BALD KNOB — Jerry and Margaret Etheridge have been in the Bald Knob Rotary Club for a combined total of 62 years. That’s 37 years for Jerry, and 25 for Margaret.
The two, who have been married for 56 years, grew up in Bald Knob and have lived in the city most of their lives, leading them to discover a passion for helping the community they love.
Rotary International is a service organization that was founded in 1905 to offer a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships, the club’s website states.
“I joined when I heard about Rotary’s efforts toward the eradication of polio,” Jerry said. “I knew people in the community who had polio, and I wanted to be a part of Rotary if they could be instrumental in eradicating the disease.”
Jerry has been a businessman in Bald Knob most of his life. He drove trucks for Texaco Oil Co. and owns a Texaco service station in the city.
“I thought since I’m local and living where I grew up, I should be in some civic organization,” Jerry said.
A particular inspiration for Jerry joining Rotary was one of his longtime customers.
“He had 40 years of perfect attendance [in Rotary],” Jerry said.
With 37 years of membership under his belt, Jerry is the club’s oldest member out of the 25 people who make up the city’s club.
“I was one of the first women in the club,” Margaret said. “[Jerry] encouraged me to join.”
Margaret said she enjoys meeting and talking with fellow Rotarians each week.
“We have a good time,” she said.
Margaret said she was impressed by the members when she attended her first meeting and enjoys the way the meetings are run.
“Anytime someone suggests [a project], we always give it the four-way test,” Margaret said.
When a Rotarian has an idea for a project or fundraiser, fellow Rotarians ask: “Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
“It really applies in everything Rotarians do,” Margaret said.
Margaret and Jerry have both held various positions within the club.
Jerry has held the position of vice president and president countless times, and Margaret has been secretary, assistant treasurer, vice president and president of the club more than once.
Their time and dedication to the club have rubbed of on their family as well.
“Both of our daughters are in Rotary,” Jerry said.
One daughter is involved in the Bald Knob club, and the other is involved with a Rotary Club in Jonesboro.
“We’re very proud of them,” Margaret said.