It was in 1915, according to Dr. Dewey R. Powell (Stockton) PDG of District 13 (1917-1918). that the officers and delegates of Rotary International felt the need to establish, worldwide, a division of the Rotary Clubs into districts to make possible more efficient administration and future growth. Recognizing a directive from Chicago as a mandate, a small group of 15 men from 9 existing clubs in California met at Fresno and organized District 13, the first district of which our present 5220 was born. This original mother district, including the clubs of San Francisco, Oakland. Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento. Stockton, Fresno, San Jose and Berkeley in California; Reno in Nevada; Phoenix in Arizona; Honolulu in Hawaii; and Albuquerque in New Mexico, formed the nucleus from which the present District 5220 had its origin.

Black and white headshot of H.J. Brunnier
Henry J. Brunnier
The San Francisco club past president, Henry J. Brunnier was chosen as the charter District Governor of the newly established district for the 1915-1916 Rotary year. “Bru” (later to become President of Rotary International in 1952) was followed in office by Homer Sumption from San Diego (1916-1917) and Dewey R. Powell, from Stockton (1917-1918).

Rotary District 13 was superseded in 1918 by District 23 with C.E. Miller from Los Angeles as District Governor. After serving successfully for one year he yielded the district leadership to Alex Sheriffs from San Jose (1919-1920). Leslie Everts. San Diego (1920-1921). and J. Charles B. Bills, Sacramento (1921-1922). In those formative years, growth in the Central Valley was slow. Even the Central Office felt that a club could not exist successfully without at least 30,000 population in its service area. It was not until Rotary International removed the 30,000 population requirement that Rotary began to move forward. Between 1922-1923 District 2 became the successor to District 23. By this time the number of clubs in California had increased beyond all expectation, and the Central Valley had added Modesto, Lodi, and Merced.

The District Governor was selected from clubs in the area from San Diego in the South and Corning in the North. During the balance of District 2’s life span the following clubs were chartered: Madera, Turlock and Tracy. As might be expected, with the continued growth of Rotary, the district number designation continued to change. In 1937 District 106 was split from District 2, further reducing the physical size of the area. During this time we saw the emergence of Rotary Clubs in Los Banos, Dos Palos, Patterson, Gustine. Livingston, Atwater, Chowchilla, Sonora and Newman. Realigned again in 1949, and again further shrinking the physical area, District 106 spun off District 158 which included the area from Paso Robles North. and operating well into 1957. Clubs chartered during this period were Twain Harte, Oakdale and North Stockton. In 1957 District 522 came into being covering an area from Sanger and Avenal across to Carmel/Monterey on the coast over to Fresno and up to Lodi in the North. During the 1980-81 Rotary year, it was determined that 63 clubs were just too much for proper operation, and District 522 split off District 523. The current District 5220 covers the area from Madera in the South to Galt in the North; from Tracy in the West to Yosemite in the East with 58 current Rotary clubs.

Due to the increase of new Rotary Districts throughout the world, R.I. deemed it necessary to increase the availability of new numbers, and began to add 0’s to all current districts in 1992. Our former District 522 is now known as District 5220.