Meeting Notes for December 6, 2017 – The Annual Club Assembly

Tom Strode opened the proceedings with a lovely piano prelude, followed by the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” A packed Anderson Room rose swiftly to belt out a particularly fine rendition of our national anthem.


Ruthie Ackenhusen came to the podium and delivered an emotional recital of the poem, “Just a Common Soldier,” A. Lawrence Vaincourt’s monumentally popular tribute to those who serve. Also known as “A Soldier Died Today,” Ruthie brought home the lyrics’ real message:

“He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies: they were heroes, every one

“And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today….”


Jim Irwin bounded to the podium, arms waving and with a Cheshire Cat smile on his face. “This man has played the world’s greatest organs; in Rome, at Saint Peter’s [etc.]…He was asked to play the organ at Prince Harry’s wedding,” which elicited laughs as the audience realized that Jim, once again, had led them over the humorist’s cliff. “Please give a big hand to our own Tom Strode!” Jim then led us through his wonderful song, “It’s a Great Day to Be a Rotarian,” and dedicated to PP Maurita Holland. One stanza spells out RCAA’s focus on youth:

“We serve our youth with vi-gor; we make their chances big-ger,
We show them a fu-ture that’s pla-net wide,
Gi-ving them a chance through RO-TA-RY!
We help them to be qual-i-fied.”

President John then declared “Ruthie and I have had the chance to sing that song in Atlanta, to 40,000 Rotarians. And some people actually joined in. It is a nationally-recognized song now.”

Then, in preparation for Norman Herbert’s upcoming address, John remarked, “In regard to the 3-in-One bill to the members, we’d like to turn up the heat a bit for the Rotary Endowment, for our matching depends on the amount of giving.”

Past President Norman Herbert came to the podium next. His presentation centered on 2017 results for the Endowment Development Committee, which he chairs. “The endowment fund is managed by a board of trustees,” he began. “Its primary purpose is to provide annually additional funds for our club’s support of nonprofit community organizations, activities, and projects over and above that provided by our annual member assessment for charitable activities.” As Norman reminded members, the Endowment’s activities, “primarily focused on youth, are those adopted by the club as official club projects.” These high-profile undertakings are financed by an annual distribution of 4.25% of endowment assets. And these assets have been growing. Current Endowment Fund market value stands at $2,035,980 — “first time the market value has pierced the $2.0 million level,” as Norman observed. This has significantly benefitted the Ann Arbor community and causes abroad as outlays now represent 26% of the Community Service Budget.

Click to see full-size image

Norm then displayed a flow chart that illustrated the transmutation of monies collected by the Endowment, the Member Community Service Fee, the GTO, and $26,000 in additional funds into the $224,641 charitable powerhouse of 2017-18. He concluded his presentation by urging members to “voluntarily invest in the future by making a gift from your current assets or by designating a portion of your estate for distribution to the Endowment….” Hearty applause acknowledged the audience’s appreciation of Norman’s informative and engaging report.

Next came the election of Club officers and directors. Secretary Barbara Eichmuller announced the names and called for a vote. The roster was unanimously ratified by the members. Following the vote, Laura Thomas, Branding/PR Committee chair, came forward to announce the opening of the new RCAA website. She asked director and former Committee chair, Steve Schram, to highlight capabilities of the new, and laboriously developed, website. “First, I would like to thank Dinesh Cyanam!” Steve began, which elicited great applause. Steve then pointed out that the new site is based on those of the Toledo and Cincinnati RCs, which will provide our Club an effective platform going forward. “At the same time,” Steve noted, “the old website will still be accessible” as a resource for archived Club information. Bravo, Branding/PR Committee, for this significant two-year endeavor!

Then, all hell breaks loose

All of a sudden Joanne Pierson started singing a spirited “Born to Be Wild,” and John Ackenhusen was in the process of introducing our speaker, when all hell broke loose….

I didn’t go there to police nothing, man. I ain’t no cop; I ain’t never going to ever pretend to be a cop. And, this Mick Jagger, like [****] put it all on the Angels, man. Like, he used us for dupes, man, you know. And as far as I’m concerned, we were the biggest suckers for that idiot that I can ever see. And, you know what, they told me if I could sit on the edge of the stage so nobody would climb over me, you know, I could drink beer until the show was over, and that’s what I went there to do. But you know what, when they started messing over our bikes, they started it. I don’t know if you think we pay $50 for them things or steal them or pay a lot for ‘em or what; ain’t nobody going to kick my motorcycle…but when you’re… looking at something that’s your life…and you see a guy kick it, you know who he is, you’re going to get ‘em….
— Ralph “Sonny” Barger, founding member, Oakland, California, chapter of the Hell’s Angels. Interview following the Altamont Free Concert fiasco, December 1969, from the Maysles brothers’ film “Gimme Shelter”

The pounding on the door continued until somebody opened it; normally not an effective strategy when you feel you’re under siege. It wasn’t pretty. In strode two leather-clad biker toughs; one wearing garish sunglasses, the other a red bandana, the type always worn by big-knuckled, tobacco-smelling reprobates. Downs Herold looked like a courtier to Rome’s last emperor when Attila crashed the party. People gasped. Men began to shield women, but, perhaps remembering Franken, backed off reluctantly. Members and guests had no choice but to listen to their demands. ‘Sunglasses’ spoke first. Apparently he’s a ‘past president’ of his biker club.

“I call it the tossed salad look,” he began, referring inexplicably to his hair, and a greasy mop it was. “Now, I’ll turn it over to our controller for the run-down.” The smell of vomit permeated the air, people were so afraid. “My God, he’s going to turn his torturer on us!” one was heard to exclaim. Then, as if mocking his victims, Bandana turned around – now donning a green visor, like the ones worn by mousy bank clerks in westerns. But instead of demanding a heap of wallets on the podium, he actually sounded reasonable: “Sad to say there’s no rap, no hip-hop, no song of any kind. We achieved 16% growth in the Endowment while still distributing over $30,000….”

Still skittish, but relieved by Green Visor’s analytics (though to what purpose nobody knew), the assembly seemed to audibly relax a bit. He then rattled off a string of ‘club activities’ – “the annual Wine, Women & Song, always welcome because it comes at a dark time of year; Beth Urich’s very funny one-person show, Act Your Age, [etc.].” The crowd was actually beginning to take to this guy when Sunglasses butted in. “We had to be creative,” he began, which elicited private thoughts among some of exquisite agonies about to be inflicted. “Our budget went from $1,900 to $600. I was insulted, outraged, and told President John so [What, he’s one of them! Judas!]. He said, ‘Alright, Collyer, we can keep it at $1,900, and raise dues and let them know.’ I replied that I wasn’t complaining.” Then, another litany of accomplishments: “Universal Access Playground; the World Peace Conference; a DSA for Martin Lowenberg – we were expecting 50 people. 300 showed up!; a Fisher House – Karen and Brad, how you managed this now annual event is incredible; Don Deatrick’s Hire-A-Vet annual event at WCC; our youth support and international programs; and the DSA for the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra.” In conclusion he commended none other than our fellow-Rotarian, PP Ashish Sarkar: “I’d like to thank you for your leadership. And to many others…thank you for everything you have done as we march into our next centennial!”

Your reporter was still alive; so were the people around his table. Everyone was still alive. No pool cue beatings, no switchblades. The two toughs, now more or less accepted as one of the Rotary pack, left as they had come. Who were these denizens of the highways? What did Hell’s Angels business have to do with the RCAA? None could tell, but there remained a sense that their vision somehow dovetailed with our own. As the aroma of their Harley exhaust dissipated down the Union’s main hallway, the members knew these mysterious strangers would return.

JET: Join leaders; Exchange ideas; Take action!

Notes by  Ed Hoffman, Photos by Steve Schram

Weekly Meeting Statistics

A total of 106 Rotarians were on hand for our annual Club Assembly. In addition, we had one Visiting Rotarian, ADG Anne Nauts of Chelsea. We also had seven guests. In advance of the lunch, 13 members of the International Humanitarian Projects Committee held their regular monthly meeting, and four members of the Public Image Committee met to review the website. Also reported were tutoring sessions at Angell and Beatty schools (37 total by Rotarians and 12 by others), a STRIVE mentors meeting (nine members participated), a DOGS event building bunk beds (four) and Jake McLouth’s adventures with Rotary Youth Exchange (six credits).

This Week’s Birthdays

  • 12/13: SusanWesthoff
  • 12/14: BradChick
  • 12/17: Carolyn Grawi

Makeup Cards for Roving Rotarians

Jake McLouth (Montague-Whitehall on November 21). Jake attended a meeting of the club that sent him on a Rotary Youth Exchange in 2003-2004. This time, he was speaking on the importance of Youth Exchange.

Dave Keosaian (Toledo on December 4). Dave and John White traveled to the Toledo Club to hear the annual report on the good works of their foundation. Their club is about 100 members larger than ours and has an endowment of $3.3 million. A big difference with them is that their funds are in a donor-advised fund at the Toledo Community Foundation rather than managed by a committee of club members. They awarded $230,000 in grants in 2016-2017 and displayed a short video showing representatives of recipient organizations thanking them. As for the meeting, they gather in the ballroom of the Park Inn which is downtown and connected to the Seagate Convention Center. They have a $15 buffet each week and their setup is quite elaborate, featuring an elevated head table and a sophisticated audio-visual system. See photo. Contact John for details on their foundation’s work or the club itself.

District 6380 Newsletter for December

December is Family Month. This month’s issue leads off with an article from DG Barry Fraser noting the power of Rotary partnerships. Succeeding pages document recent activities with youth, including RYLA, RYE and Interact. The remainder of the issue is primarily reports from individual clubs throughout the district. You can read the entire issue for yourself. Click here.—-2017.pdf

Secure Shredding Needed

John White has a copy paper size box filled with unneeded documents that contain personal information. He is looking for an upcoming shedding event or a Rotarian who has access to such a service. Please contact him at

New General Phone Number for our Club

John White has set up a Google Voice telephone number for persons to contact the Club. The number is 734-926-9495. For now, calls to that number are being forwarded to the phone on John’s desk (734-662-1734) which has been the published number for the Club. The new number offers continuity and allows us to reroute the calls to another recipient of our choosing, e.g., for vacations or special situations. Please begin to use the new number in any documents or other situations that call for the Club’s telephone number.

Did You Know…(borrowed from the newsletter of the Toledo Club)

The first motto of Rotary International, “He Profits Most Who Serves Best,” was approved at the second Rotary Convention in 1911. The phrase was first stated by Chicago Rotarian, Art Sheldon, who made a speech in 1910 that included the remark, “He profits most who serves his fellows best.” At about the same time, Ben Collins, president of the Rotary Club of Minneapolis, Minnesota, commented that the proper way to organize a Rotary club was through the principle his club had adopted – “Service, Not Self.” These two slogans, slightly modified, were formally approved to be the official mottoes of Rotary at the 1950 Convention- “He Profits Most Who Serves Best” and “Service Above Self.” The 1989 Council on Legislation established “Service Above Self” as the principal motto of Rotary, since it best explains the philosophy of unselfish volunteer service.

Nice a Quiet Conference Room for a Meeting?

The International Humanitarian Projects Committee will be meeting in the Crofoot Room at 11:00am on January 10. Since their meeting ends with lunchtime and the minimum rental price of a conference room is for five hours, there is space available after our luncheon. The room has a boardroom configuration with 18 chairs around the table. If your committee would like a special place to meet and can arrange to start at 1:30 on the first Wednesday of the month, please contact John White.