Marathon Rotarians Celebrate 50 Years

Marathon Rotarians Celebrate 50 Years

Club looks to expand scope in the coming months

By Blair Shiver

Marathon Rotary’s President-elect Chris Bull is like a handful of local business leaders in the Middle Keys.

He coaches youth athletic teams of all ages. He serves on numerous local boards, is active in countless service organizations and is more than generous with his time for others.

In all that he does for his club, community and family, Bull refers back to The Rotary Four-Way Test:

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?

3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Captain Keith Douglass has logged twenty years in the Marathon Rotary Club and another half dozen in a couple of other clubs and insisted that if Rotary ceased to exist in the Middle Keys, it would result in a considerable loss to the community.

“Becoming a Rotarian means making an investment in your community,” Douglass explained.

President-Elect Elect David Grego, broker/owner of Island Breeze Realty, along with fellow Rotarians helped spruce up the exterior of the Marathon Community Theatre during a recent service project.

Borden Makepeace, the Marathon club’s first president from 1961-62 along with other founding members like Phil Sadowski, explained that the principle objective of Rotary is to network and affect larger change than with only one individual’s effort.

A perfect example is the nearly complete eradication, save a few pockets of populations, of polio around the globe. This effort was long ago established as a goal of Rotary International, which includes 1.2 million individuals in over 32,000 Rotary Clubs across more than 200 countries and geographical areas.

“It is one of the most devastating diseases, and now it’s almost completely eliminated,” Makepeace noted. “We couldn’t have done that alone. It was because of the cooperation with others in our worldwide network.”

Makepeace, now 77, attended his first Rotary meeting in 1949 as a youth guest with his grandfather who was also a founding member of his Rotary Club in Pawtucket, R.I. in 1917. The longtime owner of Makepeace Office Supply in Marathon and Islamorada, he’s still active in his local club in North Carolina.

“I think one of the landmarks of Rotary itself was when we started to allow women to become members,” he said proudly. “Women were always more willing to put in the effort. Way back in the 60s and 70s, I was promoting women to positions of responsibility in my business. If they can do the job, let them do it!”

Key Largo Chamber of Commerce President Jackie Harder served a term as president of the Marathon Rotary in the early 80s and called her term one of great honor.

“It was just a fantastic group of people,” she recalled, adding that the connection, fellowship and brotherhood among members locally and globally are among her fondest memories.

“I had the privilege of attending a National Convention in Orlando, and it was humbling to know I was part of an organization that stretched across the globe,” Harder noted. “It just transcends local and national boundaries, and I have some of my fondest memories with the Marathon Club.”

Bull reflected this week on the tremendous community effort that resulted in Rotary Park. He was invited to join the club six months before construction got under way.

“From 8 am to 8 pm, everyone came together over the course of a week to build that park,” Bull recalled. “Sworn enemies were working side by side and newcomers to town got to meet local sages.”

As he prepares to lead the club in his upcoming 2011-2012 term, Bull said he and President-Elect Elect David Grego agree that for a long time, the club has focused on small scale local projects like countless repair jobs at Grace Jones Daycare, the Skate Park, a senior citizens’ holiday luncheon at Marathon Community Theatre, participating in Rotary’s international student exchange program and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship monies for graduating high school seniors.

“In the coming months, we’re going to begin to look at projects outside our comfort zone,” he added, like the previous financial support and supply donations to Rotarian Claude Gagonon and the Wings of Hope project that helped build a self-sustaining bakery for a rural Haitian community.

As they gear up to celebrate their 50th anniversary this month, the Marathon Rotary is requesting all local Rotarians to invite a potential new member to lunch at their regularly scheduled weekly meeting at 12:15 pm at Key Colony Inn. Past members are also encouraged to come show their support.

An evening soiree is planned for the actual anniversary of the club on Wednesday, May 18 at the Marathon Yacht Club.

 

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