As Rotarians we don’t wear funny hats and capes, have outrageously overblown titles for our officers or solemnly teach a secret handshake to new members, but on special occasions we can come up with our own rituals. The joyous celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the Club’s first meeting on November 16, 1915 unfortunately occurred during the near universal period of revulsion for the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and Kenya and an the affront it was to the peace Rotarians strive for. But, with traditional Rotary aplomb, we handled both with the appropriate recognition.
We began with a YouTube version of America the Beautiful that was a Coke commercial celebrating the diversity of our country. That was followed with a version of the French National Anthem with the French flag projected on the screen and followed by our Pledge of Allegiance.
Chris Combs offered an invocation that also reflected on our history and our prayer to continue the Club’s great legacy.
Top row left to right: Past Presidents Phil Hutchings, Don Stanger, Charlie Steel, Sam Miglarese, Guy Solie, Arthur Rogers, Kay Gresham, Bob Yowell, Jim Brame, Toby Barfield, and Wade Gresham. Seated are Susan Ross, DG Newman Aguiar. Lois Cranford and Jim Davis. Lois was honored as a “legacy” as the spouse of Past President and District Governor and mother of Susan Ross.
The next order of business was to honor all living past presidents of the Club, most of whom attended and are pictured here. Also noted were President’s Legacy Members including Parks Alexander III whose father and namesake was president in 1939-40, Jim Brame whose father J.B. Brame was President in 1961-62 and Susan Ross, whose father HC Cranford was president in 1969-70 and the spouse of Lois Cranford. Lois, who is Susan’s mother, of course, was more of a Rotarian than many “official” Rotarians before women could be members. HC was also District Governor in 1976-77. Then 18 of the newest members of the club served birthday cake to the assembled Rotarians and guests.
Past President and Co-Chair of the Centennial Committee Don Stanger, then took over the program. Don has long been a champion of our Club’s history and several years ago took the initiative to scan the two out of print books chronicling our history through 1990. Down Through the Years- Durham Rotary Club 1915-1955 and More Down Through the Years – Durham Rotary Club 1955-1990 are both available on the website in pdf format to download or peruse online here. You can also just hover over the “About” tab to see the link.
Don provided some context with the costs of things in 1915 – $1 in 1915 being equivalent to $21.66 today. Woodrow Wilson was President. He then covered some of the early history of the club…people, events, and pointed out an artifact we see every week…our Rotary Bell, engraved with the name of W.G. Frasier a Charter Member of the club and President for the 1920-21 year. He also reminded us to put the January 8 gala celebration on our calendars in the historic space now occupied by the 21C Hotel. Don’s full presentation is available here in pdf format.
B.C. Dash then took over the program to focus on our involvement in international projects. This was appropriate because as another history buff, Tom Krakauer, noted, B.C. first initiated our international involvement when he joined the club. B.C. then ticked through the list of projects undertaken over the years and showed a video memorializing one of those, the Arusha Water Project. Over the years, the Clubs investment in International projects has been $318,400 but the total benefit has been over $1,000,000. B.C.’s full presentation is also available here in pdf format.
Since President Lois was not present because of her brother’s death, President Elect BC ended the meeting as usual with the Four Way Test.
There were no lingering signs of the NC Comicon Convention that inhabited the Convention Center last week except for the wide grin on Rotarian and Convention Center Manager Jen Noble’s face after hosting 10,000 participants. I’m not sure if the smile was because it was fun and a great success or that she was back among serious people that don’t dress up like fantasy characters in funny hats and capes, with funny names and secret handshakes.
May the Force be with you!
Submitted by Jay Zenner