December 20, 2001


End of Year Holiday Program

Thursday December 20, 2001

The Bel Air Hotel was at its festive best. There were floor-to-ceiling Christmas Trees twinkling their lighted splendor, seasonal centerpieces on tables covered by red or green cloths, with matching napkins.  Rotarians, spouses, friends, and guests congregated with smiling faces and evident good spirits. President George called us to order by ringing our vibrant Rotary Bell, and appropriately referencing the season by announcing the RI theme: Mankind Is Our Business!   You could almost wish for romantic candlelight;……but perhaps it wasn't that sort of occasion.

Clawson Bleak led the Pledge of Allegiance to our nation's flag.  Myron Taylor, looking hale and hearty, delivered a poignant invocation, enunciating our seasonal aspirations, both spiritual and practical.  With arms exhibiting abundant rhythmic flair President George ably conducted our patriotic song, God Bless America.

After President George called for Visiting Rotarians, one by one Club Members individually introduced their loved ones. In this editor's estimation, this was much better than past occasions when (to conserve time?) spouses were namelessly introduced en masse.

The festive stage was to be fully occupied by musicians and singers, so instead of having high-table, a President's Table for Honored Guests was reserved below, just in front of center-stage: Vivianne and Bob Younker, PP Bob Wessling, Annie and Henry Tseng, Mary and Dave Matson, Janice and President George Dea, as well as PP Steve Day.

President George announced that Jim Greathead passed away unexpectedly early Sunday morning at the UCLA Hospital.  Funeral service is limited to family members.  A memorial service for Jim will be held on Thursday, December 27, at 2 PM, at the Westwood United Methodist Church located on the corner of Wilshire and Warner. A reception will follow the service.  The family thanks the club for the lovely bouquet of flowers.

Our Club's Angel, Virginia Gandy, is disappointed at not being able to get out to socialize during these festive days. Let's cheer her up with Christmas cards and good wishes.

Another highly successful Annual Holiday Shopping Night, took place December 13, when about 27 WVRC Rotarians chaperoned some 30 kids from the Venice Boys and Girls Club (building donated by PP Jim Collins) to the Marriott Hotel for dinner and to Pic-N-Save on the Big Blue Bus hired with an annual donation from our recently departed Jim Greathead; a number of other donors, including Henrietta Lien and, of course, Chief Impresario Mike Yousem, have supported this annual event.  A tip of the hat to all who have made it possible for these kids to purchase gifts for their loved ones.

As always, our 25th Annual Progressive Dinner (all of them designed and engineered by Peggy Bloomfield) was a great success. In-bound and out-going Ambassadorial Scholars from across District 5280 were progressively showered with Christmas cheer by hosts Toshie and Yosh Setoguchi at the home of Peggy and Bill Bloomfield; hosts Pat and PDG Andy Anderson at the home of Audrey and Clark McQuay; and hosts Eloise and PP Howard Siskel as wells as Bettye and PP Ralph Woodworth at the home of Judy and PP Bob Wessling; finally ending up for dessert and Santa's high jinks at the home of Margie and PP Jim Downie.  The Club's hearty thanks to all who contributed toward making this a fun evening for our young scholars.

Our Club's annual participation in the Los Angeles Braille Institute Lunch (December 14) was ably organized PP Howie Henkes and Ken Kilpo; among other participants were PP Steve Adler, Floyd Dewhirst, and Slosson Viau…editorial apologies to anyone inadvertently not mentioned. 

 The Club was well represented at the annual PLLUS Program Luncheon (also December14) that was marvelously organized by Madelyn Fischmann at the Luxe Summit Hotel.  Keynote speaker, Dr. Chesselet, Professor of Neurology and Director of the UCLA Udall Parkinson’s Disease Center, described state-of-the art research advances in an exceedingly informative and enlightening presentation.  In attendance were folks from the newly formed PLLUS Exercise Group at Mid-Valley YMCA (Van Nuys), WVRC, and Westside YMCA Board of Managers. Ted Ihnen was master of ceremonies for the event, and, of course, our star entertainer PP Howard Siskel played the violin accompanied by Henrietta Lian at the piano. Annie and Henry Tseng have pledged $4,000 each year to send WVRC's incoming President Elect to promote the PLLUS Program at the Annual the RI Convention around the world.

          In its infinite wisdom, our Board of Directors, has conferred the coveted title of HONORARY ROTARIAN on Sally Phillips in recognition of the many times and many ways in which she has contributed to our Club.

Virginia Gandy, our Westwood Village Rotary Club Angel, has again this year graciously presented to the Club four Paul Harris Fellowships: Mary and Dave Matson as well as Vivianne and Bob Younker.  Foundation Chair PP Steve Day made the presentations.  Many thanks to our Angel.

With heartfelt respect and appreciation, the Club enthusiastically sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY to PP Jim Collins on the occasion of his 75th birthday. Given that no good deed ever goes unpunished, Jim was presented with what appeared to be a very very very rich, indeed exceedingly rich, brownie with a yellow cherry on top to commemorate his birthday; however, Jim graciously, and wisely, chose to consume it on another occasion elsewhere.

Perhaps a bit less wise, but certainly much more obese, Saint Nicolas, resplendent in red suit, black boots, and white beard, dramatically appeared outside center-stage looking into the dinning room through the window behind President George.  With amazing alacrity, given his enormous belly, the obvious result of eating huge quantities of brownies (except for one given to Jim Collins), Santa stood on the garden wall and wildly motioned his greetings to the assembled multitudes. No sooner did the roly-poly giant gain attention, than, to the delight of festive diners, he flew away backward and disappeared behind the garden wall.  But, alas, the gifted mystic miraculously reappeared stage-left inside the dinning room, giving copious amounts of candy canes to all the good girls in attendance.

Although neither Rudolph nor the other reindeer were anywhere in sight, yet with boundless athletic energy, Santa gleefully seemed to fly up onto the stage.  With firm fatherly care the gentle giant picked up young George, placed him on his lap, and asked the delighted kid to recite his Christmas wish list:  1) tai chi and polka lessons, 2) milk and cookies every night, 3) an endless supply of Dea-dollars, and, most of all, 4) that Dave Whitehead not be involved in planning his demotion party.  Janice, were you listening?  Milk and cookies! Nothing more strenuous!

Ironically, throughout Santa's high jinks PP Dave Whitehead was nowhere to be found. However, Dave was subsequently seen consuming copious sums of food at one of the rear tables; all the time coveting the six desserts (count them: 6) that PP Eric Loberg had garnered from his own and surrounding tables.  Eric needs to instruct Dave how to stay athletically trim with no dental cavities while consuming massive amounts of sugar.   On second thought, we could use a more robust Santa next year.

Peter More introduced the robust muscular age-appropriate orchestra, Sophisticated Swingers, who were accompanied by PP Steve Day, Dave Matson, PP Steve Scherer, Sharon Rhodes-Wickett, Jack Harris, and Lenny Friedman.  The Program consisted of songs that engender good will and brotherly love:





The Christmas Song








At WVRC the term "progressive" usually describes a dinner event that proceeds from one venue to another.  However, the festive program played out on stage revealed a more politically correct description of the Club as PROGRESSIVE when Lenny Friedman and Jack Harris, infused with song-generated brotherly love, danced cheek to cheek.  Of course, in keeping with the season, the Reverend Sharon Rhodes-Wickett counseled tolerance.

Enjoy the holidays. Reverently, but safely and wisely, celebrate traditions of your choice, in anticipation of a hump the day we regroup on January 10, 2002. 

Rodolfo Álvarez

Guest Editor

Pinch hitting for Chief Editor-in-Absentia Ernest Wolfe