Rotary Minutes – Jay Zenner

When you have zig-zagged through a number of careers, are collecting Social Security and still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, a five minute portrait of yourself means you have to be very selective. Such was Jay Zenner’s dilemma in presenting his story. Jay chose as the central theme in his story BS, which he described as the two initials widely recognized by all English speakers to be “persuasive communications, rhetoric, propaganda or spin.”

The problem was that Jay spun a little out of control and went way beyond the 5 minute time allocation and jammed the time on several important announcements, two new member inductions and a very interesting speaker. This kind of thing actually happens more frequently than we would like to admit. Aside from the problem of someone spinning BS out of control, it also illustrates one of the limits of the meeting format.  In a large very active club there is a lot to jam into that weekly hour. The speaker, Anton Zuiker, the Director of  Communications in the Department of Medicine at the Duke University Medical Center, spoke of creating online communities. Allen Cronenberg’s program report has been published here on the site.  This was a very appropriate topic because it provides one solution to the limits imposed by the club’s once a week for one hour meeting limitation.

With the new website we have the basis for adding that dimension to the Club’s communications. What remains to be seen is not whether this will happen, but when.  As Professor Tippett proved in her presentation on the Millennials who will become the next generation of Rotarians, this kind of communication is second nature to them. Whether a critical mass of current Rotarians can be nudged into this form of community building remains to be seen.

In the meantime maybe President Don should empower the Sergeant-at-Arms to use a hook to get BSers to surrender the microphone.

Jay is meanwhile prayerfully beating his chest and mumbling “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa,” which is all he remembers from a year of high school Latin and several years as an altar boy.

Rotary Minute: Tammi Brooks

Tammi Brooks escaped into books to cope with a difficult childhood. Now a mother of four and a success, she wants as many kids as possible to have that same outlet.

After her father divorced her mentally ill mother when she was 11 months old, she was handed to the care of her minister’s family, a blessing for sure.

She went back to live with her mother after a time, but it didn’t work out. “By the time I was 16,” she said, “I figured I was on my own.”

Tammi graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in literature and African-American studies ­– the first white student to major in the then-new discipline. “It revealed the latent racism that comes from being a white person in the South that you don’t even know you have until you’re thrown into being a minority,” she said.

She launched a magazine in Gainesville, and it’s still going strong to this day.  But Tammi longed for an experience outside of her college town, so she went to work for Algonquin Books in Chapel Hill.

Small wonder that she has a passion for sharing the gift of literacy with underprivileged children. She brought to the podium three of her favorite childhood books: Miss Twiggley’s Tree, Tikki Tikki Tembo and How Fletcher Was Hatched.

It was all by way of plugging the new “Books on Hand” initiative, in which our club will be charged with supplying 45,000 books to needy children by April. Each member will be asked to provide at least 25 books or a monetary equivalent. Donor accounts will be set up with Barnes & Noble and Amazon to make it no-excuses easy.

It’ll be hard for anyone in attendance to not meet the expectation after Tammi’s moving account. She knows better than most that, as she said, “If children read, they will have a better chance of succeeding, no matter what their circumstances are.”

 

Submitted by Matt Dees

Rotary Minutes – Brantley DeLoatch

President Don announced that in preparation for our the big celebration of our Centennial right around the corner that he had scanned two previous histories of our club, one that spanned the timeframe 1915 to 1955 and the other from 1955 to 1990 and had them posted on our website.  When introducing Brantley DeLoatch (Brant) for his Rotarian minutes, President Don noted that Brantley was mentioned in both of those books. In fact, Brantley joined Rotary in January of 1946, the same year I was going vertical and taking my first baby steps.

Brantley got a whoop from Anna Jones when he mentioned his origins inNorthamptonCountywhere she was also born and raised. Like most men of the Greatest Generation Brant’s career was interrupted by World War II. I’ve known Brant for a while but one thing I learned is that he got his navy training at Notre Dame. Brant spent a fair amount of his time at the podium sharing his war time experience including a chance reunion on a golf cart in Pinehurst with a Marine who was rescued from the South Pacific when Brant navigated the battleship he was assigned to on a mission into those treacherous waters.

Many of us here in the high tech Research Triangle Area might be forgiven if we don’t fully appreciate the importance of agriculture to the economy of this state. It’s massive and Central Carolina Farmers Exchange was the hugely successful Durham farm co-op that Brantley managed until its merger with Raleigh based FCX in 1980. His influence in the agribusiness community propelled him to positions of influence in a number of organizations including his alma mater NC State. I first met him when he served on the board of Central Carolina Bank. He also served on the boards of Duke Hospital, Durham Regional, the RDU Airport Commission, the Chamber of Commerce and the Durham County Commission.

Brant and his wife Geri have 5 children and a bunch of grandchildren. If you ever get a chance to ring the Salvation Army bell with Brant, don’t pass it up. It will be one of the nicest hours of the Christmas season for you and he might tell you how he tracks down wood to heat his home in the winter. Seriously.

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.

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