Arnold Byrne gives 50 years of service to Parkes Rotary Club

HALF A CENTURY: 88-year-old Arnold Byrne of Parkes never thought he would still be with the Parkes Rotary Club 50 years later. Photo: Christine Little
HALF A CENTURY: 88-year-old Arnold Byrne of Parkes never thought he would still be with the Parkes Rotary Club 50 years later. Photo: Christine Little

For Arnold Byrne, the Parkes Rotary Club has meant just as much to him as he has to the organisation.

And 2020 marks a very special year for the 88-year-old, who has clocked up 50 years of service to Rotary.

Arnold joined Rotary on January 4, 1970 at 37 years old when a friend encouraged him to get involved.

At the time it was a men's only club - women didn't come onto the scene until the US Supreme Court ruled on May 4, 1987 that Rotary clubs may no longer exclude women and it was introduced to clubs around the world in 1989.

The Parkes Rotary meetings were held in the Parkes CWA Rooms that have since been demolished to make way for Big W.

Arnold fondly remembers the "beautiful meals prepared by the CWA ladies".

Even though he was a busy businessman - founding and operating Arnold Byrne Mensworld with wife Margaret in the same year (1970) in Clarinda Street, which is now Byrne Clothing & Embroidery run by their son Tony and wife Mandi - Arnold always found time for Rotary.

It was his chance to mix with other people and it very much became his social scene over the years.

"I knew I'd be some age but never thought I would have been here for 50 years," Arnold laughed.

"There are many good people at Parkes Rotary.

"[I love] the friendship and camaraderie, and supporting the town, especially down at Cooke Park during the Elvis Festival in January (running the barbecue)."

Arnold has served as the Sergeant-at-Arms for the Rotary Club of Parkes for many years and has always made himself available to help out where needed.

He was made a Paul Harris Fellow - one of Rotary's prestigious awards - in December 1996.

Rotarians associate the naming of a Paul Harris Fellow as a tribute to a person who has demonstrated a shared purpose with the educational and humanitarian objectives of The Rotary Foundation.

The recognition is named after Rotary's founder, the late Paul Harris, a Chicago lawyer who started Rotary with three business associates in 1905.

Arnold's award citation at the time read "A world of goodwill and better understanding comes closer to reality today because the Rotary Club of Parkes has made a gift to The Rotary Foundation so that Arnold Byrne can be named a Paul Harris Fellow".

"In being presented with a Paul Harris Fellow recognition Arnold joins a remarkable company of people throughout the world, all recognised for their commitment to 'Service Above Self' to benefit local and international communities," the citation continued.

Parkes Rotary secretary Ken Engsmyr said Arnold is a quiet achiever.

"Arnold is a long serving Rotarian who is always there, a friendly face and a hard worker behind the scenes," he said.

Arnold was born in Molong and his family moved to Parkes when his father worked on the railway as a bridge carpenter when he was a toddler.

He left school before completing his Leaving Certificate and worked in men's clothing shops before starting up his own.

He and Marg have three sons named Perry, Tony and Michael.