Regarding the letter “Challenge time” in the September issue, we submit the name of Charles Barbata. As a member of our club since 15 January 1958, Chuck has perfect attendance and is an eight-time Paul Harris Fellow. He has chaired every Avenue of Service, but due to his heavy work schedule he was unable to ever accept the office of president of our club. Chuck owned the restaurant where our meetings were held for years. He even built us a trophy cabinet in the restaurant for our club’s many district awards. Hanging in the banquet room were over 1,200 banners from visitors of other Rotary clubs all over the world. Chuck has the love and respect of all 100+ members of our Rotary family, and we salute him for his 50 years as a Rotarian with perfect attendance. Can anyone beat this record?
Woodland Hills, Calif., USA
The Rotary Club of Melrose, Mass., USA, has a very active member who has missed only two meetings in the past year. Jim Milano turned 99 on 17 October 2008 and is celebrating his 37th year as a Melrose Rotarian. He plays the piano before every meeting and when music in required during the meeting. This year, he proposed two new members for the club and represented us at civic events. On 1 November the club held a “100th year” fundraiser in his honor at which he played the Memorial Hall Organ of the Melrose Symphony Orchestra. Jim wears his Paul Harris medal and World War II medals with the pride they and he deserve.
Melrose, Mass., USA
Though John Hatherill, born 4 November 1925, is not chronologically older than some of the folks who have been mentioned -- and we think his file notation as a member of Rotary since 22 April 1946 when our club began may be in error -- we still consider him worthy of note. John has perfect attendance and shares many wonderful stories regarding his make-ups. He tells of Elmer Conrad, past president and past district governor (now deceased), who encouraged all toward perfect attendance. John decided to compete with another member and was surprised one day to find him not at a meeting. The other fellow missed three weeks before returning. He had broken a leg and was unable to attend. John won the bet but considers the challenge ongoing. John is the strongest advocate for taking advantage of make-ups that I have ever met. We are all the better for the stories that John has shared -- from meeting friendly Rotarians in Spain to sitting next to an astronaut in Washington, D.C. -- with the Rotary Club of Lakes Area, Mich., USA. It is always the highlight of President's Night to give him recognition for another year of perfect attendance. This past year he received his 42nd year perfect attendance pin.
Lorene (Lorrie) McVey
Novi, Mich., USA
We in the Rotary Club of Chillicothe, Ohio, USA, submit Robert McKell, who joined in 1948 and has continued in membership to date. He is the photographer for the club and his digital camera photos enliven our regular club newspaper. I might add that the writer of this letter first joined in 1949, but had a two-year interruption for service in the Korean Conflict and another two-year hiatus in 1970s due to occupational relocation. Both are Paul Harris Fellows and are in their eighties, though you would never believe it!
Chillicothe, Ohio, USA
Harry Schwartz, 96, has been a very active member of the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City, Okla., USA, since 1986 and currently has 18 years of perfect attendance. Can another club beat that? Even if someone older turns up, they cannot possibly be as positive and interesting as our very solid, active, and consistent Harry Schwartz. Throughout the 20 years I have been a member of the Oklahoma City Rotary club, we have always had two or three regular attendees in their 90s along with many over 85. Yes, we have our share of members under 40 as well. We are ethnically diverse, too. Come visit our large club, the 29th to be founded, should you be passing through Oklahoma City. We have great programs and welcome visiting Rotarians.
Oklahoma City, Okla., USA
The Rotary Club of Fresno, Calif., USA, is proud of our oldest active member, Larry Shehadey, age 101. He has been a member of the club for 45 years. We are proud of our member with the most years of service, Brenton Bradford, with 69 years of service. Brenton Bradford was a president of our club in 1957-58 and a second generation past president and Rotarian. We are proud of our perfect attendance members: Art Hill (46 years) and past district governor, past president, and second-generation Rotarian Chas Looney (45 years).
Fresno, Calif., USA
The Rotary Club of Hyannis, Mass., USA, is honored to announce that it recently celebrated the perfect attendance of four of its members. The total attendance for these dedicated Rotarians was an astounding 203 years. Milton Penn celebrated 56 years of perfect attendance; Donald Moore, 36 years; Donald Treimann, 51 years; and Charlie Powers, 60 years. Mr. Powers and Mr. Treimann were both district governors and Mr. Treimann was the Rotary liaison to the United Nations. These men are a testament to the Rotary spirit of Service Above Self.
Hyannis, Mass., USA
Congratulations to Rich Vonnegut of Indianapolis for his years of Service Above Self, but I think the Rotary Club of Rockford, Mich., USA, has him beat. Victor Bell joined our club in 1949. Vic is our current song leader and participates in almost every project. My dad, Clarence Blakeslee, joined in 1957. Clarence will be 94 in October, and he not only continues to attend nearly all weekly meetings, he takes great joy in competing for the title of top salesman of our chicken-barbeque tickets. Dad is a Paul Harris Fellow.
Neil C. Blakeslee
Rockford, Mich., USA
At the most recent President's Night celebration of the Rotary Club of Murrysville-Export, Pa., USA, we honored the members we refer to as our "Rotary Twins": Jim Bassett and Bob Edwards. Both of these Rotarians celebrated their 90th birthdays last year and have remarkably similar Rotary careers. Both joined Rotary in 1949 but in different clubs. Both are past presidents -- Jim in our club and Bob in the Rotary Club of Ridgeway, Pa. Bob served as director of all four Avenues of Service in each club. Jim had over 50 years of perfect attendance as of the late 1990s, and regularly did make-ups up to several years ago when he could no longer drive, and still makes as many meetings as his health will allow. Bob's record of perfect attendance is not as clear because of the change of clubs but he does attend most meetings, even though he qualifies for [excused absences under] the 85 combo rule. Collectively, they represent almost 120 years of Service Above Self.
Murrysville-Export, Pa., USA
Ernest W. Green, an active member of the Rotary Club of Boise, Idaho, USA, was born on 1 January 1913, making him seven weeks older than Indianapolis Rotarian Rich Vonnegut. Ernie first became a Rotarian in the late 1930s in Cozad, Nebraska, where he was a young teacher. He interrupted his membership to serve in World War II but rejoined Rotary (with the Boise club) in the 1960s. He is an alert, youthful, and active 95-year-old member who retired from teaching a bit over 30 years ago.
We wish to call to your attention Joseph H. Gordon Sr., of the Rotary Club of Tacoma, Wash., USA. Joe was born on 31 March 1909. He joined the club on 1 December 1938 and was club president in 1943-44. He still attends meetings every Thursday. With all due respect to 95-year-old Rich Vonnegut of Indianapolis, I think at 99 1/2 years, Joe is indeed Rotary's oldest active member. We will be pleased to honor his centennial a year before our club's (founded 3 February 1910).
Tacoma, Wash., USA