BRACEBRIDGE - Bill Towns considers his 65 years of volunteer service with Rotary as fun.
65 YEARS OF SERVICE.
Bill Towns addresses his fellow Rotarians and others who attended the opening gala for Oklahoma! after receiving his Rotary membership a second time, 65 years after he received it the first time. Bracebridge Rotary President Steve Meadley said he "stole" it so he could frame the certificate.
Photo by Jennifer Bowman
“I go to Rotary because I like to go to Rotary,” Towns told an audience of Rotarians Thursday evening.
The Rotary Club honoured Towns for 65 years of service as a member of the club at a gala just before the Rotary’s opening performance of Oklahoma! hit the Rene Caisse Theatre on Feb. 21.
Towns made Rotary a priority right from the beginning.
“Friday was Rotary Day,” he said.
Working as the registrar of deeds for Muskoka, Towns made sure nothing interfered with his attendance at the Rotary meetings.
“I just told my deputy, I will be away from a quarter to 12 until a quarter to two,” he said. “And if somebody wants to talk to me, they’ll have to talk to me after that, or before that. I’ve always had that attitude toward Rotary.”
Towns said he enjoyed the meetings, especially the classification talks where members who join talk about what they do. He particularly remembers a barber whose speech he expected to find boring, but instead he still remembers with interest the barber’s tale about his trade’s origins in Egypt where they became barbers and surgeons and how it evolved into today’s practice.
Steve Meadley, president of the Bracebridge Rotary Club, said he had Town’s original Rotary proposal card and membership application card from Feb. 13, 1948 framed as a memento of Town’s joining Rotary. He gave the frame to Towns during the presentation.
“During those 65 years, Bill has been a dedicated contributor to our club and even after those 65 years is one of the most active members in our club,” he said.
Towns collects dues weekly at the Bracebridge club and regularly sells tickets. He’s also starred in a rotary musical.
“He’s an exceptionally generous, community and service-minded Rotarian who represents the rotary motto of service above self,” Meadley said.
Many of Towns’ memories go back to the post-war days.
He remembers cruising around Lake Muskoka in an old gas boat used to deliver gas to cottagers on the lake. Each year the two owners would clean the boat and take the Rotarians for a cruise around the lake.
“Nobody missed that,” he said.
He recalls the old Rotary fair that took place in the curling rink with a bingo table down the middle and games around the outside. He and his wife ran the doll wheel, enjoying the experience of handing out the valued prizes.
“Just after the war, when they hadn’t been making things like stuffed penguins and so on for years, everybody was interested in that,” he said.
At the time tickets for the Rotary draw were 25 cents, or five for a dollar. Today they are $20.
After the war they also raffled off pleasure boats, which had also become a rarity as local boat builders worked for the Navy instead.
“Everybody wanted a pleasure boat, and people who were driving through would just wheel over and buy 25 cents or a dollar’s worth of tickets,” he said.
Towns said he still enjoys Rotary and still boasts perfect attendance.
“I was exempted from attendance about 20 years ago because my wife at that time was very ill and I knew I was going to miss some time and I’ve been perfect ever since,” he said.