About 60 people - including former Ruritan National presidents Wayne Bettis, of Camp Creek; Marion Chiles, of Knoxville; and Charles Bridwell of Sullivan County - filled the meeting room of the Hardins Chapel Community Center adjacent to the Hardins Chapel United Methodist Church for the 6 p.m. celebration.
The event also included an unusual "flag retirement" ceremony that was held outside the community center shortly after the celebration began.
Jim Foshie, the club's president; Danny Shelton, the club's vice president, and Carolyn Brooks, a past club president, conducted the flag retirement ceremony as club members and guests watched.
During that moving ceremony, the weather-faded American and Ruritan flags that had flown over the community center were reverently brought down from the flag pole by club members and destroyed with fire in accordance with Ruritan regulations and military custom.
Bright new American and Ruritan flags then were raised over the community center as guest soloist Laura Taliaferro sang the national anthem.
Taliaferro, a 2005 Greeneville High School graduate, later provided the entertainment for the club's 40th anniversary celebration.
After the flag-retirement ceremony, David H. Johnson, a charter member of the club who acted as master of ceremonies, told the audience that he had "gotten a little emotional" while watching the flag retirement ceremony.
He noted that the flag and Independence Day held special meaning for his family this year because his son-in-law, Maj. Robert Kricko, is serving in Iraq.
The meeting room also was decorated in honor of Independence Day with red, white and blue bunting, and paper American flags, along with red, white and blue flower arrangements.
Frederick Lackey, treasurer of Ruritan National, was the speaker for the Hardins Chapel Ruritan Club's 40 anniversary celebration.
Lackey, a U.S. Air Force retiree from Taylorsville, N.C., told the Hardins Chapel Ruritan Club members that the 40th anniversary celebration was "the best fellowship I've been to in a mighty long time."
Lackey asked the audience to think back to what they had been doing 40 years ago when the Hardins Chapel Ruritan Club was chartered.
"We know one thing," Lackey said. "Folks like David Johnson were here in this community looking for an organization in which to carry out meeting the community services needs that they saw all around them.
"We owe a lot to folks like David Johnson. We also know that as soon as we wised up and brought ladies into this (Ruritan) organization, his wife, Frances, was one of the first ones to join."
Lackey also told the club that he was amazed to see that the Hardins Chapel Ruritan Club had won Ruritan National "blue ribbon" awards for the past 21 consecutive years.
"Less than 5 percent of our clubs in any given year earn the blue ribbon," he said. "You've got to have a whole group of dedicated people to be able to hang those banners on your wall.
"That is a fine, fine record and an example to all other clubs throughout Ruritan land."
Chartered June 28, 1965
The club history in the program for the the Saturday night event noted that the Hardins Chapel Ruritan Club was chartered on June 28, 1965, with 35 male members.
On Feb. 4, 1985, members of the Hardins Chapel Ruritan Club voted to change the club constitution to allow women to become members.
In so doing, the Hardins Chapel Ruritan Club is believed to have been the first
Ruritan Club in the country to ask that women be allowed to become members, according to the club's history.
On March 30, 1985, the history states, the Ruritan National Board approved the admission of women as club members.
Also Saturday, Teresa McIntire, the Hardins Chapel Ruritan Club's 2004 president, received from National Treasurer Lackey an outstanding club president award.
Also during the Saturday evening event, the club's surviving "active" and "inactive" club members were recognized.
Active charter members in attendance included Kay Foshie, Dean Jones, Jim Foshie, Bob Jones and David H. Johnson.
Inactive charter members present included: Glennon Brown, Gordon Jones, John Walker, Johnny Thompson and Thomas Foulks.
In addition, Dan Duggar, the club's chaplain, called the names of the former club members who had died in the past five years - Terry Brooks, Opal Coffman, Jim Eagle, Trixie Edwards, Leonard Hoard, Ron Motz and Imogene Taylor.
He recalled what each had meant to the club and offered a prayer for the deceased members.
Jacky McCarter, a Ruritan National director from Sevier County, later led the club members in a recommitment ceremony.
"You as Ruritans, have accepted some worthwhile and very admirable goals. Continue your fellowship and goodwill, that your community will continue to be enriched by your dedication to the ideals of Ruritan," McCarter said, in closing.
The club members responded, proclaiming that they were dedicating themselves anew to the objectives and the mission of Ruritan.
Dinner for the celebration attendees was provided by the Doug Cogburn family, whose members received a round of applause from the audience for their culinary efforts.
The event concluded with the serving of cake and homemade ice cream.