Program Report – Joe Colopy- Founder of Bronto Software

The Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Annual Tribute Luncheon this month celebrated the start-up culture in Durham. The keynote speaker was the founder of MapQuest, Chris Heivly. Chris is also involved in the start-up culture here and started by asking everyone to imagine themselves as 10 year olds who decide to build a fort. His point was that you didn’t do a lot of planning then, you just went out and looked around and built that fort with whatever was available. MapQuest started as an attempt to improve on the trip planners we used to get from AAA.

Listening to Joe Colopy tell the story of how he started and built Bronto Software, my first thought was that I was beginning to see a pattern here and building forts was a good analogy. Bronto was the leading provider of email marketing software for the top 1000 email retailers from 2014 to 2016. Joe sold the company to NetSuite for $50 million in 2015 and it was subsequently acquired by Oracle. By that time Bronto Grew to over 300 people and $50 M in revenue across 5 offices, with headquarters here in Durham on the American Tobacco Campus and other offices in New York City, Los Angles, London and Sydney.

Before sharing all this, Joe told the story of how he and his wife to be, Karalyn, ended up in Durham. When they were both college students in Massachusetts they headed off to Florida for spring break and Durham happened to be where they stopped halfway down. After college, they joined the Peace Corps.

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Rotary Foundation – Paul Harris Fellows.

The Durham Rotary Roadshow went west again to the new JB Duke on the Duke Campus and then returned to TROSA on James Street before heading Downtown to it’s permanent home at the Convention Center.

At the JB Duke Hotel four special PHF awards were made. Judge Nancy Gordon was awarded her first PHF with points accumulated by friends who wished to honor her.  Nancy Marks was awarded her PHF Plus 5.  Susan Ross was awarded her PHF Plus 4 and Plus 5. Brand new member Lucia Powe jumped right into support of the Foundation with her first PHF at the beautiful new facility on Science Drive.

So that Rotary men were not totally shutout,  Tom Krakauer was awarded his PHF Plus 4 during the meeting at TROSA.

Please congratulate all these great supporters of the Foundation and Committee Chair Andy Esser who made all the awards. 

Rotarian Seth Warner – May He Rest in Peace

Mathematics Professor Emeritus Seth Warner: A man of Science and of the Arts, Seth Warner epitomizes the spirit of Durham; Teacher of Mathematics and a musician at heart.

Seth Warner (PHF) joined the Rotary Club of Durham, NC on 1 January 1975.

On a recent Thursday, Warner, a math professor emeritus who taught at Duke for 40 years, walked up a winding stone staircase to Duke Chapel’s Flentrop 1976 organ. With more than 5,000 pipes towering around him, he used a metal shoehorn to slip on special leather sole shoes to better control the wooden pedals.

As a necessity, Seth Warner learned to play organ as a boy growing up during the Great Depression.

His mother knew that learning how to control the massive pipes was a step toward job security in the 1930s. Talented organists were in demand by churches and synagogues looking to fill their halls with hymns and traditional music.

“I am glad, through my music, to contribute to the music of Duke Chapel and hope to continue to do so as long as I am able,” said Warner, (then) 87.

Warner is among the volunteer organists who put their repertoire on display every weekday, between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. in Duke Chapel for curious visitors and reflecting staff and students. The demonstrations are free, and a few of the musicians are retirees or current Duke Employees.

Warner has been playing an organ in the Chapel for about 40 years. During his hour-long performances, he’ll begin with the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and then move on to pieces by French composers such as Pierre Dumage. On a recent Thursday, he played a piece by Bach, “Come, Holy Ghost, Lord God,” while his daughter, Sarah Burdick, listened in an adjacent room that houses the Flentrop’s blower, which feeds wind through the pipes.

In elementary school, Burdick said, her class visited the Chapel while studying Gothic architecture. Her dad ended up playing for her classmates.

“It made me very cool for the day,” said Burdick, now director of administration and special projects for Duke Facilities Management.

One day as Warner played; Rosamaria Scasserra sat in the Chapel pews and listened. She had traveled from the Bronx to visit her cousin, who lives in Durham, and they were touring campus.

“It’s beautiful,” Scasserra said of the organ music. “It just sets the tone. It’s very spiritual.”

Contributed by by President
B. C. Dash
                                                                           20 April, 2017

Flags of Rotary Clubs Worldwide

We can now be more aware of the International nature of Rotary, thanks to President BC’s goal of having international flags on our tables to represent the many countries where Rotary has clubs.

Sets of 7 international flags, 96 countries,
will be on our lunch tables.  And this is not all of the countries!


New Member: Sara Stephens

Please welcome new member Sara Stephens and introduce yourself.  Sara is the Director of Individual Giving for the United Way of the Greater Triangle.  She was sponsored by Indira Everett.

Rotary Minute: Steed Rollins 2

Steed used this Rotary minute to outline his family connections to the area…Dad, Mom and inlaws, which go very deep. In 2014 he did another Rotary Minute with more of his own personal history which is here.

My Historical Family Ties to the Region

Rollins Family

  • 1865 Edward Tyler Rollins born. (grandfather)
  • 1894 Rollins founds Durham Herald Co. which is now The Herald-Sun
  • Acquires The Durham Sun during the depression
  • Edward T. Rollins dies 1931
  • 1916 Steed Rollins, Sr. born
  • 1938 he joins Durham Rotary
  • December ’41 he is the first Rotarian to enlist in Army and sent to New Guinea
  • Dad died in 1985
  • Pelham Wilder invited me to join Rotary in 1986

Riggsbee Family

  • Joseph Albert Riggsbee born 1883? Chatham Co.
  • His father, Atlas, was postman between Pittsboro & Chapel Hill
  • Descendants from the McCauley family (Mathew & William) that donated farm land in 1789 in “Newhope Chappel Hill” to establish a home for the University of North Carolina.

Few Family

  • 1763 James Few moves to Orange Co. and purchases land at what is now the end of Cole Mill Rd. and what is now known as Few’s Ford.
  • He was a Regulator and was hanged for refusal to take an oath of Allegiance to the Crown.
  • 1867 his great grandson, William Preston Few, was born in Greer, SC (This Louise’s grandfather) Note that both of us have a grandfather born during the Civil War.
  • 130 years after James Few was hanged, William Preston Few returned to Durham as a professor at Trinity College.
  • William Preston Few became President of Trinity College and persuades James B. Duke to endow the little college and to transform it into a great university.
  • He became the first president of Duke University
  • Dr. Few was an early member of the Durham Rotary Club, possibly as an Honorary Member. He died in 1940.
  • His forth son, Randolph R. Few, was born on Duke’s East Campus in 1920 and was my father-in-law. I recall him vividly remembering walking the woods with his father and Mr. Duke to select the site for the Duke Chapel.
  • Dr. Few died in 1941.