District History

District History

This is an official document of Rotary International District 5160 and is reproduced here with the permission of the District.  Our thanks to Past Rotary International President, Cliff Dochterman, for writing this narrative for the District 5160 archives.

District Clubs In Order of Admittance (PDF File)District 5160 can easily trace its roots back to 1915, when Rotary began the District system of organization. In 1915, Rotary leaders decided to group clubs into Districts to give encouragement and support to the clubs in the new movement. Nineteen Districts were established for the 186 Rotary Clubs of the world which existed at that time.

The nine Rotary clubs in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Hawaii were called “District 13.” This original nine-club District included San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Stockton, Fresno, San Jose and Berkeley, plus Reno, Honolulu, Albuquerque and Phoenix. Consequently, all the Rotary Districts of California grew from District 13.

With the continuous addition of new clubs, it was necessary in 1919 to reDistrict the Rotary Clubs of California, Nevada, Hawaii and Arizona. This new grouping was called District 23. The extension of Rotary was very active, and by 1922 a strong movement was made to divide the Western states again. The California Rotarians opposed dividing the state. Finally by 1923, Arizona was moved to another District, and District 23 was renamed District 2, in recognition of the fact that San Francisco was the second club in Rotary.

By 1936, a total reDistricting plan was adopted by Rotary International and twenty-five new Districts were added. Rotary had grown so large in California that five separate Districts were created out of District 2. The new Districts in California were numbered 104 (Northern California Coast), 105 (East Bay and Northern California), 106 (Central Valley), 107 (Los Angeles Area) and 108 (Southern California). District 105, which was led by Allison Ware of Chico, was the direct forerunner of 5160. In 1948, District 105 was slightly revised and the number changed to District 157.

Realignment again took place in 1957 when most of the clubs in District 157 became District 516. The District boundaries ran from Oakland and Southern Alameda County up to the Oregon border, which included the Rotary Clubs of Yreka, Montague and Tulelake. The District soon grew to over 60 Rotary clubs.

In 1970, several California Districts joined in another revision. A reduction was made in the number of clubs in District 516, by placing the southern boundary of the District between Berkeley and Oakland and transferring the other southern Alameda County clubs. Those clubs and clubs of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and parts of San Mateo counties became District 517. On the north, the three clubs along the Oregon border were moved to Oregon District 511. In this restructuring, Vallejo joined Districts 516 and West Sacramento and Gridley moved from District 516 to 519. Finally, in 1991 the computer world took over, and all Rotary Districts were renumbered with an “O.” Thus, District 516 became 5160.

Cliff Dochterman – Past President
Rotary International