The Flywheel

Program for June 1st


El Cerrito Rotarian Tracy Giles describes her effort to launch a joint project with Rotary International to create a pediatric eye clinic in Nepal .


MEETING OF May 25, 2007

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

President George Egan rang the bell and called the meeting to order, then asked for a moment of silence for world peace. Erle Brown led the pledge of allegiance. Prez-in-waiting Pam Jones had the following thought for this International Very-Good-Looking-Damn-Smart-Woman’s Day: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘Woo Hoo, what a ride!’”

Visiting Rotarians

Bob Mutchler, our speaker for today, is visiting from North Sacramento Rotary. The Club also welcomed Dennis B from San Pablo Rotary.

Rotarians with Guests

Mario Paucar introduced his guests, Rafael Cartagena and Juan Munoz.

Sunshine Report

David K reported that Elof Granberg, still in pain following knee surgery, is out of the hospital, finally home, and doing ok according to wife, Betty. Charlie Wong is also at home dealing with after-effects of his knee surgery. Joe Bagley commented first-hand that brief phone calls to Elof and Charlie were warmly appreciated.


  • Pledge sheets for the Rotary Bowl-A-Thon were passed around and everyone was encouraged to step forward for a good cause (Rota-Vision project) and to make sure our numbers beat El Cerrito Rotary, which last year came up with $1100.
  • Congratulations to Mario Paucar who has now satisfied requirements for changing his red Rotary badge to a blue one.
  • Margaret Morkowski announced a recent fun trip to the Giants’ ball park with 75 youngsters from Washington Elementary School (she had help from 13 other chaperones). She also brought back and handed out All-Star ballots for us to fill out.

Special Events

David K handled the induction of new member, Bill Koziol, who commented that he was honored to be a part of Richmond Rotary, a Club filled, in his words, with “lots of good will, good intentions, and wisdom.”


Don Lau recognized the following folks. Herb Cole has an upcoming wedding anniversary, which will be spent in Bakersfield at his granddaughter’s graduation from junior high school. Leslie Levy is celebrating her second wedding anniversary although she says they’re still in the mode of celebrating all year long. Ralph Hill is having a birthday but offered $100 to ensure Erle did not participate in any singing of the b-day song. Ralph put everything in context when he noted that it was 70 years ago today that the Golden Gate bridge was opened, an event that he remembers at the young age of 14. As a follow-on to a recent special-event excursion to Lake Merritt, Ralph’s contemplating a day trip to Rodeo for his birthday. Happy 84th, young man! Hank Covell completed his 46th year as a participant in the Bay to Breakers walk/run event in San Francisco. He reminisced about good times several years ago when a group of Richmond Rotarians participated and he hoped that can happen again next year. We’ve all got a year to get in shape!

Happy & Sad Dollars

Michael Gill had happy dollars for his son’s 10th birthday this weekend. Herb Cole was pleased to have received an email about completion of the medical clinic in Monterrey, Mexico. Richmond Rotary has been a partner with the Red Cross and others to get the clinic up and running. Joe Bagley was happy, with special thanks to Alan Baer, that Rita’s eye glasses have been found. Josh Genser had happy dollars because improvements to his wilderness cabin, including installation of solar electric power, mean that it’s ready for occupancy by various auction bid winners. Don Hardison gave up happy dollars for being able to attend his grandson’s recent graduation from Babson College outside Boston. Don’s also happy that his granddaughter has decided to pursue her Master’s degree at Cal Berkeley. Dan Tanita provided happy dollars for his daughter’s third-year college grades (lots of A’s and a few B’s). She’ll spend next school year in South Africa. Margaret Morkowski’s happy dollars were for the good time at the Albany Bowl-A-Thon last week. No first-place showing but the bowlers did well. Jon Lawlis also had happy dollars for the fun he had bowling with everyone, including Pam Jones, Glenn Daggs, and Alan Baer. Jan Brown let go of happy dollars for her son (and you know who’s grandson) because he successfully completed his degree in entrepreneurship at Babson College. He’s also sold his car and is moving in back home (just temporarily?). Monique le Conge’s happy dollars were for her twins’ 17th birthday, just one year away, she said, from the magic “on-their-own” age (which may not always be the case, right, Jan?). Prez George Egan had very happy dollars on the anniversary of a major automobile accident he was in four years ago. Don Lau happily provided dollars for the quality time he got to spend recently with his 90-year old dad and 85-year old mom.

Raffle Results

Tom Bennett won the big-bucks raffle, reportedly due in part to his calculated decision (you know those bankers!) to not just match David Brown’s 100-ticket purchase but to buy two percent more. Congratulations, Tom!

The Program

Jon Lawlis introduced Bob Mutchler, Rotarian extraordinaire from the North Sacramento Club. Special note: Bob’s had perfect Rotary attendance since joining in 1970!

A fourth-generation piano technician, Bob’s best known for his marathon motorcycle rides in support of PolioPlus, Rotary International’s program to help eradicate polio from planet earth in conjunction with global health agencies.

Like Dr. Joe Serra a couple of weeks ago, Bob confirmed huge accomplishments in the twenty-year-old global program for polio eradication but quickly acknowledged that the job is not complete. Until polio is stopped in the handful of countries that still have small outbreaks (156 worldwide cases so far this year compared to over 500,000 25 years ago), immunization must continue along with the needed monetary contributions and volunteerism to make it happen (like some of our own Richmond Rotarians who went to help administer Ghana’s inoculations last year).

Bob contracted polio when he was less than a year old and spent three years of his young life in an iron lung. Over 20 years ago, he was diagnosed with post-polio syndrome, a so-called fourth stage of polio where muscles stop functioning. He was told he’d be in a wheelchair within two years. With a steely resolve and determination that most of us can only imagine, Bob didn’t let what he called a “perceived disability” get in his way.

Still not in a wheelchair by the late 90’s, he bought himself a motorcycle with a sidecar for stability when he stops. He wears leg braces and, when not on the motorcycle, uses crutches to this day, still free of the wheelchair.

For the first 50 years of his life, Bob said he didn’t even want to talk about his condition. Then nine years ago, while drinking wine, playing piano and singing as usual at a hometown Rotary function in February 1998, some friends asked him, “Why don’t you ride your motorcycle for PolioPlus?” And he answered, why not, indeed!

The rest, as they say, is history. One of the first projects was to ride to each of the capitals in the lower 48 states on behalf of PolioPlus. And there was more (crossing Canada, etc.). Bob now holds every world record for distance and endurance on a motorcycle with sidecar, including 1000 miles/day for 30 consecutive days. He revels in the publicity for PolioPlus, not himself.

Bob concluded his inspiring talk by telling us whether he’ll keep riding. A few short years ago, he was compelled to make a long-distance phone call from Africa to tell his wife what had just happened to him as he was helping in a national polio immunization day. He was administering the magic drops to an 8-month-old girl when he felt a tug on his pants from someone on the ground. It was a 12-year-old “crawler” who had been afflicted with polio years before. The 12-year-old boy looked up and said to Bob, “Thank you for saving my baby sister.” So how long will Bob keep riding? He said until the work of eradicating polio is finished. Thank you, Bob!

-Your Rotating Editor, Scribe, etc: Tom Waller