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posted: 9/5/2012 5:30 AM

50 years of helping the community marked by Libertyville Noon Rotary

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More than 50 years ago, a group of civic-minded individuals established the Libertyville Noon Rotary Club and met for a charter night dinner.

Among them was Larry Dunlap, a lawyer with an office in town.

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"It was well known as an outfit that would help people," Dunlap said of the Rotary International, a charitable group of business and professional leaders founded in 1905.

On Thursday night, members, alumni and their families will meet at the Forge Club in Vernon Hills for another charter night dinner to mark the milestone and gather with old friends.

Dunlap and Robert Zengeler are the only two remaining original members still active in the club

"I never thought about it," said Dunlap. "I didn't know if I'd be here 50 years later."

The Libertyville Noon Rotary was established with about 25 members. At one time, membership swelled to between 70 to 80. Eventually, the Libertyville Sunrise Rotary was established as a separate organization.

"We started the morning club. There were so many people who wanted to be members of Rotary but couldn't do it at lunch," said Cornelius "Connie" Shanahan, Noon Rotary president.

There currently are 26 members who meet at noon every Thursday at Lambs Farm. "We're still at it," Shanahan said.

The original charter dinner was held in May 1962. The gathering Thursday night will reunite members, some coming from out of state, who haven't seen each other in years.

While an opportunity to network and socialize, "charity is the number one thing" about the Rotary, Shanahan said.

Through the years, the organization has completed or contributed to many projects both locally and beyond. Those include: Welcome to Libertyville signs; a storage building for the football field and walking path bridge for the band shelter at Butler Lake Park; a soccer shelter at the Libertyville Township complex; and, a patio for Winchester House among others.

The group also has raised thousands of dollars for the eradication of polio, supplies for victims of tropical storms and water well projects in Africa and South America, as well as working with amputees in Guatemala.

The Noon Club also sponsors two students with scholarships at St. Martin De Porres High School in Waukegan and is starting another with the Northeast Illinois Council, Boy Scouts of America to help underprivileged boys attend summer camps.

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