Service a hallmark of Hunterdale Ruritans

Published 10:49 am Monday, October 14, 2013

HUNTERDALE—A 50th anniversary is marked by gold. A diamond awaits at 75. But what about to give for in between, say 65 years? In the case of the Hunterdale Ruritan Club, then continued support will be more than sufficient.

Since beginning in 1948, the chapter has always been about service to people.

Robert White, club president, saw that through his father, the late Lee M. White Sr., who died in 1996.

“My dad was in the Ruritan Club; he was one of the charter members,” Robert White said. “My brother was also in it, and I also had some friends there.”

He noted that Murray Turner gets the credit for bring him into the fold back in 2001.

“He’s the backbone of the club, pretty much, I would say,” said White, 51.

“It’s a great civic organization for the community and I’ve always tried to do my part,” he continued. “I get the satisfaction of helping the community.”

The biggest club project is scholarships for students heading to higher learning. A committee sends out scholarship applications to all local schools in Western Tidewater.

In addition, the Hunterdale Ruritans also help support Boy Scouts, the Little League team and the fire department.

“We give to 20 different organizations,” said White, who’s on his second term as club leader. “Normally, we give around $25,000 to the community and scholarships.”

To make all the donations, the Ruritans offer one fundraiser annually, the beef barbecue sale. White said that when he joined, there were 85 active members; now there are 65.

“But we’re very thankful for the guys we’ve got in the club,” he said, adding that getting people to volunteer has been more difficult over the years because of other personal and work obligations. To bolster the membership, recruiting is done, and White has brought in a few, including Edward Gurganus and John Wayne Johnson.

“I’ve been in six or seven months,” Gurganus said, and explained that he enjoys the club for what the members can do and give back to the area. Johnson, who considers himself a good friend of the president, said his invitation to attend one night was all it took.