Millie Danielson Presented Distinguished Service Award

Millie Danielson, member of RCAA since 1995 and soon to celebrate her 96th birthday, received the Distinguished Service Award on February 6, 2019. Says Millie, “Things just keep happening in life! You just need to keep informed, stay healthy, and active as long as you can.”

Read her tribute by Downs Herold below.

Millie Danielson, RCAA member since 1995, receives her Distinguished Service Award in the week of her 96th birthday.

“Rotary International has only established one membership classification that could be considered an award. It is called Senior Active or Active-Exempt and what it does is excuse that member from the meeting attendance requirement. It is “earned” when the total of a member’s age (in number of years) plus the number of years they have been a member, totals 85 (a member has to request).

“Our Club originally awarded Honorary Paul Harris Fellowships (PHF) to select members for their exemplary service to the Club and community. Following the International’s encouragement to all members to “earn” their own PHF, we named our top award the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) in the early 1990s and have been presenting 3-5 DSAs annually. In a moment, I will present one of those awards. A Paul Harris Fellowship is still awarded to each DSA recipient.

“As we entered the 21st century, our Club then initiated our Emeritus classification as a way to recognize long-time Rotary members hopefully before their health and/or relocations ended their membership. The Emeritus formula total is also age plus years of membership but with the total range being 120-150. In some cases, a member’s declining health has prompted a presentation and/or consideration is given since female members were excluded prior to 1988 limiting their membership.

“In March of 2015, I was at this microphone at the Michigan Union presenting Millie Danielson her Emeritus Award. I’m guessing that after her 92nd birthday that year the Committee felt they might better get an Emeritus blanket to her and not wait any longer. She was the first female member to be named Emeritus. Millie joined in 1995. As she sits here today, recovering from a cold, and about to celebrate her 96th birthday she is living proof that the Committee didn’t need to hurry getting this Energizer Bunny her Emeritus Blanket.

“In reading through a Harpoon copy of my Emeritus presentation remarks 4 years ago, they basically make a great nominating statement for our Distinguished Service Award.

“I reported on Millie’s (it is actually Mildred) early years at Eastern Michigan preparing to become an Art Teacher in Detroit. She spent two summers teaching at summer camps designed for polio survivors, large and small braces and all, probably never imaging that she would 70 years later be a Rotarian working to remove the Polio germ from our world.

“She married and was off to California when Marine Captain Lee Danielson was recalled to active duty to train recruits for the Korean War. He was a WWII vet of the Pacific campaign. She was then probably the most qualified craft-cart volunteer at the Ocean Side Military Hospital. At the War’s end it was back to Ann Arbor for Lee to finish his PhD and join the faculty of the UM’s Business School. There Millie found a way to serve and worked with a faculty wives group as an advisor. Her creative drive also produced (with Lee’s assistance) a set of twins (Lisa and Michael) and when son, Chris, arrived it made for three children under three at home.

“She survived those early years of motherhood and continued to find many interesting things to do and opportunities to serve in Ann Arbor. She has served on several boards in the Ann Arbor cultural scene, including the Michigan Theater, Performance Network, UM Museum of Art and the Musical Society. Her love of theater found her with the Faculty Women’s Drama group that not only read plays but in her case she wrote and produced two plays for their fun nights at Mendelssohn Theater. It was her active community service work that led to her nomination to Rotary membership in 1995. At Rotary she joined the Social Committee and promoted Theater nights at Performance Network. (These like a reverse Wine Women and Song as the wine and food followed a theater performance with the actors there as well.) In 2014 she stepped in to lead the Social Committee. She has also been a long-time member of the Program Committee.

“Millie has been a member of a church choir for over 50 years. Rotarian Donald Bryant also called upon her sewing and artistic skills as Millie produced costumes for the First Presbyterian’s Boar’s Head Festivals and Noah’s Flood performances. She designed and built the set for an original opera Donald wrote on the Tower of Babel story. She and her sister, Ginny, also found time to deliver meals for Motor Meals, now called Meals on Wheels for 20 years.

“The eight weaving looms at Millie’s home clearly show her passion for creating and sharing beautiful things. As a Fiber Artist for 50 years, she has created numerous original fabrics, tapestries, runners, clothing and church and business commissions. A fiber cross hanging originally commissioned for Ann Arbor’s Zion Lutheran Church was eventually gifted to a sister-church in Israel where it presently hangs in the church’s chancel in Bethlehem.  Her work has regularly been displayed at the Hand Weaver’s Guild Exhibits at the Power Center and their Fiber Feast at Washtenaw Community College. Her work is also part of the art collection exhibited throughout the Ross Business School Building where Lee taught. Some lucky Golf and Tennis Outing auction winners have gone home with one of her donated art pieces.

“It was also noted at her Emeritus presentation that her presentation marked the first husband/ wife team so recognized.

“Since her Emeritus presentation she has not stayed home curled up under her Emeritus blanket listening to WKAR. She listens to WUOM! (I put that in to keep Steve Schram happy.)

“She swims twice a week at the Ann Arbor Y. She has maintained her 5-Star Rotary attendance record. She was part of The Rosie the Riveter Record-Breaking gathering of over 3766 (9/17) and made scarves for the event. She was on the leadership team for the Grand Opening of the Rotary Centennial Playground in 2017. She promoted Social Committee recent activities “Act Your Age,” at Performance Network and Theater Nova. She explored ways she could assist with the Detroit Cass Community Tiny Homes Project, as it is near where she once lived. She produced an “Out of the Closet” fashion show in October 2015 and also did similar shows at Glacier Hills and Silver Maples. And…She has so far resisted the urge to convert her Rotary Emeritus Blanket into a coat or cape to wear to Rotary on cold days.

“Daughter, Lisa, who’s with us today has shared with me one of Millie’s recent statements:

“‘Things just keep happening in life !  You just need to keep informed, stay healthy, and active as long as you can.’

“Thank You Millie Danielson for sharing your multiple talents, time, positive attitude, being a community role model, and staying sharp and witty with Rotary and the Ann Arbor Community.

“I feel blessed to be able to Present you with this Rotary Club of Ann Arbor Distinguished Service Award.

“Plaque Citation: For giving her talents as an artist extraordinaire to enriching and aiding the community around her.

“I should also add that the PHF pin she is receiving has 5 stones recognizing the 4 previous Paul Harris Fellowships she has earned.”

By Downs Herold