Our History

Kiwanis Beginnings

The name “Kiwanis” was coined from an American Indian expression,
“Nunc Kee-wanis,” which means, “We trade.”
In 1920, the motto of Kiwanis became “We Build.”
It remained the motto until 2005. Then it was changed to
“Serving the children of the world.”
In the early years, members focused on business networking.
In 1919, the organization changed its focus to service — specifically service to children.

Kiwanis became an international organization with the founding of the
Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in 1916.
Kiwanis limited its membership to the United States and Canada until 1962.
At that time worldwide expansion was approved.
Since then, Kiwanis has spread to all inhabited continents of the globe.
Today, Kiwanis clubs are helping children thrive, prosper and grow in nearly
80 nations and geographic locations.  

All people are welcome in the Kiwanis movement of improving communities for children.
In 1987, women were invited to join.
In 2008, delegates approved a resolution that Kiwanis clubs celebrate and foster inclusiveness.

East Lansing Club Beginnings

November 11, 1949 was the day and Hunt’s Food Shop was the place where the organization of the Kiwanis Club of East Lansing met to establish the first service club in East Lansing.
It had all started when Bob Richards of the Kiwanis Club of Lansing spoke to Charles Pegg about establishing a service club in East Lansing.
Merle Croy, Jack Patriarche, Charlie Pegg, Nels Waters, and Justin Zinn formed the nucleus of five charter members who each recruited five others to form the organizing group.
Other recruits brought the total to about 45 to 50.
Additional members were recruited before charter night January 11, 1950, when 81 men became their charter members (See below for more detail.)

Highlights of the East Lansing Club’s history

Members of our club have served in important leadership positions in the
Michigan District and Kiwanis International.
3 former District Governors; 12 former Division Lt. Governors
We are especially proud of Sue Petrisin’s service as International President in 2015-2016.
Sue was the first woman to serve as our local President and the
first woman to serve as president of the worldwide Kiwanis International.

Founding of the East Lansing Kiwanis

First Officers: Charles Pegg, President; Justin Zinn, Vice President; Nelson Waters, Secretary; John Hicks, Treasurer; and Lawrence Baril, Carl Card, George Cottral, Richard Fennell, Leonard Folkers, George MacKichan, and Ralph Write, members of the Board of Directors.

Officiating: In the Michigan State University, Student Union Ballroom were: Ralph Crego, Master of Ceremonies; Rev. Brandt Tefft, who delivered the invocation; District Secretary Frank Staiger, who lead the singing; District Governor Robert Webber, who brought official greeting; Past Governor Clarence Loesell, who presented the charter; and International Past President Ben Dean, who gave the address. President Pegg accepted the charter from Dr. Loesell, and Nelson Waters accepted the traditional gifts from Ralph Crego, Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Lansing.

Our Charter Members