The anthems began with “God Bless America” and ended with “O Canada.” Joan Knoertzer’s virtuosity was decidedly on tap as the latter song was a spontaneous request from President John, a result of his remembering our contingent of Canadian brass — District Governor Barry Fraser and his wife, Carolyn. The Frasers, along with past Assistant DG Paul Schissel and Anne Nauts, were in Ann Arbor to preside over the District 6380 Conference held at Marriott Eagle Crest. They had also attended our Club’s “Spring Fling” at historic Yankee Air Museum — a memorable evening, indeed.
Eric Lipson’s red spectacles were balanced low on the nose as he came to the podium, shoulders rolling, his body seeming to strain within an invisible box. He looked like Clarence Darrow just before unleashing his summation at Dayton. He’d brought notes; cuneiform scratches, really, but he didn’t need them. For Eric is a GOOD speaker, a master at fusing compassion with a healthy dose of getting-to-the-point. “We all know how important leadership is,” he began. “Our nation has been blessed by our leaders…And when we have failed to follow them or our values, we have suffered.” For example Eric cited Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell speech of 1961 when that President warned of a growing domestic threat — “the military-industrial complex.” This was Eric’s way of drawing from history a salient lesson for today: that regardless of party affiliations the mass of Americans have lost a large portion of their political equity, and with it the ability to pilot their own boat to the future. To Eric and, perhaps, his audience, that future might be saved in part by the arts and the message of our speaker.
The songs were fitting. Henry Johnson and Joan Knoertzer led us in a spirited rendition of “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” Sy Miller’s and Jill Jackson’s anthem of 1955. While not partial to sudden crescendos (your reporter found the conclusion a bit frenzied), he admits the overall treatment was most admirable. Old stalwart “The Happy Wanderer” rounded out the gleeful chorus. Nice work, Henry and Joanie!
President John extended his usual warm greetings to the assembly and noted, “We had a wonderful District Conference.” He commended Lauren Heinonen and Dawn Johnson for spearheading the successful 100 Trees for 100 Dollars initiative, a signature Conference project that underscored its message of environmental stewardship. John asked Lauren and Dawn to come to the podium, which they did amidst enthusiastic applause.
Mary Jean Raab next urged everyone “to please fill out the survey in the next couple of days so we can get the results to the Board when it meets.”
Donor Recognition: District Governor Barry Fraser began his address by congratulating our song team of Henry and Joanie: “They need to keep you! Wow, that was great.” Then, seconding John’s assessment of the Conference, Barry went on to cite Past President Ashish, Rosemarie Rowney, and Bev Seiford for their hard work. He emphasized the importance of EREY (Every Rotarian Every Year) to the District’s ability to fund crucial humanitarian projects here and abroad. Barry then read the list of 2018 Paul Harris Award recipients, beginning with John Hammond. “Polio is in John’s memory,” Barry began. “He remembers visiting his uncle, who was in an iron lung, at the old U-M hospital. Row upon row of patients in those machines, kept alive only by that constant hum.” The names of the Award winners are as follows. Your reporter asks for the indulgence of any members whose names do not appear; though writing feverishly, he may have missed one or two. They will certainly be added at the first opportunity.
John Hammond, Ian Bund, Richard Carlisle, Millie Danielson, Tom Kauper, Phil Klintworth, Bob Dascola, Rick Detweiler, Barbara Eichmuller, Michael Field, Ginny Geren, Reno Maccardini, Anne Glendon, Downs Herold, Libby Hines, Maurita Holland, Joyce Hunter, Dave Matthews, Brian McLaughlin, Glenna Miller, Jim Miller, Lorna Prescott (for Jerry Prescott), Rick Price, Vic Rosenberg, Jody Tull DeSales, Rosemarie Rowney, Norma Sarkar, Ann Schriber, Susan Smith Gray, Mary Steffek Blaske, Al Storey, Lynne White, Paul Wright
“And some are anonymous,” John added. The Weber’s dining room rang with applause for all our new Paul Harris Fellows.
Past President Norman Herbert came up next to honor the year’s Benefactors and Sustainers. He began, “The Foundation Development Committee was founded in 1985, and is structured as a 501(c)3. It is for projects that go over and above our usual activities,” Norm explained. “Funds come from income — each year 4.25% is distributed. In the last ten years $664,000 has been distributed. We invite each of you to make a bequest from your estate. Increasing these gifts will allow us to make [even more of an impact internationally.]”
Norm then read the names of Donors:
Bob Ause, Fred Beutler, Nishta Bhatia, Rob Boehnke, Spaulding Clark, Rick Detweiler, Barbara Eichmuller, Steve Schram, Carolyn Shear, Rosemarie Rowney
And Benefactors (gifts of $10,000 and above):
John Debbink, Ann Marie Felbeck, Beth and Joe Fitzsimmons, Anne and Paul Glendon, Lorna Prescott, Jim Reece, Ashish Sarkar, Randy Tisch
Thanks to all.
A bit of history
Club toastmaster Dennis Powers introduced our speaker, Ann Arbor Summer Festival director Mike Michelon. “The arts symbolize the quality of life in Ann Arbor. Our speaker is the new director of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to welcome Michael Michelon.”
“The Festival began in 1978,” Mike began. “It was a collaboration between Mayor Belcher and Eugene Power, whose Power Center for the Performing Arts had just been built. They felt that a festival would provide a boost [to Ann Arbor] economically.”
Mike then recounted a bit of Festival history — “You remember “Top of the Park” on top of the Fletcher parking deck? This [segued] to the new Power Center. In 2006 there was another new location — Ingalls Mall — the closest thing we have to a town square.” He then highlighted some memorable performances of recent years, in particular the 2017 hire-wire act of David Dmitry: “He’s a one-man circus. His act, “L’homme Cirque,” was set up in a tent in Burns Park. It sold out. Audiences of 120 witnessed his incredible hire-wire, human cannonball, and other acts.”
Mike’s speech dovetailed with the slides on the screen as well as the season brochures arrayed on each table. From “Ani DiFranco’s outspoken political lyrics to Scott Bradlee’s ‘Postmodern Jukebox,’ from ‘Acrobuffo’s Air Play, where ‘fabrics dance and balloons have a mind of their own,’ to the award-winning Jazzmeia Horn,” the season promises to be a spectacular like no other. Of especial interest to the audience was Michelon’s description of “At the Illusionist’s Table,” an evening of magic, performance, conversation, and a first-rate meal featuring Scottish illusionist Scott Silven. Only 22 guests can attend any evening (June 26-July 2), and times vary. Also, unlike most of the other performances, guests pay $200 each for a place at Mr. Silven’s table. This seems a must-attend event for all our Club’s eminent Victorians; indeed, your reporter is hoping for a mixture of Dorian Gray and Lady Windermere’s Fan.
Mike had certainly stoked his audience’s interest, most of whom availed themselves of a program. Amidst a hearty ovation, John thanked our speaker and reminded us of JET: Join leaders, Exchange ideas, and Take action!
by John White