April 26, 2001


GSE REPORT and Meeting, April 27th

We gathered at the usual time and place, and it was a very full meeting. SHERRY DEWANE led the Pledge, and the song was shepherded by lots of brass - two Past Presidents, JIM DOWNIE and STEVE DAY. The Invocation was by BOB YOUNKER and was certainly thought provoking.

Prexy STEVE had two guests, both from Nordstroms - Hollie Strool and Lisa Carr, and they seemed to enjoy the meeting - which we all did, but since these may be possible Special Guests, it's good to see their positive impressions. With us once again was DICK DAVIS, and it was certainly good to have him back - come often, DICK.

TED IHNEN next described the Signing Ceremony at City Hall, for the Protocols linking the Sister cities of Los Angeles and Manila in an Emergency Preparedness Program. TED and PDG ANDY ANDERSON have been working on this project for some time, and Ted signed for the Sister City portion, while Prexy STEVE signed for Rotary. Afterward, the GSE group along with RUDY ALVAREZ and GEORGE DEA were given a tour of the Emergency Command Center, located 4 stories underground. SALLY BRANT was thanked for hosting the GSE Welcome Party on Sunday, attended by almost 30 of our members.

Estelle Wilson of the Salvation Army told us more about the Westwood Transitional Village, which is located on Sepulveda, just south of Wilshire. SLOSS VIAU is our contact person, and Estelle thanked him for all his help, in bringing clothing and toys to the former homeless residents. They can stay up to two years, and then transition into regular housing, and part of their facility also contains a Child Care Center for the children of the residents. This kind of local activity is what WVRC should be about - good job, SLOSS.

PP TOM LENEHEN and ART HENRY spoke briefly about an important subject - being more aware of how our conversations at Rotary could be offensive to others at our ten-person tables. They pointed out that topics that could be racist, or uncomplimentary to those not involved in the conversation should be avoided, please. This involves the moral character of our Club, and we can all afford to be more sensitive to these concerns. We were saddened to learn of the death of Annabelle Wasserstein, wife of Len, the District Governor Nominee. Annabelle had been ill for some time, and is survived by two children and three grandchildren. The services were this Thursday.

The GSE group were then presented. YOE mentioned that the two obvious highlights of their visit was that three members had tickets for the LA Kings victory on Tuesday night, which was very meaningful since three players on the Kings are from Slovakia. And On Wednesday night, they visited the House of Blues, as arranged by former member Alex Hodges - the major domo was ELLIOTT TURNER, and he must have done a good job since they didn't get home until 1 a.m.!

ERNIE pointed out that Czechoslovakia was divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia by the Legislature in 1983 - without a referendum - resulting in two separate countries of 5 million and 10 million people. The leader of this team is Jozef Sisila, who stayed with Ernie. Jozef is 55, married to Veronika, has a 27-year-old son and 23 year old daughter, and is a telecommunications specialist, with his own company. He has a particular interest in music, so the House of Blues was a real treat for him. He is a really easy houseguest, and we enjoyed each other's company.

Zuzana Belcikova (Susie) spoke first for the kids, since she spent her senior year in high school in Minnesota and thus was theoretically the most English-proficient. Actually the entire group was multi-lingual, and each one both spoke and could read Russian. Susie stayed with DEBBIE and STEVE SCHERER, and their Rachel, who got to know all the team members, since they were all under 30, and outgoing people. Susie is the supervisor of over 100 employees at Tesco Stores, which is similar to Walmart, and we were able to put her together with Jerry Matthews of WEB Service Co - she was interested in how to motivate employees and Jerry gave her lots of tried and true ideas.

Denisa Skrovinova, M.D, stayed with ROSE and CHRIS GAYNOR. She is the only married member of the team - her husband is a surgeon and they have a five-year-old daughter, Lucy. She is an Ophthalmologist, and we were able to get her in to observe several cataract operations at the Jules Stein center at UCLA. Her only problem with the visit was my 85-lb Doberman, Bentley - he is a barker, but over the several days, she became less frightened, and of course Bentley loves everyone, so he was pleased, also!

Katerina Markova, M.D. stayed with ELINOR and TOM LENEHEN. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, and her major activity is with the nutrition team on Jihlava Hospital. She participated in a patient consultation meeting at UCLA, in which the senior physicians advise other doctors about special cases they are handling. At 29, she is the oldest of the team! In her remarks, she referred to me as the group Mom, and I'm not sure if I'm qualified for that - but seriously, all the kids were great fun and nice to be around.

Last to speak was Vaclav Hejda, M.D. who specializes in Nephrology and Hemodialysis. By a prior connection he spent some quality time with several physicians in the Gastroenterology field at UCLA. Vaclav stayed with AUDREY and CLARK McQUAY, and one of the highlights of his visit was joining them to see "Mama Mia." He noted that Charles University in Prague is the second oldest medical school in Europe (after Bologna, I think) plus the fact that any country that produces Pilsen Beer has got to be a winner!

Their major visits included Venice Beach, the Welcome Party, a walking tour of UCLA, a tour of YOSH SETOGUCHI'S Prosthetics Center at Shriners Children's Hospital The Getty Center, and then RALPH BEASOM showed them around the Santa Monica Pier and the Promenade - this is just through Tuesday, of course - and that night, the Kings game for the lucky three (chosen by lot). Wednesday was the busy day - first to City Hall for the Proclamation Signing, then the Emergency Command Center, subway sandwiches for lunch, and the medical visits, plus Jules Stein. Back at my house at 7:15 for drive to The House of Blues, late night! Thursday was easier - down to WEB Service for Susie, then to Rotary, and after that, The Beach Club, hosted by TOM LENEHEN.

Friday, meeting their drivers to get down to the District Conference - and those driving were PP HOWARD SISKEL, PDG ANDY ANDERSON, and PP RON LYSTER, WITH HOMER NEWMAN available as a backup. In between, Susie and Denise contributed to the local economy when they spent a couple of hours at the Westside Pavilion. The last car left about 4:15, driven by RON - this after a phone call from Jozef, asking the late passengers to bring him two things he left in the room. And I have to tell you, these are great people - I only wish more of you were involved with them. It is very worthwhile.

DON NELSON was going to introduce BERT KREISBERG for his Craft Talk, but passed, since he figured BERT could use the extra time - thanks, DON. BERT was born in Frankfurt in 1923, with the date to remember being 1930 to '36, when Hitler assumed his dictatorship. As the atmosphere continued to darken for Jews, the family moved to Holland - which seemed safe at that time. His father started a tire manufacturing business, which did well. The War started in 1939, and the Nazis invaded Holland the next year, so anti-Semitism started again. His older brother was arrested, and six months later they learned he had died. In reprisal for the killing of a Nazi, they rounded up 306 children for shipment to work/concentration camps. BERT was one of those over the 300 they wanted - which of course saved his life. They managed to move to the country, where a farmer took them in, starting in 1942. The family managed to evade the Nazis, and finally the War ended. BERT'S part in all this was that he helped the Dutch Underground as they rescued downed Allied pilots - and if the Underground was caught, it was immediate death.

Bert moved back to Amsterdam, and started a business selling ladies gloves. But by 1947, he began to feel unsafe, since the Germans were only 300 miles away. Finally in 1953 he immigrated to the U.S., settling in California. Attending a lecture entitled "How to Become a Millionaire Without Investing Any Money' and the product was Health Insurance. He did learn that the more income your clients had, the more you were likely to make yourself He switched to Life Insurance a year later, was a top salesman for 17 years, and then 12 years in Management. Since the 1970's he has been an independent salesman, one year producing $125 Million in volume - which netted him $5 million!

Bert and his first wife divorced in 1981, after the birth of Judith in '47, Sandra in '57, and Scott in l962. He married Vera in 1989. He enjoys flying, snow skiing, and art. BERT, thanks for telling us of your life - it's a fascinating tale.

Thought for the Day - "Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes" Oscar Wilde.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe