News & Notices

News from the club and its members and notices.

Program Report: Kicking off a New Rotary Year

The July 9 meeting had a full agenda.  It was Brady Surles’ first meeting as our new president. The opening song, “Oh, Rotary, Durham Rotary” was welcome, but novel to many of us; the chorus was not the loudest I have heard.  Dave Ross gave the invocation, followed by our new Sergeant-at-Arms (a military-style title that puzzles many new Rotarians — or at least this one, in the day) Caleb Baker and his team.

There were several other departures from what has become the regular routine for our first meeting of the new Rotary year. To encourage more mixing, everyone was asked to sit at tables labeled with their birth months. The tables were also festooned with balloons and the CART buckets were organized, not on the tables but ledges near the badges and inspiring a contest among the birth months to see whether Cancers are more generous than Aquarians maybe.

Among the announcements, it was noted that the CART bucket challenge achieved $3475 last year and the target for this year: $4000.

Christopher Gergen introduced the fourth class of Innovation Fellows. This program in designed to bring young entrepreneurs, often those with a social mission, into the club and underwriting their dues in exchange for reports on their projects. It is intended to give the fellows the connections with community leaders in business, government and the non-profit community with the hope they will remain Rotarians after the 18-month fellowship ends.

Finally Brady reported on the Rotary International convention which was held this year in Toronto, Canada — a great city (in the summer, at least). Slides of participants were shown, and it was clear that a good time was had by all who attended.   Former First Lady Laura Bush, also a former teacher at an inner-city school in Houston, spoke to Rotarians about education, and urged her audience to give service to others. The highlight of the meeting was a short film showing what appeared to be a recent graduate of the university there, but turned out to be Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister:

“J’assiste à la convention internationale du Rotary à Toronto, où je parle de l’importance de l’action humanitaire et communautaire et des moyens d’éradiquer la polio et d’autres maladies dévastatrices dans le monde.

“Protecting children”, not to say women and girls, was another of Trudeau’s themes as well a celebration of Rotary’s effort against polio.


Rotary Minute: Judge Craig Brown

In what may be the end of the tradition that began during Don Stanger’s presidency, Judge Craig Brown provided what may be the final Rotary Minute. Judge Brown spoke of the history of his family with Rotary and how the Craig Family Scholarship came about. When Judge Brown was inducted in 2014 he gave us an outline of his career that you can read here.

But this minute also gave us the chance to recognize Judge Brown for an award he received recently from the Insightful Visionaries, an organization dedicated to empowering the blind and visually impaired community.

The following is (mostly) from the dinner honoring Judge Brown on June 16th. Congratulations Judge Brown. 

District Court Judge Craig Brown retired in 2008 after working for decades in the Durham judicial system.  He was first a criminal defense attorney, then took the bench as a district court judge. Brown’s career was not without controversy.  He often spoke out against the inequities he saw in the judicial system, and some of his decisions drew criticism.  Throughout his career, Brown battled an auto-immune disease that eventually left him blind.

In 2009 he published Blind Justice.  In this hard hitting book he shares his observations as a participant in many nationally famous trials and tells of his life and his career as a judge in one of North Carolina’s most active judicial districts.

Judge Brown received his B.B in Political Science from the University of Chapel Hill in 1979 and his Juris Doctor Degree from the North Carolina School of Law in 1983.  He received his Masters Degree in Public Policy from Duke University the same year.  Most of Judge Brown’s legal career was spent in Durham, North Carolina.


Special Birthday: Brantley DeLoatch – 99

Brantley DeLoatch poses with two of his fans, Lucia Powe and Roxanne Hall after the Club sung Happy Birthday to him to celebrate his 99th Birthday. You’re working on 100 now, Brant.

I first met Brantley thirty-some years ago when I was the marketing director of Central Carolina Bank and he was on the Board and, I swear, he doesn’t look a bit older now than he did then. We should also note that Brantley has now been a Rotarian for 67 years.

For new Rotarians who want to learn a little more about Brantley here is a link to a Rotary Minute he did in 2012 when he was only 93. Brantley’s Rotary Minute.


Program Report: Todd Boyette – The Morehead Planetarium

Without doubt, the Morehead Planetarium on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus is a treasured travel destination for tens of thousands of visitors every year.   About fifty percent of the 160,000 annual visitors are school children.

Introduced by Rotarian Julie Rigby of the Museum of Life and Science, Morehead director Todd Boyette gave a little background to the history of the planetarium and brought us up to date on current programs and pending developments.  A Garner native, Todd has been planetarium director for twelve years.  Incidentally, Tom Krakauer was on the search committee that hired Todd. Also a guest of the Club was Omar Bell, the Development Director of the Planetarium.

The planetarium that opened in 1949 was the gift of John Motley Morehead III, a UNC graduate who discovered acetylene gas and a new way to produce calcium carbide—leading ultimately to the founding of Union Carbide. When looking for a suitable gift for his alma mater, Morehead learned that Harvard’s Harlow Shapley—the leading astronomer of the day—had pronounced North Carolinians as the “most astronomically ignorant people” in the country, Morehead determined to remedy that.  The result was the first planetarium in the South, only the sixth in the country, and the only one in the world located on a university campus.

[Read more…]

Rotarian of the Year – Marge Nordstrom

The highlight of the year end celebration is always the presentation of the Rotarian of the Year Award selected by the outgoing president. Here are the words that President Seth used to introduce this years winner:

Now I get to present our Rotarian of the Year Award. This individual has worked tirelessly on behalf of the club, and her efforts have made our club better this year, and for years to come.

What has been so exceptional about her service to the club, is that she doesn’t just take on a job and do the status quo, or cruise by simply by doing what’s been done in the past, which one could easily do. She asks the hard questions, and when the answers clearly indicate that we’re not where we want to be, she digs in and makes things happen. She leaves no stone unturned.

She has Chaired the membership committee, where she worked hard on so many new initiatives, including:

  • Developed and implemented strategies to engage and involve new members.
  • Re-defined our classification categories.
  • Helped lead our club to a net gain of 14 new members this year.
  • She spearheaded our membership survey
  • She was Promoted to the District Membership Chair.

Outside of her membership work, she:

  • Helped establish and lead the Lois R. Cranford Learning Legacy Fund.
  • I’m sure I’ve missed something here…
  • Lastly, she pushes me, and probably many of us to be better Rotarians, by calling ‘em like she seems ‘em, and speaking her mind, which I appreciate.
  • She survives a copperhead bite, and comes back stronger than ever

It is an honor for me to present this year’s Rotarian of the Year Award, to Marge Nordstrom.

New Member: Katie Rose Levin

Please introduce yourself  and welcome new member Katie Rose Levin. Katie was sponsored by Barker French and inducted by Kay Gresham. Here is a little of her background.

After earning a BS in Environmental Studies from NC State University, Katie Rose spent several years working and studying ecology across North and South America.

In 2009 she returned to school, earning a Master of Forestry and a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University. In 2012 Duke hired her as their first ever Natural Resource Manager. While there she managed over 14,000 trees across Duke’s campus, and served as the primary arborist consultant to over $500 million dollars of capital projects.

It was fun, but she wanted to get out and see the world again. So in 2016 she helped launch the consulting department at Leaf & Limb and now spends her time providing high quality tree information and support to Landscape Architects, Architects and Planners. She is the co-founder of the non-profit TreesDurham and volunteers with the non-partisan group Citizen’s Climate Lobby. In her downtime, Katie Rose practices aerial dancing, gardens, and cans.

She lives with her husband, Donald Addu, and two beagles in South Durham.