News & Notices

News from the club and its members and notices.


Rotarian and historian Allen Cronenberg and President Don are already working on documenting events and preparing for the Club’s Centennial. President Don has scanned two books that were written to record our history through 1990. Other documents are being unearthed that will also be scanned and posted. To access the two books we’ve created a page to catalog the documents. You will find the page at ‎ or on the drop down menu under the “About” tab on the primary navigation.

Rotary Minutes – Sheridan van Wagenberg

It’s difficult to imagine the always well put together Sheridan in something as informal as  hip waders but she did admit that she was a fly fishing snob only enthusiastic about fly fishing in Jackson Wyoming.  Ditto for oil painting or boating…you can’t do those in a business suit, can you?

But you can’t really be a snob in Durham and Sheridan is a Durham native through and through who attended St. Mary’s Country Day School, Hillside High and UNC where she majored in psychology.  Such a degree leads naturally to a career in banking. In Sheridan’s case that meant  being one of the specialists at NCNB that manage wealthy people’s assets. For the youngsters in the crowd NCNB used to be the big bank headquartered in Charlotte that gobbled up Bank of America and liked that name better.

Like others in the audience, Sheridan left the comfort and status of big banking to strike out on her own. In her case it was to start a photography business that she ran for a number of years. In 2009 she spotted an opening to manage Caring House and found her true calling helping adult cancer patients and their caregivers receiving treatment at the Duke Cancer Institute.  She told the story of how she had dressed in her best business attire for her interview only to be interviewed by Rotarian Bob Yowell in decidedly less formal attire. Bob must have been impressed because not only was she hired, he sponsored her for Rotary about the same time in 2009.  Judging from the picture below from the Caring House website she was not kidding about loving her job.

Sheridan raised two children, Trey who is now 26 and Cabell who is at UNC.  Sheridan recently remarried after being a single mother for many years and traded her maiden name of Townsend for van Wagenberg. Sheridan is part of the current Durham Rotary Board and has chaired the Million Meals effort in recent years. 

Rotary Minute: Melissa Mills

Hey, I sympathize with Melissa, who apologized in advance for her tendency to run on.  But when you have done so many things and led such an interesting life how do you explain it in 5 minutes?  Most lives have a thread that runs through them and with Melissa it seems to be an attachment to higher education starting with her birth in the University of Chicago Hospital. I mean when you had three different undergraduate majors, studied six or seven languages, coordinated IT in a major university division, spent time at Harvard, done consulting, gone through Duke Divinity school and become the chairperson of the District’s ethics initiative, that takes a little time to explain. And, even if it hadn’t been delivered so charmingly…you’d still be thinking “Wow!”  Another great Rotary minute.


Fun Fund Raiser – Durham Landmarks

Well, I don’t know if the Q-Shack qualifies as a landmark yet but it and many other Durham institutions helped to create this rendering of the Durham scene. Carver Weaver has a supply donated to provide us a quick and fun fundraiser. Let Carver know you want one and for $5 you have one.

What will you do with yours? You can frame it, of course, and hang it in an office or den.  Anticipating the holiday season you can buy them as gifts for your friends in Raleigh and Chapel Hill (Na, na, na na, na.) Me, I’m going to make mine an art project within my capabilities. I’m going to buy a box of colored markers and pretend it’s a grownup’s coloring book.  Very relaxing. Almost meditation.

Have fun with yours.

Program Report – Casey Steinbacher – Chamber 2.0

Past President Mary Ann Black introduced Casey Steinbacher, President of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, who filled us in why the Chamber is not the same organization that it was five, much less, ten years ago.

Casey has twenty plus years experience doing Chamber work.  She was lured to Durham from North Palm Beach in 2007.  Prior to that, she had been in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  She has three daughters but her favorite topic of conversation is her four grandchildren.  She said if she had a Powerpoint, we would have been subjected to picture after picture of the most fill in the blank (beautiful, cutest, sweetest, adorable, above average—actually these are my words but you could read her mind) grandchildren in the world.  According to the Chamber website, if she won the lottery she would move all her children to Durham.

Casey noted that the Chamber is the largest business organization in Durham County with a simple focus: to advance economic development in Durham, and to provide essential services to its members. She recognized and thanked many members of Durham Rotary who play significant roles in the Chamber.  She pointed out that after the 2008 recession (and Durham businesses have mixed opinions about whether that business downturn has ended) a “new normal” emerged as a business model.  She said Durham, in general, has been rather successful in growing businesses—roughly $3.6 billion in investments and 11,000 jobs have come about in the last four years, much of it funded by initiatives started in the Chamber’s Vision 3D campaign.  [Read more…]

Rotary Minute: Rick Jorgensen

Long time Treasurer of the Durham Rotary Club, Rick Jorgensen,  took the podium for his Rotary Minute, a new addition to the regular meeting agenda where members of the club tell the assembled crowd a little bit about themselves.  Rick’s turn at bat was actually preceded by Dallas Stalling last week but your webmaster was caught napping and didn’t capture the moment. But we’ll make it up.

Rick, of course, is a CPA working at the firm of Hutchings & Hutchings with Past President Phil Hutchings. Both his wife Tanya and daughter Ellen have been Rick’s guests at occasionally. This reporter met Rick long ago when he was a neighbor and real estate agent with Fonville Morisey. I did know of his interest in bird dogs but did not know that he was a couple of jumps away from being a master jumper when he was with the 82nd Airborne. As he describes it in his Linkedin profile he was “defending the free world from communist aggression.”

For more about Rick, that Linkedin profile is