Marking 75 years with Bethlehem Ruritan Club

Published 10:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

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It was good food and good times while reflecting on the past as the Bethlehem Ruritan Club celebrated 75 years of going strong in the City of Suffolk.

Located at 140 Manning Rd., members came out on Monday, May 14, to honor the 75th anniversary of the club’s establishment on May 17, 1949, and the Ruritans’ pledge to support urban and rural communities in times of stress and need. As members gathered and mingled, photograph collages of the club’s past were displayed alongside various club activities, achievements, and community service work included in the club’s near-centennial journey. After a quick welcome, Pledge of Allegiance and club roll call with charming and quirky member nicknames, Club Secretary Janet Brinkley provided a memorial service, including a poem titled “Until We Meet Again,” to members that have passed following the club’s 70th anniversary.

“We think about you always, we talk about you still. You have never been forgotten and you never will,” she read. “We hold you close within our hearts and there you will remain, to walk and guide us within our lives, until we meet again.”

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Along with remarks from Ruritan National President Robin Davenport, Holland District Gov. Doug Parr, Holland Ruritan Club Vice President Kimi Stevens presented a commending certificate from the Virginia Senate to Bethlehem Ruritan Club President Robert Brinkley on behalf of Virginia Sen. Emily Jordan. The night wrapped up with some smooth jazz provided by Randy Anderson, who played classic tunes such as “Just The Two of Us” by Bill Withers and Grover Washington, Jr. Following the festivities, Robert Brinkley, alongside Davenport and Parr, gave comments on the event, with Brinkley recounting his 54 years as a Ruritan member.

“This is my third term here as President,” Brinkley said. “Glad that it came under my watch, this 75th anniversary, and I’m glad that we had a nice turnout, and I am glad that our Ruritan National President could be here with us.”

Parr said that it was “a privilege” to be invited to partake in the club’s 75th celebration.

“I benefit from the fact that I do live here in Suffolk, so there’s a special place in my heart for this club,” Parr said.

Likewise, Davenport says that he stopped by the club “for years” during his time as a District Governor himself.

“And I love traveling to all the celebrations and getting to see part of the community where they’re making a difference and making the lives of their community more worthwhile in what they are doing,” Davenport said.