Yes, Prexy MIKE'S event was enlivened by the Cello/Piano duet, even thought this was the longest day of the year (AND the first day of summer). DAN PRICE started us off by leading the Pledge. The reliable duo of PP JIM DOWNIE and LENNY FRIEDMAN took us through America, and PP STEVE DAY provided the Invocation. He spoke about what Rotary meant to him, and to all of us, being thankful for Rotary, for America, for Los Angeles and for having MIKE as our President. The formal prayer was brief, and the overall effect provided lots of feel-good thoughts.
There were lots of visitors. One Visiting Rotarians was Jim Hunter from the Manhattan Beach Club. He was accompanied by his wife, Joann, who is related by Birth to PEGGY BLOOMFIELD. The other Rotarian was Kennedy Reyneveld, who belongs to the China Lake Club. HARLAN LEWIS was accompanied by Margaret, and Pat came with PDG ANDY ANDERSON. Sunny was with LENNY FRIEDMAN. PP STEVE SCHERER had his Special Guest, Leah Vriesman. MARK ROGO brought Lynn. Prexy MIKE had a whole bunch of guests - his Accompanist, Larry Liebenbaum and his wife, Bobbie, Philip Sanchez and Angela Ruby, Nancy Smylie, Barbara Vellaponda, Margie Cochran, Tony Birkley, and Ravena Haas.
PP STEVE SCHERER came forward to present the Rotarian of the Year Award. As you probably know, the challenge is to keep the recipient guessing as to who it might be, and STEVE led her along the Primrose Path beautifully. He asked the Committee to come forward, which included Peter More, Steve Day, Don Nelson, Dave Whitehead and Ron Lyster (who was returning from Salt Lake City on his motorcycle). The awardee was a unanimous selection, born in Southern California, with a short haircut, likes eggs benedict and Early World, plays the piano, and enjoys the LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall. She likes to read, and with a “special” partner built a very successful privately held company. She has traveled extensively every continent plus the North Pole, and is active at Westwood United Methodist Church, recently served as chairperson of UCLA’s Chancellor’s Cabinet and is a Board Member of UCLA’s Women in Philanthropy. She has been active in WVRC since her husband joined in 1966, and for over 20 years organized our holiday progressive dinner for Rotary Foundation Scholars. Of course, STEVE kept referring to the Awardee as “Our Rotarian”, but when he came to naming her family, the secret was out. Her children are Carole, Joanne, who is married to Jim one of our visiting Rotarians today and son BILL JR, who is traveling in Italy. She has 8 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. Her Rotary family includes a Rotarian spouse, brother, son (BILL JR) and son in law, Jim Hunter. Her life-long “best friend” and husband Bill Sr, was our Rotarian of the Year in 1992-93, and now she and Bill are the first husband and wife team to be so honored. Summary Peggy’s father, brother and husband Bill Sr are smiling proudly and cheering for our Westwood Village Rotarian of the Year, Peggy Bloomfield! Well Done, STEVE.
It was announced that Marge VIAU, wife of SLOSS, finally had her heart surgery a couple of days ago. It all went well, and she should be home in about a week. And I should mention that BILL PIERCE has responded to my request for housing for the person coming to the Italian Consulate. BILL, thanks for stepping forward.
Prexy MIKE began his “Swan Song” by thanking the many members who have helped him during his year as President. First, he noted that PP BOB LUSK and PP JOHN SINGLETON invited him to join WVRC without them, he wouldn’t be where he is today. His Board of Directors was always supportive CHRIS BRADFORD as President Elect, along with SEAN McMILLAN as Vice President provides assurance that the Club is in good hands. PEGGY BLOOMFIELD as Secretary has made sure that things are in order every week at meetings. MIKE and GORDEN FELL as Treasurer have had an occasionally adversarial relationship, which has helped MIKE to better understand the mind of a CPA! The President of the Club works with the Treasurer, but it is a different relationship than MIKE has with his associates at the bank.
ED GAULD has done an amazing job with International thanks for all the time you have put in. SHANE WAARBROEK has served as Community Service Chair and worked especially hard on the Angel Flight Project. ELLIOTT TURNER has served as Vocational Chair this year, plus supplying jokes as needed. ANN SAMSON has handled Youth activities, and her friendship with MIKE goes back some time her support has always been appreciated. AL BELANCA, who didn’t want to do Photos for another year thank you for doing Photos for another year! RALPH BEASOM is here every week, and does so many things that help the club run smoothly. LENNY, JACK and JIM, Thanks for your musical talents and it is fun to tease you all. JIM DOWNIE in particular is always taking on some needed task and he takes care of them! DAN PRICE manages the front door, while Past District Governors BILL GOODWYN and ANDY ANDERSON, our Assistant Governor PETER MORE, JANICE KOYAMA as President of the Auxiliary, all put in so much time which comes from love of the Club and I couldn’t do without them.
MIKE recalled his first speech “You Belong In Rotary” and still remembers it. Rotary is the place that is right for just about everybody. If you have integrity and the heart to serve people, and you believe in the concept of giving back to others, then Rotary is the right place for you. If you give the hands and the feet, the legs and the back to good works, as well as your money, investing in relief for this world, that’s Rotary.
Some events stand out. We started at the Hollywood Bowl with the Sound of Music last summer, we lit up the night in our Walk For Leukemia at UCLA, we have a Parkinson’s Exercise Program that meets every week at the YMCA, and the party in the backyard of the Siskels was a fantastic event. We built WAPIs, a few over one thousand that day, with high school students, Rotarians, Auxiliary Members and Rotaractors all helping. If you missed it last year, we will be doing it again this year, hopefully, so stay tuned.
We contributed to a Water Plant in the Caribbean, we celebrated the Auxiliary’s Anniversary, we sent wheelchairs to Costa Rica, we contributed to the Cleft Palate Program of the Beverly Hills Club, we built a house in Tijuana with the Manhattan Beach Club, and we have provided many books to our new Westwood Library. I feel pretty good about these achievements, and I hope you join me in appreciating some of the things we did this past year. Sustained applause, here!
I should tell you that I really didn’t want to be President of the Club. I was asked to step in when someone dropped out. I kept thinking, during the two years I had to prepare, that I could always back out. Just a week before my term started, I was thinking, “How do I get out of this?” But I didn’t, because I really believe in the concept of leadership and mentoring, and I wanted to bring what I think are my strengths to the Board. and the Club that is, to care for one another and the ability to serve with people who really care about what happens to other people and in that, I’ve never been let down by this Club. You don’t learn leadership at school, but by being baptized and I was baptized this year. I have grown as a person. I think many of you saw how scared I was at my first meeting and I’m scared for a whole different reason today (laughter).
I started with the idea that you belong in Rotary, and there’s a place for you. We are a non-government organization, focused on fellowship, friendship, and extending good will internationally. We are a Service Club and a charitable Foundation as well. We can do what government can’t do, even what churches can’t do because there is nothing that divides us. We are just here to do good things and have fun. I want to thank all of you for giving me the ride of a lifetime, for giving me the opportunity to experience parts of me that I didn’t even know existed. I think I have stretched as a person in my understanding of some of the most difficult situations. I had to move a club that had been at the Bel Air Hotel for 47 years, and I didn’t want my legacy to be that I was the one who got us out of the Bel Air Hotel - but somebody immediately pointed out that I had brought the Westwood Rotary Club back to Westwood Village! I’d like to close by saying that I don’t think we are measured by our accomplishments, but by who we are as people. For that, I want to thank you all for making me a better person.
A few minutes later, MIKE on his cello and his accompanist, Larry Liebenbaum on the piano, played three selections. First was Vocalise, by Rachmaninov, followed by Ave Maria by Bach-Gounod, and finally, The Swan by Camille Saint-Saenf. It was a fitting and beautiful finale to his emotional farewell as President of Westwood Village Rotary.
Mike, we are all in your debt for your devotion and strength during this journey.