Past President John Ackenhusen’s piano was as beautiful as always. The Weber’s ballroom was crowded, with everybody enjoying lunch, though it seemed less animated than usual — probably the result of losing fellow member, Howard Cooper. President Greg said it best: “Since the first of the year, it’s been my sad duty to ring the bell four times. All the members we’ve lost were exemplary.” With the bell’s tolling the assembly rose together for a moment of silence. Thoughts of Howard at our meetings, laughing with friends, mixed with many others. Your reporter vividly recalls Howard and his golfing buddies strutting up to the hole-in-one at Travis Pointe. No problem that they missed it (usually by not much); a broad smile and a wave was his convivial signal that there remained other holes to conquer. “Next year,” he would seem to say, as he sped off in the cart. Forging ahead.
Greg also informed the room that Jody Tull deSalis has suffered a stroke. However, there was good news: “She is stable and out of the ICU, in a regular care unit.” Members were asked to sign the card at the Rotary Cares table, presided over by that devoted caregiver (and perennial upbeat) Lois Jelneck. Greg then quoted poet John Donne’s Meditation XVII: “‘No man is an island entirely unto itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.'”
Inspiration: Shelley MacMillan graced the occasion of our New Member initiation by reading “Getting to Know You,” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1951 classic from The King and I. A perfect welcome for the new members, and it sounded a lot better that Walther Matthau’s prose reading of Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” at the 1979 Academy Awards. This was followed by PP Downs Herold, who, choosing not to read, led us in singing Rotary standards “Smile, Sing a Song,” and “My Wild Irish Rose,” in commemoration also of St. Patrick’s Day.
Assistant District Governor, Anne Nauts, reminded everyone about the upcoming District Conference in May: “We’ll enjoy a boat ride on the Detroit River, and Collyer’s secured a fantastic speaker for us. So check out the District website. Fliers with more information are on the tables. Please take one, and join us!”
Greg than thanked Anne as well as all meeting volunteers. Unable to resist a timely quip, he admitted “I want you to know, because there is a rumor out there [sweeping hand gesture indicating an extensive, well-financed campaign to ‘cast aspersions on Greg’s asparagus’] that my parents paid for me to attend the University of Nebraska. My football record might make you think so, but it’s not!”
Spring Fling: Susan Smith repeated her announcement of last week, that the 2019 Spring Fling will take place May 12 at the Hudson Car Museum in Ypsilanti, from 4:00-7:00 p.m. “Side Tracks is providing a repast for us.” The cost is $30 per adult and $10 per child. Indeed, Susan emphasized that children are welcome. “This is a family celebration, so bring everyone. The Museum looks great — it’ll be a wonderful time.”
Welcome of Junior Rotarians: Mary Jean Raab came to the podium. “Junior Rotarians, please come up. Thank you, President-Elect Rosemarie, and PP Karen Kerry, for giving the name cards, and Ginny Geren for the photography. Now, Meghan Gupta will introduce the Junior Rotarians.” “Hi everybody. It’s great to be back with you again. My name is Meghan, and I was a Junior Rotarian a couple of years ago — and yes, my parents got me into Yale through the ‘side door’!” Amidst a roar of laughter, mother Toni Gupta jumped up from her table, and exclaimed “No, it’s not true. As my husband said, ‘you had to get in yourself; we didn’t have the money for that [payoff]!'”
The first student, also named Meghan, will be studying Public Health after her graduation from Greenhills School. She amazed the assembly with her success at founding her own cake business, Cakes for a Cause, which has raised more than $100,000. Moira Cummings, also of Greenhills, is head coach of Girls on the Run. Trey Feldheiser, also a Greenhills senior, declared that “all of us here have received service letters. I have served on overseas trips, including in Peru.” Admiration flowed to the students through the hearty applause given by their audience.
“Thank you, everyone,” said Mary Jean. In the meantime, Greg had regained the podium. “This is a very impressive group,” he began, “and doing it the right way, not the wrong way. But you’ll need to prove yourselves [from members and guests, a cocktail of laughs and gasps]. As I heard Bo Schembechler say when some promising freshmen had joined the team, ‘But they haven’t even played a down of football!’ So, that’s great, but it’s what you do later….”
Next came our new members. Another group of stellar achievers, who will, nonetheless, have to prove thems
PP Norman Herbert opened the ceremony by Introducing Joseph V. Bellanca, a 25-year veteran in radio and cable television. Norman (who is sponsoring Joe with Chris Fischer and Doug Weber) pointed out that Joe is currently “serving as Senior Account Executive for WJR 760 AM…Joe has also been the Director of Corporate Marketing for the Detroit Pistons…and [he] is the first man to Washtenaw Community College President, Dr. Rose Bellanca.
Past President John Ackenhusen came to the podium next to introduce Aleia MacDonald. Aleia is a Rotary transfer, a past president of her former club, and “a recipient of many awards.” On a humanitarian level, John informed the assembly that Aleia had been responsible for raising $100,000 annually for young people. “Aleia is a registered investment advisor, and [is associated with] Advanced Wealth Strategies in Ann Arbor.” Sounds like a real doer. As John concluded: “I give you Aleia MacDonald. The Rotarian’s Rotarian!”
Norman came up again with fellow-sponsor, PP Nishta Bhatia, to introduce Brenda Henning, who “has worked with the Boys and Girls Club in Honolulu to beautify their playground facilities and…worked with Hospice in Antigua to do a facilities upgrade.” Norman explained that Brenda and her family have “long been involved in community service.” She is also “very athletic,” and has achieved “the requisite licenses to be a financial advisor.” She is the Senior Vice President and Wealth Management Market Lead for Old National Wealth Management, and, as Norman declared, “resonates with the Rotary motto: ‘Service Above Self.'”
This time Norman just stayed up there. By now, some in the audience were wondering “Norm’s got more new members coming from his stable than Bob Baffert’s got thoroughbreds, or the Grand Wizard’s got wrestlers.” And they were right. “Barbara Niess-May, Paul Glendon, Ken Fischer and I are sponsoring Middy Matthews for membership in the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor…Middy serves as a Realtor, and Market Lead for Arbor Move Team, which offers a digital resource for buying and selling homes in Ann Arbor.” Norman was visibly pleased when he added, “Middy is also a tennis player and actually served as a pro at the East Bank Club in Chicago and for the Oprah Winfrey Show.” In conclusion, Norman underscored that Middy “likes being involved in the community.”
It was like FDR passing the mantle to Truman, but without the funeral train. This time Norma Sarkar had the mic. She warmly introduced “the Reverend Doctor Ryan Peterson, Campus Pastor at Concordia University.” Her co-sponsor was Laura Thomas, PR/Branding Committee chair and immediate past Director of Marketing for Concordia.
Immediate Past President Collyer Smith came up next: “Andrea Bare is a senior advisor in the Healthcare sector for the William Davidson Institute. She conducts market analyses for global health products and researches new methods of positively influencing markets to achieve better outcomes.” Collyer cited also Andrea’s MBA from the U-M Ross School of Business as well as her two daughters, Fiona and Colette.
Christian Rinna is an “experienced builder with a demonstrated history of working in the real estate industry. His construction work is in Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland and Jackson Counties.” Collyer also mentioned Christian’s four children: “an eight year-old daughter, a four year-old daughter, a two year-old son and an eight-month-old son.” Christian is also a veteran, having served with the Army for three years, during which time he operated heavy equipment among many other duties.
PP Ashish Sarkar introduced B. Dawson, who has transferred from Rotary North, and who has been attending our meetings for over a year; and, to universal acclaim, PP Ingrid Sheldon introduced our former administrator of 14 years, John White. The applause was deafening for this great group; especially for John! Cheers went up, yellow burgees were cast aside, and our newly minted Rotarians were embraced by their colleagues in the receiving line. The festivities continued at 5:00 at The Session Room, with an impressive turnout.
Here is the link to the photos of our new members.