After offering an invocation during the 100 birthday celebration of the Durham Rotary’s first meeting that prayed that “we’d be good stewards of the legacy and continue on with a genuine desire to serve others while remembering that you’re the source of that desire” Chris Combs delivered his Rotary Minute. In his own words:
Please have a seat and continue eating. Guy Solie and Melissa Mills told me that part of doing the Rotary Minute is designed to answer the question, “Why are you here, and what inspires you about Rotary?”
I thought about that question and it took me to the memories of attending the funerals of my grandparents over the last 15 years. What’s vivid to me are the memories of the hundreds of people who came into the churches and into the funeral homes to pay their respects.
I caught a glimpse into the impact that they had had on their neighbors in the towns of Carr Creek, KY and Roanoke, VA.
I heard from the students that they had taught who went on to earn the first college degree that their families had ever seen. I listened to the basketball players my grandfather coached who didn’t know their own dads, so they looked to him for direction and guidance. Service above self.
I was reminded of how, shortly after they were married, both of my grandfathers left their brides to put themselves in harm’s way so they could fight the Nazis and the fear that Morton Combs felt as he rode across the English Channel towards Normandy during the great invasion on D-Day + 1. Service above self.
I heard about how, after the war, during times of peace my mother’s father, Sam McNeil, consistently carved out time to stay involved in the community despite just launching his small business. Service above self.
I rode down the street named after him in Roanoke for his civic efforts in founding Blue Ridge Public Television to advance education, the years he spent on the school board in Roanoke, and his years as a Rotarian. I listened to his friends recall his efforts towards founding a chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the 1960s.
I’m proud to be in this club to honor what they stood for throughout their lives so I’m glad that I got to share this with you today on the day that we’re honoring what was started here in Durham 100 years ago.