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End of an Era

MURFREESBORO – It was an end of an era for the members of the Murfreesboro Exchange Club on Dec. 18.

They gathered at Walter’s Grill on Main Street to enjoy each other’s company one last time and disperse their funds back into the community they had served for 60 years.

“It’s a sad day in my life and in the Murfreesboro community,” said William Whitley in his speech to the members and their guests.

Whitley has been a member since 1946 when an Exchange Club was first established in Murfreesboro.

Back then, according to Whitley, young men were returning home from World War II and to them it was obvious Murfreesboro was in need of a new civic service club. At the time only two clubs existed in the town, the Rotary Club and the Women’s Club. With the Rocky Mount Exchange Club as its sponsor club, Murfreesboro soon added a third civic group.

On Monday night, the club committed $8,000 to organizations, programs and groups that were chosen by a committee of Exchange Club members.

Chowan University received $3,000 to be put toward a scholarship in the Exchange Club’s name. The university also receive $500 dollars for its library.

The Child Abuse Prevention Program, the Murfreesboro Fire Department and University Home Health and Hospice all received checks for $1,000.

Tra Perry, who accepted the check for University Home Health and Hospice, thanked the attending members.

“You’re like a ripple,” said Perry. “Many good things are going to come from this.”

Library Assistant Karen Cavin, who accepted $500 for the Elizabeth Sewell Parker Library, said the money would go toward children programs at the library.

The remaining money went to Support Blind Camp Attendees and an Exchange Club member whose wife just received a lung transplant.

According to Garth Faile, approximately $1500 is left to be given away and that will be split in half for both the Exchange Club Scholarship and the Chowan University Library.

The Murfreesboro Exchange Club has been a familiar face in the town over the years.

The members sold food at the concession stand and sold tickets for games at both Chowan University and Murfreesboro High School.

Their Christmas Cheer program delivered gift baskets to needy families at Christmastime. They have also supported the Child Abuse Prevention Program and awarded the Book of Golden Deeds, a community service award. The club sponsored Crime Prevention Week, which brought several law enforcement personnel to speak at local schools.

In the club’s early years, members were vocal in reopening of Chowan College in 1949.

“We knew having the college in the Murfreesboro area would be beneficial,” said Whitley.

The members had toiled for a time with the fact that the club might fold simply because the club did not have enough members to run the activities they put on.

“We have not had a new member in eight years,” said Whitley.

The fact that they didn’t have a younger generation to carry on the Exchange Club also played a factor in the club’s demise.

“I think that maybe we have only three members that are under 65,” said Faile.

Though the 13 members may never recite the Exchange Club Convent of Service again, they still have their memories and the comradeship they built over the years.

“It’s sad to close up shop,” said Faile. “It was always an opportunity to meet other members of the community.”