Rotary Celebrates 70th Anniversary

Chartered in 1949, the Rotary Club of Lake Arrowhead is celebrating its 70th Anniversary this year. A special celebratory dinner, which included the gathering of all past presidents and the installation of new board of directors, took place on Tuesday, June 25, at the Lake Arrowhead Country Club. The event was organized by club president Peter Venturini, who will continue to serve another term as president.

Over 100 Rotarians and guests participated in this historical celebration, enjoyed the elegant setting of the private country club and feasted on Chef Kathleen’s meatloaf and made-to-order pasta.

President Venturini started the meeting and introduced special guests.

“Rotary has been an incredible experience for my wife and I,” said District Governor Ricardo Loretta, who is active in many Rotary projects with his wife.

President Venturini commented that Rotary has a strong presence on the mountain.

“We have 3 clubs on the mountain,” said Venturini. “Although we are individual clubs, we are all Rotarians.”

Club presidents Rory Balmer, from Mountain Sunrise Rotary, and Bill Mellinger, from the Rotary Club of Crestline-Lake Gregory, were in attendance

Venturini shared that membership recruitment is very important to the club and he was happy to have new members Betty Marzec and Dave Stuart join recently.

“We will have three more members next month - Cecelia and Michael Ponce De Leon who were in attendance and Barbara Doutt,” Venturini said.

“We are about service to our local and world community,” added Venturini. “Over the last two years, we have contributed $200,000 and countless hours of volunteer work in support of our community. We are Rotarians of Action and our mission is to serve.”

Every year, the Rotary Club of Lake Arrowhead awards about $20,000 to the Rim of the World High School graduates accepted to college. In addition, the club has donated to many local charities, including Mountain Boys and Girls Club, Operations Provider, Mountains Community Hospital, Rebuilding Together, Rim of the World Educational Foundation, Blue Jay Jazz Scholarship, Rim Wrestling, Blue Stars Mom, Soroptimist International, and many other non-profit entities.

To further delve into the history of the club history, Venturini called on each past president and asked them to share something that happened during their presidency, to reflect on the club’s history and provide new information for newer members.

The first past president called on was Keith Burkart who served as president the year the club started the Art and Wine Festival, which has continued since 1985.

“I am proud to be here tonight,” shared Jim meddles, who was president in 1989 through 1990 and who worked very closely with two other past presidents Bob Geer and Steve Watts.

Bob Geer shared the Ensenada projects with past president Steve Watt. Watt took the opportunity to recognize long-time Member Clark Hahne, who coordinates a major financial donation benefited the club. Watt shared an incident as past president that was challenging when dealing with sprinkler attack at the Art and Wine Festival.

“I wanted to do a community project and build a teen center,” said past president Cheryl Moxley. “Our club organized a flash dance at the Village.”

Past president Jim Grant shared that he and another president, Terry Smith, each served an 18-month term as president.

Past president Terry Ebert talked about the club’s polio campaign and how the club donated the highest fund that year in the district.

“Rotary pulls us together,” said past president Bob Gladwell.

President John Lorenz reminded the audience that his major project was taking on the Rotary Centennial Park project in recognition of Rotary International’s 100th Anniversary. Lorenz is also the president of the AYFC.

“During my presidency, we relocated our lunch meeting venue from the Royal Oak to Woody’s and our club started the dental screening program,” said past president Dave Roughton, who also recalled that his Demotion dinner replicated the MASH theme.

“Did you know that back in the day Judge Dest cooked the Rotary hot dogs all weekend?” asked past president Steve Shore.

“I was the second woman inducted to Lake Arrowhead Rotary and first woman club president,” shared Joyce Walton, who traveled from Oregon for this special dinner. “My International convention was in Scotland and not too many people talk to me because no woman members were allowed in Scotland in the late 1990s.

Past president Pat Rains recalled suggesting to the club to start recruiting the best women. He also put his Rotary shirt up for auction during dinner and it sold for $150 to Jay Rynda.

“During my presidency, our club launched the second best fundraising event, the PolaRotary Plunge, introduced by Pat Rains,” shared past president Angela Yap. “And Pat was named Rotarian of the Year.”

“I have fond memories of our club with the fire engine project,” said past president Tom Bachman. “As president, I discovered how much our Rotarians truly contributed to the club the community we serve.”

“Every time we conducted induction, Scratch the Squirrel was always there and our club received the best club award in the district,” said past president Joe Ramos. He also added that the club launched Challenge Day and sponsored the Education Center in Wildhaven during his presidency.

Past president Mary Dippell shared that Judge Dest was her Fine Master, who introduced the Rotary Dog song policy for fining purpose.

The program then focused on Att & Wine, where Art & Wine chairs Diane and Bob Gladwell took the floor and recognized all festival chairs of this year, thanking each for their hard work.

President Venturini finally introduced the Rotarian of the Year, Polly Sauer, who was named Rotarian of the Year for her ‘superman’ effort in volunteering her time for Art & Wine Festival and Rotary. A special plaque was presented to her.

Venturini also announced that member Andrea Willerth had received an award from the Rotary Foundation as a Tier 2 donor, a generous financial donation.

Fine Mistress, Stacey Lippert, conducted a ‘Did You Know’ presentation where she highlighted each past president and the history of Rotary. One important piece of history shared by Lippert was that Rotary International took a giant step in 1987 to allow women to join Rotary.

“In 1997, Rotary Club of Lake Arrowhead elected Joyce Welton to be the first female president, followed by Mary Dippell, and later Angela yap and Cheryl Moxley,” Lippert said.

Following the dinner, President Venturini reflected on the evening and said “meeting so many past presidents and hearing them share memories, reminded me of the long-lasting friendships that are made among Rotarians and their spouses. We are truly a family and I am so proud and humbled to be president of our club.”