who was a part of either of these two programs, and get in touch with them, and ask them to share their own personal story with us.
There is not enough room here to include the names of those who benefited from the Marshall Student Loan Fund, or the many letters of appreciation the club received over the years, but they and many, many, others will be on display for you to view and read when we meet to “Celebrate a Century of Changing Lives in Marshall and Beyond”, August 24th, 2019.