Sunrise Toastmasters was chartered in March, 1954 through the efforts of Glen Meek, an Oregonian employee. Mr. Meek belonged to two Toastmaster clubs which met in the evening, and he started Sunrise Toastmasters for the members of those two clubs who found evening meetings inconvenient. Sunrise Toastmasters was one of seven Toastmaster clubs founded by Mr. Meek, and he was awarded the title of Honorary Past District Governor for his work.
From 1954 until 1958 the club held its meetings in the old Multnomah Hotel. From 1958 until 1969 the club met at the Hoyt Hotel, and experimented with other places in the vicinity. In January 1969, the club moved to Imperial Hotel where it met for almost 30 years.
Prior to the mid-‘70s men and women belonged to separate international organizations, Toastmasters and Toastmistresses. These were combined under Toastmasters International, and in December 1976 Sunrise Toastmasters admitted its first female member. A retired member, Lois Watson, joined Sunrise in early 1978, and became the first female president of Sunrise, serving in 1981.
Some outstanding speakers have belonged to Sunrise Toastmasters, and have competed in Toastmaster speech contests. One of the most notable was Dick Lane. In 1977 Dick won the club’s Serious speech contest, then progressed upward in the International Speech Contest with successive wins at the Area, Division, and District levels. In his competition at the regional level Dick placed second – just short of a chance to compete the national level. In more recent years three of our current members – Steve Gunther, John Rockwood and Mike Smith – have competed at the district level which is a major accomplishment for any Toastmaster.
Sunrise’s 30th anniversary meeting was held on March 30th, 1984, and the 35th anniversary was held March 30th, 1989. These breakfast celebrations were attended by founder Glen Meek and charter member Tom Baggs, along with other early members of the club. The 40th anniversary celebration of Sunrise Toastmasters was held the evening of March 31st, 1994 at the Imperial. It coincidentally marked the 26th anniversary of Dick Vaughn’s membership in the club, now the longest reigning member of Sunrise. The occasion also was the 15th anniversary of the marriage of Dick and Ruby Lane who met through Sunrise Toastmasters – a reminder that there are benefits of Toastmasters that extend beyond just learning to give speeches!
In its 40-year history Sunrise Toastmasters has established many memories and traditions. During the 1960s club secretaries will remember wrestling with the duplicating machine donated to the club by Tom Baggs. During the late 60s and early 70s the club was perpetually short of money, so would periodically hold auctions in place of Table Topics in order to bolster the treasury. (It later found the answer to the money problem – just raise the dues). In the early “all-male” days the club held periodic awards banquets, which included wives. Later years saw the institution of summer picnics with spouses, and the annual holiday party.
In 1999 the club moved its meeting place from the Imperial Hotel to the Standard Building cafeteria located at SW 4th and Salmon.