June 13th - Pres. GEORGE'S swansong.

With Barcelona looming, Pres. GEORGE conducted his last official meeting, and as usual, Janice was right there with him.  More on this later - but it was a lovely way to bow out, and of course done with class, as you would expect.  KEN, thanks for your final toast.

Starting off with the Brass, PDG ANDY ANDERSON led the Pledge - again giving us time to get together.  The song was a joint effort, with JACK HARRIS on the piano, PP JIM DOWNIE on his harmonica, and LENNY FRIEDMAN in charge.  He came up with what was an obvious connection - Father's Day is coming up, so of course we sang, "Old MacDonalds Farm".  I must confess that I wrote down - literally - the sequence of which barnyard occupants were in which order, but apparently most of those present didn't need such a crib.  (In case YOU aren't among the more literate of our members, the proper sequence is chicks, ducks, and pigs).  It was a rousing success.  Getting back to the Brass, PDG BILL GOODWYN gave the Invocation.  As he led us along (the primrose path, you might say) it began to be apparent that the life he was suggesting maybe wasn't all that real - and of course it finally developed that THEN, we got out of bed!  Well Done, BILL.

SANDY SANDERSON introduced our visiting Rotarians.  They were a husband and wife combo, Mila Kartika and Rudy Sukotjo, who were, respectively, a dentist and a general contractor. They hailed from the Thamrin Club in Jakarta - and any questioning of the spelling in the above four lines will NOT be kindly received - so be warned!  They also presented a flag.  PP HOWIE HENKES introduced our newest member, CHARLES MAGNUSON, who was sponsored by RALPH BEASOM.  CHARLES is a neighbor of RALPH'S, a tax attorney, and we welcome him aboard.

Pres. GEORGE spoke about his year, and the storied history of WVRC.  He
reminded us that it had been tended by many Presidents over the years, and we were indebted to each of them.  He was particularly complimentary about his Demotion Party, introducing the cast, and singling out the production staff of PP DAVE WHITEHEAD, songwriter PP ROY BELOSIC, all-around organizer PP JIM DOWNIE, and the wonderful team of PETER and SHIRLEY MORE. They led him to remind us that as long as four years ago, then-District Governor CAROL WYLIE told him one of the main pillars of our success was the continuing support of our Rotary Auxiliary - other clubs are not so blessed, and we continue to benefit from their strong support.  He then provided a special award, to one whom he described as perhaps the best CPA who ever delivered a line of dialogue - and of course he was referring to PP STEVE DAY. He saluted the Club Service team, among them those who greet, help with birthday celebrations, the money collectors, picture takers and the web master.  Seated at the Head Table were two long-time major leaders of this assorted crew - SANDY SANDERSON and BRUCE ROLF.  He thanked his officers and board members, and concluded by expressing his appreciation for the constant support and help from Janice - to which we
all most heartily agreed.  Pres. GEORGE then specifically thanked our members who brought new members into Westwood this year - PP BOB LUSK, RAY ZICKFELD, RUDY ALVAREZ, DON PARK, PP JIM SUMNER (and note, he sponsored TWO!), TED IHNEN, SLOSS VIAU, HENRY TSENG, PPs HOMER and MIKE NEWMAN, and RALPH BEASOM.  That's a dozen, and they all deserve the thanks of the rest of us.  Please be advised that PP DAVE MORE is now at the New Vista Rehabilitation Center, 1516 Sawtelle, just south of Ohio. Visitors are welcome from 11 to 8 p.m., but cards should go to his home, please.

PP STEVE SCHERER came forward to present the Rotarian of the Year.  PP STEVE reminded us that the Selection Committee is composed of the five most recent past recipients of this award.  Introduced were MIKE YOUSEM and RALPH BEASOM, but HENRY TSENG was not feeling well, and we miss JIM GREATHEAD, of course.  Part of the fun is always trying to keep the identity secret as long as possible, which means bringing in as many innocuous accomplishments - and therefore not-readily-identifiable - achievements that may apply.  A little smoke and mirrors can be offered.  But of course, when PP STEVE got to "establishing the International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians" the secret was entirely out of the bag.  Yes, their unanimous selection was PP RON LYSTER, and he richly deserves this accolade. Congratulations, RON.

Our first Craft Talk was by MIKE GINTZ, who was sponsored by PP BOB LUSK, but BOB could not be present today.  MIKE began with a bit of subterfuge,
claiming that he had no experience or ability as a public speaker, and
'proving' it by unfurling a several-foot long 'script'. This obfuscation
(gadzooks - ALWAYS wanted to use that word - Thank God for spellcheck) was
given the lie early on, as he told his story with ease and grace - but he
started out with this joke, and PP DOUG DESCH would always agree with that as a way to begin a speech.  He first warmly thanked us all, and most
specifically, Pres. GEORGR and Janice, for their welcoming and hospitality.  MIKE is the manager of the Westwood branch of Citibank, but as he pointed out, he didn't start his working career with that objective.

He was born in the California, the youngest of four kids, the rest coming
into the family in Illinois.  Being the youngest, the others all felt he was spoiled, and he, of course, believed that he was mostly abused.  His dad was a tail gunner during WWII, which was a source of great pride. Once in California, his dad worked at Hughes, and they lived in the Valley, where MIKE still resides. Mike had an early interest in music, and had a hankering to play the trumpet or the trombone, but the family talked him into trying the cello.  He took to it right away, became proficient, and has played in several symphonies.  He always enjoyed school and the learning process.  He did well, but his report cards always said the same thing - "Michael talks too much!"

He maintained his interest in music, and was planning to teach - but after a year and a half at Valley College, he pulled up stakes and moved to Hawaii. Since he had missed the beginning of their school year, he hooked on as an all-around assistant in the school district, and enjoyed the varied activities.  Once enrolled at the University of Hawaii, still a music major, he represented the State of Hawaii at the Congress of Strings.  This is a national organization with just two students chosen from each state, and they performed for several months in the State of Washington. Prior to this, he and his dad had grown apart - but his father had returned from a working assignment in Australia, came to visit him when he was performing, and they reconciled.  He thinks of this time as a defining moment in his life, and as a result he returned to California.  He had accumulated 305 units of college credit, but no degree, so was what could be described as a professional student.  After a final push, he got his degree - but what to do then?  His early interest in education had not developed, and someone suggested banking as a career.  They pointed out that he could get some good training - education, again - and so he began.  He has worked for several banks, usually staying ahead of the curve as they continued to merge.  MIKE mentioned our former member BOB LINTNER as a significant mentor during his early career. 

MIKE is divorced, and shares custody of his eleven-year-old daughter.  She is the delight of his life, and will graduate next week from the fifth grade. He and she both have great expectations for her tenure at middle school.  His hobbies are music and art - and someone in the audience suggested he could perhaps provide cello accompaniment another time for Old MacDonald's Farm!  MIKE, thanks for providing us with your life story - and remember, being involved is the way to really enjoy Rotary.

DON PARK sponsored ALON DORON, whom he met when both were working out at the Westside Y.  DON not only bought him into WVRC, but ALON is now on the Board at Westside, thanks to DON.  ALON was born in Israel in 1963, as were his parents - which is unusual, since many Israelis have moved there as immigrants.  His father fought in the 1948 War, was an early pilot, and is one of the founders of El Al, as a flight engineer.  He is the oldest of three children, with two younger sisters. 

As you may know, everyone - both women and men - serves in the Israeli armed forces, and at 18 ALON volunteered for what could be considered their Marines.  He was in the force that invaded Lebanon, and remembers Ariel Sharon saying that they would be out of there in two weeks.  It actually took them TWENTY years.  After a year and a half in combat, he became an instructor of snipers, thus finishing his three-year term of service.  He moved to the U.S., and graduated with a BS in engineering from the State University of New York in Buffalo, working in the summer for the Southwest Company in Nashville.

ALON owns his own company, Image Publishing.  They produce what could be
called niche publications - airline magazines are a good example. He lives in Brentwood with his wife, Jennifer.  She is originally from South Africa.  Their two sons are Jered, who is 18 and has just graduated from Windward School - he will attend Berkeley in the fall.  Son Danny is 15, and also at Windward.

There were a bunch of Q&As, and again, I won't try to attribute them, if that is OK. What is the population in the West Bank?  There are perhaps a million Palestinians in Gaza, and two million in the rest of the territories.  If they entirely separate, it could be devastating, since the great majority of Palestinians work directly or indirectly for the Israelis. Yet the mood of the Israelis seems to be shifting to the right - toward more repression.

Why are the Golan Heights important?  They overlook a very large area, which could thus be controlled by Syria, if they still controlled this strategic area. (Editorial comment - and yet, a possible deal could be made - Israel has considered offering to buy the area!) What is Shimon Peres's position?  He represents the peace faction, and should be heard. 

ALON then told of his own mother being injured by a suicide bomber in 1996 - the bomb was exploded in a popular café, and still today her hearing is
almost non-existent.  Yet she goes on with her life, and is not a stay-at-home.  This seems to be the prevailing attitude in Israel.  What about Yasser Arafat?  He is the only elected leader the Palestinians have ever had, but is almost universally considered to be totally untrustworthy.  No one will consider trying to negotiate with him - but he IS in place, and
what to do with him?  Is peace possible?  It will be a very long process, and Israel must give up the settlements in the territories. When the Oslo peace process was finally revealed it was an almost complete surprise to both sides - their leaders had not prepared them in any way for such negotiations, and this created consternation and resentment everywhere.  

Former Prime Minister Golda Meier said, many years ago, that peace would never be possible until the Palestinians begin to love their children.  By
this, she was referring to the almost-universal lack of education for children in the occupied territories.  This is about as tough a problem as
there is in the world today, and we can only hope that some way will be found to move toward a practical solution.  ALON, you could tell from the many questions that your former country is of great concern to all of us - thanks for sharing your thoughts and background.

This excellent meeting concluded with a touching and heartfelt toast, given by KEN LEVER, expressing our deep gratitude and respect for Pres. GEORGE during his entire term of office.  Certainly, you spoke for us all, KEN.
                                YOE, Ernie Wolfe