by Katrina Smith
Guess who recently celebrated a birthday and is still celebrating? The Humboldt Exchange Club celebrated its 60th birthday this month as an established club that continues to serve the community with the same concept, “unity in service.”
The Exchange Club was chartered on September 19, 1961 when its members attended a banquet held at the Humboldt Golf & Country Club.
The club had 26 members who were eager to do work to improve the community. In 1961, the charter members were Dossie Ray Blankenship, J.E.F. Baggett, W.M. Brown, Raymond E. Bye, Eugene Carnal, Clarence F. Carteaux, Jerry F. Corlew, Joe Dozier, Marshall Duffey, Raymond Fletcher, Paul G. Gardner, Edwin O. Gauldwin, Roy Ivan Grace Sr., Foye W. Jackson, E.A. Lewis, Edwin S. Lewis, James Mitchell, Joe M. Ridings, Herbert Schilling Jr., C.L. Shumpert, Floyd Melton Spears, Thomas E. Tacker, Charles E. Thomas, Lancaster Tyler, Edward A. Walenga and Dr. Dennis E. Ward.
The club was originally designed as a men’s club and was led by many influential men from Humboldt including, John Booth, Truman Miles, Jess Pritchard and Mike Barker. Barker still resides in the city and supports the club. Barker was president in 2004.
“As a sign of the time, it was a ‘businessmen’ club,” said Elna Blankenship, current president of the Humboldt Exchange. “Women were not accepted as members until 1985 when the national charter was amended.”
“Even though women were not the founding members of the club, they have willfully been instrumental in shaping the club. They were called Exchangites,” said Blankenship. Blankenship’s husband’s grandfather, Dossie Blankenship, was one of the charter members.
The club has had four women to serve as president who have worked hard to display the strength of the Exchange Club. The club has its first woman president, Carol Barker, in 1998 followed by Virginia Estes and Mary Ellen Cochran in the future years.
The Humboldt Exchange Club currently partners with the Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and works hand in hand together bringing awareness to child abuse and to service the needs of the community in unity.
“I’m so proud our founding fathers formed Humboldt Exchange! I was privileged to know three of the fine gentlemen and was fortunate to serve with two of them,” said Blankenship.
Last Tuesday, the Humboldt Exchange Club gave away two tickets along with the Carl Perkins Center to see legendary country singer, songwriter, and storyteller, Billy Dean. The proceeds of this event will be going to the CP center.
“I feel very honored to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of such fine people in serving the club and the community,” said Blankenship.
As the 2021 recipient of the Best of the Best Civic Club, the Humboldt Exchange Club prides its standards on excellence. The doors are always opened to accept members ready to serve the community with “unity in service.”