At the closing ceremony of 1986 District Conference held in Tokyo, the then president of the Rotary Club of Guam, E.L. (Bill) Gibson, took the stage and invited all the Rotarians present, about 2,000, to come to Guam in 1989 to celebrate the 50thanniversary of the Rotary Club of Guam, and to bring the District Conference to Guam. The Club was, and still is the oldest in R.I. District 2750. There was a hush, some sucking of teeth, and the District leadership assembled in a corner to come up with a response. Their response was that it would be considered.
During the 1987 District Conference, after the R.I. Governor for 1988-89, had approved it was announced that indeed R.I. District 2750 would hold their district conference on Guam in March of 1989. Governor Nominee Osamu Matsubara had agreed and the committees began their work and had 2 years to prepare. There was a Guam co-chair, William Hagen and a Tokyo co-chair, Toshio Urushizaki who then set up the various sub-committees. The RC of Northern Guam handled the actual venue, the UOG field house which was the only space large enough. The RC of Tumon Bay handled arrival ceremonies and the RC of Guam handled the closing ceremony beach party which included 45 minutes of fireworks provided by a Japanese donor.
The Pacific Star, which did not open until 1988 became the headquarters hotel, JTB Travel became the lead travel company and reservation for flights, rooms, buses started being made to bring 1500+ Rotarians and family members to Guam, house them and transport them. There were numerous visits between the Guam and the Tokyo committees as the time got near. At the last minute it almost got canceled when the emperor got deathly sick. No one knew what would be the Japanese National reaction to the death of Emperor Hirohito however, there was no large impact and the conference planning continued.
In 1989 there were only 4 Rotary clubs in what is known in Rotary as the “Pacific Basin” 3 on Guam and 1 in Saipan. The Rotary Club of Guam was first in 1939 followed by Saipan and Tumon Bay and then the Northern Guam Club and there was excellent participation from all 4 clubs.
Record indicate that about 1500 Rotarians and family members attended which taxed Guam’s transportation and hospitality industry. All of Guam’s hotels were involved as were all of the tour buses needed to transport the guests to and from the various venue. It was, at that time, the largest influx of non-military visitors to Guam.
Some memorable moments:
The night before Governor Joseph Ada at the UOG field house supervising the paint touch up.
Japanese Rotarians having their picture taken sitting on Guam Police motorcycles at the beach party and, Japanese Rotarians sitting in trees at the party.
The Guam Police provided escort service from Tumon to UOG for the buses. On the way back to Tumon, during 5 PM rush hour, the police formed a wedge with motorcycles and came down the middle of route 16 which was only 2 lanes at the time. Traffic on both sides of route 16 had to pull over as all the buses traveled down the middle of the road back to Tumon.