The Flywheel

Program for friDAY JULY 25Th, 2008

The District Governor Speaks

Jim and Linda Campbell

District Governor Jim Campbell will be our guest this Friday to help kick off a new Rotary year.

The Governor's Message appears on the Rotary District 5160 website.

MEETING OF July 18th, 2008

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Still as bright as a shinny new penny, Prez Mark Howe rang the bell to launch his second official Rotary meeting. Prez Mark asked Salvation Army Capt. Frank Desplancke to lead the invocation.  Capt. Frank appealed to God for assistance in our community work.  April Jordon lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance, deftly assisted by Tom Waller who did his best impression of an otherwise missing Old Glory.  Lost, but now found his way back to Rotary, Rich Alexander provided the thought for the day.

Visiting Rotarians

Bob Dabney introduced his guest and Visiting Rotarian Kevin Hammond from Oakland Rotary. Kevin is thinking about transferring to Richmond Rotary and when he isn’t at Rotary he runs a construction business that provides job opportunities for ex-cons.

Rotarians With Guests

Josh Serowitz introduced Steve Gerillis from Angola IN.


Josh Genser consults on fashion.
  • Capt. Frank Desplancke reminded everyone that the following day was ChildSpree at the Pinole Mervyn’s and invited anyone else who wants to participate to ”be there” at 6:30 AM.  ChildSpree is the annual school clothes shopping spree sponsored by the Salvation Army and Mervyn’s for low income families.  Capt. Frank thanked the club for contributing $500 of the last $600 needed for the Spree. Then he watched John Nicole and David Brown kick in the last $100 to complete the funding.  Thanks John and David.
  • Prez Mark invited the members to check out the new Richmond Rotary Calendar. It now lists Rotary meetings but can be used for many different kinds of events.  The link to the calendar will always appear in the left hand column of this page, under Upcoming Events. Make additions by sending events to Karen, at Mark's office.
  • Prez Mark reminded the members that the District Governor Jim Campbell will be our program next week at MVCC and, “everybody better be on their best behavior”. Right!

Special Events

PDG Werner Schwarz, doing pretty well without a mic, introduced Janet Ninomiya, David Ninomiya’s widow and presented her with Richmond Rotary’s first honorary membership and a standing invitation to participate in all Rotary activities.  Werner presented Janet with a plaque with David’s Rotary Badge honoring his service to Rotary.

John Nicole did a brief ‘Who Am I’ in David’s memory noting he was a local rose grower having originally graduated from Ohio State.  David was a real joiner at Ohio State was the president of all the clubs he joined.  He is the youngest person to join Richmond Rotary joining at age 24, Sept. 2, 1964. David was President from 1978-79.  We can take it on John’s word that he was, “A good Rotarian’.  Werner thanked Janet for honoring Rotary with her presence and for the gift of $1,000 given to the club in David’s memory.


Judy Morgan was given the charge of whipping up voluntary Recognitions, but so many members volunteered last week, ‘the cupboard was bare.” 
That said, Sid Chauvin volunteered he was already worried about Prez Mark’s administration because in just two weeks we have gone from the top of the hill overlooking god and the Bay, “to a basement in San Pablo”. (Sid neglected to mention the really great Italian veal and dessert that was served up in La Strada’s San Pablo basement.)

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Joe “Swampy Bags” Bagley had sad $$ for missing last week’s great program but happy $$ for the fact that he was with his daughter who was visiting the Bay Area.
  • X-Prez Rich “Commander Richie” Brandes had really Sad $$ announcing that he had just handed in his resignation from Richmond Rotary.  “Nothin’ personal”, as he and Lisa are fully ensconced in Mendocino and it is time to consider joining either the Mendocino or Fort Brag Rotaries.  Rumor has it that M &M Brandes will join one each and your editor will note that our loss is truly their gain.  Rich says, “Keep me on the list and we’ll be at the Holiday Auction”, and hopefully the Cosco Busan program he set up Sept. 19th (mark your calendars for that on). Smooth sailing Rich!
  • Rafael Cartagena has Happy $$ for his successful trip to Central America and the good support he received for the prosthetic had project in both his homeland and from the Rotary in Monterey MX.
  • Markku Pelanne has Happy $$ for his sighting of “Swampy” Joe Bagley in a Rock and Roll band in the newspaper.
  • Judy Morgan has Happy $$ for the Home Font Festival October 3rd, 4th & 5th including the USO Dance and the Singing Blue Stars.


Who Am I

Jim Young introduced today’s program, a Richmond Rotary tradition and favorite, “The Old Timer Who Am I?”  Rotary Red Badge Rookies have to do a ‘Who Am I’ as part of their evolution to full membership, but a truly multi-generation organization like Richmond Rotary benefits from a telling of the members stories from the past because, well, things have changed.  But our members and Richmond Rotary have endured and that’s worth knowing about.  This crop of ‘Old Timers’ was selected using a complicated process based on the English alphabet, and started with:

Ted Abreu
Ted did not say where he was born in 1935, but he grew up in Hayward and both his Grand Parents were Azorean Portuguese. Ted said he was the first born of his family or “prem-gen” to the Portuguese. He was the bane of his siblings and really “wrecked shop”, apparently getting away with it.  Ted was expected to go to Cal and he did, receiving a BA, an MA and a teaching credential. Ted’s first job was with the Hercules Elementary School District where he continued teaching until unification (sometime in the’60s) created the Richmond Unified School District. Ted stayed with the RUSD and eventually became the Principal of Kennedy High School.  His last job with the district was as the Principal of Middle College High School at Contra Costa Community College. Since he has retired Ted has taken a bunch of cooking courses which he acknowledged might not be the best idea for a guy in his weight class, but he likes to cook and has gotten pretty good at it.  Ted has four kids, two wives (not at the same time and not now).  With some prodding Ted acknowledged that he indeed is Richmond Rotary President Elect for the 2009-10 year.  Moving along from mild mannered Ted Abreu we come to the Bs (Note that is a small “s”, indicating plural):

Erle Brown
Erle (all Flywheel Editors please note spelling) was also born in 1935 and just down the road from Ted in San Leandro, but Erle isn’t Portuguese. Erle said it was a different time; no one locked their doors; they left the keys to the car in the ignition and the milkman would walk in the back door, put the milk right in the refrigerator and tell your mother she needed more butter and cottage cheese.  Erle said he went to Cal and Michigan State, graduating from MSU in 1960. He met Lois at “Upper Jewel” when they both were at Cal and got married in 1959.  They returned to Michigan State to live in the married student housing but couldn’t move in until Erle proved they were married.  Erle said he was lucky because he still had the Marriage License receipt in his pocket and that was “good enough”.

Erle went to work for Dow Chemical after graduation, first in Cleveland (Yuk!) then in Seattle. Erle’s Father-In-Law died and he was asked to come run the family construction company.  He says when he started he was a, “big fat guy” and weighed 245 lbs.  His first job at the company was to join the Laborer’s Union and in six months he was down to 170 lbs.  The business was sold in 1986 allowing Erle and Lois to do a lot of traveling, “which is great for meeting nice people but you are always drawn back to home.” Erle seemed pleased that he was asked to be on the Richmond Museum Board in 1992 and in 1998 on the Red Oak Victory Board.  He seemed equally pleased to have been fired from both boards and is now serving Richmond Rotary as the RI Foundation Chair. Erle ended by thanking the Rotary and the club which he joined in 1976. Thank you Erle and we’ll see you at the Contractor’s Lunch.

Sidney “Sid” Chauvin
Sid attracts attention with his ‘dust broom goatee’ and generally surly attitude started his ‘Who Am I” with the question, “Why can’t I get a ‘free lunch ‘ like all the other guest speakers?”, as well as the previously reported comment about being in a basement in San Pablo. Sid said he joined Rotary because, “I wanted to play poker” and he has been sort of following Herb Cole around because they were both born in Beaumont TX, Herb in April and Sid in December of 1938. And, they were both born in the same hospital and attended the same Doctor. He went to catholic school where he learned that the Sisters were tough and not to be messed with.  His family moved to Louisiana to work in the shipyards when WWII started and then moved to Richmond to work in  the Kaiser Shipyards.  Sid graduated from Richmond High School in 1956. Senator John Nejedly got him an appointment to take the West Point entrance examination which he flunked, so he joined the Navy and became an electronics technician. After the Navy and two trips hitch hiking across the US of A, a friend talked him into taking the plumbers examination in 1964.  Sid passed that and has been independently wealthy ever since. 

Sid says that joining Rotary has been really great for him because no matter where he goes, he has Rotary friends, millions of them, all around the world. When pressed, Sid admitted that he really is a ‘coonass’, i.e. a Cajun. Because of the Bay Area’s commitment to political correctness your editor directs you to the Wikipedia entry.

William R. “Bob” Dabney
Bob was born in West Virginia in 1930 to a mother who had an impressive understanding of local socio-economic conditions. Growing up as a Black American meant racial segregation in Grafton WVa.  It also meant racial segregation across the Ohio River in ‘the North’, but Bob’s mother took the family to live in the farm country of southern Ohio.  In those days West Virginia and Ohio schools were all racially segregated, but all farm kids in Ohio were bussed to school, White schools. Besides his school experience Bob described what must have been some of the first civil rights sit-ins and demonstrations against racial segregation when students from local ‘white’ and ‘black’ colleges were able to use the economic disruption of sit-ins in Grafton theaters and drug stores to “break the color line”.  Bob when on to Central State College (now University) in Wilberforce OH, one of the oldest historically ‘Black’ colleges in America. 

After graduating from Central State he moved to Philadelphia where he got a full time job in the city parks department and enrolled in a Masters of Education program at Temple University.  After graduating from TU Bob went to work as an educator for Air Force and got to see the world. 

First he was in Ankara Turkey in what was then a cold war American community of 15,000.  Bob got to travel around, learn Turkish and a lot about Moslems and Islam (although he professes no religious preference or affiliation) and got to watch the dismantling of the American Jupiter-C missile bases along the Black Sea, which was the ‘quid pro quo’ of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the Caribbean. The Air Force, cold war and American foreign policy continued to provide a backdrop for Bob’s life as he was re-stationed in West Berlin, inside the Soviet sector which was then called East Germany (the DDR or German ‘Democratic Republic’).  Bob then moved with the Air Force to France where he and the Air Force were kicked out by then French President Charles De Gaul when he found out the American bases in France were executing electronic warfare over Southeast Asia. When he got back to America, Bob decided to move to California and came to Oakland where he got a job with the Peralta Community Colleges, eventually becoming Dean of Laney College.  He moved to Richmond and went to work for Contra Costa Community College where he retired in 2000. Bob has been married to Cheryl Meyer for 16 years, and has a son and a daughter by a previous marriage. Bob characterized his son as a ”computer geek”, and his daughter ad a just graduated “Doctor (PhD) of Education” from USC.

Thank you “A, B, C & D” for helping Richmond Rotary better understand how things really have changed.

- Rotating Editor, Jim Young.