Rotary came to Youngstown after Charles F. Owsley and William W. Gillen were invited to a Rotary Club of Cleveland meeting in August 1914.  The 90 minutes they spent there convinced them to start a club back home.  They talked up Rotary among their business and professional friends, and hosted a preliminary meeting for those who were interested at the Hotel Ohio.  They followed up with an organizational meeting on Thursday, September 3, 1914, again at Hotel Ohio.  Along with about 30 Youngstown businessmen there were 52 Rotarians from Cleveland and 40 Rotarians from New Castle, Pennsylvania at the meeting.  Mr. Arch C. Klumph, a Cleveland wholesale lumber dealer and later the founder of the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, was the keynote speaker.  The meeting culminated with a vote in favor of organizing and forming a Rotary Club of Youngstown.
The Youngstown group submitted an application for admission to Rotary International on November 18, 1914.  Semimonthly meetings began the following Wednesday, November 25, 1914.  Members of the Youngstown, Cleveland, Akron, New Caste and Pittsburgh Rotary Clubs held the first district Rotary meeting in Youngstown on Wednesday, December 9, 1914.  W.D. Biggers, Vice President of the International Association of Rotary Clubs, was the main speaker.  New Castle sent a chorus for the program.  Youngstown brewer Emil “Spitz” Renner was the song leader.  Music was furnished by a string orchestra and two cabaret singers.  The New Castle Club is considered the sponsoring club for the Youngstown Rotary Club, although the Cleveland Rotary Club participated, and actively helped get Youngstown Rotary underway.
On February 1, 1915, the Rotary Club of Youngstown was admitted to Rotary International as Club Number 137.  At the charter presentation, Arch Klumph again was the speaker.  Assisting him in the presentation were Charles McVey, president of the Rotary Club of Cleveland; Captain Queisser, of Cleveland; and President Muse of the Rotary Club of New Castle.  There were 63 charter members.  Beginning February 5, 1915, the Club held evening meetings on the first Thursday of each month.
The first officers of the Youngstown Rotary Club were: Charles F. Owsley, president; I. Van Baalen, secretary; J. H. Fitch, Jr., treasurer; L. B. McKelvey, sergeant-at-arms; and W. W. Gillen, R. G. Davis, A. M. Tolemie, Harry W. Williams and Mark C. Hannan, directors.  Charles Owsley remained active and a staunch representative of Rotary ideals until his death in 1953.