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April 1, 2014 > Worldwide Rotary President Honored in Fremont

Worldwide Rotary President Honored in Fremont

Submitted By Lila Bringhurst

Ron Burton, president of Rotary International 2013-14, was feted recently by the Niles Rotary Club. Richard King, a member of the club. King was president of Rotary International in 2001-02 when he visited BurtonÕs club in Norman, Oklahoma; Burton was returning the favor.

Greeted by Rotarians and friends from throughout the Bay Area, he was delighted to see the room awash in red and white, the colors of the University of Oklahoma where he worked for many years as president of the University of Oklahoma Foundation. He rose to his feet when the Fremont Christian High School ÒDixie DominusÓ Traditional Jazz Band, directed by Thomas Banuelos, played ÒOklahomaÓ his state song, written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for the musical of the same name.

ÒOur state song is the most well-known state song,Ó he exclaimed. ÒWho knows the state song for North Dakota?Ó Cliff Dochterman, beloved president of Rotary International 1992-93, said he did. In fact, he said, he knows all the state songs. Probably few in the audience could even name the California state song, ÒI Love You, California.Ó

During his year as president, Ron Burton and his wife, Jetta, have traveled the world, meeting with Rotarians and promoting his theme, ÒEngage Rotary, Change Lives.Ó He has met many of the 1,200,000 members and promised them that as they engage in Rotary, the life they change the most will be their own.

One of his goals this year is to focus on the younger groups within Rotary, the Interactors (14 to 18 year olds) and the Rotaractors (18 to 30 years old). He told of his ÒNew GenerationsÓ seminars held in various countries, including one in India recently where 10,000 young people gathered to learn about the opportunities within the Rotary world, including leadership skills and the importance of service. He hopes that as young people experience the world of Rotary they will become the organizationÕs future leaders.

Burton noted that a polio-free world has been a Rotary goal since Polio Plus was launched in 1985. They have partnered with other organizations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to raise billions of dollars. The end is in sight. The world will hopefully be declared polio-free in 2018, three years after the last new case of polio.

He posited that in the future there might be no worldwide campaign, that the best way to accomplish the greatest good is to let clubs, individually and in groups, do their own service projects. Even now most clubs have international and local projects. By channeling more money back to the clubs they will accomplish more.

Burton is a family man. He and Jetta have a daughter, a son and three grandchildren. He spoke of the role of family in Rotary and the importance of the worldwide family of Rotary. Each Rotarian is a member of his club family. He encouraged each Rotarian to reach out to potential members and invite them into the family of Rotary.

Mayor Bill Harrison welcomed Burton to Fremont, gave him a key to the city and invited him to return. Daniel Chan, Area 5 Interact Director from Washington High School gave him an Interact pin and Niles Club president, Chuck Canada, gave him a briefcase and books about Fremont.

Burton invited everyone to go to the Rotary International Convention this June in Sydney, Australia, where members from all over the world will gather in fellowship, extoll service above self and promote the Rotary way towards world understanding and peace. As Rotarian Rick Hood noted at the meeting, ÒWe all smile in the same language.Ó

For more information about local Rotary clubs, visit: www.rotary5170.org

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