The first 20 years of the Dublin AM Rotary were remembered with laughter.

The first 20 years of the Dublin AM Rotary were remembered with laughter.

The local service organization began the yearlong celebration of its 20th anniversary last week, recalling projects, fundraisers, events and more during a Friday morning meeting.

The Rotary began in Dublin with about 25 members in 1990, said past president John Williamson. The club claims 1.2-million members worldwide, with the Dublin club accounting for about 140 of those.

The organization for local business members focuses on community service and is part of Rotary International, which carries the motto "service above self."

When the first Rotary Club was established in 1905 in Chicago, it was the world's first service organization, Williamson said.

Dublin has taken service to heart.

Since its 1990 founding the Dublin AM Rotary has contributed about $850,000 to more than 100 organizations locally, nationally and internationally, Williamson said, noting local benefactors including the Miracle League, Dublin Robotics Club and a cancer support group.

While 20 years of past presidents reflected upon such accomplishments last week, several noted the group has always been energetic, taking on several projects.

"I've never seen so few people do so much to help," said Debbie Lutz, president of the Dublin AM Rotary in 1995 and 1996.

During his year as president, William-son said the group started Dublin Robotics and a cancer support group; he also recalled serving at the Blarney Bash and community parades.

Ann Ralston, who served as president in 2003 and 2004, noted the passion for different projects that members bring to the Rotary.

"What I'm most proud of is people bring their passions in the doors with them," she said.

Cap Clegg, who followed Ralston as president, said Rotary members "follow up on that passion and ask 'How can I help with that?'"

Others focused on the camaraderie in the group.

"Without this group I wouldn't have the great friendships I have today," said Faye Herriott, who served as president in 1994 and 1995.

Bill Wahoff, club president in 1999 and 2000, said his time in Rotary even influenced family members.

The Rotary focused on helping the homeless and "my sons got into that with us. The affect that has had on my family is somewhat dramatic," he said, adding that his son became an exchange student and is going into Foreign Service because he met so many international people through his father's membership in Rotary.

Margaret Butler said her time as president in 2006 and 2007 also helped her personally.

"The reason I accepted (the presidency) is because I couldn't do public speaking and now I can't shut up," Butler said.

Jim Burness, who soon will hand over the presidency to Dave Connelly, said being the president was "daunting" because of all the "major-league shoes" that he had to fill.

Among the projects the Dublin AM Rotary completed in the last year, Burness said one reminded him what the group was all about.

A free veterans flight to Washington, D.C., monuments was launched in the fall, the brainchild of Burness.

While waiting for the veterans to return to Don Scott Airport last fall with other members carrying patriotic signs, Burness said he was struck with a thought.

"It just hit me," he said. "I said, 'This is what Rotary is all about.'"

jnoblit@thisweeknews.com