Rotary at 75

Doctors says club was good medicine

Hood River's most venerable Rotarian put a fond and humorous frame around 75th anniversary of the Hood River Rotary Club April 11.

Dr. Stan Wells, in his 64th year with the club, received a standing ovation during a celebration at Hood River Inn that welcomed back several past presidents who extolled the organization's deep contributions to the Hood River community.

"I can't think of anything I'd rather have done than to be a country doctor and about equal to that is being a member of Hood River Rotary," Wells said. He was president of the club in 1942-43 and in 1950-51, the only person to serve two terms. Wells maintained a general medical practice in Hood River from 1937 to 1981.

"Rotary Club means as much to me as my church," he said. "In every community, Rotary is a very important asset."

He recalled the early days when the club met at the Apple Blossom Cafe.

"Most of them were poor boys, and I guess that included me," said Wells, who served on the Hood River city and consolidated school boards, and on Hood River Port Commission. In the 1930s, Wells lived on an island in the Columbia River, just west of town.

"I guess they still call it Wells Island," he said.

"Coming into town when there was an emergency was bit of a chore," he recalled. He delivered thousands of babies, charging $2 per office visit.

"Record keeping was simple in those days. I feel for you folks in business now," he said Thursday.

Wells drew his biggest laugh when he told of a recent visit to Safeway, where a man addressed him by name.

"I didn't remember him, but he said, `doctor, you delivered me.'

"I said, `well, you look a little different now'."

Wells even gave credit to his fellow Rotarians for helping keep healthy.

When asked the secret of his long life, Wells said nothing at first.

Then he said, "Um, you got me there." Wells added that his father lived to age 95 and his mother to 87.

"I never smoked a carton of cigarettes in my life and I left the booze alone," he said. "Every day in my practice I saw what booze was doing to them."

"I believe I was for my time a representative country doctor, and for that I am really proud," said Wells. He wore his "prize possession," a metal bolo tie with the Rotary symbol.

Joining Wells in honoring the club's 75 years was Rotary District Governor Jack Magnuson of Dallas, who presented an anniversary plaque to current president Paul Thompson.

Seven past Rotary presidents spoke, including 1992-93 president Chuck Thomsen, who said that in the spirit of Rotary, "whenever I asked anyone for help in one of our fundraisers or other projects, no one ever said `no.' Everyone always said `yes'."

(Hood River news will publish a photo of all the past presidents who gathered on Thursday, in the Kaleidoscope section on April 17.)

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