President DON has come into possession of a Thank You letter from the Chairman of the Foundation which is very complimentary to NICK and his donation from his firm, Charitable Ways. Apparently there were five paragraphs in the letter, and DON was asking guidance on what might be appropriate to charge for each paragraph. The established Advisor in such matters is GEORGE COX, and somehow the figure of a hundred bucks PER PARAGRAPH came forth. This comes to five hundred big ones, and NICK apparently agreed Good For Him!
PP STEVE DAY was called forward and that is always scary, since it usually costs money. In this case, President DON presented PP STEVE with the Plaque naming him as our Rotarian of the Year for which he was nicely applauded.
TONY MARRONE then introduced our Speaker, PEGGY BLOOMFIELD. He was asked to make it short, so he noted that she was a native Californian, and had been active in WVRC as a member of our Auxiliary since her husband , BILL, joined the club in 1966. Named an Honorary Rotarian after BILL died, she was sponsored for active membership by PP STEVE SCHERER.
Peggy began by thanking the Club for asking her to join. She was born in Escondido, on a citrus ranch. She attended the local schools, then received an honors scholarship to Occidental College, where she started with a major in drama. This didn’t appear to have very promising economic prospects, so Peggy transferred to UCLA and switched to a business major. When she graduated, she enrolled in Wright/McMahon Secretarial School, and landed a job with a defense plant as an assistant to the Purchasing Agent.
When the War ended, her boss, Frank Baum went into independent sales management. Peggy ran his office she WAS his office! About this time she met BILL. He was older, had been married and was now divorced, and had a daughter, Carol. They started dating, and “He treated me like a Queen.” Four months later they were married.
Both of them were interested in going into business for themselves. BILL had worked his way through UCLA by working for the Telephone Company, and they happened to meet the local sales manager for Westinghouse Washers. The only other company making this new product was Bendix, and the Bendix tended to skate around the room on the spin cycle. Besides, the Westinghouse model was adaptable to coin operation. So they scraped together some money, and bought fifty machines. BILL then took off for Westinghouse, to learn as much as he could about the equipment. (He was such a quick study that he soon began helping them with the instruction course). By the time the fifty machines arrived in LA, they all had a 'home'.
This was the start of Web Service Company named for BILL’S initials, that is. They grew quickly, opening a branch in San Diego, then in Las Vegas, and soon up and down the entire West Coast. Hawaii and the Sun Belt were added all the way to Florida.
At this point they had 300,000 machines on location, and they had built a new headquarters in Redondo Beach. Of course, when dryers appeared, they were added to the coin operation.
PEGGY particularly remembers two events as they expanded. One of their good customers liked to complain and he always chose PEGGY to hear him out. She finally tired of this, and said (this is an exact quote), “You are not a nice man and I will not speak to you again” and she hung up on him. He didn’t quit ordering, but he DID switch to BILL with his complaints. The other event was when she was the one who discovered that their accountant (and she quickly pointed out that this wasn’t DON NELSON) was playing games with the books. He was fired immediately.
Web Service is a closely held company. Many family members have worked there, and some still do. The firm has recently sold off about one third of their machines, planning to concentrate on the markets in California, Hawaii and Nevada. They have hired an outsider, for the first time, to be President, since BILL JR is now semi-retired. PEGGY is still on the Board of Directors, attends meetings, and maintains her long-time interest in the company.
They own some real estate, under the name Baron which is the name of one of their dogs. Joanne Hunter, PEGGY’S daughter, is married to Jim Hunter, who is a Past President of the Manhattan Beach Rotary Club. she attended the University of Arizona (and some of you may remember the elaborate schemes both she and BILL JR tried to pull on each other’s birthdays) BILL JR graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, and while there he started a profitable sideline renting window refrigerators to college students. He is married to Patty Jones of Tennessee. Carol attended the University of Kansas, and lives in Topeka with her husband, Jim Hensel. These three have provided EIGHT grandchildren, along with some great-grandchildren.
She and BILL did lots of travelling. BILL had his own plane, and they flew with our beloved PDG SAM WANOUS and his wife, Martha the stories are legion. Travelling as much as they did, the Bloomfields were stranded in Egypt, for instance, when war broke out with Israel. They tried to be the first group to circumnavigate Greenland, but were stuck in the ice and thus didn’t make it all the way around.
PEGGY was active with our Auxiliary as soon as BILL joined WVRC in 1966 she has served as President, in 1974. One of her fond memories of that year when SAM WANOUS was President, was their decision to switch jobs for one meeting. This, of course was before women were permitted to join Rotary. She has been a Board Member of the State Central Committee of one of our major parties, and is now a Trustee at her church. She also chairs the UCLA Chancellor’s Cabinet, and is a Board Member of the UCLA Women in Philanthropy. She and BILL were honored two years ago by the Concern Foundation for their efforts to fight cancer, plus BILL was recognized for his anti-smoking billboard which still operates on Santa Monica Blvd.
Her final comment was to point out how many of her relatives have belonged to Rotary. This includes her father, her uncle, brother, son and son-in-law, all of who follow the Service Above Self theme. She is proud to be a Rotarian and PEGGY, we are proud to have you with us.
Earlier this week, President DON had spoken with Fernando Michaels, who belongs to the Bogota Centro Historico Club He asked permission to present their plan to combat Chagas Disease, which is endemic to Columbia. This terrible disease is spread by small blood-sucking insects, who land on any bare skin of persons who are sleeping at night. These insects inject a tiny amount of a novocaine-like substance which keeps the person unaware of the insertion of their blood-sucking proboscis. This allows them to gorge themselves with human blood, but also infects the ‘donor’, and can be fatal over time. Mr. Michaels is seeking our help in providing a Rotary Matching Grant to help the people of Columbia subdue this disease. It is certainly a worthwhile project, and we agreed that our Board would seriously consider joining this effort.