The idea for forming our Kiwanis Club in Brattleboro was first proposed in the spring of 1940 by Charles Ladd, a newly arrived insurance executive. In Brattleboro he found that the only existing service club was the Lions – its membership composed largely of the older group of businessmen and professionals.

        The first person he attracted to join his new enterprise was a very well-known and successful young businessman, Randell Haviland. As the two men moved about presenting the offerings of their insurance company, they also talked of the advantages, both to the individuals and to the community, of establishing a Kiwanis Club.

        In a relatively short time a group of 37 met together and decided to form an organization that met the requirements of Kiwanis International. This membership was granted and the Kiwanis Club of Brattleboro was chartered on June 10th, of 1940.

        Harold Allen, advertising manager for the Brattleboro Reformer was elected the first president; following in order were Randy Haviland, Cleon Hopkins, Stanley Newton, and Willard Beebe.

        During those early years the Club grew steadily in its importance and service to the community. It had adopted as it principal contribution/project Kiwanis own Children’s Repair Fund. Through cooperation with the school department and many medical professionals, great assistance was given to both physical and financial need. 50 years later in 1990 the funding stream of the Children’s Repair Fund were used by the School Nurse to cover children not otherwise aided by the social service agencies of the day.

        The money required to support the undertaking of the Children’s Repair Fund was generated in a most unique and pleasurable manner: with the inception of the Kiwanis Annual Costume Ball. This event was one of the social highlights of the year and brought great fun to hundreds of participants and also great assistance to the Kiwanis treasury. Even today, many local residents have fond memories of this well attended annual event.

        The concept and inception of Living Memorial Park were very closely associated with the early Kiwanis Club; with the new Kiwanis Club immediately assuming a major role in the birth of the park.

        In June of 1944, William B. Evans of Dummerston, in an open letter published in the Brattleboro Reformer suggested that a fund to establish a Living Memorial “rather than one more granite statute” be accumulated “to honor those men and women soon to return”. In a second letter his actions spoke louder than words, as he personally donated the first bond. The Brattleboro Reformer immediately followed by purchasing ten bonds for its employees in uniform. Thus, the fund started.

        In November of 1944, the Kiwanis Club, under the leadership of R. Willard Beebe, initiated the organization of a permanent trusteeship to foster and manage the fund.  The permanent Board of Trustee’s, of which Kiwanian’s Beebe and Malcom McMaster were made Chairman and Treasurer, gave the official name of “Brattleboro’s Living War Memorial” to the project. 

        The Kiwanis Club continued its intense promotional efforts; by the time the war was ended, enough bonds had been contributed so that, at their maturity, they would be worth $33,875.00

        Ten years later, during December of 1954 the bonds were close to maturity and the Living Memorial Trustees were working with the Recreation Board on plans to present to the town a proposal to purchase the “Clark Farm” on Guilford Street, for use as a year round recreation area with swimming pool and other facilities.

        An article making the proposal was written and overwhelmingly approved by town meeting members on March 1st, 1955; Living Memorial Park was now a reality.

        At the top of the park, the Kiwanis Club of Brattleboro built the very popular group picnic shelter seating 125, later adding a kitchen to the facility.

        In the late 1980 and early 1990’s as the club approached its 50th, anniversary fewer demands were placed on the Children’s Repair Fund and the club found other ways of sharing its energies.  Many of the shelters at Camp Wabanaugh were created by the Kiwanis (more then 1/2 dozen of the buildings at the site were created by the Kiwanis).  During this same time period the club added women to the membership of the previously all-male club. Along with the growth in membership came new views and perspectives which have clearly helped guide the success of the Club into the next millennium.