We enjoyed another breezy, but perfect Rotary autumn evening at the BCYC on September 26, 2013. Our intimate crowd included guest of Dr. Grace Austin, Sachiko Sugikawa. We received a beautiful invocation given by President Bob, the Pledge of Allegiance led by Diane Daruty and the 4-Way Test recited by Dr. Grace Austin.
Battling strong headwinds on a kayak somewhere in California was President Elect, Gary Konecne, who was unable to perform as “Jokemaster.” In his place was past Prez Steve Speer who gave us a hearty laugh with his Obama joke.
“Fine Master” Past Prez AJ Thielen collected a couple of fines: one from Prof. Lyman Porter, who mocked the “two major LA teams” for “switching jerseys”. The second finee was Danny Frankel who was “happy to see us all and was guilty of not being there regularly.” We were happy to see Danny as well! Happy fines came from Walter Smith who will appear on E-Harmony’s Rose Parade Float with his lovely wife, Barbara. We will persuade Walter to don his best Rotary shirt for the occasion! John Kerr offered-up a happy fine as he was glad to be back from a wonderful trip to France. Likewise, Past Prez Steve Speer paid-up a happy fine as he too safely returned from France with Andy Campbell and their wives. According to Steve, “Roger Gilbert would have loved the pre-paid unlimited booze.”
President Bob reminded us about the annual Okazaki picnic which was held on September 30th as well as a presentation to the Mayor hoping for future use of the City Hall for a Rotary fundraiser. President Bob also applauded the volunteers who donated their time and talent for the annual Back Bay Cleanup: Mike McDonough and wife Annette, Richard Obberreiter and his daughter, Jerry Klemer, Steve Speer, Dan Hoffman and Dan Hodges.
The evening’s program consisted of 3 members’ craft talks and was superb.
The first Craft Talk was given by Past President and longtime member Dick Dickson. According to Dick, his last craft talk was 43 years ago! Dick was born in South Gate, a suburb of Los Angeles back in 1940. His father, originally from Connecticut, was a distributor for Knudson. His mom was Canadian and a homemaker. He grew up in Compton and worked a lot. He had a paper route and was also the toilet cleaner, dishwasher and cook at Skippy’s Famous Burgers. At Skippy’s, Dick became an expert at cooking the deep fried shrimp which satisfied many! He later was employed at the Compton Airport. One memorable life experience for Dick was when he drove a tractor from the airport to his boss’s home in the affluent Palos Verdes. When he arrived at the boss’s home, he was also asked to clean horse manure from the barns. He remembers his boss’s beautiful daughters laughing at him as he cleaned the barn. It was at that moment, he decided to aspire for more and to head to college.
Dick then moved to Balboa Island and attended Orange Coast College. He said he “had a blast” on the island. So much so that he was called into the Police Station and told by the police that if he continued to disturb his neighbors, he would be sent back to Compton. The thought of a move back to Compton was enough to scare Dick straight. He grew up fast.
Dick later married “Sally.” He has two children. His son is a Porsche dealer and he also has a daughter, Kimberly.
Dick worked in the Mail Room at Ford Aerospace. He also worked in Community Relations where he met Tom Reilly, a Rotarian. Tom took Dick to his first Rotary meeting in 1969 and in 1970, he became a Rotary member. At that time, Dick brought in his first Rotary member, Gary Myers!
In July 1972, Dick remarried and is still with his current lovely bride, Eleanor. In 1975, he tried to purchase a condo on Bayside Drive in Newport, but to his dismay was told he could not qualify for the $85,000. Fortunately, a Rotarian helped him and he was able to purchase that condo! In 1972, after the Vietnam war, the aerospace industry was dwindling and Dick decided to take a layoff from Ford. He took an advertising position with the Irvine Company and it was there that Rotary friends convinced him to “go out and do it on his own.” Dick was successful at advertising until he was replaced by the COMPUTER! Along came another Rotarian with sage advice. This Rotarian convinced him to get into real estate where he has been ever since.
One of the best memories of Dick’s Rotary presidency was the annual convention to Korea. Dick and his wife also enjoyed a trip to China. He was in Beijing right before the Tiananmen Square catastrophe. Another fond memory was having the opportunity to meet President Nixon at a Commodore’s Club meeting. He said despite what had happened during his presidency, President Nixon was very kind in person.
Currently, the Dickson’s pride and joy is their grandson who received a UNLV football scholarship.
Our next speaker was Past President Ed Rennie who was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. He had 2 brothers and 2 sisters and was the only sibling to leave the area for California. Ed was very involved in sports as a kid. He worked for the telephone company, starting in the mailroom and then moving up the chain as a cable splicer. He volunteered for the Army draft and was sent to Stuttgart, Germany where he met his wife Corrine. Corrine was on a covert overseas exchange program through Stanford University. While in the Army, Ed was one of the few non-college educated kids and this made him feel bad. He decided to get educated and attended Drexel University on an 8-year evening program. He wound up in engineering and didn’t care for it after awhile as he realized that it didn’t pay a lot. During his time as a cable splicer, his buddy would take him to the Philadelphia Stock Exchange at lunch. He was fascinated by this other world. It was these memories of the Stock Exchange that compelled him to get a CFA and go into investments. In 1983, the Bell System broke apart and he was offered a job as a pension fund manager. In 1987, he was voted one of the “Best Pension Fund Officers in America” and was featured on the cover of a prestigious investment magazine. He also helped manage money for Hershey and the Philadelphia Orchestra. After 36 years with Bell, he retired.
He then took a job at PIMCO in Newport and was responsible for some new products, including the opening of a new office in Singapore. This was one of the highlights of his life as well as Corrine’s. He spent 8 years in Singapore and then retired.
Currently, Ed owns a small planning company with his son Gary. They have about 75 clients in the range of 2 – 10 million. Ed has a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) and a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation. He has three sons and has been married 52 years. From 2000-2004, Ed conquered leukemia. He is now disease free and exclaimed that he has a great family and great life! What a great attitude from Ed!
Our final speaker for the evening was Dan Hoffman. Dan is not retired yet and loves to work. He was born outside of Zurich, Switzerland in 1951. His father, who was of Croatian decent, was an engineer. Dan’s mother was a teacher. Dan played the cello from age 8-20 and dabbled in the idea of becoming a professional musician. He was offered a scholarship to attend a university in Chicago, but decided against it. He noted that he had 3 professional musicians in the family — all of whom were starving!
Dan said he was not the best student, but worked his way up. He did not want to go to college, but wanted to travel. He became a teacher of 7th, 8th and 9th graders from 1965-1969. Back then, he was very critical of the United States because of the Vietnam War. He was however, fascinated by US history and impressed by the Americans’ sending of a man to the moon and social changes, including the Civil Rights Act of 1965. In 1975, he applied for a visa and eventually was approved and moved here. Dan says after 4 months in America, he knew he wanted to stay. He was moved by the “can-do” spirit of the US. He moved to Monterey, California to learn better English and later taught at the Presidio because they needed German speaking teachers. He later became Vice President of the local union. Dan ended up at UC Berkeley for he received a Masters in engineering. He began working on geotechnical engineering projects in southern California. This was a great experience for him and he worked very hard at it. During this time, he met Elizabeth, his wife, and they have been married for 27 years.
In Dan’s line of work, he redeveloped and cleaned-up former hazardous waste sites. This experience took him to Europe in the early 1990’s where he was commissioned to help build a company that expanded into Spain, France and Germany. Dan returned to the US and transitioned into Mergers & Acquisitions and now focuses on renewable energy. In 2001, he launched his own company which finances renewable energy projects.
Dan’s introduction to Rotary was in Germany, where his then mentor asked him to join Rotary. At the time, Dan was the youngest member. Only the wealthy and affluent attended Rotary in this particular city. It was here that Dan learned the ways of Rotary and we are proud to have him as a member of our club!
President Bob ended the meeting with an Einstein quote:
“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”
Your scribe: Miyuki Smith-Richardson