Our Port Isabel Rotary club, has for some years now, been saying the 4-Way Test at the end of our meetings with the addition of a number five, “Will It Be Fun?” In many ways, that simple addition defines the character and soul of our club. We are one of the most visited clubs in South Texas, perhaps even the whole state. Indeed, our very founding in 1936 was, in part, to accommodate weekend visitors to the Laguna Madre who enjoyed fishing our waters and recreating on the beach of South Padre Island. Many of those weekend vacationers from the upper Rio Grande Valley and other parts of Texas had to miss their Rotary meetings to make the trip. In the beginning, our club met on Saturday so these Rotarians could have a place to meet and maintain their attendance. When you make a trip to one of the best vacation spots in Texas, you’re already of a mind-set to be having fun, so it’s not surprising that from the very beginning, The Port Isabel Rotary club was attended by people who wanted to have fun. (make that “FUN!”) We are told often by Winter Texan visitors and others, that of all the clubs they’ve visited, ours is the most fun. Not to denigrate other clubs, but face it...luncheons packed with bankers, lawyers, successful executives and the like can sometimes be a little self absorbed, pretentious and stuffy. That’s not us!

Submitted and written by Ralph Ayers
But how and why did we start asking “Will It Be Fun?” at the end of the 4-Way Test. We’ve been saying weekly for a decade and have been told by many visitors that they have taken the practice back to their home clubs and now use it there also. Recently, we discovered that the Russell-Hampton Company is now offering a 5-Way Test banner that includes “Will It Be Fun,” so of course, we immediately ordered one. But where did they find out about it? A company spokesperson could only tell us that an initial request had come in from a club in Florida. Two banners have been sent to Florida and one to Texas. Checking on-line we found a statement that a Houston club uses the phrase and that “Will It Be Fun?” is a “South Texas thing.” That’s us...we’re certainly south Texas! (Ya’ll can’t get no farther south than our Port Isabel club) As a result of this preliminary research, we have every reason to believe that use of the “5-Way Test” originated with our club, but how and when? The Pilot has determined that a Coral Gables club and Dade City Club in Florida use the phrase, and also the Avon Lake, club in Ohio.
While our club has celebrated fun from the beginning, use of the words “will it be fun” actually started sometime in 2000 - 2001 when Ray Kendall, South Padre Island City Manager served as our president. It seems that Ray was a stickler for organization and detail (A good quality for a city manager), and he had meticulously organized duties and obligations for each of the lane chairs, outlining for each of them, on several sheets of paper, what would be expected in the months ahead. Bob White, our Sgt. At Arms, (Past Pres. 1983-84, former 5930 ADG) looked through the papers he’d been given and spoke up saying, “Ray, I’m missing a sheet!” Surprised, Ray asked which one. “Bob (in typical form) replied, “The one that asks ‘will it be fun’!” That got a good laugh from everyone and soon became a club joke and running gag whenever Ray and subsequent presidents announced chores or new initiatives for the club. This continued for close to ten years until around 2010 when we added it to the 4-Way Test. Bettina Tolin was president then. We believe it was Tracy Tousey, manager of Walgreen’s, who first had us say at the end of the 4-Way Test. Tracy had been brought into the club by the late Tony Meyn and she quickly captured our hearts with her fun spirited laugh, having us play games like Rotary Jeopardy when she was Rotarian of the week or substituting “joke telling” sessions for regular speakers. Tracy left the club in 2011 after marrying and taking a job up north. We’ve continued recite the 5-Way Test ever since.
On August 16, the Pilot received an email from Thomas Marshall, a Winter Texan visitor from Wisconsin: “I have thoroughly enjoyed your newsletter and often times share it with others. ....In this most recent letter, I read about your plans to add “Will It Be Fun” to the Four Way Test. I want you to know that we brought that idea back to Wisconsin from your club and now use it in the Fitchburg/Verona Rotary Club meetings. It has become a trademark!.....Also, our downtown Madison, Wisconsin Rotary Club is now using it for their meetings and I believe that they will be getting a new banner as well. They are in the top ten in the world as far as the number of Rotarians is concerned! Something like 500+ members! So, I believe that you and the Port Isabel Club have started something and we Rotarians in Wisconsin, are so thankful! I do believe that the phrase was initiated at your club!”Thanks so much!”
Jim Fair, another Winter Texan from Ontario, Canada writes, “I always bring greeting from Port Isabel when I return home. Last year I did mention your ‘Will It Be Fun?’ addition to the 4-Way Test as I thought it was a great idea. Our past president, Sue Zanin, said thet her ‘Winter Club’ in Sun City, Arizona also uses it. Our current President Mara Riccardi and Board decided to add it to our program this year.”
It’s conceivable that other clubs independently came up with the idea of adding “Will It Be Fun” to the 4-Way Test. We may never be able to prove that our small club of just over 40 members was the first, but we certainly didn’t borrow it from another club, we originated it on our own. With so many Rotarians visiting us in the past decade and since 1936, we’ve certainly exposed a lot of other Rotarians to the spirited sense of fun that defines us, and we have proof that several have taken the phrase back home to their own clubs. If you or someone you know has been inspired by our club’s tradition and borrowed the phrase, we’d love to hear from you.
Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self.” All true Rotarians know how important that is and that the greatest pleasures in life derive from doing something for someone else without thought of personal cost or recognition. How could what we do not be fun? By teaching others to use the 5-Way Test, we’ve taught them the true spirit of Rotary.