2022-23 Rotarian of the Year

At our June 29, 2023, Rotary Club Celebration at the Denver Country Club on June 29, Club Rotarian came together for our annual Continuation of Leadership celebration with President Lisza Gulyas and to ring in the new year with incoming President Mark Wipper!  As has been our tradition, we honored our Rotarian of the Year and NEW Rotarian of the Year.  Congratulations and Thank YOU Denver Rotarian’s for your many accomplishments and hard work this past Rotary year!

2022-2023 Rotarian of the Year

Debbie Beasley

This year, Club 31 is pleased to honor Debbie Beasely as our Rotarian of the Year for 2022-23!

According to the many nominators,

“She demonstrates understanding of the needs of people in under resourced communities and passionately advocates for assistance to such areas.”

“She is a tremendous role model to all Rotarians, but particularly in the area of women in finance.”

 “She must be a glutton for punishment, but I think she’s actually just a Rotarian’s Rotarian, because she cannot let any project fall through the cracks for our Club and shoulders SO MANY responsibilities.”

 “She technically never ‘retired’, but rather quit working for Wells Fargo the same year she became President and started working for Rotary full time…for free!  She is a true inspiration.”

“She is one of the most humble people I know, never asking for praise, even though she deserves more than we could ever give her.”

Debby’s MANY accomplishments over the last 8 years that covers all aspects of Rotary’s six avenues of service…

  • Member for more than 8 years
  • DRCF Gold Fellow
  • TRF Paul Harris Fellow +8
  • Leadership Positions Held: Past Club President, Club Secretary & Club Director
  • New Member Sponsor
  • Former New Rotarian of the Year
  • Committee Involvement: Peach Sale, Membership Team, TRF Support, Rotary Book Club, Fellowship Host, Fundraising Support…just to name a few
  • Chaired Positions: New Member Orientation, TRF Support Chair for more than 6 years & Strategic Planning
  • In 2019-2020, served on our Strategic Planning committee and worked to help change our Club’s mission and our Diversity and Inclusion Policy
  • Supports every fundraiser and has even hosted a pizza and wine night at their home for a fundraising auction item
  • Co-hosted and planned the most recent Rotarians for Peace workshop.
  • Only held 2 in-person meetings the entire year of their presidency during Covid and did it without one complaint!
  • Currently serves as our Assistant Governor for Area One, a three-year commitment.


2022-23 NEW Rotarian of the Year

New Rotarian of the Year 2022-2023

Gary Statler

This year, Club 31 is pleased to honor Gary Statler as our New Rotarian of the Year for 2022-23!

Here are some comments from the nominators …

“This person can typically be found in the center of the action, always doing more than their part…relating openly and candidly with all of our members.”

“There is no one else in Rotary who has stepped up like this new member!  There is not an event I can think of they haven’t attended.”

“I have been so impressed by how this person has embraced Rotary!  They are such an active member.” 

In just the past year, this Rotarian…

  • Became a Paul Harris Fellow of The Rotary Foundation
  • Has a 95% attendance rate between Club and committee meetings.
  • They are always making a point to get to know fellow Rotarians and connect others in the Club…including attending every social event thrown by fellow Rotarians!
  • Club Committee Involvement Includes: Peach Sale, New Member Orientation, Membership Team, including involvement at the District level.
  • They arrive early for almost every meeting and help Melly introduce prospective members to the Club prior to lunch.
  • Within some of their first months of joining, they co-hosted a Fellowship doing one of their favorite hobbies…dancing!
  • Along with Debbie Beasley, they helped reimagine and recreate our New Member Orientation program into a creative and engaging three-part series.
  • And get this…not only did they agree to be the Member Engagement VP in 2023-24, but they stepped into the position half a year early to help with our transition.

This new Rotarian has accomplished all of this since having joined Denver Rotary in June 2022!

Congratulations Doug Jackson! RI “Service Above Self” Award

Press Release
Dr. Douglas Jackson Awarded the 2021 Rotary International Service Above Self Award
Jackson one of only 150 recipients of the international award given this year

(Pictured L to R: Bryan Cooke, Past DG; DG Ray Anderson, President Ian Campbell, Past President Doug Jackson)

CENTENNIAL, Colo., May 20, 2022 — Project C.U.R.E., Rotary International District 5450 and the Rotary Club of Denver announced that Dr. Douglas Jackson has been awarded the Rotary International Service Above Self Award for 2021. Jackson was recognized on Thursday, May 19, at Denver Rotary’s regular luncheon meeting held at the Denver Country Club.

The Service Above Self Award is considered the highest honor that Rotary International can bestow on a member. It recognizes only up to 150 outstanding Rotarians and Rotaractors each year whose service activities make a positive impact on humanity.

Project C.U.R.E., based in Centennial, CO, is the world’s largest supplier of donated medical supplies and equipment to resource-limited countries.  Each week it delivers approximately three to five semitruck-sized ocean containers packed with the medical equipment and supplies desperately needed to save lives in hospitals and clinics in resource-limited countries.  Through Rotary, Jackson has stewarded projects providing over $20 million of medical equipment and supplies to over 30 countries in six continents, including 270 grants from over 100 Rotary clubs, including a $150,000 grant from his home Denver Rotary Club that provided medical supplies and equipment to six pediatric hospitals in Mexico.

“Each year, thousands of the 1.4 million Rotarians from 46,000 clubs worldwide are nominated for this prestigious award,” said Ray Anderson, current District 5450 Governor, who nominated Jackson with encouragement from Past District Governor and Greeley Evening Rotary member, Bryan Cooke.  Ian Campbell, current President of the Rotary Club of Denver, added. “Clearly, this is indeed an extremely high honor for Doug, and one that is extremely well deserved.”  Seth Patterson, Centennial Year President of Denver Rotary, who also served Doug as Treasurer, noted “This award is normally granted to Rotarians who have been involved in extensive Rotary project work.  Fortunately, this year Rotary saw fit to honor someone whose community service included extensive independent work.”

Prior to joining Project C.U.R.E., Jackson taught at the university level in the disciplines of finance, investments, leadership development, law, and international affairs. He is a frequent speaker and lecturer at universities, conferences such as TEDx, and civic, corporate, and community organizations.  He serves on the Board of Directors for InterAction, the Partnership for Quality Medical Donations, World Denver, The Nanda Center for International and Comparative Law at the University of Denver, the World Trade Center Denver, and the Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professionals at Regis University.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration, magna cum laude, from Northwest Nazarene University, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Ph.D. in Business Administration with an emphasis in finance and econometrics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

(Pictured L to R: Jim & Anna Marie Jackson, Founders of Project CURE, DG Ray Anderson,
Past RI President John Germ)

About Rotary International, Rotary District 5450 and the Rotary Club of DenverAbout Project C.U.R.E.
Project C.U.R.E. was founded in 1987 to address the staggering shortage of medical resources around the world. Since its humble beginnings in a garage in Colorado, Project C.U.R.E. has become the world’s largest distributor of donated medical supplies, equipment and services to doctors and nurses serving the sick and dying in more than 135 countries. Each week Project C.U.R.E. delivers approximately three to five semitruck-sized ocean containers packed with the medical equipment and supplies desperately needed to save lives in hospitals and clinics in resource-limited countries. Project C.U.R.E. is supported by over 30,000 volunteers annually and operates distribution warehouses in seven U.S. cities. In addition to its global work, Project C.U.R.E. pivoted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to support the need for PPE and medical equipment in the U.S. [Since March 2020, Project C.U.R.E. provided more than 15 semitruck loads of domestic medical aid, which equates to 4.5+ million pieces and nearly $5 million of PPE for healthcare workers and first responders.] For more information, visit: www.projectcure.org.

Rotary International is a global network of neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.  For over 110 years, Rotary’s people of action have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to take action on sustainable projects. From literacy and peace to water and health, we are always working to better our world, and we stay committed to the end.  Rotary District 5450 includes 68 clubs and thousands of members in the metro Denver area and some surrounding communities. For more information, visit: www.rotary5450.org and www.denverrotary.org.

2020-2021 Rotarians of the Year!

At our Thursday Rotary Club Celebration at the Warwick Hotel on June 24, 2021, Club Rotarians came together for our annual Continuation of Leadership celebration with President Debbie Beasley and to ring in the new year with incoming President Campbell!  As has been our tradition, we honored our Rotarians of the Year.  Congratulations and Thank YOU Denver Rotarian’s for your many accomplishments and hard work this past Rotary year! 

Harriet Downer ~ ROTARIAN OF THE YEAR 2020-2021

Harriet Downer is this year’s very deserving recipient of the Club 31’s Rotarian of the Year Award!  Here is just a sampling of her strong and impressive contributions to  Denver Rotary.  Her participation covers all aspects of Rotary’s five avenues of service…

  • Member for more than 14 years
  • DRCF Silver Fellow
  • DRCF Legacy Society Member
  • TRF Paul Harris Fellow +4
  • Club 2nd VP, 2008-10
  • Club Board Director, 2008-11
  • Club 1st VP, 2010-11
  • DRCF Board Service:
    • DRCF Trustee, 2015-21
    • DRCF Secretary, 2015-17
    • Grant Committee Member (2017 – 20)
    • Chair, Colorado Gives Day
    • Chair, Red Bucket
  • Committee Involvement: Heavily involved with WCS Committee & Peach Sale for many years, Cherry Creek Trail Clean Up & various volunteer projects
  • Served on the Club’s broadband project as one of our centennial projects
  • Rotary Awards: New Rotarian of the Year (2006-07), WCS Continuing Service Award (2014 & 2015)
  • District Visioning Chair, Past & Present
    • Instructs work-out sessions at the District Conferences
  • And, attends every District Conference

 According to several of her nominators,

“This is my go-to Rotarian for historical knowledge with the Club since they have had their hands in pretty much everything since they joined!”

“She is involved in Rotary on every level: locally and internationally.”

“She has been heavily involved in the World Community Service committee, the District, and our Foundation…what hasn’t she done?”

“She was instrumental in working on the broadband project for our Club’s Centennial that was recently recognized in the Rotary magazine and has lead a strategic/vision for the club and foundation in the past.”

“Whenever I talk to anyone in the District, they immediately bring up this Rotarian.  She is so involved with Rotary, beyond only our Club.”

Rotary’s mission is to do good in the world…a group of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Our Club is filled with some pretty special people…we are all honored and privileged to know such a Rotarian.  Congratulations Harriet!  You make us proud and we are blessed to have you as a member of Denver Rotary!

Kris Hemenway~ NEW ROTARIAN OF THE YEAR 2020-2021

This year Club 31 is pleased to honor Kris Hemenway as our New Rotarian of the Year for 2020-21!

 According to several of his nominators,

“Very knowledgeable and has a lot to offer to Club 31!”

“It was a challenging year to join the Club in the middle of COVID, and even more challenging to meet people virtually, but she/he started volunteering right out of the gates!”

“Very excited to start engaging with this member more at in-person meetings!”

“They are always engaged in committee meetings, and you can tell they are already thinking of solutions.”

“Made a point to reach out to me, to see what their new leadership position entailed, which showed real initiative!”

In just the past year, Kris…

  • Became a sustaining contributor of TRF and the Denver Rotary Club Foundation!
  • Was a volunteer at our 2020 Peach Sale
  • Routinely attended online Zoom meetings and until recently, was finally able to attend their first in-person meeting!
  • Serves on the District’s Communication and PR committee
  • Worked on a project to rebrand the Erie Rotary Club and prevent them from closing their charter.
  • And get this…will be our Membership Recruitment Team Vice President in 2021 – 2022! “Taking on membership is a huge undertaking, and we are fortunate to have this Rotarian as our VP.”

After joining Rotary in June of 2020, Kris has already shown a major commitment to our Club and to Rotary’s mission.  We are so fortunate to have such a committed and dedicated new Rotarian as a member of Club 31!  Congratulations Kris!  Thank you for making Club 31 your new Rotary home!  We look forward to serving alongside you for many years to come!

Denver Rotary Wins Ed Bemis Communication Award!

The #Rotary Club of Denver has been awarded the Ed Bemis Award for Communications by the Rotary Club of Littleton and District 5450.  The award is named for Ed Bemis, the late publisher of the Littleton Independent newspaper, Past President of the #Littleton Club, and Past District Governor (way back in 1943-44).  This award is a great tribute to Ian Campbell, our Communications Team Vice-President and President-Elect, who has served the Communications Committee so ably over the past few of years.  Thanks to Ian, our Club has been recognized for the “Best Club Communications” in the District for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.  The award consideration is equally weighted between newsletters, social media, and other blogs and projected-related outreach.  The criteria for the award include the handling of Club news, education about Rotary activities, originality in content, and format and appearance. A huge “thank you” and congratulations to Ian!



Edwin Bemis Award for Best Newsletter
Presented by the Rotary Club of Littleton
by Edwin A. Bemis, District 113 Governor 1943-44

WE BELIEVE that our club bulletins are valuable and effective instruments in the development and maintenance of good Rotary clubs; THEREFORE, as bulletin editors, we shall gladly contribute our time and energy to the production of the best bulletins we can offer to our members.

WE BELIEVE that our club bulletins should be informative, interesting, dignified, constructive and entertaining; THEREFORE, we shall lend every effort toward making these attributes the controlling influence in gathering material for our bulletins.

WE BELIEVE that one of the purposes in having Rotary club bulletin editors is so that the week after week history of our clubs will be written; THEREFORE, we shall endeavor to give as complete coverage as is possible of the club and its officers, committees and members.

WE BELIEVE that directed and humiliating jests, derogatory statements, or any similar items which might make a member the object of ridicule, are not in good taste and do not belong in a club bulletin; THEREFORE, we shall be very alert to see that all material in our bulletins are acceptable to all members.

WE BELIEVE that questionable jokes are foreign to the ideals of, and thinking by, members of Rotary clubs; THEREFORE, we shall be circumspect in the choice of what is to be included in our bulletins.

WE BELIEVE that an interchange of information between clubs, within and outside of our respective districts, is most desirable and profitable; THEREFORE, we shall endeavor to exchange bulletins with as many clubs as our ability permits.

WE BELIEVE that there are unlimited opportunities for club bulletin editors to spread and to help perpetuate Rotary throughout the world; THEREFORE, we will dedicate ourselves, our abilities, and our energies to the furtherance of Rotary, and shall so discharge our responsibilities that our activities will be a stimulus to our fellow members and a credit to the communities in which we live.

WE BELIEVE that in being selected to edit our club bulletins we have been deeply honored, and inherent in this honor is recognition of leadership as well as a great challenge; THEREFORE, we will exercise that leadership as effectively, acceptably, and unassumingly as is compatible with our relationship to our club members. We will dedicate our utmost ability and loyalty to that challenge, knowing that in it lies the real meaning of the great pronouncement of Rotary.

More Good News from Rotarians for Mental Health (R4MH)!

Read by Past President & R4MH District Co-Chair Seth Patterson at our December 3, 2020 Club meeting via Zoom.

Whoever said Friday the 13th is unlucky must not have been a Rotarian.

This year on Friday, November 13, Rotarians for Mental Health (“R4MH”) hit the trifecta!

First, our Rotary Connects project, received a Zone Innovation Award…and I still don’t know what a Rotary Zone is!   That project provided cell phones to about 750 low income clients of the nine Community Mental Health Centers serving our District so that they could continue their therapy using emerging telehealth technology.

Second, the project was part of an award to our District for our pandemic relief work from the Association of Fundraising Professionals for National Philanthropy Day.  Here is a link to an awesome two minute video about that work.

Some of you will recall in 2008, during dearly departed Sue Fox’s term as Club President, our Club was recognized as an Outstanding Service Organization from the same National Philanthropy Day organization.   Also that year, another dearly departed member and then CEO of Denver Kids, Donna Hultin, was recognized by this group.

Last, but not least, on November 13th, the Rotary Club of Denver Southeast’s Foundation granted $2,000 to R4MH to offset a portion of our 2020 State of the State Symposium expenses.

So…during this period of giving thanks, the members of Denver Rotary have much to be thankful for:

  • The community service and fellowship of two of our outstanding members, Sue and Donna;
  • Our support to some of those less fortunate, so that they can maintain a critical health service; and
  • The continued support of fellow Rotarians, and some prominent non-Rotarians, for our pandemic relief work.

Not to be greedy, but there is one other thing we could wish to be thankful for, that is spreading the knowledge of the good works of Rotary…beyond Rotary.

So, any time that anyone asks what you are thankful for, please consider something that you value from your involvement in Rotary.

GO ROTARY…and Broncos and Buffs and soon, Nuggets!

Denver Rotary Receives Award for the Most Outstanding World Community Service Project in District 5450

Denver Rotary Cub 31 was honored by Denver Mile Hi Rotary for having the most outstanding world community service project in District 5450 in 2019-2020.  Denver Mile Hi donated $100 to Polio Plus in Club 31’s name.  The award was for a six-year $93 thousand project promoting basic education and literacy for girls in Bosnia and to prevent them from becoming victims of human traffickers.  The entire project involved a small direct cash grant and two global grants matched by Rotary International and District 5450.  The project was prompted by the aftermath of the 1990’s Balkan wars (of ethnic cleansing) with the failure to address the problems of girl’s education and human trafficking because of continued ethnic divisions and government corruption.  Bosnia (formally Bosnia and Herzegovina, BiH) is now the poorest country in Europe.  Poor rural families favor education of boys, with girls often dropping out of school after the 4th grade.  Roma (gypsy) girls are illiterate, as are their mothers and most of their fathers.  Bosnia is now the largest center for transit and source of human trafficking in Europe as those under-educated or struggling financially seek opportunities outside of the country.

The project brought parent teacher education meetings to 40 villages reaching 2,000 parents, promoting the importance of girls’ education and warning of trafficking, established a mentoring program for 160 families with fourth grade girls at risk for dropping out of school by using university student volunteers, conducted media campaigns to promote girls staying in school and warning of human trafficking, and conducted literacy classes for Roma girls. The mentoring and public education initiatives are continuing after the grant funding ended with the partner NGO staff.  The Roma literacy program has been funded post grant by another non-profit.

Denver Rotary World Community Service committee members formulated, wrote the grant application, raised the cash match, shepherded the application through the Rotary International process, and monitored the implementation of the grants. F elicia Muftic chaired the project, initially with Denver Rotarian Dr. Mike Muftic, who passed away in August 2015.  The Mostar Rotary Club was the local in-country supervisor which partnered with a local non-profit family and children counseling agency, Novi Put, to execute the grant.  Over $8 thousand of the cash came from the Denver Rotary Foundation.  In addition to Denver Rotary and Mostar Rotary, eight other 5450 Rotary clubs, Ojai California Rotary and their district, and the Rotary club of Grand Cayman all contributed the cash funds, matched by $20,500 from District 5450 and $37,725 from the Rotary International Foundation.  The last of the two global grants was featured in the April 2019 Rotarian.  For a video made during the first global grant, and to meet the participants, click the image link below.  For more about the entire project, visit Bosniaglobalgrant.com.

Congratulations to our hard working World Community Service committee and to Chair Felicia Muftic who has spent countless hours on this project over the years!

Honorary Rotarian for Life: Darlene Mast

After supporting her husband Rotarian Steve Mast during his Club 31 Presidency in 2003-2004, Darlene put “Service Above Self” by filling the vacancy of her predecessor on a temporary basis as the Rotary Club of Denver and Denver Rotary Club Foundation Executive Director in 2004.  Little did she know at the time, this would become a 16-year long commitment!  Darlene fell in love with the mission of Rotary and the Rotarians she served.  Darlene always remained cool under pressure with a smile on her face and served a new Club and Foundation President every year (for a total of 33 Presidents in 16 years).  She became a wealth of historical knowledge to those she served, always informing her President’s what the Club has done in the past and stepping aside to let them make a decision for how to move forward.  There wasn’t a single President who didn’t call Darlene before accepting this honored position, to ensure she would still be with the Club to support them and help guide them from behind the scenes.  Darlene would say to every President, both Club and Foundation, that her main job was “to help make you look good”, and she sure did!

After many nights working late and many after-work happy hours, Darlene is retiring from the Rotary Club of Denver.  However, even in retirement Darlene can’t seem to step away from her passion for Rotary.  She will continue on a very limited basis as the Club and Foundation’s part-time accountant.  In honor of Darlene’s service to Rotary, Club 31 is awarding her an
“Honorary Rotarian for Life” membership status.  Darlene, you have made a bigger impact than anyone could have imagined during these past 16 years and for that, Club 31 will forever be in your debt.  THANK YOU, Darlene and Congratulations!

Here are just a few examples of Darlene’s Achievements and Service Above Self…

Perfect attendance for 16 years:

  • 688 all-Club lunch meetings
  • 160 club board meetings
  • 96 DRCF board meetings
  • The same number of executive committee meetings for each
  • 16 years of Membership committee and Programs committee meetings

Highlighted Contributions:

  • 1st big project: The Player sculpture installation and dedication at Coors Field
  • Served on the Branch Rickey award committee through 2014
  • Visited RI Headquarters in Chicago with Grant Wilkins, the DG and Club President
  • Relocation of the Polio Plus statue to CU Anschutz
  • Peach Sale originated during her first year as ED, and Darlene was always a top Rotarian seller of peach boxes
  • Moved the Rotary office twice
  • Instrumental in the Club Centennial project, book and celebration

Prior Recognition:

  • 2010 DKI Rotarian of the Year
  • 2013 Edwin A. Bemis Award for Best Club Communications
  • 2013-14 District Governor Discretionary Award
  • 2015 DRCF Legacy Society Charter Member
  • DRCF Silver Fellow
  • Paul Harris Fellow +1

Service Above Self:

  • Darlene attended every Rotarian’s funeral, plus retirement parties and other celebrations
  • The holiday bread baker for her Club boards and leadership
  • Darlene stepped up and became an accountant while remaining ED to help the Club save money
  • Last year for the first time in 16 years, used her full vacation time
  • And her final achievement, after hiring and managing three prior assistants, she found a true replacement and trained her before stepping down as our Executive Director

2019-2020 Rotarians of the Year!

At our Thursday Rotary Club meeting via Zoom on June 25, 2020, Club Rotarians came together for our annual Continuation of Leadership celebration with President Jim Johnston and to ring in the new year with incoming President Debbie Beasley!  As has been our tradition, we honored our Rotarians of the Year.  Congratulations and Thank YOU Denver Rotarians for your many accomplishments and hard work this past Rotary year!


Virgil Scott ~ ROTARIAN OF THE YEAR 2019-2020

Virgil Scott is this year’s very deserving recipient of the Club 31’s Rotarian of the Year Award!  Here is just a sampling of his strong and impressive contributions to  Denver Rotary.  His participation covers all aspects of Rotary’s five avenues of service…

  • Joined Denver Rotary March 15, 2011, with 14 years prior Rotary experience
  • Served on the Denver Rotary Club Foundation (DRCF) Board of Trustees 2013-2019
  • DRCF President 2016-17
  • DRCF Silver Fellow
  • DRCF Legacy Society Charter Member 2015
  • Chair of the DRCF Legacy Society
  • Co-Chair of DRCF 50th Anniversary Campaign
  • Paul Harris Fellow of The Rotary Foundation (TRF)
  • Served on TRF Support Committee & Peach Sale Committee

AND, Virgil has accomplished all of this since joining our Club only nine years ago!

 According to several of his nominators,

“I have had the distinct pleasure of serving with Virgil since he joined our Club nine years ago. During this time, I have gotten to know him well, have very much enjoyed working together and consider him to be a trusted friend and valued mentor.”

“As a DRCF President, Virgil’s message to our Club and its Foundation was Unity…both working together to have a positive impact on our community and our world.”

“About a year and half after joining our Club, he was asked to serve a six-year term on the DRCF Board of Trustees, bringing 30 years of CEO-level nonprofit foundation leadership experience, as well as an extensive history of volunteer board experience.”

“Was immediately asked to lead the Foundation’s Legacy Gift Committee, attempting what many have tried to do for years but didn’t get it done. This Rotarian did. Forming the DRCF Legacy Society in 2013, he almost single-handedly brought in 29 charter members.”

“Our Foundation has a good story to tell and Virgil did it so well, along with sharing their own inspiring personal life journey and that of our members. He leads by example with his continued generous financial support.”

“While most good Rotarians naturally put service above self, Virgil outdid himself this past year. The sheer amount of pro-bono time he spent connecting with, and clarifying the wishes of our Denver Rotary Club Foundation Legacy Society members would have cost the club tens of thousands of dollars had we not had him doing it for us. And with his usual low-key, quiet and behind-the-scenes demeanor he has bolstered the financial future of DRCF, not solely with the stroke of a check but with endless patience and dedication of time.”

“In various leadership roles, Virgil built an awareness of the Legacy Society. He was responsible for increasing the number of Legacy Society members over 60% during the past four years. He was also an essential part of the DRCF 50th Year Celebration campaign by tirelessly consulting with each Legacy Society member whereby they devoted $330,000 in Legacy Gifts to the Wilkins Family Fund Endowment and increased overall Legacy Gifts to $883,000.  His efforts have help to ensure DRCF is sustainable for the next 50 years.  Under Virgil’s leadership and his unwavering support of our Foundation continues, his impact far-reaching.”

“Trust and relationships have always been a part of his life. Personal and professional mix and mesh. With unsurpassed dedication and commitment, he brought his years of fundraising expertise, thoughtful leadership skills and vast experience to this important volunteer role.”

“Virgil is a kind, generous, good man, always making the time to send personal hand-written notes to our many members for a variety of reasons…and even Starbucks gift cards to us lucky ones!”

Rotary’s mission is to do good in the world…a group of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Our Club is filled with some pretty special people…we are all honored and privileged to know such a Rotarian.  Congratulations Virgil!  You make us proud and we are blessed to have you as a member of Denver Rotary!



This year Club 31 is pleased to honor Troy Szymanski as our New Rotarian of the Year for 2019-20!

 According to several of his nominators,

 “Troy is a great guy and quickly became engaged as evidenced by his great attendance.”

“He became very active in the evening happy hour meetings.”

“Very energetic with a can-do attitude!’

“Brought some needed young blood into the Club.”

“His first Club visit was exactly a year ago today at our Continuation of Leadership on the DAC rooftop…blended right in with an enthusiastic interest in learning more about our Club.”

“Rotary runs in his family!”

In just the past year, Troy…

  • Became a Paul Harris Fellow of The Rotary Foundation
  • Served as an Inspirational moment presenter
  • Participated in the Cherry Creek Clean Up before becoming a member
  • Joined the Membership Committee
  • Co-leading the Evening Group Happy Hour events
  • And get this….will be our new Club Secretary in 2020-21!

After joining Rotary in October of 2019, Troy has already shown a major commitment to our Club and to Rotary’s mission.  We are so fortunate to have such a committed and dedicated new Rotarian as a member of Club 31!  Congratulations Troy!  Thank you for making Club 31 your new Rotary home!  We look forward to serving alongside you for many years to come!

Pride-A-Tarian: PolioPlus Chair Peg Johnston


At the Saturday, February 8th PolioPlus fundraiser, one of our esteemed colleagues, Peg Johnston, 27-year Club 31 Rotarian, was awarded a Paul Harris bust for her tireless work on Rotary’s 35-year campaign to eradicate polio from the planet. This is but one of Peg’s many awards for her varied forms of exemplary service to Rotary. This bust was originally awarded to Rotarians Grant and Marlene Wilkins in 1997 at an Arizona district conference for their legendary polio eradication work.  This award will be a traveling award that Marlene, the Rotary Club of Denver and our District 5450 have determined will periodically be granted to a Rotarian in the district who exemplifies the dedication to polio eradication that Grant and Marlene demonstrated for us to follow.  Congratulations Peg and thank you for your continued work to eradicate Polio! 


Read by Greg Podd, Past RI Vice President
Written by Seth Patterson, Past President, Rotary Club of Denver

I have the distinct honor this afternoon of presenting an award to a Rotarian in our District who, other than Grant and Marlene Wilkins, has probably done as much or more than any other to eradicate polio.  But first, a little preface about Grant and Marlene.

As you may recall, on May 19, 2018, the day that my District Conference opened, our dear friend and inspiring Rotary leader, Grant Wilkins passed.  Grant was a champion of eradicating polio from the very beginning, having contracted polio on a business trip as a young businessman with a wife and three young children at home.  Although Grant’s throat muscles became paralyzed, he was blessed and after months of therapy, he recovered his ability to eat solid food and speak and he lived a blessed life for the next 67 years.  Unfortunately, although his wife Diane only visited Grant after he was released from the polio isolation ward, she contracted polio and within 24 hours became paralyzed from the neck down.  Diane spent two and a half years in an iron lung in the hospital and another eleven years at home with a portable chest respirator, where she was an amazingly cheerful and very involved parent.

Several months later while calling on a Denver customer, Grant was truly blessed when Marlene Siems became a part of his life.  Grant noticed Marlene’s ever-present smile, asked her out and after several months, on Grant’s 39th birthday, they married and enjoyed over 50 wonderful years of marriage that included many personal and Rotary adventures around the world.

Grant and Marlene’s Rotary work, particularly their legendary work to eradicate polio is well-known, so I will not repeat it here, but rather get on with my purpose of addressing you this afternoon.

During one of PDG Abbas Rajabi’s last visits with Grant, he gave him a Paul Harris bust that he and Marlene had received in 1997 from an Arizona Rotary District for his District Conference keynote address about Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio.  A Sedona Rotary Club produced the bronze casting for the Paul Harris bust often given to their Rotary keynote speakers.  Grant asked Abbas to use the bust to raise money for Polio Plus or honor a Rotarian for their extraordinary Polio Plus efforts.  After consulting with Marlene and the then leadership of Club 31, it was decided to award the bust, as a periodic traveling award, to a District 5450 Rotarian whose outstanding Polio Plus work is deserving of high recognition

The Rotarian who we will recognize today was a strong advocate along with Grant and Marlene in their constant efforts to eradicate polio from the planet and continues to be.  This 27-year Rotarian is highly accomplished in Rotary in many ways, including:

  • Supporting Rotary International (“RI”) and The Rotary Foundation (“TRF”) as a
    • Benefactor
    • Major Donor
    • Paul Harris Fellow and Society Member
    • White Hat Society Member
    • Recipient of the RI Service Award for a Polio-Free World
    • Recipient of TRF District Service Award for “outstanding service in promoting TRF and its goal of world understanding and peace”
  • In our District and this member’s Club and Club Foundation, offering further support as a:
    • Member of the Bequest Society
    • Club Foundation Gold Fellow
    • Club Rotarian of the Year
    • District Polio Chair from 2011 to 2015
    • Past Club Board Director (twice), past Chair of TRF Committee and others
    • Service on various Club committees, particularly Programs, Peach Sale, Membership and as the continuing Chair of the Club’s Polio Committee to name just a few
  • Lastly, and this fact will surely give away this member’s identity, this Rotarian Co-Chaired, with her son and the current President of the Rotary Club of Denver, a 91st birthday party for Grant with well over 100 people from our Rotary family on World Polio Day in 2017, which also raised over $175,000 for Polio Plus.

Yes, Peg Johnston, a 27-year member of the Rotary Club of Denver, is recognized today for her tireless work to eradicate polio.  Peg, please come up to accept this award.  As you walk up, it is my sincere hope that the importance of this award begins to fade soon, as we approach the final days of polio on our planet.