NEXT MEETING: May 31, 2013

The California Maritime Academy

The California Maritime Academy (CMA) in Vallejo is a California State University (CSU) of Engineering, Technology, and Marine Transportation. It is one of 23 campuses in the CSU system and one of only seven degree-granting maritime academies in the United States. With about 1000 undergraduate students enrolled at the 90-acre campus, CMA offers six different Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s degree in Transportation and Engineering Management. Rear Admiral Thomas Cropper, current President of the University, will tell us more about the school, its past, present, and future.

MEETING OF May 24, 2013


President Jim Young rang the bell and called the meeting to order. Richard Alexander led the pledge of allegiance. In drawing particular attention to another recent, senseless killing of a polio vaccination team member in Pakistan, George Egan asked for a moment of silence for freedom, peace, and justice on earth. Prescient President Jim had this thought for the day: more sold-out performances are anticipated for the last weekend of the Lost Secrets play (and, lo and behold, there actually were more).

Visiting Rotarians

It was great to see Leslie Levy, formerly a Richmond Rotarian when her law office was in Richmond and now a member of the Berkeley Rotary Club.

Rotarians with Guests

  • Jan Brown introduced her husband, Byron, as well as Ellie Fraenkel, wife of today’s speaker, Albert, along with Joyce from the Philippines.
  • Jon Lawlis introduced his betrothed, Darlene Quenville.
  • Jim Young introduced his wife, Linda.

Sunshine Report

Doris Mitchell is a new mom. She and her son (born on May 10) are doing well. Congratulations, Doris, and we look forward to seeing you soon!


  • Results are in for the Lost Secrets play project: it was a great success! Each of the six performances was effectively sold out as ticket demand exceeded seats available. Everyone seemed happy with the play, including local politicians, who took turns with opening remarks before each performance. There was clearly a bunch of community good will generated by and for Richmond Rotary.
  • Lots of people (Richmond Rotarians and others) participated and contributed in some way to help make the Lost Secrets play happen. Volunteer ushers included Shawn Rowles from Berkeley Rotary on Friday night and two Rotary Interact students on Saturday night (Anthony Bell from Salesian High School and Amy from El Cerrito High School).
  • The Berkeley Rotary Club has been a particularly solid supporter of a couple of Richmond Rotary projects. Related to the Lost Secrets play, there has been a $500 matching grant offered, for which Richmond Rotary has raised $300. Another matching grant from Berkeley Rotary is in the amount of $1000 intended for the Richmond RotaCare healthcare clinic. Our Club’s contribution so far in this case is also $300. Please see President Jim or Treasurer David to make a donation and help secure this additional outside support.
  • The Richmond Rotary Board of Directors will meet on Thursday, May 30. Same place as always: through the kitchen and upstairs at La Revolucion Restaurant.
  • Teen Moms gift bags preparation will take place at Nick Despota’s house on Saturday, June 1, from 9am to 11:30am. See Nick to sign up to help.
  • Don’t forget about the Bocce Ball tournament in Martinez on June 8. Teams led by Pam Jones and Rafael Madrigal are bound for glory. Come for the sun and fun. Stay for the beverages.
  • The annual Richmond Rotary baseball game at the Oakland Coliseum will be August 31 at 6:05pm (Oakland A’s versus the Tampa Bay Rays, good seats on the 2nd deck behind home plate, $30 per person). Pre-game tailgate activity will start at 3:30pm in the Section “A” parking area (potluck hot dogs and ribs, BYOB). Note that parking costs $17 per vehicle. There will be a fireworks show right after the game.


  • Dan Tanita celebrated his 11th wedding anniversary on May 11 and just returned from two weeks of vacation in France. He gave $100 to the Rotary Foundation.
  • David Brown celebrated 33 years of married bliss on May 18. He contributed $100 to the disaster relief fund established by the Murray, KY Rotary Club, which is making a special effort to help recent tornado victims in Moore, OK. Borrowing the microphone from President Jim, David used his cell phone to enable a Murray, KY Rotarian to audibly and gratefully accept David’s contribution.


  • Dan Tanita celebrated his 11th wedding anniversary on May 11 and just returned from two weeks of vacation in France. He gave $100 to the Rotary Foundation.
  • David Brown celebrated 33 years of married bliss on May 18. He contributed $100 to the disaster relief fund established by the Murray, KY Rotary Club, which is making a special effort to help recent tornado victims in Moore, OK. Borrowing the microphone from President Jim, David used his cell phone to enable a Murray, KY Rotarian to audibly and gratefully accept David’s contribution.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Leslie Levy offered some happy dollars for having joined Richmond Rotary 25 years ago as one of the first female members following the Supreme Court ruling that enabled such memberships. She also announced that she has a second grandchild now and a new boyfriend.
  • Herb Cole provided happy dollars for the recent dinner at Leslie’s place (a Christmas auction item from 2011) and also for a Christmas auction item from last year, Jan Brown’s excellent nearby hiking tour on Saturday around what Herb called “the garbage dump”. Herb said the hike was fun and interesting.
  • Always proper Jon Lawlis improved upon Herb’s characterization and gave some happy dollars for also participating in Jan’s hiking tour of the “Landfill Loop”. It was, as Jon said, a “gentle hike near beautiful marshes”.
  • Another joyful hiker, Tom Butt, gave up some happy dollars for being able to join in what he called the “circumnavigation of Garbage Mountain”. Tom also liked the elegant lunch that was included.
  • Jan Brown was pleased and happy with the hiking tour (plus lunch) that was well attended and enjoyed by all. Jan thanked Connie Tritt for co-coordinating the outing and Peter Nuti of Republic Services for supplying some tables for the sit-down lunch. Bruce Beyaert, Chair of TRAC (Trails for Richmond Action Committee), was also in attendance.
  • Erle Brown was happy to once again be involved as a member of the Richmond Museum after a few years away from it because of, well, a certain circumstance that is no longer present.
  • With more to the story not fully caught by the Scribe, Richard Alexander had some combo happy-and-sad dollars associated with recently renewing his Coast Guard 100-ton Masters License.
  • Dan Tanita was happy about being called by KPIX TV to advise him that he’s been nominated for an annual Jefferson Award for public service. This is related to Dan’s work with the school dental clinic program, which he started as a Rotary project at Peres Elementary School in 1997. There will be related TV coverage on June 5 and the Jefferson Awards ceremony will be held in January 2014 at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco.
  • Don Lau had happy dollars for the West Contra Costa YMCA 95th Annual Dinner on June 5 at the Richmond Country Club. The event is open to the public. In recognition of outstanding contributions to the community, Darrol Davis will receive the prestigious Fred Breen Humanitarian of the Year award. Darrol is a former West Contra Costa YMCA Board President and retired Richmond Police Officer.
  • With Leslie in attendance from the Berkeley Rotary Club, Jim Young had some genuinely happy dollars for all the support and encouragement over the past several months from Berkeley Rotary with regard to the Lost Secrets play project.
  • Jan Brown happily recognized Leslie with some flowers for her having joined Richmond Rotary in the Fall of 1987, just a few short months after the Supreme Court decision in May of that year enabling female Rotary membership.

Norm’s Nonsense

Three people were going to the guillotine. The first was a lawyer, who was led to the platform, blindfolded, and had his head put on the block. The executioner pulled the lanyard, but nothing happened. To avoid a messy lawsuit, the authorities allowed the lawyer to go free.

The next man to the guillotine was a priest. They put his head on the block and pulled the lanyard, but nothing happened. The blade didn’t come down. They thought it must have been divine intervention, so they let the priest go.

The third man to the guillotine was an engineer. He waived his right to a blindfold, so they led him to the guillotine, and put his head on the block. As he lay there, he said, “Hey, wait. I think I see your problem.”


Albert Fraenkel, Baton Rouge Ambassador-by-the-Bay

Jan Brown introduced the program speaker, Albert Fraenkel, past President of a large Rotary Club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a successful entrepreneur who moved west to retire in San Francisco 15 years ago.

Albert and his wife Ellie, together for 59 years, met Virginia Brown, Byron’s mother, at a park in San Francisco a while ago. That acquaintance eventually led to this enjoyable talk by an amiable story teller and accomplished Rotarian.

Albert declared that his life has been blessed. He was born in New Orleans, went to Tulane University, spent a couple of years in the Navy during the Korean War, and moved to Baton Rouge, where he and Ellie borrowed a lot of money to start a furniture distribution company from scratch. He remembers their first sale, a $10.95 playpen that convinced them they could make a go of it.

The furniture distribution company grew steadily as more employees were hired (over 600 at the peak). Soon there was diversification into mattress manufacturing with plants in several states. After a few years, the company was set up with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan valued at more than $30 million (from an initial personal start-up investment of $12,000). Fifty-four years after start-up, the company is now being acquired by a large manufacturing company in Richmond, VA, which will continue operations in Baton Rouge.

As his company grew during those years in Baton Rouge, Albert was asked to join the local Rotary Club, which had 380 members at the time (all male, all white).

Albert became Baton Rouge Rotary Club President in 1986, the same year Don Hardison was President of Richmond Rotary. At the start of Albert’s term, Baton Rouge had 450 Club members (one non-white, still all male). Following California’s lead, the Baton Rouge Club added five female members in 1987 and continued its diversification over the years.

Today, as one of the 50 largest Rotary Clubs in the United States, Baton Rouge Rotary has 475 members, a full-time Executive Director, its own 5000-ft2 headquarters, and a $960,000 Club Foundation dedicated to Education-related projects.

As he spoke fluently with no written notes, Albert highlighted some unique issues for large Rotary Clubs. For example, “scooters” seem more prevalent (members who check in but routinely leave early). The Houston Rotary Club, with about 900 members, needs to recruit about 100 new members each year just to stay even and keep up with attrition. It’s also harder to form close friendships in a large organization. Clubs with 30-60 members seem to be the most friendly. (Hey, that’s us!)

Albert said to encourage new members to join in order to be of service to the community, to remember that friendships are enhanced through service, to grow by building on unique Club strengths, to go slow in releasing a Club member, and to not shy away from worthy projects that last longer than a year.

As for staying mentally sharp, Albert takes courses at the Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco. So stay thirsty, my friends, and keep those neurons firing.

Rotating Scribe, Tom Waller