Rotary Minutes: George Deaton – Lasting Impressions

For some reason George Deaton’s Rotary Minute reminded me of the movie Forrest Gump. It wasn’t because George was born in the Virginia mountains and described himself as a hillbilly, or, as he joked, an Appalachian American. In fact, it wasn’t because George reminded me of the character Forrest Gump at all. Forrest, you may recall was not too intelligent while George studied physics at Virginia Tech. And it wasn’t because the love of his life eluded Forrest all of his life while George met the love of his life on an internship during his college days and has stayed married for through 53 years, 6 children and 13 grandchildren.

The parallel that I found fascinating was that like Forrest, George had a knack of being present and involved in some truly historical events that spanned the same time frame as Forrest’s story including manned space flight, the birth of the internet, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

One of George’s passions that put him in the position to be a close witness to some of this history was his love of music and opera. Anyone who has heard George sing will not be surprised that this passion was an element in the courtship of his wife all those years ago and remains a passion that he now uses to help raise money for various organizations as one of the founders and members of Three Triangle Tenors.

George’s complete presentation can be read here and a recording of the Triangle Tenors performing O Sole Mio is here on YouTube.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Rotary Minutes are brief summaries of biographical presentations made by Durham Rotary Club members. This practice was initiated by President Don to deepen our commitment to Rotary and each other with peeks into our backgrounds. They have also turned out to be very entertaining. 

Rotary Minutes: Tom Krakauer

Today’s Rotary Minute was presented by Tom Krakauer, a Durham Rotary Club Member since 1985 and a Paul Harris Fellow.

Tom shared his notes with me so I could relax and just listen to him and not worry about taking good notes myself. Of the four pages of notes that he gave me, I thought it was remarkable that only two brief paragraphs even mentioned his role in the development of what has become one of Durham’s defining institutions, the Museum of Life  and Science.

I wasn’t always so. When I came to Durhamin 1984 as the marketing director of CCB one of the first major events I was asked to help coordinate was a celebration of the bank’s attainment of what, in those days, was considered a significant milestone, its first billion dollars in assets. This was to be a affair for the employees and their families. After much debate, it was decided that we would do it at the Museum of Life and Science. The event went fine but the museum that had evolved from the Durham Children’s Museum, was a little funky. In Durham we embrace funky but the contrast between what it was then and what it became after Tom took over is pretty astounding and something that is hard to appreciate if you hadn’t seen its previous incarnations.

In fact, there are only a handful of institutions that have participated so actively in Durham’s revitalization and have simultaneously been defined for such a long time by the leaders who shaped them. The three that come to mind are Tom, Bill Kalkhof of Downtown Durham Inc., and Reyn Bowman, now retired from the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau. All members of our club, I might add.

But one of the purposes of the Rotary Minutes is to share things with the club that you might not already know. Tom is unquestionably a Renaissance man whose hobbies include birding, butterflies and genealogy.  In 2004, he retired from the Museum to take care of his wife Janet who had cancer. Janet died in 2005 after 36 years of marriage.

Tom was awarded a lifetime achievement from the Association of Science-Technology Centers, recognizing his role in promoting “Informal Science Education at the National, State and local levels.” The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce also presented him with its Civic Honor Award, its highest award.

Tom mentioned second acts. He has two, and they may be closely related. He noted the special relationship he has developed with Lynn Richardson, the librarian for the North Carolina Collection at the Durham Public Library, who the club met when she provided a program for us on the Collection. One reason why the Chamber honored Tom was his role in the creation of the Museum of Durham History.  Any of you who did your early voting Downtown know that the new museum’s current location is the old transportation hub, which is an euphemism for bus stop, in that tangle of roads between the Civic Center and Brightleaf.

Durham funky, no doubt about it. But let’s look at that as a good sign because we know that Tom and his passion for museums and Durham will make it too, something very special.

Tom’s notes with more information about his birding and unique qualification for the Vice Presidency of the United States can be found here in notes he used to keep himself within the 7 minute time frame…something some Rotarians have failed to do, to their everlasting embarrassment.

Rotary Minutes: Ralph Rogers

It’s becoming clear that the five minutes that we established for the “Rotary Minutes” is not enough to summarize the lives and careers of some of our members. Even younger members like myself…I’m only 67…have found that limitation constraining.  For senior members like Ralph Rogers,  who is 20 years older, it should hardly get him through high school (Durham High, 1943), military service (the Big One, WW II) and college (Duke undergraduate and pharmacy school at Carolina.)

President Don has been reluctant to use the hook. Fortunately, I was saved from that embarrassment after I went well beyond that arbitrary limit and made it impossible for Don to try to rein in much more interesting and accomplished Rotarians than I, like Ralph.

Ralph’s professional career is notable enough. He took over the pharmacy that his father established in Durham at Mangum and Parrish Streets and ran it until the early 60’s when he sold it to go and found Mutual Drug Company, which for sixty years now has been providing services to independent pharmacies around the state.

However, one of the most fascinating things that Ralph reported on was the project he undertook in the late 50’s. As one of the organizers of an early effort to revitalize Downtown Durham he began documenting improvements with before and after pictures. One of my earliest memories of a Rotary presentation occurred in the late 80’s and was a slide show that Ralph put together of some of these photographs.

Another significant contribution to his home town was Ralph’s involvement in the establishment of mental health services in the community. However, the documentation of Downtown’s early transformation will likely cement his place in history. Fortunately, Ralph has collaborated with the folks at the Durham County Library to make the photographs available to the public along with his audio descriptions of what the pictures are showing.

Anybody interested in the history of Durham will find this indispensable. They are available here on the library’s website.

http://www.durhamcountylibrary.org/ncc/landscape/rr002.php

 

submitted by Jay Zenner

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.