The Augusta Kiwanis Club is celebrating its 90th birthday this year, having been chartered at the Hotel North on June 16, 1922.

Kiwanis members and guests will celebrate the anniversary at the Senator Inn on Saturday.

The first president was H.E. Dunnack, the state librarian, who served in 1922 and again in 1923.

During its 90 years, the Augusta service club has had a number of distinguished members, including Maine Gov. Horace Hildreth, who was also U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan; Gov. Frederick G. Payne, who was also a former Augusta mayor and U.S. senator; William R. Pattengall, former state attorney general and chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court; Frank G. Farrington, Kiwanis past president and member of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court; Robert Cony, former Augusta mayor and member of the Superior Court; and Charles P. Nelson, former Augusta mayor and a member of Congress.

Other Kiwanians who have served as Augusta mayors were Ernest Mclean, Levi T. Williams, Sanford Fogg, Brooks Brown Jr., Sylvio Gilbert and Peter Thompson.

Other prominent state and federal officials include Whit Wheeler and Bill Desedlo, both IRS directors in Maine; Stanton Weed, director of the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles; Jon Lund, Maine senator and attorney general; Bennett Katz, Kiwanis past president and Maine Senate majority leader; and Russ Brown, a member of the Maine House of Representatives.

Brown, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, continues to attend meetings regularly.

Through the years, the club had four Maine National Guard adjutant generals: Edwin Heywood, Fred McInnis, Lou Johnson and currently Don Nichols.

The Kiwanis Club, in its first year of incorporation, had two community service projects: Augusta General Hospital and the Tuberculosis Association. Today, it supports more than 15 area charities and organizations, along with annual scholarships for college-bound students from their $350,000 Kiwanis Scholarship Foundation.

The club also makes a major project donation to worthy area organizations based on applications solicited each year. Other funds are provided annually to the Kiwanis Pediatric Institute in Boston, the worldwide project to eliminate iodine deficiency orders in fetuses and young children, and the Elimination Project to immunize women and children against maternal and neonatal tetanus.

Local members engage in hands-on participation in Salvation Army bell ringing, Big Brothers-Big Sisters Bowl For Kids’ Sake, and the Reading Is Fundamental program, in which Kiwanians read to grade-school children. Members also volunteer at the Bread of Life kitchen.

The Kiwanis family in the Augusta area also consists of Farrington School K-Kids, a Cony Middle School Builders Club, and Key Clubs at Cony High School, Hall-Dale, Monmouth, Richmond and Erskine Academy. The youth movement is designed to provide school-age youngsters with the opportunity to help others, become personally involved in their community and build a positive future for themselves.

The main source of income that drives the service club is the annual Kiwanis TV Charities Auction held each November.

Members solicit new merchandise from area merchants and professional people and auction it during a three-night event on Time Warner Cable TV 9.

“Although Kiwanis projects may sound like a lot of work, there always seems to be time for fun and fellowship,” says President Chuck Calligan. A boat trip and lobster bake, an annual social event for past presidents, and visits to other clubs are among some of the lighter moments.

An active Program Committee makes a concerted effort to attract informative and entertaining programs for the Thursday noon luncheons at the Senator Inn. Over the years, members have been treated to Maine governors and U.S. senators, college presidents, book authors, nationally know sports stars and Maine summer theater personalities.

During the Anniversary Night celebration, 29 members will be recognized for a combined 575 years of Kiwanis service, or about 115,000 hours.

“That’s a lot of Kiwanis luncheons, committee meetings, fund-raisers, interclub trips and social activities,” Calligan said. “It’s been a lot of fun.” Most would agree.

Milt Huntington of Augusta is publicity chairman of Augusta Kiwanis Club.

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