Chuckatuck Ruritan Club

Chuckatuck Ruritan ClubThe Chuckatuck Ruritan Club was chartered in 1930 as Charter Number 4 just two years after the initial meeting in Holland, Virginia when “Men of Holland, Nansemond County, and the vicinity, numbering some of the outstanding men of the community, met last night thirty-three strong, around a banquet table at the Holland Hotel, to discuss the organization of a civic club composed of farmers and men interested in rural occupations, which they hope will be the first of a great chain of similar clubs in small country communities.” As reported by the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, April 17, 1928.

The Ruritan Organization takes its name from two Latin words,” ruri” meaning open country, and “tan” meaning small town life. This name comes from a very rare woman, Miss Daisy Nurney, a public servant, reporter, and poetess. Ruritan is “America’s Leading Community Service Organization”.  The following two quotes will describe just what Ruritan is and stands for: “The Giver of all good gifts has allowed you to share in helping your community, State and this great Nation, realizing that all you send into the lives of others comes back into your own” Frank Kellam, Past National President 1955. The second “Each man should realize that he has something to give to his fellowman; and in learning how to be unselfish towards others, comes to possess one of the real attributes of true greatness” Mills E. Godwin, Past National President 1952 and two time Virginia Governor. These quotes are taken from the 70th Anniversary celebration publication by George Winslow dated February 7, 2000.

In 1928 and 1929 three prominent members of the Chuckatuck community visited the Holland Club, Charter Number 1, with the intent of discussing a club in the Chuckatuck area. P.J. Powell visited the Holland Club in November of 1928. W.N Rippey, the Vo-Ag teacher visited in July of 1929 and Mr. Godwin in December of that same year. On January 16, 1930 members of the Chuckatuck area held an organizational meeting at the Chuckatuck High School and on January 27, 1930 Chuckatuck became an official member of Ruritan.

{(we have a digital copy of the original form for this charter which could be placed here instead of repeating the names as I have done}}

The original charter members of the Chuckatuck Club were:

President James Edwards Driver, Virginia Salesman

Vice President J.R. Kirk Route 4 Suffolk, Virginia Lumberman

Sec/Tres W.N. Rippey Chuckatuck, Virginia Teacher

Director 1 yr Dr. L.L. Eley Chuckatuck, Virginia Doctor

Director 2 yr. Bruce Eberwine Route 2 Suffolk, Virginia Farmer

Director 3 yr Sidney Ellis Route 4 Suffolk, Virginia Farmer

Additional Charter Members:

J.E. Ames, Jr. Driver, Virginia Salesman

J.W. Bryant Chuckatuck, Virginia Farmer

F.A. Christopher Chuckatuck, Virginia Teacher

H.B. Carney Route 1 Portsmouth, Virginia Farmer

A.G. Darden Driver, Virginia Farmer

N.T. Gray Route 4 Suffolk, Virginia Farmer/Magistrate

A.C. Hall Chuckatuck, Virginia Farmer

A.S. Hargroves Driver, Virginia Farmer

H.P. Harrell Driver, Virginia Farmer

A.L. Hazelwood Eclipse, Virginia Water Transportation

R.E. Hodsden Chuckatuck, Virginia Farmer

Walter Hurff Driver, Virginia Farmer

F.W. Johnson Suffolk, Virginia Minister

W.C. Moore Chuckatuck, Virginia Merchant/Farmer

R.L. Odom Driver, Virginia Farmer

C.H. Pitt Chuckatuck, Virginia Merchant

R.M. Williams Driver, Virginia Co. Supt. of Schools

P.J. Powell Suffolk, Virginia

W.T. Wright Route 4 Suffolk, Virginia Farmer

M.E. Godwin Chuckatuck, Virginia Farmer

The Chuckatuck Ruritan Club continues in operation today with over 40 members serving not only Chuckatuck but extending its reach to the entire Greater Chuckatuck Historical area providing over $25,000.00 on a yearly basis to many different organizations and less fortunate personnel. Meetings are held the 1st Monday of each month in one of the local churches with meals provided by different organizations within the meeting place. In the 1940’s and 50’s the Ruritan Club presented Minstrel shows twice a year in the auditorium of Chuckatuck High School. A program of one of these will be self explanatory in the community participation and the number of people involved.

The club has two major fund raising events each year. The more acclaimed of these two is the Annual Oyster Roast held on the second Wednesday of April. This has been an annual event since 1980 and has grown in size every year to its current capacity of 1000 participants. The first twenty years this event was held on the Saunders Farm, “Meadowbrook”, in Chuckatuck. In 2000 the event was moved to its new location in Everets on the farm once owned by Mr. J.R. Kirk. The club would like to thank Bruce Kirk, Pret Pretlow, Kirk Pretlow and Charles Rose whose land we infringe upon to make this event happen. During the past five years the limit of 1000 has been met with great success. Chuckatuck Ruritan’s have supported the Boy Scouts of America Troop 25 continuously since 1937. There is no other club in the area or Ruritan Club in the nation that has supported such an important group for that many years without fail. Some of the other organizations receiving support are Meals on Wheels, Girl Scouts of all age groups, hunters for the hungry, life line, boy’s state, girls’ state, educational scholarships, needy persons within the community, free clinics, Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department, Chuckatuck Branch library, Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad, Ruritan Rudy bears, and Village beautification. Members have been involved in house renovations, handicap ramp building, highway cleanup, specific landscaping projects and American flag display on Memorial Day, 4th of July and Veterans Day along the roadway, as well as flags on each veteran’s grave at the local churches. The Chuckatuck Ruritan Club celebrated its 80th Anniversary in conjunction with Ladies Night on December 6, 2010 at the Cedar Point Country Club in North Suffolk. The Ruritan National President, Mr. Jerome Rodes, was in attendance to award them a plaque celebrating 80 years of civic service to the community. Five of those members were honored with over 50 years of service to the club. One in particular was Mr. Al Saunders who has been involved for 62 years and was an honorary member due to medical conditions. He had perfect attendance for 60 years. Al passed away in 2011 leaving a big void in the club.

“In years past (1945) the Chuckatuck Ruritan Club in a meeting in Crittenden, Virginia voted to sponsor the sale of $70,000.00 in war bonds”.(Suffolk News Herald May 9, 2002 Times Past 1945.)  In another Times Past by the Suffolk News Herald in November 24, 1944 “the Chuckatuck Ruritan Club will present a minstrel show at eight o’clock in the Chuckatuck High School auditorium with members of the club taking part in the cast. The program will open with a chorus singing “Dixie” and the “Ole Gray Mare” with John Henry Powell as master of ceremonies. Harry “Grumpy” Carney and W.G. “Short Stuff” Saunders will follow with jokes. Other jokesters will be Jim Edwards as Uncle Jim, Josh Pretlow as Nubucanezzer, John Bradshaw as Big John, Maynard Carson as Jasper, M.T. Whitney as Empty Head, J.R. Chapman as Moses, Tom Saunders as Razor, R. Dale as Lassies, Frank Sheffield as Rastus, and Norman Dixon as Lindy”.

Possible pictures to be used Newspaper clipping of Leroy Pope with flags, digital photo of charter members, Oyster Roast picture in 1981, Ruritan Roast to Service newspaper article, Perfect Attendance merits recognition newspaper article, Ruritan Roasts Oysters newspaper article, Picture of six (all deceased) Ruritan members at Cavalier Country Club for a Ruritan convention )