A Brief History of the
Rotary Club of Dr. Phillips
Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge Meeting Place
In the late 1970’s, the Dr. Phillips area of Orlando was a sleepy little bedroom community with few businesses. Prior to the Marketplace, grocery shopping was done at either the Albertson’s at Kirkman and Colonial, or the Publix on Michigan. The area was full of orange groves and there was a single track rail spur leading through Bay Hill to a Phillips Groves processing plant just south of the intersection of Sand Lake Rd. & Apopka-Vineland Rd. In February the smell of orange blossoms permeated the area. The Florida Citrus Classic had just moved from Rio Pinar to become the Bay Hill Classic (now the Arnold Palmer Invitational). A young group of community leaders decided it was time for new Rotary Club to be born from the older more traditional Windermere Rotary Club (of our first ten presidents, eight were under 40).
There were thirty charter members when Rans Black called the first meeting to order on 29 August 1979, at Holy Family Catholic Church. At that time, there were no businesses along Sand Lake Rd. Dr. Phillips Blvd. ended at Banyan and Sand Lake Hills had only three sections. Dr. Phillips Elementary School had just been turned over to the Orange County School District by the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation and the YMCA hadn’t been built. Wallace Rd. ended just east of Dr. Phillips Blvd.
From this humble beginning, The Rotary Club of Dr. Phillips has grown to more than 100 members serving the Dr. Phillips community. Our focus has always been our local community while supporting the efforts of Rotary International. In the beginning, our fund raising efforts were meager so we served the community through sweat equity projects, our first was building the sidewalk along Wallace Rd. from Teasel Dr. and Dr. Phillips Blvd.
The Club has always found ways to raise funds. Some of our fundraisers have included:
- Selling raffle tickets to win a small boat and motor (thanks to our 1st President Rans Black (an executive with Mercury Marine) we got the motor as a donation. We shared this project with The Windermere Club.
- Flower Sales (one of our members was the manager of the largest rose nursery located across Conroy-Windermere Rd. from the plaza where Fresh Market is now located.
- 4th of July cookouts w/fireworks at the new Marketplace
- Annual Basketball Tournaments
- Bay Hill Classic/Arnold Palmer Invitational concession stand
All of these were small ventures until we hooked up with Dr. Phillips High School and created an event at Bill Spoone Stadium where the Club controlled the parking ($5/car) and attendees could purchase food from vendors and watch the Universal Studios fireworks. When the plans at Universal changed, and the fireworks ended, it was necessary for the Club to find a new source of revenue.
From the ashes of our 4th of July efforts came “A Taste of Dr. Phillips.” The Taste has been a major fund raiser since 2006. The relationship with the PGA tournament at Bay Hill subsequently gave us two more major fundraising events – Wine & Dine on Nine and Birdies and BBQ. These two events have significantly enhanced the Clubs coffers allowing the club to support a large number of local charities.
The Rotary Club of Dr. Phillips has its own 501C3 fund from which the Club officers distribute monies. A few of the groups we support are:
- P. Phillips YMCA
- The Theater Magnet Program at Dr. Phillips Hospital
- P. Phillips Hospital
- Edgewood Children’s Ranch
- And more.
While supporting our community and fundraising for local, national and international projects is an important part of Rotary, camaraderie and networking are equally important. Our weekly meetings revolve around stimulating guest speakers. We have hosted celebrities, local business leaders, community leaders, visiting Rotarians from around the world, and even a Supreme Court Justice. Our meetings start out with a friendly round of “Happy Dollars” so we can stay current with each other. We are a non-singing, non-fining club that cherishes our friendship and casual approach to “Service Above Self!”