The Kiwanis Club of Tobaccoland (KCT) was chartered with 50 members on July 8, 1960. Charter night ceremonies took place at the stately old Washington Duke (later Jack Tar) Hotel. The hotel occupied the space bounded by Parrish, Corcoran, Chapel Hill and Market Streets in downtown Durham. It disappeared in a spectacular implosion on December 15, 1978.
KCT was formed to be a downtown club and remained so until downtown left us in the lurch. All but five of the original 50 members worked within walking distance of the Washington Duke. As our club and city have grown and changed, our members' geographic spread now embraces many parts of Durham County. Nearly all KCT members live in Durham, others in Chapel Hill, Cary and Hillsborough. We are educators, health professionals, merchants, businesspersons, financial service providers, youth service administrators. One of us was a Nobel Laureate in medicine, another was President of the U.S. Olympic Committee, a third has a plaque in the National Football League Hall of Fame. The rest of us are also terrific.
We are exemplary citizens. Our members have served in the N.C. General Assembly, on the Durham City Council, on the State Supreme Court and the District Court bench. Others have headed the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, Durham Arts Council, Durham Merchants Association, and have served on countless local boards and commissions.
We biweekly on Mondays (see calendar) at 12:30 p.m. for fellowship, lunch, some wisecracks, a program and to conduct KCT business. Our Program Committee traditionally does a superlative job. Early each November we meet and work at the Old Armory on Foster Street for our annual Pancake Days, a prominent event on Durham's community calendar. Our annual Family Picnic, in recent years held at the N.C. Museum of Life & Science, has occurred every September since 1965. This popular gathering became an exciting one in 1996 when Hurricane Fran's introductory gusts sent us home early. A highlight every spring is our festive Annual Banquet, attended by spouses, dates and other guests and climaxed by the Kiwanian of the Year presentation. A special committee of our many experts has charge of the menu, the party favors, the decorations and the entertainment. The Kiwanian of the Year is always taken by surprise.