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Woodbury Long Near the Top in Numbers, Civic Service


While there exists genuine concern among all service clubs in the country about declining membership numbers, the proud Woodbury Rotary Club, founded in 1921 and the fifth oldest Rotary in District 764, continues to flourish at a pace that sometimes astounds even the long-timers. In fact, the roster count climbed over 100 during 1988 - nine new long-timers members joined during that year - as Woodbury reestablished itself as one of the most vibrant service clubs in the Delaware Valley - both in numbers and in service to its community.

Woodbury Rotary's history traces to 1921 when, at the request of Roy Goodwin of the Camden Rotary Club (Circa 1913, oldest in the district), Wadsworth (Waddy) Cresse, Sr., then a cashier at the First National Bank of Woodbury, gathered together a group of Woodbury businessmen to hear the Rotary message.

As a result of this meeting, Woodbury was chartered on Jan. 1, 1922. Cresse, appropriately, became the charter president. During the fledgling year of the Woodbury club, Cresse visited Chicago and met Rotary founder Paul Harris. Shortly after he died on March 29, 1971, Cresse posthumously was honored as the club's third Paul Harris Fellow (William Powell and Herbert A. Budd, Jr., both still active, were the first and second).
Cresse worked his way up the ladder from bank cashier to a bank president, spent 66 years in banking, and was one of Gloucester County's most enthusiastic community servants throughout his active life.

Cresse exemplified the spirit of Rotary and provided a powerful legacy for his son, Wadsworth (Waddy Jr.) Cresse, Jr., a lawyer and long-time Rotarian, and his grandson, Wadsworth (Chip) Cresse III, who followed granddad into banking, became a tireless civic leader, and himself is a Woodbury Rotary past president.

When Waddy, Sr. died at age 87, he was serving his 50th year as a Rotarian and was Woodbury's last surviving charter member.

Other Woodbury charter officers were James C. Henry, Sr., whose son James, Jr., is a Past President; vice president; Alexander L. Rogers, secretary; and William H. Sutton, Jr., treasurer. Considering some of the other familiar names on the charter membership roster - Eastlack, Davis and Hendrickson, to cite only a few - it's clear that Woodbury's Rotary heritage and tradition has had a strong filtering-down effect. Many relatives of these men are active today.

According to newspaper columnist, long-time Woodbury Rotarian and past president Clayton (Cy) Eastlack, Woodbury's charter lineup included a Ford dealer, a block manufacturer, an attorney, a druggist, an engineer, a barber, a newspaper editor and an office manager who later became a state senator and ambassador, Robert C. Hendrickson.

Father-and-son and brother combinations have proliferated through the years in Woodbury Rotary and are too numerous to recount. However, it's not unusual for as many as three brothers - such as Ed, Henry and Charlie Fredrick - to be in the fold at the same time.

Since the club's charter dinner-meeting Feb. 22, 1922 at Forest View Country Club, later known as Oak Valley Country Club, it has immersed itself in a wide range of worthwhile community projects. The list includes auctions, parade floats, a fund-raising circus, Christmas party for needy children, eyeglass clinic, high school scholarships, essay contests, sponsorship international help via CARE, and, in recent years, strong support of a Dominican Republic project to revive a dilapidated orphanage. Woodbury was among the district leaders in the latter project, which came to fruition in the fall of 1988 when several flew to Santo Domingo for the dedication ceremony.
Some other community highlights from the early years:

1922-32: Spearheaded a campaign to have a public comfort station built in Woodbury; provided uniforms for the Woodbury High girls' drum and bugle corps; started a drive to improve the lighting on Broad Street.

1932-42: Sponsored Gloucester County Rotary Night, with all county clubs participating; established a free eye clinic at Ace Motors.

1942-52: Sponsored several activities to raise money for the USO and Red Cross; members made regular purchases of War Bonds; provided cigarettes for servicemen; provided gifts for wounded servicemen at Tilton General Hospital; provided medical assistance to local residents who were hardship cases.

1962-72: Stocked Bell Tract Lake with fish; underwrote the cost of tonsillectomies for children in needy cases; purchased a musical instrument for the Bonsai Blues Band.

Woodbury Rotary also played a role in the Centennial Anniversary of the City of Woodbury in 1971. During the Centennial year, then club president Herbert A. Budd, Jr. ordered a hand-made, mouth-blown, glass bottle designed and created in the tradition of the South Jersey glass industry.
It was a fitting connection: 100 years of Woodbury city history and 50 years of Woodbury Rotary history. It's been a solid marriage for a long, long time.

Meanwhile, Herbert A. Budd, Jr. served as District 764 governor during 1989-90. He is the second Woodbury Rotarian to hold the office. In 1980-81, another Herb - Herbert E. Hecker - held the post.
Woodbury's powerful Rotary history continues.