Hahn has made several trips to Honduras for projects through his Rotary club, including a partnering effort with Friends United and Shoes for Orphan Souls. Photo courtesy Frederick Hahn
In his 36 years as a Rotarian, RI Director Frederick Hahn Jr. has distributed medicine airlifted to Russia and India, started the first Rotary Youth Leadership Awards in Missouri, USA, given drops of polio vaccine to children in Ethiopia, and served in leadership roles in Rotary’s PolioPlus program. Through these efforts, he has had the opportunity to meet Mother Teresa, oral polio vaccine inventor Albert Sabin, and Bill Gates.
When asked which experience he’d consider his personal highlight, he says Rotary is a lot like traveling: “My take on life is that wherever I am, that is my favorite. The same is true with my Rotary work.”
Hahn has visited more than 75 countries on all seven continents. Antarctica was the seventh, where he and his wife, Marge, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
A Rotary Foundation alumnus, Hahn led a Group Study Exchange team to Turkey in 2000. Although his invitation into Rotary came in 1973, he says he truly became a Rotarian in 1985, when he met Sabin during the RI Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Hahn was president-elect of the Rotary Club of Independence at the time.
“I had the opportunity to shake hands with him and visit with him about his feeling concerning polio. My being a physician made this particularly meaningful to me,” he says. “This opportunity hooked me on Rotary.”
After meeting Sabin, Hahn became an active contributor and fundraiser for polio eradication, serving for years as a zone coordinator for PolioPlus Partners and at one time as vice chair for the western United States. His interest culminated in a major gift to The Rotary Foundation, qualifying him and Marge as members of the Arch C. Klumph Society (which honors those who contribute at least $250,000 to the Foundation).
While volunteering during National Immunization Days in Ethiopia in 1997, the Hahns attended a Presidential Peace Conference in Addis Ababa that led to an opportunity to meet Dr. Catherine Hamlin, a physician whose life’s work was fistula repair in young women and girls. The following year, she received an international service award from Rotary in recognition of her work. Hahn says meeting Hamlin was an experience the couple will never forget.
As district governor in 1992-93, Hahn worked with Heart to Heart International in obtaining a Foundation Matching Grant to provide medical supplies to St. Petersburg, Russia. Two years later, he cochaired a project that airlifted medical supplies to Mother Teresa’s facilities in Kolkata, India. Later this Rotary year, he will be making his seventh trip to Honduras as part of a Teachers Teaching Teachers literacy program, where his Rotary club partners with Friends United. These two efforts also received Matching Grant support.
Hahn retired in 2005 after 35 years of practice as an ear, nose, and throat specialist. He is past president of the Missouri State Medical Association and continues as president of the Missouri State Medical Foundation. He also serves on several other service-related boards.
“I really believe RI’s motto of Service Above Self and The Rotary Foundation’s motto of Doing Good in the World,” he says.
Written for Reconnections