News & Notices

News from the club and its members and notices.

2019 Community Service Award – Wense Grabarek

For many years our Club has made a Paul Harris Fellowship award to a citizen of Durham for contributions to the life and culture of the community.  For as long as I can remember the selection has been guided by Rotarian Dieter Mauch. The only hard and fast rule of the selection process is that it can’t be another Rotarian. The other members of the selection committee are President Todd Taylor, past President Brady Surles and Judge Craig Brown.

This year’s honoree is former mayor Wense Grabarek. Mr. Grabarek was nominated formally by Club members David Ross and Wade Gresham and received endorsements from Tom Bonfield, Robb Cadwallader and Jim Brame. Dieter noted that this was the first year that he could recall where we have received multiple nominations as well as multiple emails and phone calls in support of one candidate.

Mr. Grabarek was elected mayor in 1963 and served until 1971. When Dave Ross, who introduced the former mayor, shared that piece of information, I could hear the mental calculators at the adjoining tables trying to figure out how long that was before they were born.

Dave also mentioned, in jest…we think… that in his professional role as an accountant, he kept former Duke basketball coach and Rotarian Bucky Waters, out of jail.

This period in the 60’s was one of the most turbulent times in the civil rights movement. In fact, mass demonstrations were taking place right after his election. The new mayor stepped right in and promised to be everyone’s mayor and spoke at an integration rally at St Joseph’s AME Church.

There is a great write-up of those first days on a subdomain of the County website called And Justice For All that has in its Galleries a portrait of the mayor and several paragraphs about the events around his accomplishments.

One of them mentioned was the creation of the Durham Interim Committee that eased the community into the peaceful integration of restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, etc. In his talk to the Cub, the mayor mentioned two names of prominent segregationists that were eventually won over. One was C. P. Ellis, who was a Klan leader who became the subject along with Ann Atwater of the recent movie The Best of Enemies about the court ordered desegregation of Durham schools, which happened after Mayor Grabarek’s terms. The other was Harvey Rape, the owner of a popular restaurant on East Main Street. There are several pictures of the restaurant on the Open Durham website and a couple of paragraphs that describe how Rape “prayed on it” and his tearful call to Mayor Grabarek where he finally agreed to serve both blacks and whites… as long as they didn’t sit together in Harveys. Rape also served on the Interim Committee.

In a poignant moment, Mr. Grabarek noted that when he married is wife Marion, a Durham native, he knew that he would forever be in debt to the city. Marion Norris Grabarek passed away peacefully in their home in January of last year after 73 years of marriage.

Commenting on his role in the civil rights movement he said that “God gave us a plan and a conscience to meet the challenge.” He also mentioned the guidance provided by Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

In case you’re wondering, Mr. Grabaret recently celebrated his 100th birthday. His recollections of those difficult days in our history when desegregation began in earnest, seems like ancient history but many in the club lived through it and many, like the mayor, where not just observers.  We’ve made progress, of course, but the recent revival of un-embarrassed white supremacy in our country tells us that we have a long way to go before everyone adopts that Golden Rule…and the Four Way Test…with no exceptions.

Concluding, Mr. Gabarek noted that in Durham “our diverse togetherness gave life to our soul.”

Amen.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

No Bull 150 Update – Todd Taylor

 

The final months of the year are often a time that most of us reflect on the accomplishments of the year that has passed and plan for the year ahead.

Keeping with tradition, and after his usual introductory joke (this one about Hawaiian onions and accordions), President Todd Taylor used Monday’s gathering to catch Rotarians up on club deeds this past year.

Since November is Rotary Foundation month, it was a good chance to get caught up on club giving including outcomes for the No Bull 150 efforts which downtown Rotarians have supported wholeheartedly and without “nudging.”

The club’s No Bull funding initiatives for the year include:

  • The Second Century
  • Scholarships
  • The Foundation
  • Polio

Considering additional funding sources such as the Triangle Community Fund, family endowments and fundraisers, the Rotary Club raised more than $96,000 for the initiatives listed above.

See the slides below.

 

Todd’s presentation also included projects that have been accomplished including being a part of 44,000 eye surgeries in India in conjunction with Rotary International, shipping a large amount of medical supplies to parts of Africa very much in need of it as well as tallying a total of 708 hours and 350 total volunteer efforts.

Other projects supported include Take-a-Kid to the Ballpark, Reading Rangers, Backpack Buddies and more.

Club initiatives planned for early 2020 include MLK meal packing in January, the Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Lunch in February, providing books for Books on Break and adding a roof to a Habitat for Humanity home.

Todd said the goal of 2019 has been a vision of how to be a more “viable and sustainable” Rotary club and that the goal is to continue moving forward next year. Onward and upward, Rotarians.

Submitted by Carlton Koonce

Paul Harris Fellow: Guy Solie

Guy Solie has been a member of our Club since 1987, serving as President in 1996. He is most definitely a Paul Harris supporter many times over by awarding Paul Harris Fellowships to his wife Mindy, all three of their children, and two of their spouses. Their daughter-in-law, Ashleigh has had a difficult time scheduling a time to attend a meeting to accept her recent Paul Harris certificate and pin as well as one of Guy’s granddaughters, Lucy. For that reason, today we are proud to present PH Fellowships to Guy on their behalf. Guy still has other family members to go, so stay tuned to hear more future awards.

Paul Harris Fellow: Dr. Larry Crane

Dr. Larry Crane is a retired Radiologist who joined the Durham Rotary Club in 2014. As a dedicated active community volunteer, Larry has served at The Museum of Life and Science as a volunteer, board member and chair of their fundraising campaign. He’s also worked with cognitively impaired elderly citizens at the Durham Senior Center. In this time of great polarization, Larry feels Rotary provides true fellowship and serves the entire community. He gives to the Foundation because it uses funds wisely for our community, nation and global good works. Larry is presented with his Paul Harris Fellow +5.

Paul Harris Fellow: Bill Ingram

Bill Ingram is President of Durham Technical Community College and was our guest speaker a couple of weeks ago. He has been a member of our club for 12 years and served as President in 2013. The thing Bill lobes most about Rotary is its’ diversity of race and ethnicity, experience, interest and thought. He appreciates the relationships and friendships that are born in the room every Monday where business men and women, non-profit leaders, developers, physicians, and entrepeneurs and even college presidents connect. Those friendships lead to great things being achieved in our community and across the globe. We present Bill with his Paul Harris Fellow +3.

Paul Harris Fellow: Rebecca Newton

Rebecca Newton became the President and CEO of the Carolina Theatre of Durham after spending 25 years in the internet industry. She always wanted to be a philanthropist and learned at Rotary that you don’t have to be a millionaire to be a philanthropist, so she committed to giving to the Foundation right away. She said, “For the cost of a good night out, one can support Rotary every month and make a much larger impact in the world.” She still has her nights out! Although she only joined Rotary in 2018, Rebecca has already earned her Paul Harris Fellow +1.