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Ruritan National Beginning
Ruritan National Beginning

Because JJ Gwaltney had organized the first Ruritan Club and was generally involved in organizing the other 3 Ruritan Clubs, Ruritan was JJ Gwaltney's. So Gwaltney called a meeting of the 4 Ruritan Clubs for February 26, 1930, "to ascertain the opinion of the 4 Clubs now organized as to the advisability of obtaining a State Charter, adopting a constitution, and forming· clubs in the State of Virginia and in other States." At this Meeting, JJ Gwaltney (Holland) is elected Temporary Chairman and WN Rippey (Chuckatuck) is elected Temporary Secretary. A second Meeting of Ruritan Clubs is held March 19, 1930, with the then existing 5 Ruritan Clubs (Windsor Club organized). During the Meeting, "National" is used for the first time. Following the committee meetings and reports, the final business provides empowerment action for the new unitying organization to become Ruritan National. From this Meeting and the formal approval of local Ruritan Clubs, Ruritan National becomes a reality. JJ Gwaltney is the first Secretary of Ruritan National, and Tom Downing a Director.

Before the Commonwealth of Virginia issues a Charter of Incorporation to the new Ruritan National on July 7, 1930, the Ruritan Club of Spencer County Kentucky organizes on May 27, 1930 (locally known as Taylorsville Ruritan Club). For several years this Kentucky Ruritan Club is included on the list of Ruritan-Clubs. However the Club never affiliates with Ruritan National, so it is eventually dropped and not recognized in Ruritan History as a Ruritan Club. (Ed: The Taylorsville Ky Ruritan Club becomes a tremendous asset in Spencer. County communities. Its service becomes a front page standard in the local newspaper, and probably the most successful Ruritan Club for many years. It grows to become the 3rd largest Ruritan Club. All of this is unknown to Ruritan National.) With Taylorsville Club organizing May 27, Ruritan grows beyond Virginia. Because Ruritan National officially charters two months later, and Taylorsville never affiliates with Ruritan National, then Ruritan National does not grow beyond Virginia until Sunbury NC Ruritan Club in 1935. Several months after Ruritan National receives its State Charter, two more "Ruritan" Clubs organize in Kentucky. These Clubs are not organized-by or affiliated-with Ruritan National, so they are not officially Ruritan Clubs.

Initially, the Ruritan National Officer Nominating Committee asked ET Batten of the first Ruritan Club (Holland) to be President of Ruritan National. Batten declined due to possible job relocation. Being the first President or "Organizing President" of the very successful first Ruritan Club, Batten knew that organizing and leading the new Ruritan National would take a tremendous effort and much dedication to both the position and the National Organization. The Nominating Committee then approached Dr. Bland, President of the second Ruritan Club (Boykins) to be the National President. Dr. Bland accepted and became the first President of Ruritan National. However due to being the Boykins Community Physician or other business reasons, he was unavailable to attend and Chair many National Meetings. Responsibility to organize and lead the new Ruritan National then fell greatly upon the National Secretary JJ Gwaltney (Holland) and the Vice President JR Kirk (Chuckatuck). Unknowingly, Gwaltney was now amassing a power within Ruritan that would place him in direct conflict with the one who had a greater vision for Ruritan, the one becoming the great Ruritan Missionary, the Ruritan Builder, Tom Downing.

At that time there was no misunderstanding, Ruritan was JJ Gwaltney's. Even though Tom Downing was becoming the great Ruritan Builder by successfully spreading Ruritan into Eastern Virginia agricultural communities, JJ Gwaltney was above Tom Downing in Ruritan. Gwaltney was the Ruritan Founder and Ruritan National Secretary. In real life, in the business of making a living, Tom Downing was above JJ Gwaltney. Downing was Gwaltney's Supervisor, his boss. Therein lay the problem, Ruritan-life and real-life. A clash was coming. Tom reduced any problems on the Club level by moving from Holland to Ivor in 1930, and joining the new Ivor Ruritan Club. However Tom Downing better understood the larger picture, the greater vision for a National Organization. JJ Gwaltney had a good understanding of Ruritan locally or even regionally, but Tom Downing had a better understanding of a Ruritan nationally Downing had the talent, the experience, the connections and the drive to bring about a truly National Organization. With time, with years, JJ Gwaltney could possibly develop such character, but Ruritan National needed the person with the right-stuff, right now. What to do!

Read "Ruritan National News - 1930"

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