News & Notices

News from the club and its members and notices.

Rotary Minutes: Todd Taylor

ToddMinutewebThe staff at the Durham Convention Center had to roll out extra tables and many of us who came early gave up our seats to the overflow crowd that gathered to hear Todd Taylor’s Rotary minutes. They were not disappointed.  Most of the regular attendees of the meeting know Todd for showing up in western headgear (most of which came from Australia) as the organizer, cheerleader and chief spokesman for our Club’s efforts to light a fire under the collective butts of teachers, parents and kids to reduce and eliminate illiteracy in our school system.  Todd’s Reading Rangers (of which I proudly claim membership) is already in two of the Durham Schools with the most need for help from the community.

Todd described himself as a cat now in the third of his 9 lives. This claim is based on his three major careers but he cataloged a number of things that were so unique that they could have been conjured up by someone with the flair to stage the tragic death of an imaginary girlfriend to motivate a football team to the brink of a national championship and himself to the brink of the Heisman Trophy.

Consider these experiences and how often you are likely to run into someone who has had any of them much less all of them.

–          Have a mother who was one of the first 90 women in the US Marines.

–          Of all the billions of people who have lived, to be one of the 100,000 or so who have ever stood at the South Pole or the lip of southern most active volcano in the world in Antarctica.

–          Be officially credited with saving 28 lives as a search and rescue helicopter pilot.

–           Fly for the Royal Australian Air Force in an American Navy uniform.

–          Retire for the first time at 38.

–          Become a Mr. Mom. Todd stayed at home with his son, Jason while his wife Jan went off to work.

Consider also that Todd can pronounce r’s even with parents from Boston, graduated “Laudy How Come” as a physics major from Appalachian State University, managed cell phones towers, was a top recruiter for the Navy here in North Carolina, remembers Eastern Airlines as inspirational, flew repaired planes to prove they were safe and might have had a totally different life if he had been able to hit a curve ball.

Since I now work as a part time plumbing associate at Home Depot, my one and only retail job, I totally get a quote Todd shared from a fellow worker during his only retail job, “They say only two things make one hate humanity – combat and retail.”  Amen brother.

Todd’s current job managing Duke Corporate Education’s facilities sounds tame by comparison to the rest of his resume, but he still shows his tendency to temp fate with an off beat sense of humor that he shares regularly. Todd’s full presentation is here.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Rotary Minutes: Meg Solera

MegMinuteWebOne of the first tables to fill up before every meeting is in the center of the room where Meg seems to reign as a queen bee. When the seats fill up many other members stop by to say hello. One of the reasons for this I’m sure is that Meg has been the organizer and hostess for the annual progressive dinner since she conceived it as a club fundraiser several years ago. I’m not sure how much money it raises but it sure has been successful as a chance for many club members to get to know each other much better and everyone to know Meg.

Because of Meg’s gregariousness I’m sure no one was surprised when she grabbed the portable microphone and didn’t seek the protection of the podium like most of the other Rotary Minutemen and Minutewomen have done. She also didn’t have any notes to hand to me afterwards, which I may forgive her for one day.

Making a little fun of some of the claims of other presenters with movie stardom and rocket science in their backgrounds, she described her family connection to FDR and her own encounters with Newt Gingrich and Robert Reich…and if that ain’t Ying and Yang I don’t know what is. She also bragged about a friend of her daughter Kaitlin who is going to get them a special tour of the White House…I think she said it was Michelle Obama…but I could be wrong.

A California girl, she graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with a degree in Sociology, one of those degrees that gets you a job at something like a restaurant chain. Not finding that totally satisfying she heard about business schools and applied to two….Harvard and Cornell. After being encouraged by the folks at Cornell to reapply after building a little more substantial quantitative base, she did that and was accepted. But her biggest prize at Cornell wasn’t her MBA but her husband Jose, who was also there getting an MBA.

With MBA’s in hand, Meg and Jose did the high tech SiliconeValley thing, he at Intel and she at Varian. They moved briefly to Dallas and then back to California where she changed gears and did college recruiting. She then spent 7 years as the director of youth services at the Palo Alto Jewish Center and as a volunteer Girl Scout leader which involved overseeing 80 adult leaders and 1100 scouts. I’ll bet those were great progressive dinners…Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter Patties and, finally, the ever popular Shortbread.

When she and Jose finally found the right coast here in Durham, Meg kept a left coast connection by taking a certification course online from UCLA to become a college counselor helping high school students sort out their college options. She has been doing that ever since.

Meg thanked the club for becoming a family of friends and connections to their new community. We’re glad she found us.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Paul Harris Fellow: Aubrey Zinaich-Howell

AubreyHowellwebFoundation Chair Dallas Stallings presented Aubrey Zinaich-Howell her pin and certificate commemorating her contribution and induction as a Paul Harris Fellow. Aubrey is also one of the newest members of the club and quickly recognized the good work done by the Rotary Foundation.

More information about becoming a Paul Harris Fellow can be found on the Rotary International website.

Connie McLeod

Dear Fellow Rotarians:

It is with regret that I write to inform you of the death of Mrs. Connie McLeod, wife of one of our Club Members, Mr. Randall McLeod. Mrs. McLeod passed away on Monday, December 17, 2012. Mrs. McLeod’s Obituary is noted below.

Please keep Mr. McLeod and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Yours In Rotary Service,

C. Donald Stanger, President

Durham Rotary Club

Cornelia “Connie” Grissom McLeod

Cornelia “Connie” Grissom McLeod, 88, died Monday in Duke Hospital following a brief illness. A native of Vance County, she was born June 6, 1924 to Charlie and Effie (Glenn) Grissom. Connie graduated from Peace College, after which she began working in the offices of Golden Belt Manufacturing Company. She married Randall A. McLeod, her husband of 62 years, whom she met on a blind date. For many years, she worked alongside her husband in their Durham business, Piedmont Printers.

Connie was a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church, where she was a faithful Tuesday afternoon office volunteer. She was active in Presbyterian Women’s organization, serving as the treasurer for many years. Connie was awarded an honorary life membership in Presbyterian Women in 1996. She was known for her quilting and handicrafts, and initiated the Presbyterian Women’s Chrismon making project, which continues to decorate the church Christmas tree annually. Together she and Randall enjoyed dining out and travel over the years. Connie took a keen interest in others, savoring the stories of people’s lives.

Surviving are her husband, Randall A. McLeod; sisters, Beth G. Bussey of Greensboro, Edith G. Shelden of Raleigh and Rachel Grissom of Durham; 10 nieces and nephews; and many great nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Friday in First Presbyterian Church, with the Reverend Joseph Harvard III and Reverend Marilyn Hedgpeth officiating. A reception will follow.

Gifts in Connie’s memory may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 305 East Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27701. Arrangements are with Hall-Wynne Funeral Service & Crematory.

Rotary Minutes: Steve Fishler

As I view my next age milestone, the start of my eighth decade, right over the horizon, I’m starting to appreciate people like Steve Fishler more. Steve describes his professed calling as working with old people like his grandparents. Steve described his current position as the big boss at the Forest at Duke as the pinnacle of such a career.

I can see that. I have a dear friend, who is wrapping up her tenth decade, who has been at the Forest at Duke for several years. At first she didn’t want to leave her home and give up her independence. I used to tease her that I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to live in what I perceived to be the best college dorm ever. I mean think about it, all those amenities, plus something I never had in college, many more women than men. Most of us were probably aware of The Forest and that Steve’s role as “Chancellor.”

But like so many of these Rotary Minutes, Steve also surprised and entertained the gathered Rotarians. First of all, he’s a Braves fan from the Bronx, where rabid Yankees are born and bred. He explained this as the result of his wife being a 7th generation North Carolinian raised mostly in Atlanta.

Steve’s journey through life has taken him from New York City to Long Island to Rochester, to Tucson, to Ocean Beach, to Encinitas, to Chicago to Hollywood (Florida) and finally to Chapel Hill, where he has the Triangle triangulated, since he works in Durham and his wife works in Raleigh at NCSU.

Steve has degrees in Health Services Administration and Long Term Care Administration but his wife has three degrees including a PhD in International Relations. He claims that deciding who to root for in the local athletic wars is not difficult; they root for all three Universities. “It’s fun, it’s easy…most of the time.” This must be a side benefit of an International Relations degree.

Another surprise was his passion for concerts which started with his first, the Concert for Bangladesh in Madison Square Garden in 1971. He then ticked off a long list of familiar names in rock and roll as well as jazz. This made me feel better than last week when the list of her favorite movies that Deirdre sent me did not contain one that I had seen and several I’d never heard of. I’ll publish the list as a follow up once I check that they were really movies and she wasn’t just teasing.

Steve joked about his two children too. His son is at San Diego College skateboarding or skateboarding college…he wasn’t sure which. His sixteen year old daughter also plans to head to college in California and I swear Steve said one of the schools she was considering was UC Santa Clause.

Steve’s final surprise was reaching down under the lectern and pulling out several balls that he juggled, which was even more surprising than Vince Simonetti showing up to relieve me at the Salvation Army bucket with a tuba. This made Steve a perfect counterpoint to Marge Nordstrom’s  juggling…and dropping….the raffle tickets in her role of sergeant-at-arms. Thank God sergeants-at-arms don’t really carry arms.

One critique of Steve’s presentation; at the beginning he announced his age as 56 which just so happens to be the year he was born, 1956. He described it as a once in a lifetime occurrence. He should have saved that for last. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who sat there trying to figure out how many birth years there where, where that was possible. I haven’t figured it out and I may have to pose the question to my math teacher daughter who writes up those kind of tricky questions to demonstrate how smart she is and how dumb I am.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

 

North Durham Rotary Does Coffee Sale Again

Greetings! My North Durham Rotary Club is again selling Fair Trade Certified and organic Green Mountain Coffees to raise money for helping “to provide clean water to coffee producing countries. Countries where 30,000 people per day die due to water-related illnesses.” It’s called 5(4)H2O {Five for water = web: fiveforwater.org}. So far 6 countries have benefited from these efforts to provide clean water: Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Bolivia, Haiti & Honduras.

These are the 4 coffees available:

1. Organic House Blend – A hearty blend of medium and dark roasts. Deep, rich, and full-bodied.
2-. Organic Sumatran Reserve – Exotically lush, sweet, and heavy-bodied, born in the mountains of Indonesia.
3. Rain Forest Nut – A subtly sweet, delightful coffee with tastes of vanilla, caramel, cashew, and Brazil nuts.
4. Organic House Blend Decaf – This decaf blend of light and dark roasts has a full, mellow flavor and a smooth finish.

Can’t you smell the coffee brewing now! Ummmmm So Gooooooood To The Last Drop! No, Virginia, it’s not your mother’s/grandmother’s Maxwell House Coffee.

I am taking orders and filling them as fast as I get an order. We just received 2 cases of mixed flavors, or 48 bags to begin with. Can I count on you to get some from me? I will try to make whatever possible/acceptable accommodations I can to help get them to you ASAP.

They make great Christmas/Holiday gifts, especially to business offices, etc.; don’t you personally want a cup of this coffee brewed, especially after Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the 27th of November, which is now called Giving Tuesday. Will North Durham Rotary Club be a beneficiary along with The Rotary Foundation’s Donor Advised Fund and Rotary International who’ll help w/these countries for Water Projects?(What you may not know is that “Giving Tuesday” is launching as a national day dedicated to giving. This year, Giving Tuesday will be on 27 November, dedicated to creating a day for everyone to celebrate and encourage charitable contributions that support communities in need. The Rotary Foundation hopes to be one of the many charities helping to improve the lives of those in need by accepting contributions on “Giving Tuesday.”)

And the cost is a meager $10.00/bag. So how many can I count on you for? Ask your friends. Cash or checks payable to: The North Durham Rotary Club.

My contact information is as follows: email or cell best way to reach me.

Jim Leak: Email: jim.leak@gmail.com

Home: 919-490-6151 Cell: 919-630-1548

Your help and purchase will be greatly appreciated.

Yours in Rotary Service,

Jim Leak – North Durham Rotary Club