President Vern Willis

Vern Willis took over in 1963 and with the assistance of his Rotary spouse, Helen, worked out the actual design for the “Las Vegas Rotary Greets the World” curtain that graced the stage of all meetings until 1998.  One-half of the curtain was paid for by J.K. Houssels, Sr. through a fine which was set up in advance, and the rest was paid out of the fine funds during the year.

A change in the by-laws also was initiated that created a new method of electing officers and also permitted overlapping directors.  The change also enlarged the Board and included the past president for one year.  It was under Vern’s term that the first Christmas party for Rotarians and their children and grandchildren was held.  The demotion party was held at the Crockett Ranch, thereby establishing a tradition.  During Vern’s year a grand tradition of Las Vegas Rotary had its beginning.  At the suggestion of William Carlson, a member of the Nevada Southern University (UNLV), 101 Nevada Centennial Silver Medallions were purchased.  The first of these medallions was given to that member of the university’s 1964 graduating class with the highest scholastic record.  The year of 1964 was not only the state’s 100th birthday, but also the year of the first graduating class for the university.  Since that time, one of the medallions has been awarded to a UNLV student each year.

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