Rita WIlliams Story

Rita Williams Story


Q.  What did it feel like to be the first woman in 5670?

A.  I really didn’t realize that I would be the first woman joining in our district.  I had paid for my male staff member to be a Rotarian for several years prior to that time.  I wasn’t really in tune with Rotary politics however, so I didn’t realize that it was a monumental deal.  We have TV reporting out of Colby at that time, and a reporter came down to interview me, and the club.  


Q.  Tell us who invited you?  

A.  I was invited by M K White.  He was club president that year and was interested in increasing club membership.


Q.  Your first meeting? 

A.  Well, the district governor was there,  a gentleman from McPherson as I recall.  And as stated above, we actually had TV coverage.


Q.  Where you welcomed with open arms or shunned? 

A.  Well, I was always treated exceptionally well by our Sharon Springs club.  We have great members today, but then we had a group of truly wonderful old school gentlemen, always courteous, taking meeting attendance seriously, and truly taking the tenets of Rotary to heart.  I did have an early-on experience of doing a makeup meeting in an adjacent community and I sat down next to a nice gentleman that opened with…..”we haven’t had one of YOU yet”.   I certainly don’t think he meant it the way it came out, but it did temper my enthusiasm to do makeups other places for a long time as I didn’t want to intrude on their comfortable domain. 


Q.  Tell us a bit about where you were raised, and how you ended up in Sharon springs? 

A.  I was born in South Dakota but raised in Wallace County Kansas since a small child.  I always wanted to come back to my hometown, and happily, did so.


Q.  Your education? 

A.  I have a BS from Fort Hays University


Q.  Profession? 

A.  I am a CPA and have been in public practice since graduation from College.  I’m also involved in several agricultural entities. 



Q.  Why did you join? 

A.  To be part of the business community.  When I originally joined, I really didn’t have a grasp of the District, National and International Good works that Rotary does.


Q.  When did unjoin?  

A.  I resigned for a couple of years when my work schedule made it impossible to attend regular meetings.   Attendance was a BIG deal at that time, and I wouldn’t have wanted to pull down the club’s record in the district.   What was really sweet, was that several of the members would stop by my office, bring a bulletin….and say “Rita, we would sure like to have you back.”   As soon as my schedule changed, I rejoined the club.


Q.  Why are you still a member?  

A.  Really these days, it’s about the bigger purpose of Rotary I believe.  Also, these Rotarian’s are my lifelong friends!!


Q.  My favorite thing about rotary is......?  

A.  Ah….that is hard to define……fellowship I guess.  I also thing that our weekly programs are a great way to stay tapped in to being an informed citizen in our local communities, and when its your turn for lining up the programs, a great soapbox, to educate fellow Rotarians on topics you feel are of importance.


Q.  Your favorite all time service project your club is? 

A.  We did highway trash pickup for some time.  Maybe that.  Several times I was able to bring my children, and I liked having them participate with the Rotarians.  My daughter is a Paul Harris Fellow, as am I.  I am hoping someday she will be a Rotarian as well.


Q.  Rotary has made a difference in your life mar or the community because......? 

A.  Polio Plus has been the biggest inspiration to be I think.  That OUR organization would take on eradicating a WORLD wide health issue with such stunning success.  I just hope that in combination with the Gates Foundation, we can finally push though the last obstacles to complete eradication. 


Q.  30 or so years later... Anything you would pass on.,? Lessons learned?   Any advice you would pass onto young woman professionals who are considering joining rotary? 

A.  Sometimes it seems hard t fit one more activity into an otherwise full schedule, but everyone has to eat a meal somewhere, just as well make the time count for good in this world.   No other organization I have every belonged to has the staying power of Rotary, with something for everyone at every stage of their professional career.


Q.  Positions in rotary? 

A.  Treasurer and President