Great Southwest Civitan District History
Civitan was started in the Southwest by Dr. Courtney Shropshire, Civitan Founder, who retired to Phoenix on November 19, 1953 and chartered the Phoenix Club. The club was sponsored by the California District. In 1954, Dr. Shropshire helped charter a second club in Tucson, Arizona.
It wasn’t until 1957 that Civitan entered what is now the Great Southwest District, when Frank Swan (Albuquerque Breakfast Club- ABC) came from the Dallas Club to start the Albuquerque Luncheon Club. The Arizona/New Mexico District was then formed in May, 1958 with 25 clubs. Clubs were soon added in Santa Fe, Farmington, Silver City, Roswell, Grants, Espanola, Durango, Northeast El Paso and Cortez by 1959.
1960 saw the addition of the Albuquerque Breakfast Club. It was also a shakedown year, with all of the district start-up debts finally paid off and membership gains reported, but losses of clubs at Espanola, Cortez, Durango, Roswell, Grants and Silver City. With the expansion into West Texas, Nevada and Southern Colorado, the name was changed to Great Southwest.
Numerous clubs continued to be added and lost for several years, with a surprising amount of the activity in the West Texas-New Mexico-Southern Colorado part of the district. 1963 saw the first District Governor from the Great Southwest District, Frank Swan (ABC), who moved up to Zone Vice President for the 1964-65 year. By that year 9 clubs were with the current boundaries, including ABC, Farmington, Camino Real, Duke City, Los Altos, El Paso and Santa Fe.
A succession of leaders from the current district followed as Governors: Fred White (Farmington, 1966), Rufus Myers (Santa Fe, 1968), Mac de Vesty (ABC), and Carl Weiner (Los Altos, 1971). In the 1970’s the Great Southwest District showed 29 clubs, with still only 9 from the current district. The district leaders decided toy split Arizona from the district. The ceremony was presided over by International President-Elect Bill Haehnel, who was our guest at an Albuquerque Convention. At the time of the split, many Arizona leaders thought it would lead to the demise of the West Texas-New Mexico (Great Southwest) activity. However, we have become on of the leading districts in Civitan.
FORMER MOUNTAIN PLAINS DISTRICT
The history of the Mountain Plains District begins with the chartering of the Denver Club in December 1922. In 1954, then President Ulmer Reilly had been asked so many times "What is Civitan?", he appointed Wes Teeple as Chairman of the Extension Committee. Thus began the Club building in the Denver area. By January of 1955 all 65 members of the Denver Club attended the chartering of the Jeffco Civitan Club.
The years 1955 through 1960 saw five new Clubs in the Denver area. This was mostly due to the efforts of Earl Goss, Field Representative from Civitan International. In January 1957 The “Civitan Express” with Dr. Shropshire aboard, visited the Cheyenne, Colorado Springs and Pueblo areas to spread the Civitan name. This resulted in the chartering of the Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Greely clubs.
The first Annual District Convention was held on May 3, 1958, in Denver, October of that same year brought the charter of the Casper club, followed by Fort Collins and Aurora in November. Grand Junction and Scottsbluff came into being the following year.
During the District Convention in 1965, the name change from the Colorado-Wyoming District to the Mountain Plains District was approved. During the 1960’s the Mile High, Queen City, Englewood, Rapid City and Lakewood Clubs were formed. 1980 saw the Mountain Plains district at 490 members in 19 Clubs.
Both the Great Southwest and Mountain Plains Districts have been instrumental in the forming and support of Junior Civitan Clubs throughout their districts. They have also shown support of Special Olympics on the State and National levels, Ronald McDonald House, The American Red Cross, The American Diabetes Association, Easter Seals and other national and local organizations, too numerous to count.
In 2003 these two productive districts were combined into the Great Southwest District, which now, in 2014 has 27 clubs that continue to serve their communities in the spirit of Civitan and Good Citizenship.