New Member Orientation – March 13, 2017

If most of the people in this picture look only vaguely familiar it is because they are recently or soon to be inducted new members who attended a short orientation meeting preceding the regular Monday meeting. The orientation was organized by Membership Committee Chair Marge Nordstrom and committee member Meg Solera. Famously photo-shy Marge is just outside the left of the frame holding everybody’s attention. Meg, who is not shy in any way, is pictured describing the two teams each of the inductees will become part of for the next six months to further integrate them into the club. The new members will be wearing the red ribbons on their badges for the next six months and we encourage everyone to introduce yourself and welcome them to the club. 

Paul Harris Fellows – March 13, 2017

My apologies for one of the worst Paul Harris Fellow photos ever taken. The small version shown here would look very blurry in a larger format and everyone is so spread out except for Marge who is trying to hide. I am especially unhappy about this since these were pretty significant awards. New member Lee Barnes became a Paul Harris Fellow upon joining the club, which is very unusual. Dr. Larry Crane on the left became a PHF Plus 2, while Marge Nordstrom and Reggie Hodges became PHF Plus 1. Andy Esser, Foundation Chairman standing on the right, presented the awards. 

I feel even worse about the picture taken of Past District Governor Newman Aguiar presenting a special recognition to past Chair of the Foundation Committee Ken Lundstrom for his continuing support of the Polio Plus campaign. So this photo is from a few years ago when he was presenting an award.


Program Report – Flying Tigers


It’s a mark of our club’s diversity that at least a few members were alive when the Flying Tigers served first notice from the United States to Imperial Japan that freedom claws back.

Most club members were not yet born as the Second World War swept up Asia, and a small band of volunteer aviators from America helped the Chinese air force slow the advance of Japanese invaders while the free world organized.

But more than a few members, including this week’s correspondent, are old enough to remember building plastic model aircraft of the single-engine, P-40 fighter aircraft that the legendary volunteer force utilized with such elan. Distinctive painted shark faces snarled from the noses of each fighter aircraft.

History came back to life at Monday lunch as Billy McDonald recalled the valor and exploits of the Flying Tigers. McDonald, author of a book that chronicles his late father’s key role as a Flying Tiger organizer and aviator, told Rotarians that tigers played a crucial role in supporting China and keeping Japanese military resources tied down.

“It was a very nice contribution he made to the war,” McDonald said of his heroic father Bill with understatement as he recollected his later father’s longtime friendship and working partnership with the legendary Claire Lee Chennault. Chennault organized and led the Flying Tigers. Chenault once wrote a newspaper op-ed praising the elder McDonald’s skill and bravery and worked closely with McDonald’s father to build the group.

Technically and legally, the aviators were the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941 and 1942. Pilots recruited under presidential authority to be commanded by Chennault came from the United States Army Air Corps, Navy and Marine Corps. They trained in Burma.

McDonald spent much of the presentation describing his father’s early years working with Chenault in aviation, initially in aerial acrobatics. McDonald said that he found his father’s papers, some 30,000 documents brought back from China, badly deteriorated from moisture decades later. The papers included many letters describing the aviation squad’s exploits. He put it into book form with the help of editor Barbara Evenson. The book, “The Shadow Tiger,” is on sale here on

McDonald described how he Flying Tigers demonstrated needed tactical victories against the advancing Japanese invaders when news from Asia was discouraging. Reports of their daring are credited with building national morale during the lowest period of the war for both the U.S. and Allied forces. The Tigers instilled hope. In addition to combat value, they added value in the PR wars.

The Flying Tigers were in action in Asia just days after the attack at Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and continued the fight into 1942 before being replaced by the U.S. Air Force under the command of General Chennault.

McDonald shared the good recent news that both the book and his heroic father’s paper’s have been requested for posterity by the Smithsonian Institution. He said the Chinese ambassador to Washington created the flying unit’s memorable name.

The club thanks McDonald for recalling the bravery of young American aviators including his father who hit back hard and served first notice to the Axis power in Asia that the fight for freedom would ultimately be joined by the U.S. with ferocious will and fortitude.

Submitted by Mark Lazenby

Editor’s note:  Mr. McDonald was introduced by Brady Surles and Scott Long, a member of the Zhuzhou City Committee of Sister Cities of Durham and pictured on the right above with Mark Goodwillie, Co-Chair of the Zhuzhou City Committee on the left flanking Billy McDonald and is wife Nancy McDonald. Here is Brady’s explanation of the connection:

This may sound complicated , but the Flying Tigers story is what started the process of Durham people becoming interested in having a Sister City in China, so I will have to give you some details about the background.

Durham established a Sister City partnership with Zhuzhou City, Hunan Province, China in 2012. This came about because several people in Durham and the Triangle had ties with the history of the American flyers called the Flying Tigers, including making a documentary film in partnership with a Chinese film company.

This connection started with a NC Senator from Moore County who initiated the reciprocal visits in 2006 between Hunan Province and NC to better understand how the Chinese had built ties with Americans , based on their maintaining the burial site of an American Flying Tiger pilot from Moore County who was shot down in Hunan Province.

The Durham film makers visited Hunan Province for their research for their film, in cooperation with the Carolina China Council which is based at NC St University.  This included the Flying Tigers Museum which is in Hunan Province.

This also led them to get to know some Chinese Americans who were from Hunan Province who were interested in having Durham become a Sister City with a city in Hunan Province.

The Carolina China Council assisted us in finding a city in Hunan province which was interested in being a Sister City.

That partnership with Zhuzhou has now included two school visits from China to work with four different schools in Durham,  students and teachers from the School for Creative Studies visiting Zhuzhou, and plans for additional school exchanges.


Rotary Minute – Sharon Hirsch

I’m Sharon Hirsch and I serve as President & CEO of Prevent Child Abuse NC.  I joined the Durham Rotary this fall after years of hearing about the good work being done here by my good friend, Newman Aguiar, and so many of you that I have known in my 22 years of living and working in Durham, especially during my 10 years at Durham County DSS.  As I said when I joined Rotary, I wear my  title as Chief Executive Optimist because I’m optimistic that we can move the needle to create great childhoods across our state.

I joined Rotary because of your strong commitment to this community – and your reputation for getting things done in Durham.   Rotary does groundbreaking work often focused on children and families, which has been my driving passion in my career.

At PCANC we know that prevention solutions are not possible through the work of a single person or agency – it takes a village – different voices, different expertise and different strengths – working together toward the single goal of fostering safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all of our children.  Whether you realize it or not, so much that Rotary does – from volunteering in schools, to food drives and more – helps to prevent abuse and neglect as concrete supports for families.  So, first,  I thank you.

One of my favorite movies is the Wizard of Oz.  Serendipitously, the Emerald City gives us plenty of opportunities to use its lessons.

[Read more…]

Program Report: Adam Klein – American Underground

Durham Rotary 03 2017–A Klein small The American Underground has done a bang up job of providing a path and encouragement for minorities and women who want to become part of the entrepreneurial movement. But what about us old folks? It’s also admirable that the model has evolved to include physical products and not just software and high tech stuff. And how smart is it to include professional services, which I assume includes lawyers, graphic designers, accountants, and maybe even real estate agents? Check it out on

But back to us old folks. How many toilets are there in the world? How many guys think it’s more than a little icky to have to lift a toilet seat to do number 1, especially in a restaurant, rest stop, or, God help us, a gas station? What if someone invented a levered device that bolted to the toilet bowl under the seat that would lift the seat out of the way but when in the down position a also provided additional support to rise from the seated position like the arm of a chair without adding those ugly grab bars to the wall?

You have signed the non-disclosure, haven’t you?

Crazy idea maybe, but when Adam Klein, who describes himself as the Chief Strategist of the American Underground, or the Startup Hub of the South, mentioned Feline Innovations’ cat scratching device with replaceable scratch pads as one of the companies participating in the Startup Stampede now in progress, I thought maybe not that crazy. But isn’t that to point…to put together potential entrepreneurs in an environment where they can collaborate and support each other. Anyone that has done product development knows that having a product is often the easiest part of launching a company to sell it.

Case in point, the story of David Baron, the founder of and past member of the American Underground who shared his four-year journey last month to the launch of his product, which is essentially four cushions covered with fabric that configure as a bed or a couch or a fort for the kids. A simple idea maybe but the interesting part was how they improvised the packaging with the help of forklift hydraulics and market it exclusively online.

The idea of having like-minded folks around with experience, however uneven, in things like accounting, marketing, pricing, e-commerce, fund raising, packaging, regulations and dozens of other necessary components that complement the creative process is a big help.

This is the second time that Adam has spoken to us. The first time was in December of 2012. We tend to think about American Underground in terms of what it has meant to Durham and there is no question that it has come a long way and been a major factor in the revitalization of Downtown but we shouldn’t overlook the service it provides for entrepreneurs like David and the impact they have on our city. Some of the key statistics are here from Adam’s Power Point presentation.

This time he was introduced by his friend and our fellow Rotarian Mike Kriston who is a senior vice president at McDonald York Building company. We hope Adam won’t wait another 4 or 5 years to visit again. In fact, maybe Mike can convince him to join. We have our own Innovation Fellows program here that could probably benefit from his experience. The American Underground website is

Product number 2 from Bathroom Innovations… how about a gymnastics ring hung from the ceiling for those that would rather pull themselves up than push themselves up from the seated position. Those of you who still have knees that can get you up without help, need to be thinking ahead anyway. By the way, Feline Innovations really does exist and the product is pretty cool. Check it out here. When I adopted my cats, they were already de-clawed but if they weren’t I’d consider it and it would probably be the most attractive accessory in my whole house.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

New Member February 26 – Candace Minjares

Please welcome Candace Minjares! In her own words here is a little bit about her and we look forward to learning more.

Born & raised in Texas, my parents had me on horses before I could walk. After graduating from Texas A&M, I moved to Chicago for law school. After 8 years in Chicago, I moved to North Carolina seeking warmer weather & to be closer to my sister in Southern Pines. I specialize in trusts and estate administration at Kennon Craver here in Durham.