THE WAY I REMEMBER IT
In 1959 I was invited to become a member of the Rotary Club of Austin. I was impressed, because Copperas Cove didn’t even have a Rotary Club, and in Austin, it seemed to have the most important people in town as members. There are about 13,000 Rotary Clubs in the world with over a million members. I guess I was a reasonably good member, but not too active because the Chamber of Commerce and its many facets kept me quite busy. But………
In 1984 I was on a Military VIP trip to Cape Canaveral. We had finished lunch, and a general was “briefing” us on the mission of the Kennedy Space Center. A Sergeant came quietly through the crowd to where I was sitting near the podium. He informed me that I had a phone call. Rather embarrassed, I went out and when I said hello, a Rotarian friend from Austin asked me if they could put my name on the ballot for President. I said, “Well, OK,” and that ended the call. I very quietly went back to my seat, and continued to listen to the general’s briefing.
I returned home, but was not able to attend the next Rotary meeting. A couple of days later Matt called and congratulated me on being elected as Rotary President. I said “ya, ya,” and we continued the conversation. Shortly after that I got calls from two more Rotarians telling me the same thing. I called the Rotary office, and found out it was really true. I had completely forgotten about the phone call at the Kennedy Space Center. So………
My year began in July of 1985. It was customary for the President Elect and his wife to attend the International Rotary Conference—at the expense of the Rotary Club. International meetings usually alternated between the US and somewhere else in the world. The one prior to ours was in Australia, I belive. The one after our year was in Tokyo. We went to Kansas City.
But it was a great meeting. Rotary introduced its plan to stamp out the crippling disease polio in the world. It announced a goal to raise 110 million dollars. The cause was a popular one, and we raised 219 million. Since then, another 100 million has been raised, and the work is all but done.
My year as President was a pleasant one, and I presided with disrespect for everyone. It was a fun year, and we met our goal for the “Polio Plus’ campaign. At this time, I am still a member enjoying my status as a past president.
Rotary has many worthy project in the cities where there are clubs, and worldwide. I hope the organization will continue to thrive for years to come.
Vic Mathias – July 9, 2005