August 2, 2001


WVRC on August 2nd - another winner!

It is certainly no secret that we have a talented bunch of members. And that means that our BEST programs come from our own members. MAX LICHTENBERGER truly deserved his standing ovation - more on that later, but I wanted everyone to know up front how I felt about his terrific life story.

PP HOWIE HENKES led us in the Pledge. PP JIM DOWNIE, after playing while we were gathering, again played for "I Been Working On The Railroad", which was led by LENNY FRIEDMAN. We went through ALL the verses, and it was fun. Next up was NEIL ZASLAVSKY with an excellent Thought for the Day. This was an original piece, written by NEIL, and listed "lots of things, on a daily basis, for which we should be thankful". Particularly meaningful to YOE was "thanks for all the complaining we hear about the government, because it means that we have freedom of speech". His final thanks were "for too much e-mail, because it means we have friends who are thinking of us". Well done, NEAL - and we've missed you, so don't be a stranger, OK?

RO SHAW led us in some Tai Chi - it still takes some getting used to, but the results are worthwhile, and YOE hopes RO doesn't get discouraged by the difficulty some of us have in following along. We had two visiting Rotarians, Lyndon Parker from LA 5, who was introduced by RUDY ALVAREZ - with the comment that Lyndon is thinking about changing clubs, since he is no longer located downtown. Assistant Governor Lew Bertrand from Palos Verdes Sunset stood up, and later gave a pitch for the Paul Harris Dinner, coming up in October. He also delivered the Raffle Tickets to PP DOUG DESCH, noting that the three top prizes are, first, a week in Paris (that's France, not California…), second, a choice of an Alaska or Caribbean cruise, and third, a week in Maui. This is looking better all the time - don't get left out! RUDY next had us meet Janet Hubbard , his special guest, who specializes in cultural anthopology. PETER MORE was with Shirley, and Pres. GEORGE'S wife, Janice Koyama, was also present.

Shirley More reminded us that our Rotary Auxiliary is having a fun party next Saturday, August 11th, at the home of Marian and LEO TSENG. The theme is Hawaii, so appropriate attire would be quite casual. Have you signed up? - it not, Petie HENKES will take your call (and your check, of course). Pres. GEORGE mentioned the upcoming Club Assembly and Governor's Visit, which will be a dinner meeting on the 19th of September - that's a Wednesday nite, on my calendar. The District Conference, chaired by our own PP RON LYSTER, will be at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego from the 2nd to the 5th of May, 2002. Following the standard domestic/overseas rotation, the 2002 International Convention will be in Barcelona (the second most beautiful city in Europe, according to YOE) from the 24th to the 27th of June. Mark your calendars, please.

DICK LIVERMORE was called on the carpet, and soon related his recent encounter with a large, and probably hungry, rattlesnake. Pres. GEORGE nicked him for 50 clams, apparently for escaping - who knows what it would have cost had he not! And still hanging fire, so to speak, is the fine on BILL PIERCE for his many favors to PP RON LYSTER when they motor-biked to and from San Antonio. It looks to YOE like this amount will go up exponentially, as long as the culprit is not called upon to confess. And has GENE PRINDLE paid yet for stealing PP STEVE SCHERER'S new Mercedes? Really, we need these kind of unseemly culprits to be publicly castigated AND fined for their unacceptable behavior - nuff said, for now…

DON NELSON next introduced about-to-be Ambassadorial Scholar Suzanne Karpilovsky, who will be leaving to study at the Sorbonne next month. He pointed out that she was born in South Africa, grew up in Australia, and is now naturalized in the U.S. Suzanne thanked us for our friendship and support - she even reads the email edition of the Windmill! - and noted that she will be studying in the Humanities Dept. at the Sorbonne. She realizes that her French will have to improve, but YOE suspects we can depend upon her to meet that challenge. She read us two poems she has written, as a way of getting us to know her better. (She was twice nominated for the UCLA Poet Laureate Award). Before she began, DON cautioned PP ERIC not to boo, and afterward, Pres. GEORGE quickly remarked that he couldn't have said it better himself… Suzanne is looking forward to representing Rotary and WVRC during her year abroad, and promises to give us a full report when she returns. She is one more example of the top young people our Scholarship program attracts, and this is ANOTHER area of Rotary that all of us should talk about to our friends - let's spread the word on Rotary, OK?

Roger Zickfeld, (relative of one of our members - guess who?), was asked to describe his own experience as a Rotary Exchange student. He went to Japan in 1972, at age 16, and noted that YOE, then wearing his Travel Hat, was involved with the group that long ago. This year his daughter, Lauren, also aged 16, was part of the program, no doubt based on what he had been saying about it as she grew up. It continues as a major life and cultural experience - and let's get in a plug here for the children and grandchildren of our own members to sign up to go, OK? The nine Japanese exchange students were then introduced, and each one spoke briefly about their background, plus nicely thanking us for the opportunity to participate. They sang a song, which was tuneful but, since it was in Japanese, not too easy to sing along with (although that option was offered!). Again, these are wonderful young people, and we should all increase our support for its continuance and expansion.

I was very pleased to introduce our speaker, Max Lichtenberger. Max joined WVRC in 1987, sponsored by PP BOB LUSK. He was born in Steyr, Austria, and lived in Europe until coming to our side of the Atlantic at age 31. Max stood up to my challenge of telling us something about his background with less than 48 hours notice - when I asked him to substitute, he said, "OK, if you need me, I'll do it". And he had lots of notes, which we could see from the head table. Here's his story:

Max was born in 1930, and his father owned and operated a Gasthaus, or Inn, a building that dated back to the 15th Century. Steyn was an important trading center during the Austro-Hungarian Empire and more recently became an important car-manufacturing center. As a matter of fact, one of their engineers designed the forerunner of the Volkswagen. But in 1936, his father died, so his mother took over running the property, and he and his older brother immediately began to help in any way that they could.

This was the beginning of Max's lifelong involvement with the hotel business, and he was a fast learner. He also continued his interest in playing soccer, plus skating on the frozen lakes in the winter, and of course, skiing. After graduating from high school in 1946, he became a hotel apprentice, working five days a week and then studying the sixth day. Meanwhile, his mother died the year before, but he and his brother continued to operate the Inn. Max illustrated what happened to currency values - during the War, a large house nearby became available, and he urged his mother to buy it - they had enough money to do that. She declined - an after the War, the same amount of money was not quite enough to buy a used motorcycle!

Max finished his apprenticeship in 1949 and he started work at the Hotel Saratz , near St. Moritz in Switzerland. In 1952 he became maitre'd at the Derby Hotel in Davos. His troubles with Swiss immigration authorities began - they would not allow a non-Swiss to hold a leading position in the hotel industry. The hotel owner sent his attorney to Bern, and they received permission to have Max continue as maitre'd while he trained a Swiss citizen to take over his job. As an aside, Max returned several years later for a visit, and the man he trained is still on the job! In 1953 he moved to the Moevenpick chain, with the title of bartender at their restaurant in Zurich. Actually, he prepared all kinds of exotic food at the bar, serving more food than drinks. The prices were high, the portions small, but people loved it - it was a novelty at the time. Shortly afterward he was put in charge of all food operations at the restaurant - and again, the Swiss authorities objected to a non-Swiss in this position. So he again started training a citizen to replace him - but he was tired of this hassle.

Earlier, Max had met Mr., Charbonnolt, the General Manager of the Ritz Carlton hotel in Montreal, who offered him a job. Max was still welcomed in May of 1955, put in charge of room service, and loved what he was doing. He returned to Europe in 1957 to marry Anita (a Swiss citizen). They have two children - Anita Theresia, married and living in Milwaukee, with one child. Their son, Francis, lives in Boston - and belongs to the Cambridge Rotary Club there -he and his wife have two children. The families are very close - Anita and Max visit each of them a couple of times a year, and the kids come to Pacific Palisades on their vacations. Max had a serious heart problem awhile ago, and his son-in-law, who is a doctor, flew out the next day to visit him at St. Johns. Anita calls them every day, which Max understands, and, as he puts it, "This keeps the Telephone Company in the black".

Max left the Ritz Carlton in 1960, and moved to the Doval Airport Restaurant as Assistant manager. But on a visit to their six cousins in California, the West Coast bug bit. They sold their home in Montreal, moved out here, and he worked briefly at the Beverly Hills Hotel. In 196l he became maitre'd at the Bel Air Hotel - the same year YOE joined Rotary! He took a real estate course in 1963, didn't sell ANYTHING, but did get into the market, investing in several small properties in the area.. In 1971 they bought their present home in the Palisades, which has a great view, for those of you who have seen it. Max coached his son in soccer for six years, and plays on the senior team himself. He enjoys sailing, fishing, tennis, and has taught both his kids to ski - now they are better than he is…He also is a hunter, which he still hunts when the opportunity comes up. One final Rotary note - he is a partner with PP BOB LUSK, MIKE O'CONNELL, JOHN QUILICO and former Rotarian Tom Biner in that famous structure in the mountains nearby. The construction has only gone on for 18 years, so far, but Max worries that MIKE might die if they ever finished it!

Max, the reaction of the club to your talk, with a standing ovation, shows how much we all enjoyed it. The only doubtful note was when your purloined Pres. GEORGE'S agenda - but since you returned it, that doesn't count. Seriously, Thank You.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe