Happy 50th, Kiwanis Europe

Jun 01, 2013
Vienna Dance

About 660 Kiwanians and guests gathered in Vienna, Austria, this past March to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Kiwanis Club of Vienna, Europe 1—the first Kiwanis club in Europe.

They came from 16 countries around the world. To see the sights. Meet new friends and
greet old ones. To put on their dancing shoes. To indulge with great food and great culture. 

They came to raise a glass to Kiwanis in Europe. 

“I am very glad that we had such a fine preparation for more than one and a half years, discussing every detail and finding solutions,” says Vienna Kiwanis Club President Hans-Georg Mondel. “I am so happy that we had the possibility to have
this wonderful festivity hall of the Rathaus (Vienna City Hall). I am just so happy.”

The Kiwanis Club of Cleveland, Ohio, sponsored the Vienna club 50 years ago, and today’s members have much pride in the part their club had in building Kiwanis in Europe. “(Kiwanis International) President-elect Gunter Gasser and First Lady Christiana extended a personal invitation to our club to attend this event, and we found the emotional appeal very touching,” said Bill Spring, president of the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland.

“It inspired me to encourage our members to come. We have several members of our club here today. We’ve received such a warm welcome and not just from the Kiwanis leadership, but also from the people of Vienna. It’s a delightful city and it’s been a real terrific experience.”

The weekend of festivities included a welcome reception at a traditional Viennese wine tavern, several tours around the city, a chance to see the Vienna Boys Choir and
the famous Lipizzan horses and the gala dinner celebration. 

Richard Werstler was vice president of the Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Kiwanis Club in 1963 when he found himself in Europe doing research for his doctorate right at the same time the Vienna Club was about to charter. Being a Kiwanian from Cleveland, he knew of the Cleveland Kiwanis Club’s sponsorship of a new club in Vienna. So he decided to take part in the charter event.

Now 86, he points out that he is “just thrilled” at the chance to be back in Vienna to celebrate 50 years. 

“I think this is so fantastic that Kiwanis has expanded so much and
so many countries thought it was important to be here,” he said. “It’s just such a fascinating piece of Kiwanis history right here.”
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