Ruritan Beginning: Epilogue Cover
Ruritan Beginning: Epilogue
Ruritan Beginning: Epilogue

Facts conceming the "Ruritan Beginning" have been clearly presented. Many people in the Holland Community were involved with "founding" the Holland Ruritan Club, hence possible "Co-Founders". If sharing an idea defines "Co-Founder", the Vo-Ag Advisory Council members would be "Co-Founders" because the Members and Chair ET Holland clearly discussed and acted on the idea of a community club. Tom Downing initially reported this, then silence.

Similarly Tom Downing also shared the idea for a community club, but could not participate as did the Advisory Council because he was an unknown and not palt of the Holland Community. Holland Ruritans and Suffolk Rotarians ET Batten and HV White would be "Co-Founders" because they helped to organize the Ruritan Idea along the lines of Rotary. And among all of the possible Ruritan "Co-Founders", only ET Batten who served on the Advisory Council before and during the organizational planning, served as Temporary Chairman of the founding Group, served diligently as the first-year President to found and organize the Holland Ruritan Club, only ET Batten had sufficient collaborative evidence to factually claim any possible ownership in Ruritan "Co-Founder". However with various "Co-Founders", there must be one Founder above them all. That one Founder is JJ Gwaltney. In his modesty, Gwaltney didn't show any concem when many years after the "Ruritan Beginning", Tom Downing announced an unsupported claim to co-ownership in Ruritan's founding. It wasn't until Ruritan placed a greater importance on the "founding" question by appointing a History Committee, Chaired by a distinguished Past National President, to determine "Who founded Ruritan".

That got Gwaltney's attention. The Committee's preliminary report to the National Board resulted in Gwaltney being offered Honorary Life Membership on the National Board of Directors. Gwaltney accepted subject to the subsequent Holland Club Charter Members' signed Evidence Statement affirmimg Gwaltney as sole Founder of Ruritan. Then the greatest evidence received, Downing's letter in 1964 acknowledging Gwaltney as the only Founder, which supported Ruritan's One-Founder history, a fact officially published 14 years earlier in Ruritan National's 1950 "History of Ruritan National" by Kent, Myers, Byrum. Just days before the Committee's report to the 1964 National Convention, Gwaltney becomes ill; within weeks, he dies. No "Founder" announcements are issued. Jack Gwaltney is dead. Ruritan's myth continues with Tom Downing as Ruritan "Co-Founder". All is now public to honor those most responsible for the "Ruritan Beginning": Founder- JJ Gwaltney; Organizer- ET Batten; Builder- TV Downing.

Read "Ruritan Beginning: Prologue"

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