Mark­ing 40 years

Char­ter mem­ber re­flects on Ro­tary Club of Gan­der his­tory.

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front Page - BY ADAM RANDELL Adam.randell@gan­der­bea­con.ca

Sift­ing through stacks of news­pa­per clip­pings and old pho­tos, Bruce Sparkes can’t help but laugh when re­flect­ing on the last 40 years.

He was a char­ter mem­ber of the Gan­der Ro­tary Club when it was founded 1977, and is the last ac­tive orig­i­nal mem­ber to­day.

He was 23 when he joined. “Oh, we had some fun,” re­called Sparkes, es­pe­cially not­ing the Santa Claus pa­rades.

“We’ve had some fan­tas­tic floats over the years, from a space ship to a mum­mers Christ­mas with a burn­ing wood­stove on the flatbed.

“An­other time we built a doll house dur­ing the pa­rade, but now we part­ner with New­found­land Power to help col­lect with the food.”

The group of­fi­cially got un­der­way Nov. 3, 1977, started by the late John Parker, an RCMP of­fi­cer in Gan­der at the time.

“I be­lieve he came here from Grand Falls-Wind­sor, be­cause that’s the or­ga­ni­za­tion who spon­sored us,” re­called Sparkes.

“(Parker) saw there was a void in this type of or­ga­ni­za­tion, as it’s a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent, be­cause it fills as many clas­si­fi­ca­tions from the com­mu­nity as it can.”

The Ro­tary Club’s mem­bers are in­volved with law, aca­demics, re­tail, hospitality, con­struc­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, health­care, and more.

While its pri­mary ob­jec­tive has been de­vel­op­ing Cobb’s Pond Ro­tary Park –which started as a con­cept in 1982, opened in 1985 and con­tin­ues to see up­grades – the Ro­tary Club has do­nated to dozens of Gan­der-based or­ga­ni­za­tions and sup­ported in­ter­na­tional Ro­tary char­i­ties as well.

“It’s been a great 40 years, and I don’t think there’s an or­ga­ni­za­tion in Gan­der that we haven’t helped in some way or an­other,” said Sparkes.

Cur­rent pres­i­dent Pa­trick Kean said the Ro­tary Club con­tin­ues to re­main strong, with 43 ac­tive mem­bers.

And com­ing from a ded­i­cated past, Kean says mem­bers aim to con­tinue the Ro­tary Club’s work into the fu­ture.

“I think it’s pretty amaz­ing to have a club in the com­mu­nity for so many years that is still vi­brant and plan­ning projects for the fu­ture,” said Kean.

“We’ll never stop do­ing things with Cobb’s Pond, but we are in the phase now where we are look­ing at other ma­jor projects.

“We aren’t to the point where we have any­thing to an­nounce yet, but we are hop­ing over the next year or two, we’ll have an­other ma­jor project to start work­ing to­wards.”

ADAM RANDELL PHOTO/THE BEA­CON

Bruce Sparkes has been a mem­ber of the Ro­tary Club of Gan­der since its in­cep­tion in 1977. He is the last ac­tive orig­i­nal mem­ber.

Oct. 4, 1999 Barry Thom­son and other mem­bers of the Gan­der Ro­tary Club were hard at work build­ing an­other gazebo at Cobb’s Pond, the sec­ond shel­ter to built by the club.

One of the many floats com­pleted by the Ro­tary Club over the years was a space­ship in 1988.

In July 1985, Mayor Doug Shep­pard planted the tree to of­fi­cially open Cobb’s Pond Park.

Mary Chaf­fey was the club’s first fe­male pres­i­dent, serv­ing from 1993 to 1994.

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