WASHINGTON — Jim Hamersly was practically born a Rotarian. His father, Leslie “Leck” Hamersly, was a member of Washington Rotary Club almost since its founding in 1919 - just following World War I. Leck Hamersly was still serving with the U.S. Army in France when the club was formed, but joined immediately upon his return to Washington.
Last week Jim Hamersly was honored for serving that same local club for 62 years plus.
Jim Hamersly was born in Wisconsin in 1929, but moved to Washington as a child, where grew up knowing and learning about Rotary’s commitment to “service above self,” an ideal its members strive to uphold. His father was very active in Rotary, “believed in it,” Hamersly recalled, and his father went on to become a Rotary district governor and was involved in Rotary International projects. After his biological father passed away, his mother remarried one of the couple’s friends, a Rotarian district governor from Illinois. So both father and stepfather instilled in Hamersly the club’s community-minded thinking.
Jim Hamersly joined Washington Rotary in July 1950, and at the time was working at his family’s store, Hamersly’s, which featured ladies ready-to-wear and home decorating. Over the course of his career, he was very active in community affairs, such as the Retail Merchants Board of Directors (later known as and served the Daviess County Chamber of Commerce Board,) the library board, housing authority board, Daviess County Hospital Board of Governors, and Daviess County YMCA Board of Directors, where he was on staff when they raised money for the construction of the YMCA pool.
Over the last 62 years, Hamersly has been involved in many local projects, including the planting of several cherry trees in Washington’s Eastside Park and other spots scattered throughout the community.
Members of the local Rotary often hosted foreign exchange students and trade groups from other countries. High school students from Washington High and Washington Catholic were released from school to attend Rotary luncheons for a month’s period of time.
The students came to learn from business men and women they might not meet otherwise and to learn about Rotary. Many later become Rotarians. These kinds of projects, and many others over the years have been important to Hamersly.
He said the Rotary concept of “service above self” “means a lot to this whole country, and a lot of other countries.
“If you can help somebody else, that comes first. That is the basic thought. I’ve got enough to get by; I have what it takes to live. That’s helping and contributing. A lot of Rotarians do a lot of things that never get into the Rotary records. They do it because of the Rotary ideals that they try to live by,” Hamersly said.
Hamersly’s family, including his son Alan, who is active in Rotary where he lives in Fishers, Ind., daughter Gail Doades, who is Daviess County’s auditor, son-in-law Mark Doades, a local well-known farmer, grandson Eric Doades, and his fiance, Scheryl Silvers, were all at last week’s Rotary meeting as a surprise for Hamersly when he was awarded a 62-year plaque.
Upon receiving the award, Hamersly, who will take on honorary member status, said he believed the local club “was getting it done,” and he encouraged Rotarians to continue spreading good works around the globe with the Rotary ideal “we may be worlds apart, but we are on the same page.”
He added, “Society has changed, Rotary does not.”