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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Rolla Optimist Club turns 50

  • It was 50 years ago this month when the Optimist Club of Rolla began to take shape.
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  • It was 50 years ago this month when the Optimist Club of Rolla began to take shape.
    According to longtime Optimist member Bob May, in 1964 the Jefferson City Sunrise Optimist Club approached Rolla community leaders with the idea.
    Among them was Jerry Bayless who at the time was an assistant professor of engineering at the University of Missouri School of the Mines (today Missouri University of Science and Technology).
    "I remember that the people of Jefferson City had a very impressive presentation," he said. "They  emphasized that we could be on the ground floor of something really great."
    The Rolla Optimist Club will celebrate its 50th anniversary at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at the Comfort Suites Convention Center in Rolla.
    According to Bob May who has been with the Optimist Club since 1974, the organization has indeed provided a number of great opportunities and experiences for boys and girls over the years.
    "The Optimist Club's tagline is 'friend of youth,'" said May.
    He said the Rolla organization started with boys' sports teams, and then expanded to include academic contests and other youth needs.
    "We expanded into girls' sports and have collaborated with other youth support groups to provide for many opportunities for youth recreation and development," May added.
    Bayless noted that it was the Rolla Optimist Club that introduced youth soccer to the area which led to the Rolla High School program.
    These days the Optimist Club meets weekly at Penelope's Restaurant. The group boasts around 80 members.
    May said that over the years it has been a joy to witness the growth and maturity of area youth through their programs.
    "We all have lots of good memories," May said. "From our humorous meetings to the activities with the kids to coming up with creative fundraising ideas, this has been a great group of people to work with."

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