Union Ballroom a sublime setting for our Holiday Concert

The Union Ballroom was resplendent. After being greeted warmly by John Hammond and Amy Goodman (only to have one’s hand shaken a dozen more times before crossing the threshold) your reporter was stunned to immobility by the Ballroom’s full illuminated glory. Yes, it was a rare sunny day, and the multitude of members and guests were certainly enjoying its salubrious effects. The old paneling gleamed, and, far above, those familiar beams, bosses, and fanciful capitals – cast, of course, in Michigan Corinthian – seemed to pulsate like the crystal columns in Fingal’s Cave.

Toddling along on his own trip to bountiful, this writer reveled before the fabulous buffet. Convivial conversation with Dennis Powers barely slackened his ability to heap grilled chicken on chicken, claim his two soups, marshal a line of tomato cabochons along the edge of his roll, and garnish the whole with a wreath of lettuce. Your author knows how to allocate attention.

A fine piano prelude, courtesy of Joan Knoertzer, floated through the room, providing a musical red carpet for the opening of festivities; then, the Rotary bell. Reminiscent of the effect of the Almighty’s graffiti on Belshazzar, but in a nicer way, the sated assembly leaped to sing a lusty “God Bless America.” A moment later, Richard Ingram climbed the stage stairs and delivered a heartfelt Inspiration. “Artistic inspiration is our topic today,” he began. “Which artistic experiences in our lives can lift us out of our everyday existence and cause us to ponder the world?” He went on to describe recent UMS and Ann Arbor Symphony performances at Hill Auditorium, which he aptly pointed out, “speaks to a genuine human need for community-based artistic inspiration.” Hear, hear!

Don Duquette

Don Duquette and Joanie then led us in song, according to “the holiday canon,” as Don observed. “Tomorrow is the solstice…and that got me to thinking about light, when the sun returns!” The selections: “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream,” which the assembly sang with the dignity of a hymn, and “This Little Light of Mine.” Everybody sounded committed to the lyrics, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

President John came to the podium and greeted everyone and thanked the volunteers. Mic runners Chris Fisher, Terry Foster, and Dan Balbach stood, as did Steve Schram, who would serve as photographer. “Today’s Wednesday Welcomer is Barbara Eichmuller,” John highlighted, “She’ll be staying after the meeting to speak to people interested in Rotary or in joining our Club.” John then introduced PP Ashish Sarkar with the words, “In light of the likely tax changes, you [members] may want to consider making your donations this year. Here to inform us about giving to the Foundation is Past President Ashish.”

Ashish extended a holiday welcome to the packed ballroom, then immediately got to the point: “As of yesterday, only 63 members have given anything toward the three funds…[and] only 29% toward polio. I wrote my check this morning. You can mail your checks before the end of the year, or [donate] up into March. Thank you.” The sense of urgency, of course, stems from the time limit on our reaching the giving benchmark to qualify for matching funds.

After thanking Ashish, John informed the audience that “we created a new award at the Board meeting today – The Rob Northrup Humanitarian Award.” Rolling applause filled the ballroom like a canal bursting its locks. Rob stood to acknowledge the acclamation of his friends as John added, “This is a standing award. It can be conferred on a Club member, as today, but, more likely, will be awarded to people outside….” Congratulations, Rob!

Next, John asked Past Lead Assistant District Governor, Paul Schissler, and his wife, Past Assistant District Governor Anne Nauts, to come forward. “They will bestow a very special award,” he remarked. “Only four out of 54 clubs qualified for this award. When one does, it’s because the president had vision,” Paul declared. “It is my great pleasure to confer this Presidential Citation Award, from John Germ, on the one-and-only Collyer Smith!” In accepting the PCA, Collyer said, with typical modesty: ”This is your award,” while encompassing the audience with a wave. Bravo, PP Collyer!

Sing, choirs of angels

Richard Ingram returned to the podium to introduce his friend and colleague, distinguished music director Steve Lorenz. “My talented colleague, Steve Lorenz, has had a stellar career. His colleagues have elected him to the presidency [of their organization]. Under his leadership, the Pioneer High School A Cappella Choir has achieved a two-time GRAMM Signature School designation. Please join me in welcoming the Pioneer High School A Cappella Choir, and their conductor, Steve Lorenz!” Crescendo isn’t the word to capture the level of applause that greeted the young musicians and their director. Perhaps ‘benign thunderclap’ will suffice.

They sang a stellar repertoire: Stacy Gibbs, the Detroit prodigy, Twain’s “Goodnight, Dear Heart,” set to music (a memorial to his daughter, Susy, who had died at 24), some Bobby Burns, and so-on.

Recognizing the futility of capturing the concert in words, your reporter relinquishes his pen, and simply professes


Weekly Meeting Statistics:

A total of 103 Rotarians were entranced by the singing of the Pioneer A Cappella Choir. We also had two visiting Rotarians (ADGs Anne Nauts and Paul Schissler of Chelsea) and 15 guests, including eight-week old Joseph Lewan. Joseph is the son of new Rotarian Dan Lewan. In advance of the lunch, 16 members of the Program Committee met to discuss speakers for 2018. Early in the day, 16 members of the Board of Directors gathered for their usual monthly meeeting.

Makeup Cards for Roving Rotarians:

None this week

Who’s going to RI Convention in Toronto?

Please contact John White if you are planning to go to Toronto in June for the RI Convention. He can help you with coordination as well as lodging and registration and, hopefully, get you on the private train car from Windsor that has been chartered by the District. President-elect Greg Stejskal and Secretary Barbara Eichmuller are two Club members that have already signed up.

100% Attendance for the First Half of 2017-2018

Here is the list of the 36 Rotarians who achieved 100% attendance in the period from July 1 through the end of the calendar year: John Ackenhusen, Eldon Beery, Chuck Blackmer, Jeannine Buchanan, Jim Cook, Millie Danielson, Don Deatrick, Arthur Di Blassio, Barbara Eichmuller, Michael Field, Susan Froelich, Betsy Hammond, Norman Herbert, Downs Herold, Ed Hoffman, Lois Jelneck, Dave Keosaian, Marcia Lane, Tom Millard, Ebru Misirli Mansfield, Bob Mull, Dennis Powers, Agnes Reading, Dan Romanchik, Rosemarie Rowney, Ashish Sarkar, Dave Schmidt, Leo Shedden, Ingrid Sheldon, Collyer Smith, Greg Stejskal, Len Stenger, Laura Thomas, Burt Voss, Ed Wier, Dave Williams. Note: all but Burt Voss needed some additional attendance credits to join the “100% Club.” Another faithful luncheon attendee was Dave Schmidt (only missed one). There are probably more 100% attendees as a result of events and activities that take place away from our weekly meetings. All it takes is for someone in charge to send the attendance list (with a short description and date) to John White.