Ann Arbor Rotary Harpoon


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Harpoon for the Week of November 22, 2017

Wednesday's Luncheon Meeting will be in the
Michigan Union's Anderson Room

Put a Roof on It!!
"Rent a Rotaractor" for the Holidays
Interact Day

John U. Bacon, The Great Halifax Explosion

John U. Bacon has a new book.  December 6, 2017 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Halifax explosion, and this will be the definitive book on the tragedy, bringing to light one of the most dramatic events of the twentieth century. The hero of the book is none other than Joseph Barss, the University of Michigan's first hockey coach. Noted historian John U. Bacon combines research and eyewitness accounts to re-create the recklessness that caused the tragedy, the selfless rescue efforts that saved thousands, and the inspiring resilience that rebuilt the town.

Song Leader/Accompanist:  Jim Irwin/Deanna Relyea
Inspirational Speaker: Peg Talburtt
Greeters:  Claire Foley, Jim Egerdal

Attendance:  Mark Foster, Bob Foster


Upcoming Meetings and Events

  • Nov 22 (Wed), 11:15 am: Membership Engagement Committee, Anderson Room. Ebru Misirli Mansfield

  • Nov 29 (Wed): Speaker: Ed Hoffman, "Art in Ann Arbor and Environs"

  • Nov 29 (Wed): Social Committee, Susan Smith Gray

  • Nov 29 (Wed): New Member Follow-up. Michigan Union rm 2105B. New members and their sponsors are invited to attend this meeting, the purpose of which is to gather feedback from new members and help them better engage with our club. Ebru Misirli Mansfield

  • Dec. 3 (Sun), 1:30 p.m. - Distinguished Service Award.  Holocaust Memorial Center, Farmington Hills - Collyer Smith

  • Dec 6 (Wed), 11 am: International Humanitarian Projects Committee, Michigan Union, Crofoot Room

  • Dec 6 (Wed), noon - Rotary Club Of Ann Arbor Annual Assembly:  Our club's annual meeting (“Assembly”) will take place at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in the Michigan Union's Anderson Room.  We will elect officers and directors and hear about the progress of our Rotary club at this assembly.

  • Dec. 20 (Wed): Special Holiday Luncheon Performance by the Pioneer Choir. Bring a guest (or two or more)!

  • Dec. 27 and Jan. 3: No regular luncheon meetings. We resume on Jan. 10.

  • May 3-6, 2018 (Thurs-Sat): District Conference at Eagle Crest
  • June 23-27, 2018 (Sun-Wed): Rotary International Convention in Toronto

If you would like  your meeting to appear here, email
Details on monthly meetings may be found on the club's website.


Notes of Interest


Ghana Orphanage:  Put a Roof on It!

The International Humanitarian Projects Committee recently reported on the projects that they supported this year. Paul Smith, Chair, said,


We made a grant to re-roof an orphanage in Ghana and provide desks and more. But the building was too rotted to hold a roof so it was torn down and a new one erected using the funds we had supplied. Now they need another $7500 to complete the project but we are at the end of our budget for this fiscal year.


Our kind and generous fellow Rotarian, Ian Bund, has offered a matching gift to complete the orphanage. For each $2 you donate Ian will match it with $1, up to $2500. That would provide enough funding to complete the orphanage. This is a terrific, unexpected gift and challenge to all of us.  Please accept the challenge and donate. The match offer ends December 13. Write the check payable to Ann Arbor Rotary Foundation with “Ghana orphanage” on the memo line to ensure your gift is correctly directed and eligible for the match. Bring your check to a meeting or mail it to P. O. Box 13127, Ann Arbor, MI 48113-1217. To donate online go to and click the “donate” button in the Permanent Endowment section. (There is no opportunity to indicate “Ghana orphanage,” but we will follow up with all donors who act within the next week or so.) Thank you, Ian and thanks to all of you! Let’s put a roof on it!

Help us put a roof on this orphanage!


In Need of Holiday Help?

Holiday decorations in stores prompts holiday  planning.  You can Rent A Rotaractor to help with setting up, serving, and cleaning up parties, gift wrapping, house decorating, even helping you select the perfect electronic gift for children and grandchildren.  Contact them here: krlycrsn@umich,edu. The money they earn goes toward their service trips during spring break.


Interact Day

Interact Day 2017 was held on November 11, 2017 at Rochester High School. This is a District 6380 event that brings together Interact Clubs from across the District to share ideas and best practices with other Interact students.

Various District 6380 dignitaries also spoke to the students and various Rotary Youth programs were highlighted.


This year Pioneer High School Interact Club was represented at the event by Ethan Mielock, Lena Lee, Lukas Johnson, and Amelia Costanzo.  Rotary liaison Ed Wier also attended with the students. Morning and afternoon breakout sessions were part of the days activities.  In one of the morning breakout sessions the Pioneer Interact students presented a talk entitled "What Pioneer Has Been Up To" in which they highlighted various activities the Club has organized over the past year. Specifically highlighted were the Club’s international activities including Grace English School (Guatemala) tutoring, KIVA micro-loans, Free Rice parties (World Food Program), and a recent bake sale that supported relief efforts in Puerto Rico.  The Pioneer Interact group also highlighted their work with the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor and the assistance they provided at our recent grand opening of the Centennial Playground.   


Above is a photo of the Pioneer Interact group holding the Presidential Citation they received that day (from L to R:  Amelia Costanzo, Ethan Mielock, Lena Lee, and Lukas Johnson). Huron Interact was unable to participate but also received a Presidential Citation in recognition of their Club activities.


Visit our YouTube channel
The Rotary Club of Ann Arbor now has a YouTube channel! Click here to  go to the channel and see videos of the accessible playscape grand opening and Jack Harbaugh's recent talk to our club. While you're there, click on the SUBSCRIBE and you'll receive email notices when new videos are added.


Meeting Notes

When the lulling musical prelude subsided, one hundred twenty-two Rotarians stood with their guests en masse for The Star-Spangled Banner. Hats off to Tom Strode for his virtuosic talents at guiding a large assembly through a myriad of thematic transitions. President John nodded to Joanne Pierson, who bounded to the mic and delivered – an Experience. It was as if our venerable Inspiration had met with Dr. Ehrlich in the Crowfoot Room for a quick magic bullet. To say that she shared her message in verse would be a trite understatement. Somehow there’s a delightful old jukebox in Joanne’s head stuffed with dozens of songs of all kinds – American songbook, folk, rock, country, and scat. She sang them without pause; a benign torrent of sound like a threading procession of Kate Greenaway’s garlanded tikes. “Music is the universal language. It’s a smile, a child’s laugh – music,” said Joanne. Amen.


Don Devine then led us in song, with the inimitable Tom in accompaniment. Waving his hands and sporting a huge smile, Don directed the happy crowd in admirable renditions of classics by Irving Berlin and George M. Cohan. Watching Don’s conducting and Tom’s hammering, your reporter thought to himself, ‘Indeed, a singing Rotary club like no other.’


John came to the podium and welcomed everyone in his usual gracious way. He asked Rotarians to introduce their guests, which they did: Laura Thomas introduced Tony Gupta; Joan Knoertzer, Angela Oonk, Development Director for the Clements Library; Dallas Dort hosted financial advisor Fernando Ortiz; Ian Bund – Congressional candidate Gretchen Driskell. Visiting Rotarians were represented by our ever-popular former DG, Coach Don Riddell. Hearty applause greeted one and all.


Rosemarie Rowney then addressed the crowded room. “When Paul Smith challenged us last week for ‘the next dollar,’ this inspired a member of the audience, who has made a like challenge…Ian Bund will match a dollar for every two raised by Rotarians to complete the orphanage roof. So let’s put a roof on it! Checks can be made out to the Ann Arbor Rotary Foundation.” Little did Rosemarie realize she had just coined the slogan that would launch a thousand emails and crowd out all commentary on more prosaic topics, including the depressive dunning of current politics. Let’s give what we can to this worthy goal…and thanks, Ian, for your generosity and leadership.


Michelle Gasparian, head of the Rotary Foundation, tag-teamed Rosemarie’s message with one of her own: “I’d like to encourage you to give to the Foundation. Rotary is recognized internationally with consistent high ratings [for goal fulfillment]. Please let me know if I can help with anything, and thank you for everything you do. Let’s have a great year!”


Speaker: Ken Fischer came to the podium to introduce our speaker, University Musical Society President Matthew VanBesien. “About a year ago I was at Red Hawk, eating lunch alone,” Ken began in his usual convivial, humorous way. “I then get a call…and I think ‘How did this happen?’ I just got up and left, and sat down on the bench across from the Michigan Theater.” (Another successful story build-up by Big Ken.) “Matthew VanBesien! The music director for the New York Phil! In 2011 I had the chance to meet Matthew when he came to Ann Arbor [with other music directors and cultural presenters]. We found out that we had some things in common…

  1. We both came from the Midwest
  2. We had attended Big Ten schools
  3. We’d been to Interlochen
  4. We both played the French horn – and had botched a horn solo!”

Apparently, according to Ken, French horn musicians enjoy a kind of mutual aid society. They meet periodically to unravel the whys that brought them to the mercurial instrument. Botched solos appear to be a common, and especially harrowing, occurrence, akin to the yesteryear tales of English coachmen who, from storm or broken wheel, had seen their laden chariots ‘get away.’


Ken then described the wooing process: “We had dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse. The Philharmonic would come to Hill in 2015, 17, and another year; [Matthew] was able to experience the family we have here in Ann Arbor, and got to know UMS a bit.” Ken remembered being impressed with VanBesien’s accomplishments after only a few years at the NYP helm: “He launched several important initiatives, [enhanced] the program, and attracted a diverse audience to concerts.” Especially attractive to Ken were the education and other outreach programs spearheaded by Mr. VanBesien. In short, here was a man who knew how to ‘fill the seats.’


“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce the seventh UMS president, Matthew VanBesien.”


Huge applause greeted the new UMS head. “They say the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing, expecting a different result,” he began. “Following Ken Fischer as a speaker is such an exercise.” He then stressed his deep friendship with Ken as well as his appreciation of Musical Society heritage: “Since 1879 – What does it take to put a great orchestra on a stage? To create partnerships [donors, the University, audiences], and to see the impact of music on young and old.” Then he pointed out the long association between the New York Philharmonic and UMS: “It goes back to 1916, before the Philharmonic had traveled to Europe, it performed here in Ann Arbor.” One feature that grabbed VanBesien’s attention was UMS’ diversity of excellence – “I admired Ken’s way of organizing performances. Great orchestras, but also [providing] a first springboard for other musical acts that are trying to become known. I said to my wife, ‘I think I’d like to run that program in Michigan.’”


“UMS – think about it, the first university music program to receive the National Medal of Arts (2014), and the first music program in the country – in 1879. It is amazing depth.” VanBesien focuses on a multi-pronged initiative: “Inspire; Collaborate; Convene – to pull people together, to put them in the room; Advance; and Contribute to the local community.” In a word, relevance. Surveying current challenges to public participation in the arts, Matthew cited one bright glimmer: “What gives me hope is that people still like to attend live performances. People like to come to Ann Arbor, partly because of UMS.” He then quoted University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel to the effect that “No other university”…offers the concentration of cultural assets we do. Strength in all disciplines: a message we have heard from various U-M speakers over past months. Ken and his predecessors built a durable road to the University president’s house, and it is a road Matthew VanBesien is determined to maintain. “I really want UMS to be THE presenter of record in the U.S., that people know it presents the very best,” he asserted. A particularly successful aspect of the UMS-UM relationship is, VanBesien declared, “our 21st Century Artists Internships. It’s one of the best programs in the country, a true mentor program. Wynton Marsalis speaking to students…Simon Rattle, one of the world’s greatest conductors, spending the afternoon with the Orchestra of the School of Theater, Music and Dance!” 


Mr. VanBesien concluded his speech with a description of UMS’ “Bernstein’s Philharmonic: A Centennial Festival,” this month in Ann Arbor. Concerts and workshops will spotlight the festival, complete with a New York Philharmonic Residency. “Lenny still casts a benevolent shadow today,” noted VanBesien. “Just know how much UMS appreciates your support, and will continue to present the very best to the community and Michigan.”


Thunderous applause answered Mr. VanBesien’s thoughtful message. John thanked him warmly, then reminded everyone of the meaning of JET: “Join leaders; Exchange ideas; Take action.”


“Be The difference that makes A difference.” – Nagaraja Rao


 Notes by  Ed Hoffman, Photos by Ginny Geren

Meeting Statistics

A total of 122 musically-minded Rotarians heard about the present and future of the UMS. The turnout that day continues our recent streak of good attendance. Moreover, we had four visiting Rotarians (Gretchen Driskell of Saline, Kevin Kelly (TRF Zone rep) of Mt. Clemens, Robert Reizner of Jackson and PDG Don Riddell of Troy.) We also had one Youth Exchange Student (Paul Strickling) and nine guests. In conjunction with lunch, a total of 20 Rotarians assembled in meetings representing three committees; Interact, Program and Public Image. Also reported were several other recent meetings/events; Membership on Nov. 14 (four Rotarians), Public Image on Nov. 7 (five), Foundation Gala on Nov. 14 (three), Stories of Service on Nov. 8 (35 at least) and Glacier Hills on Nov. 17 (14). Thanks to all who took the time to submit attendee lists to these offsite activities.


Makeup Cards for Roving Rotarians

None this week.


Parking Structure Status is Online

Recently, Bob Mull educated us in the use of the ePark smart phone app for easy use of the electronic parking meters in town. Dave Williams has just submitted his suggestion on how to learn of the capacity available in the local parking structures. The Republic Parking System posts the status for each on its website. Click here <<>> for a list of structures and the number of open spaces in each.


Board Meeting

Your Board of Directors met on November 15.  A summary of the meeting may be viewed here



November 21 - Rob Northrop

November 22 - Burt Voss, Bob Guenzel, Phil Weiss

November 24 - Mark Schlissel

November 25 - Dave Keren

November 27 - Ken Arbogast-Wilson


Websites of interest to Rotarians

Rotary International: The RI home page has links to About Rotary, The Rotary Foundation, Club Locator and Member Access. Our Club is in Zone 29. The zone has 17 districts and covers portions of Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ontario.

District 6380: Our district's website includes 51 clubs in the counties of Washtenaw, Livingston, Oakland and Macomb in Michigan and Kent in Ontario. The district’s monthly newsletter and articles of district-wide interest are posted there.

Rotary Club of Ann Arbor: Our Club’s website provides background material and information including the current Annual Report, Active Framework (aka Strategic Plan), New Member Nomination Form, Committee Descriptions, Club and Golf Outing brochures, synopses of upcoming programs and an archive of Harpoons. Find us on Facebook.

Submit news, committee meetings, and announcements to the Harpoonthe newsletter of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor. Contact the Club to subscribe by email.

Our Club also sponsors the following Rotaract and Interact Clubs:

 U-M Rotaract Club

Huron High Interact Club

Pioneer High Interact Club

"Rotary Serving Humanity"