* Our Craft Fair phone line has changed.  Our new number is (314) 729-2121. *

About Rotary Club

A History of the Rotary Club of Crestwood – Sunset Hills

The Rotary Club of Crestwood was organized April 27, 1960.  Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Webster Groves, the club was admitted into Rotary International on June 23, 1960.  Of the 21 Charter Members, one is still an active member – Carl Deutsch.


In July 1983, with approval from Rotary International and nearby clubs, the club voted to include the city of Sunset Hills and became the Rotary Club of Crestwood – Sunset Hills.  In 2012 the South St. Louis County Club disbanded and 8 members joined our club.

Originally an all male organization, Rotary International voted in 1989 to admit women following an historic 1987 Supreme Court ruling.  Joan Robinson became our first female member in October 1987.   Joan’s entry was not an easy one but she persevered and went on to become the club’s first female president serving from 1993-1994. Joan still serves the club as an integral part of the Arts & Crafts Fairs.

Since its founding, the club has embraced the Rotary mottos of “He Profits Most who Serves Best” and “Service Above Self”.  Early on, club members searched for ways to raise funds for community projects.  In 1972 an annual Bar-B-Que was started.  Members sold tickets to the event and spouses baked and served desserts.  For several years the Bar-B-Que was a major source of club revenue.

In 1981, under the direction of former member Tony Badalamenti, the club organized a Fall Arts & Crafts Fair.  Within two years, fair proceeds exceeded expectations. The Bar-B-Que became an integral part of the craft fair as a concession stand for craft fair shoppers and vendors.  Held the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Fall fair became the club’s major fund raiser.

jenny-bell-portraitIn 2004 Jenny Bell became Craft Fair Co-Chair.  Under her leadership, the Fall show flourished. Held at Lindbergh High School, the Fall show is now considered one of the best craft fairs in the Midwest. It features local and national artisans in over 450 booths. In 2006 Jenny suggested a Spring craft fair to be held two weeks before Easter. Half the size of the Fall fair, the Spring fair idea took off and now offers over 250 booths.  Both fairs provide a budget of approximately $40,000 for donations to local and international projects.




don_defoeOne of the oldest, on-going club projects is the Pantry Fund headed by member Don DeFoe.

Established in 1971, the Pantry Fund was “to provide immediate temporary relief from hardship to transient families stranded in Crestwood and to residents of Crestwood who experience disaster but who are not eligible for assistance from established agencies.”  Sunset Hills was not part of the club at that time.  Also, Interstate Highway 44 did not exist and Watson Road was heavily traveled as old Highway 66.  As a result, there were numerous situations where families passing through ran into trouble and out of money. In the tradition of Rotary service, it was decided to try to help out in the community.  Over the years our club has helped many who needed a little emergency help.  Don DeFoe fields 90% of the calls from the police with Vic Lenz and Wally Littlefield helping out.  Don has served over forty years on this community project.

In 2010 the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Rotary Club celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Club members raised funds to erect a Rotary Garden near the Sunset Hills Community Center and a large pavilion at Whitecliff Park in Crestwood.




Pavilion at Whitecliff Park Crestwood







Rose Garden at Sunset Hills Center




In 2012 our New Member Committee held a Valentine Basket Donation. Sixty food hampers with accompanying bags were distributed to families within the Lindbergh School District.  Due to the great need observed during that project, the club decided to transform the project into a weekend backpack program for needy children in the school district.  From a small beginning of serving 25 students, we currently serve 150 students in the Lindbergh School District and the Mehlville School District. Appropriately named Feed the Knowledge, the program has made a big impact on the lives of young students who look forward to “food Fridays” at school.

In January 2013 the South County club members introduced their annual fundraiser – a Trivia Night at Vianney High School.  Since then we have held a yearly Trivia Night in cooperation with the Forest Park Rotary Club.  Proceeds benefit Feed the Knowledge.

The club sponsors several Interact clubs within the Lindbergh High School, the Mehlville High School and Lindbergh Middle schools.  Students raise funds to support local projects.  The Lindbergh Interact club has twice traveled to Guatemala to install smokeless stoves in the homes of poor Mayan families. The students also bring coloring books, toys and clothing for the local young children.

With a long history of community and international service, the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Rotary Club looks forward to the challenge of new opportunities to provide ‘Service Above Self”.

Martha Henderson

September 2016