ROTARY CLUB OF ERIE
HALL OF PRESIDENTS
Joseph Herbert - 2013-2014
Joe Herbert was born in Erie on November 7, 1960. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology and for 20 years, he worked as an engineer and IT professional throughout New England, Cleveland, and Erie. He returned to Erie in 1999 and has owned and operated multiple businesses in the city, including two hospitality- based businesses. He has also owned, refurbished, rented, and managed numerous pieces of investment real estate and in 2004 he decided to pursue a full-time career in that industry with the Marsha Marsh firm.
In September 2012, he married Lisa Wykoff, a nurse at St. Vincent Health Center.
Joe joined the Erie Rotary Club in 2006 and although his term as President is ahead of him at this writing, Joe feels he has made a contribution to the Club through his yearly talks on the state of the local real estate market and his work as Membership Committee Chair and Program Chair. He is passionate about Rotary efforts to help children in the inner city obtain opportunities they would not have otherwise. He has participated in the Rota-Kids program, noting how important it is for the children to see successful role models. He has also supported the “Gifts for Kids” program and notes that Polio Plus is an impressive and important global effort that Rotary International has undertaken on behalf of children.
John Blakeslee - 2012-2013
John Blakeslee was born in Erie on September 9, 1957, attended Cathedral Prep, and graduated from Northwestern University in 1979 with a B.A. in Economics. He married Janet Lynn of Lakewood, NY on August 16, 1980 and they have three children: Jennifer, Sarah, and John.
John initially began his career in Cincinnati, Ohio with the Federated Department Stores until 1981. He returned to Erie that year to work for the Arthur F. Schultz furniture store founded by his grandfather in 1913, the same year as the Erie Rotary Club. John currently remains the Co-owner of the firm.
John has served on the GE Appliance Dealer Advisory Board, been a boys baseball coach, and has served actively at his parish, St. Jude the Apostle, where he was on the Parish Finance Council and helped to chair the Diocesan Stewardship Appeal with his wife.
While John is the Rotary Club of Erie President during its 100th year, taking office in July 2013, his involvement with Rotary goes back to 1975, when he was selected to attend the World Affairs Institute in Pittsburgh. Then, in 1978, he interviewed for the Rotary Youth Exchange. He joined the Erie Club in 2000 and as Program Chair John was highly praised for the diverse and high level of speakers he was able to engage. He has also served as a Trustee of the Scholarship Foundation.
Michael Fuhrman - 2011-2012
Michael Fuhrman was born in Frankfurt, Germany on May 5, 1962 while his father served in the U.S. Army. When he was deployed to Vietnam in 1969, the family returned to Erie where Michael graduated from Academy High School in 1981 as a star linebacker and earned a scholarship to play football for Mercyhurst College. In 1991, he graduated with a B.A. in English and Dance and then spent nearly three years touring Europe as a professional dancer. He was also the Principal Dancer for one year in the Erie Ballet.
Michael has served as a member of the Mercyhurst University alumni board, is a graduate of Leadership Erie, and has served on its alumni board. He has also worked with both First Nights Erie and Dance Connection. Michael married Tina Kaliszak of Erie on May 31, 1997 and they have two sons: Erich and Eliot. In 2003, Michael completed an M.S. in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Notre Dame.
In 1995, Michael served as Executive Director for the Greater Erie Bicentennial. Prior to that, he was Assistant Director of Admissions and Director of Fine Arts Enrollment at Mercyhurst, until becoming the Director of the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center at Mercyhurst from 1996 until late 2011. In February 2012, Michael became Project Manager for the $1.8 million HUD Sustainable Communities grant program to coordinate a plan for Erie's future development. Michael is also coordinating the public celebration of the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie in Summer 2013.
Lisa Watkins - 2010-2011
Lisa Watkins was born in Erie on May 21, 1957. She graduated from Harborcreek High School in 1975 and attended Behrend College until she joined Eastern Airlines, first as a ticket agent, then as a flight attendant until 1982. She then returned to the family business, McCarty Printing, opening her own subdivision, Kim Kopy, in 1990, of which she remains the Owner and Proprietor.
In 1985, Lisa married Ramon Watkins of West Middlesex, Pennsylvania and they have three children: son Evan and daughters Audrey Rose and Kelsie.
Lisa joined the Erie Rotary Club in October 2002 and became the Erie Club’s 4th woman President in July 2011 her innovations include a monthly happy hour for members to have more time for fellowship and developing lasting “hands-on” projects for local children including “Rot-A-Kids” and “Gift Boxes for Kids.”
In addition to the “incredible global impact” of the PolioPlus campaign, Lisa is most proud to be associated with the development of the annual Ethics Symposium and of the fact that Erie Rotarian Dr. Joyce Miller was selected as an International Peace Fellow during her presidency. At the same time, the Erie Club was able to successfully nominate Erie’s own Nicky Bell as an Ambassadorial Scholar to go to Amsterdam for a Master’s degree in European Politics. She also enjoyed being a Rotary “Aunt” to the Club’s Rotary Exchange Student from Denmark, Maria Bjørnemose Morel, who lived with her brother, Don Sieber, and his wife, Laurie, for that year.
Terry Pytlarz - 2009-2010
Terry Pytlarz was born in Erie and graduated from St. Mark’s Seminary High School of Erie and received a B.S. in Business from Edinboro University in 1979. He married Jan Lichtinger of Erie, on April 22, 1983 and they have two sons: Ian and Alex.
Terry began his professional career in 1983 with the GTE Yellow Pages, where he remained until 1992 when he moved to Cellular One as Director of Sales and retired in 2008 as General Manager. Realizing he had little interest in retirement at his young age and wanting to continue serving his community, Terry went back to work in 2011 as the Executive Director of the Erie Metro Area Meals on Wheels Program.
Terry is a Founder and Past President of The Photographic Arts Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania. He also has served on the ArtsErie Board, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Edinboro University Alumni Association, the Erie Center on Health and Aging, and the Erie Photography Club.
Upon joining the Erie Rotary Club, Terry worked with Ray Sammartino (2005-06) to expand the value of the Club Website. During his presidency in 2009, he implemented of a Red Ribbon mentoring program.
His lasting legacy, however, will be his involvement in the annual Ethic Symposium which began in 2011.
In 2011 Terry was also designated an Assistant Governor for the Rotary 7280 District.
Mark B. Louis - 2008-2009
Mark Louis was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to Erie as a child in 1969. He graduated from Penn State University’s Behrend College with a B.S. in Business and Behavioral Science in 1990. In 1991, he married Lisa Reicher and they have four children: Maggie Rae, Brigid Suzanne, Glenn Brady, and Graham Mark.
Mark worked at PNC Bank as Assistant Vice President, Market Manager and was unable to join the Erie Rotary Club as the “Banker” classification was filled until 1999, when he went to work at CBC Companies, a credit bureau. At this time, his Past President father, Francis “Brady” Louis (1977-78), discovered that this classification was open and nominated Mark for membership, which was easily approved. As the classification requirements became less stringent, mark was able to retain his membership through a transition into the insurance industry, first at the Bert Company, then with the Murray Insurance Company in 2011, where he currently works as a Property and Casualty Insurance Professional.
Mark was actively involved in establishing the first Interact Club at Villa Maria Academy and has been an advisor since 1993 and has managed Super Bowl Pick fund-raisers in support of the PolioPlus and other initiatives. The year Mark was Erie Club President, Erie Member Chris Knoll (2002-03), was District Governor; therefore, the majority of Mark’s presidency was consumed with meeting District goals. Since 2007, he has enjoyed being the Erie Club’s coordinator for RYLA, ROVA and the World Affairs Council.
Linda Wilkinson - 2007-2008
Linda Wilkinson was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania on August 15, 1948 Linda graduated from Red Bank Valley High School in New Bethlehem in 1966 and attended Thiel College, graduating from Edinboro University in 1970 with a B.A. in Elementary Education and an M.A. in Education in Counseling in 1974. She began teaching in 1970 at Richfield Elementary School in Millcreek until 1982, when she took a job with Buffalo-based Hoffman Printing Company as their regional sales representative. In 1984, she joined Gwyn Advertising as an Account Executive until 1986, when she moved to the Hamot Hospital Public Affairs Department, becoming Executive Director of the Hamot Foundation in 1997 until her retirement in 2012.
Linda has served on the Boards of the Therapeutic Riding Equestrian Center (TREC), Edinboro University of Pennsylvania President's Advisory Council (EUPAC), Erie Philharmonic, and Methodist Towers. She volunteers with the Emmaus Soup Kitchen, Because You Care, and Salvation Army Bell Ringers. She was honored in 2009 by the Mercy Center of Women as one of its Women Making History Dynamic Dozen and by the Boys and Girls Club of Erie as Mary Sinden Woman of the Year.
Linda joined the Rotary Club of Erie in March of 1998 and initially became Chair of the Songleading Committee with her lovely voice soaring above the weekly meetings. She then became involved in the Group Study Exchanges, matching young professionals from other countries with local people in the same profession and with host families. As President, Linda started the Annual Picnic at the Presque Isle Rotary Pavilion, which has been a popular tradition since 2007.
David Tofel II - 2006-2007
David Tofel was born in Syracuse, New York on July 25, 1973 but moved to Erie at the age of 8 when his father relocated for a job at Steris. David graduated from Gannon University with a B.S. in Accounting in 1995 and interned at Ameriprise in his last year of school, where he went straight to work at upon graduation, and the next year he became a certified financial planner and bought his own franchise, where he remains the owner.
David is an avid runner and a black belt and certified Karate instructor. David and his wife, Dawn Wedge Tofel of Hanover, New York, joined the Erie Rotary Club together in January 2002, about four months before they were married, making them the first Rotarian couple from the Club to ever marry. The Tofels have two children: daughter Alexa and son, David III. In another first, David is the youngest Erie Club President, taking the reins at age 32, surpassing the previous record held by Harry Mueller, who was 37 when he rose to the position in 1969. As President, David started the popular Annual Holiday Dinner, held in December each year and remains a member of the Erie Rotary Foundation Board.
Ray Sammartino - 2005-2006
Ray Sammartino was born in the Bronx and raised in New York City. He came to Erie in 1966 to attend Gannon University and upon graduation in 1970, had “fallen in love with Erie” and decided to stay. For over 25 years, Ray has specialized in real estate appraisal and in 1991 he started his own business with Rotarian Harry Mueller (1969-70). He remains Owner and President of Sammartino and Stout, Inc., Real Estate Valuation Services, renamed when Mr. Mueller retired in 2006. Additionally, he is a licensed General Certified Appraiser in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York.
Ray has served as President of the Greater Erie Board of Realtors, President of the Northwest Pennsylvania Chapter of the Society of Real Estate Appraisers, and as a member of the National Experience Review Panel for the Appraisal Institute.
Ray joined the Erie Rotary Club at the suggestion of his then-business partner Harry Mueller and his banker, Pete Bogardes (1993-94). Once he joined, he became very involved in the “New Kids on the Block” program started by member Tom Scully, which was dedicated to youth education. In 1997, Ray chaired the Rotary Youth Exchange, hosting two students, which he and his family found to be “a wonderful experience.” He became President in 2005 and decided to dedicate himself to ensuring the Club had a robust Website that would serve as a communication hub for members and the community.
Jacob Rouch - 2004-2005
Jacob “Jake” Rouch was born in Erie on September 18, 1965. He received a B.A. in Political Science from Gannon University and M.A.in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Jake worked for two years as an Economic Development Planner for the Economic Development Corporation of Erie County and then moved to DuBois as the Executive Director of both the DuBois Area Economic Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce. Jake moved back to Erie in 1994 as the Executive Director of the Erie Conference on Community Development, and in November 2002 became President & CEO of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership.
Jake has served as Chair of the Erie County United Way Campaign, President of the Erie Serra Club, Board Chair of the Urban Erie Community Development Corporation, Board member of the American Red Cross Greater Erie County Chapter, Board member of the Presque Isle Partnership, and as an Advisory Board member to the Ophelia Project and Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority. In 2005, Jake was honored with one of 12 inaugural Generation E Leadership Awards presented by the Young Erie Professionals. Jake has two children, twins Jack Andrew and Elizabeth Ann and his family served as the 2004 March of Dimes Ambassador Family for Erie County.
Jake joined the Erie Rotary Club in 1995 and became President 9 years later. Jake’s tenure as President took place in the lead-up to Rotary International’s 100th anniversary, marked worldwide in 2005. He spent a substantial amount of his term preparing for this celebration, including coordinating five local Clubs to build a pavilion at the Erie Zoo as a gift to the community.
Mary Ellen Dahlkemper - 2003-2004
Mary Ellen Dahlkemper was born in Erie on June 8, 1951. She completed a B.A. in English from Mercyhurst University in 1973, an M.A. in Organizational Communication from Edinboro University in 1996, and a Post-graduate Certificate in Organization and System Development from the Gestalt Institute.
Mary Ellen worked in her family’s Dahlkemper Department Store for 30 years as the Jewelry Buyer and then as Human Resources Director. In 1992, she became the Director of Adult and Graduate Programs at Mercyhurst University until 2002, when she became the Chief Administrative Officer of Stairways Behavioral Health. Mary Ellen has three sons: Edward, Philip, and James. In 1997, she married Edward Lesser.
Mary Ellen has served as a Board Member of the St. Mary’s Home of Erie, the Board of Corporators for Hamot Medical Center and St. Vincent Health Center, Co-Chaired the Public Health Committee of the Erie Weed and Seed Initiative, served as a member of the President’s Associates of Mercyhurst University, the Women’s Roundtable, and the Erie Regional Peace and Justice Center. She has also served as an Advisor and Mentor for the Civic Coordinating Committee, Mercy Center for Women, and Young Erie Professionals.
Mary Ellen joined Rotary in 1996 and assisted in founding of the Rotaract program at Mercyhurst University in 2000. She became President of the Erie Club in 2003 and has worked tirelessly on the Haiti Literacy Project, which she continues to shepherd as the District 7280 Scholarship/World Peace Committee Chair since 2002.
Christopher Mark Knoll - 2002-2003
Christopher "Chris" Knoll was born in Erie on December 1, 1955 and graduated from Cathedral Preparatory High School and went on to obtain both his B.S. in Management and M.B.A. from Gannon University., Since 1985, Mr. Knoll worked with PNC Bank and at the time of his death in 2009, he was Executive Vice President for Corporate and Institutional Banking with PNC Financial Services Group.
He was a member of the Kahkwa Club and served on the Hamot Health System Board of Trustees, the Board of Regional Health Services, Inc, the E-Business/Advanced Information Technology Board, the Council of Fellows for Penn State-Erie Executive Board, the Entrepreneurial Advisory Board, the Economic Development Corporation of Erie County as Vice Chairman, the Erie Industrial Development Corporation, and United War Leadership Giving, where he served as Chair. In 2003, Gannon University’s Small Business Development Center awarded him the President’s Award and in 2007, the Boy Scouts of America, French Creek Council, honored him as their Distinguished Citizen of the Year and in 2012, he was posthumously awarded the Rotary International Cliff Dochterman Award for his lifelong dedication to Scouting.
Chris became Erie Rotary Club President in 2002 and District Governor in 2008, serving in many other capacities, including French Team Host and coordinator of the Erie County Polio Plus Campaign. He and his wife, Arlene, were very active in the Rotary Golf Exchange with Scotland. His untimely death at age 54 was a tragic shock to the Rotary Club and to the entire community.
John J. Brinling - 2001-2002
John J. Brinling Jr is a native of Pittsburgh. He is a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Penn State University. John began his career with Erie Insurance in the Pittsburgh Branch Office in 1968 as an adjuster and was promoted to District Sales Manager in Pittsburgh in 1972 and two years later became the Sales Manager for the Columbus Branch. He moved to Erie in 1980 where he became Vice President and Manager of the Marketing Department. He was promoted in 1984 to Senior Vice President and Executive Vice President in 1990.
Although John officially retired from Erie Insurance in 2007, he was promptly asked to return by the Board of Directors after the President and CEO suddenly retired. Accepting their offer, he returned to Erie Insurance as President and CEO from August 2007 until July 2008.
While in Erie, John served on the United Way Board, as Chair of the St. Vincent Hospital Board of Trustees, and as Chair of the Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT). He and his wife, Elaine, have four children: Jack, Jeff, Jim, and Jennifer and 11 grandchildren
In early 1984, the President of Erie Insurance asked John if he would like to represent the firm in the Erie Rotary Club and he was admitted on May 30 of that year. Elected Club President in 2001, John fondly recalls the Club partnering with Leadership Erie to assist foster children in the Erie area
R. Anthony Snow - 2000-2001
Anthony “Tony” Snow was born in Alliance, Ohio on June 6, 1952 moving to Erie at age 2. Tony graduated from Strong Vincent High School and received a B.S. from Loyola College in 1974 and M.D. from University of Pittsburgh Medical School in 1978. He completed his family practice residency at St. Vincent Health Center in 1981, immediately becoming Medical Director of John F. Kennedy Health Care Services until 1993 and serving as Clinical Preceptor for the School of Health Sciences Advisory Committee at Gannon University. He was conferred a Fellow by the American Academy of Family Physicians in 1989 and has served on the staff of Hamot Medical Center, St. Vincent Health Center, and Gannon’s Clinical Teaching Staff.
Tony has been the Chief Medical Officer for Community Health Net since 1993, Medical Adviser for the Erie County Department of Health and Medical Director of the Greater Erie Community Action Committee (GECAC). Tony was also a Flight Surgeon in the Air Force Reserves from 1990, rising to Chief of Aeromedical Services in 1994 until he retired in January 2012 as a Colonel. He is married to Kathy Iorio Snow.
Tony has been honored with many awards including the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Community Service on Health Award, GECAC's Human Service Award, the NW PA Division's National Association of Social Workers' Public Citizen of the Year Award, the American Medical Association's Physician Recognition Award, United Way of America's Hometown Hero Award, the National Defense Service Medal, the Combat Readiness Medal, Outstanding Unit Award, and Meritorious Service Medal.
Tony joined the Rotary Club of Erie in March 1994 and despite frequent travel with the U.S. military, he served as a Member of the Board and as Chair of the Membership and Program Committees until becoming President in 2000.
John C. Bloomstine - 1999-2000
John Bloomstine was born in Erie on August 1, 1960, graduating from Gannon University with a B.S. in Economic Finance in 1982. He went to work in the family firm, Insurance Management Company, founded by his grandfather, Ralph C. Bloomstine, in 1933. He serves as the company’s President. He married Colleen Gallagher of Erie on September 9, 1989 and they have five children: twins Joe and Will, Ellie, Jack, and Peter.
John is a member of the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, the Institute of Management Accounts, Newcomen Society of North America, and the Pennsylvania Society. In 1994, he was honored with the Annual Pennsylvania Quality Leadership Award. He has also served as a Board Member of the St. Vincent Health Center Advisory Council, St. Mary’s Home, Authorities Committee of the Erie Conference, Gannon University Advisory Council, and Boy Scouts French Creek Council.
John is a third generation member of the Rotary Club of Erie and followed his father Bill C. Bloomstine’s example by becoming its President in 1999, when he helped lay the foundation for the Rotaract Club at Mercyhurst University and raised $32,000 at a dinner auction through local sponsors, of which $14,000 went to Rotary International, $16,000 to the Scholarship Foundation, and the remainder to local charities, mainly benefiting programs for inner city youth. He organized an annual “Rotary Sail,” in which Rotarians would gather after a weekly meeting at the Erie Yacht Club and head out for an afternoon of fellowship on members’ sailboats. John was pleased to see the Four-Way Test Recognition Award given to his to his uncle, Albert Vicks, in 1999 and his father in 2002.
Norman H. Stark - 1998-1999
Norman “Norm” Stark was born in Erie in July 11, 1937 attending Cathedral Preparatory School and went on to Gannon University. He attended law school at the University of Notre Dame and in 1962, he was admitted to the Indiana Bar, followed three years later in 1965 by admittance to the Pennsylvania Bar. Upon returning to Erie, Norm joined the law firm of first Erie Rotary President William Pitt Gifford (1913-14) and retired as a Senior Partner of the firm, which became MacDonald, Illig, Jones, and Britton LLP.
Norm married his recently departed high school sweetheart Marie Fazio of Erie and they had five children who have collectively given the Starks 17 grandchildren: Norman “Buddy” Stark, Jr., was an Erie Rotarian for several years in the early 2000s, but having provided eight of those grandchildren, his time became limited: the other Stark children are Stephanie, Christine, Cynthia, and Brian.
Norm has been an active Board Member of Leadership Erie, the Erie Bar Association, and was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of Gannon University. Upon joining Mr. Pitt’s firm in 1965, Norm waited for his opportunity to join Rotary, which came in 1989, when he was named Junior Active member in the legal classification. He became President of the Erie Club in 1998 and his goal was to increase membership. In 2001, in the presence of Past Presidents of Erie Rotary, numerous members, and the Rotary International President, Norm was installed as the District Governor of 7280; only the third Erie Rotary Club to serve in this capacity at that time.
John R. Baldwin - 1997-1998
John Baldwin, Jr. was born in Erie on Christmas Day 1947. He graduated from Cathedral Prep in 1964 and from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Civil Engineering in 1969. Postgraduate studies included Business, Accounting, and Computer Processing. In 1970, he began working full-time with the family real estate business founded by his grandfather in 1894, eventually becoming President and CEO of Baldwin Brothers, Inc. John showed an early aptitude for real estate, building his first apartment house at 17 including getting approval for bank funding before he reached the age of maturity. In addition to working at Baldwin Brothers, John also taught at Mercyhurst College, where he met his wife, Mary Gail Ambron of Erie. They married on September 21, 1974 and they have three children: Allison Hallam, Melanie, and John Robert "Bob" Baldwin III.
John retired at 60 but maintains some rental properties and is actively involved with the Pennsylvania Residential Owners' Association, which he helped found in 1986 and now has 8,000 members. He has served as its President several times and is now its Treasurer. He also founded and served as President the Apartment Association of Northwest Pennsylvania. In retirement, John also taught himself to play the piano and sings in the choir at St. Jude's Catholic Church in Erie and has composed a number of brass arrangements performed at the church on holidays. He has served as President of the Erie Philharmonic, on the United Way Board of Directors, the Boards of Trustees of Penn State University’s Behrend College and of Mercyhurst University, St. Vincent Health Center and the Harborcreek Home for Boys.
John joined the Rotary Club of Erie in December 1990 becoming involved in the Youth Exchange Program and President in July 1997, the year Membership under Dr. Tony Snow (2000-01) had a 14% increase and the See-Way under Dick DeLuca as editor was awarded "Best Newsletter in District 7280."
Kathleen Horan - 1996-1997
Kathleen Horan was born in St. Louis, Missouri, marrying John Horan in 1968 and moving with him to Erie the day after their wedding for his new job. They have three children: Jennifer, Jessica Horan-Kunco a member of Erie’s City Council, and Joshua.
Kathleen served as the Executive Director of Methodist Towers and then of the Regency, both senior living facilities. Today she heads “Opportunities Unlimited” for Stairways Behavioral Health, Inc. She has served as President of the local National Organization of Women and of the Zonta Club of Erie and as a member of the Alzheimer’s Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania and on the Erie Airport Board of Directors.
Kathleen’s initial contact with Rotary came in 1985 when her daughter, Jennifer, became a Rotary exchange student to Ecuador, and the Horan family hosted students from Brazil, Ecuador, and Japan. She believes that the Youth Exchange Program is one of Rotary International’s most important contributions and that the Scholarship Foundation is the Erie Club’s greatest gift to the local community.
However, she found it odd that her daughter could be a Rotary Exchange Student but as a woman, could not become a Rotarian. This changed internationally by 1989 and Kathleen joined two years later as one of the Erie Club’s first female members. As Program Chair, she was proud to bring Danny Wegman in as a speaker noting he was “head of a big company’s whose core values match those of Rotary.” In 1996, Kathleen became the Erie Rotary Club’s first female President.
Melvin Witherspoon - 1995-1996
Melvin “Mel” Witherspoon was born in Newark, New Jersey on November 2, 1944 and attended Central High School in Newark where he earned All City and All County Honors in baseball, basketball, and football. He came to Erie to attend Gannon University in 1964, graduated with a B.S. in Marketing in 1968 and remained a star athlete, helping the Gannon Knights to a 40-7 record in his two seasons. Also while at Gannon, Mr. Witherspoon met married Betty Bailey of Erie and they had three children: Tracy, Robert, and Graham. Mel spent most of his professional career in consumer affairs with the Penn Electric Company and then Penelec, retiring in May 2005 when he became Northwest Regional Director for the Pennsylvania Auditor General.
At Gannon, he met fellow basketball player Ben Wiley, who became a lifelong friend and mentor. As a result, Mel served as a Drug and Alcohol Supervisor for Mr. Wiley’s Greater Erie Community Action Committee (GECAC) and was awarded its Community Service Award and the Donald P. Cutri Award.
Mel has served on the Erie City Council and as the Chairman of the Erie Housing Authority and on Gannon’s Board of Trustees. He was inducted into Gannon’s Hall of Fame in 1986 and in 1999,he was inducted into the Metropolitan Erie Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. As Youth Director at the Booker T. Washington Center, he coaches basketball there and took St. Johns Erie to a City Championship. He also founded “Spoon’s Summer Basketball League,” known locally as “Spoon’s League,” which has served hundreds of city children since the late 1980’s providing an alternative to joining local gangs. He is a member of Bay City Lodge Number 68 Free and Accepted Masons, the Pharaoh Temple Number 183 Imperial Council, and the Whitney M. Young Consistory Number 88.
On October 1, 1980, Mel joined the Erie Rotary Club and was installed on July 1, 1995 as the Club’s first African-American President.
Richard Brzuz - 1994-1995
Richard “Dick” Brzuz was born on August 6, 1946 in Oil City, Pennsylvania and came to Erie in 1965 for college, but ran out of money and returned home to find a draft letter. He joined the Air Force as a medic and eventually became the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Air Force Medical Evacuation.
By September 1970, Dick applied to complete a B.A in Marketing at Gannon University, but Gannon was phasing out marketing at the time. In 1973, he finally received his B.S. in Business Administration with a minor in Marketing and later earned an MBA. After a year in banking, Dick decided it wasn’t for him and took an administrative position with Hamot Hospital working in 8 different departments over the span of 16 years and in 1986, once he had become Chief of Pharmacy, he moved to Shriner’s Hospital as CEO. He continued his education at Gannon, earning a Master’s of Public Administration in 1979 and a Masters of Health Services in 1982. He retired in January 2009 and was succeeded by Rotarian Chuck Walczak.
Dick served as President of the Hospital Council of Erie County, Chair of the Board of the Hospital Council of Pennsylvania, and as an ad hoc Board Member of the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg in 1996. He was a Fellow with the American College of Heath Care Executives for 23 years and a Preceptor in Health Policy and Administrative Programs at Gannon and University of Pittsburgh for 14 years. Dick married Karen Rita O’Donnell of Sharon, Pennsylvania in June 1972 and they have two children: David and Jamie.
Dick joined the Erie Rotary Club in August 1986 and became President in 1994. From 1997 to 2000 he served as an Assistant Governor for Rotary District 7280, assigned to the Metropolitan Erie Rotary Clubs
Peter Bogardus - 1993-1994
Peter “Pete” Bogardus was born in Bradford, Pennsylvania on October 14, 1937. He earned a BS in Business Administration from Kent State University in June 1963. In August of that year, he married Susan Kelso of Ravenna, Ohio and they have three sons; David, Thomas, and James.
In 1963, he also began working for the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland a position that caused him to travel a lot until David was born and Mrs. Bogardus decided it was time for Pete to find a new job. In December 1965, Pete began working at a local bank in Canton, Ohio and in November 1980, the family relocated to Warren, Ohio where Pete worked at Penn Bank. In February 1982, Mrs. Bogardus died and in 1984, Pete moved to Erie when Penn Bank purchased Security Peoples Bank and he was asked to manage the transition. He remained in commercial lending until his retirement in 1996. In 1988, Pete had married, Margaret “Peggy” Hain and in 1999they adopted four-month old Melissa.
Following his father and numerous uncles, Pete is a 33-degree Mason with the Scottish Rite in Coudersport, Pennsylvania and is a member of the Zem Zem Shriners. Also following his father and uncles, who were all Rotarians and considered it “the Cadillac of clubs representing the local ‘Who’s Who,'” Pete joined the Louisville Ohio Club in 1978, transferring to the Warren Pennsylvania Club in 1980, then the Erie Club in 1984. He was the Chair of the Erie Club’s 75th Anniversary celebration and of the District Conference held at then-Mercyhurst College when Erie’s Cal Neithamer (1991-92) was District Governor in 1995. Pete attended many District and National events and upon his retirement, joined the Presque Isle Club, noting a common refrain of many retirees, “They met early in the morning and at this stage of life, who wants to go put on a tie and go to lunch downtown in the middle of the day when you are not working?!”
William Lillis - 1992-1993
William “Bill” Lillis was born in Erie on June 16, 1947, graduating from Strong Vincent High School in 1965 and from Hobart College in 1969. Returning to Erie, Bill went to work with his father, Rotarian Edwin Lillis, who had founded the E.M. Lillis & Co. insurance firm in 1922. Although Bill did not intend at that time, to remain in the family firm, he has done just that and today he is lead partner in of Lillis, McKibben, Bongiovani, and Co.
Bill is a member of the National, Pennsylvania, and Erie Associations of Insurance and Financial Advisors and a life member of the Million Dollar Round Table and a member of the Society of Financial Service Professionals. He has served as President of the Estate Planning Council of Erie and Northwestern Pennsylvania Society of Financial Service Professionals and on the Boards of Hamot Hospital, the Erie Cemetery, and the YMCA.
Bill joined the Erie Rotary Club in May 1976 as the Junior Associate insurance agent under his father, who was the Senior Active member at the time. Bill’s grandfather had also been a member, so joining Rotary was part of a longstanding family tradition. At the time of his Presidency in 1992, Mr. Lillis recalls that the hotel where Rotary held its weekly meetings was undergoing renovations and the Club was in transition from one location to another, which was “highly unsatisfactory.” As Program Chair he was able to engage the comedy act “In All Seriousness” and worked for many years on the Scholarship Committee, even serving as its President.
Calvin D. Neithamer - 1991-1992
Calvin D. “Cal” Neithamer was born in Erie on May 12, 1926, graduating from Academy High School in 1943. He attended Allegheny College until 1944 but was then accepted into a U.S. Navy program through which he earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Yale University in 1946. Cal returned to Erie and began working in marketing at General Electric, enjoying a 40-year career and traveling all over the world.
On May 14, 1949, he married Grace “Skip” Tarno of Erie on her birthday. They had three children: son Vinnie born on her birthday in 1951 and daughters Heidi and Julie. Skip, a popular piano teacher, died in March 2000 and in her honor, Cal gave Rotary International one of its largest single donor gifts. On July 14, 2001, Cal married Mary Lou Reslink-Patton.
Soon after retiring from GE, Cal joined the Erie Rotary Club in May 1986. An avid pro-am golfer since he was the top player on the Yale team, Cal quickly became involved in the Rotary Club tournaments and with the Scottish Golf Exchange. After serving as President of the Erie Club in 1991-92, Cal was elected District Governor in 1994 and installed at the Rotary International meeting in Taiwan. During his tenure he made a point of visiting all 47 District Clubs and was part of a delegation placing a time capsule under the Centennial Tower on Dobbins’ Landing for the 200th Anniversary of Erie’s founding. Cal went to the International Conference in Nice, France in 1995 and was a delegate to the 2004 conference in Osaka, Japan. Cal was also instrumental in founding the first Club in Zagreb, Croatia in 1995, through a colleague whose sons had studied in the U.S. on the Rotary Exchange Scholarship.
Jack L. Fatica - 1990-1991
Jack Fatica was born in Erie on August 14, 1944, graduated from Strong Vincent High School and attended Gannon University. In 1968, Jack and his father founded Champion Bolt with 5 employees. The company grew steadily and after Jack’s father died in 1989, he began purchasing other companies throughout the 1990s, including Hoyt Fastener Corp., to become AXS Solutions Corp, of which Jack served as the first CEO. By 1997, the firm was one of the largest Fastener Houses in the entire area, supplying many of the largest corporations in the country, including Erie's own General Electric Transportation. In 1998, the company was called Pentacon and issued its first public stock. It was eventually purchased by another company and when Jack retired in 2005, the company had 750 employees. Jack married Kathleen McCade on April 23, 1967 and they had three children: Natalie, Jack Charles "J.C." and Justin.
Jack joined the Erie Rotary Club in 1981 and served as Youth Exchange Officer from 1983 until 1990. He and his family had hosted exchange students prior to joining Rotary and since joining, they hosted several more. The family is still in touch with nearly all of them and one student from India has become an American citizen and remains a close family friend. In 1985, Jack became District Chairman of the PolioPlus Campaign, exceeding the $100,000 goal by $50,000 to help eradicate polio throughout the world. Jack became President of the Erie Club in 1990.
Thomas O. Martin - 1989-1990
Thomas O. “Tom” Martin was born in Erie on April 29, 1952 graduating from Cathedral Prep in 1970 and from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York in 1974 with a B.S. in Biology and in 1977, an MBA in Advertising, Communications, and Marketing from the University of Notre Dame. He then went to work for Uniflo Manufacturing Company, where he rose to Vice President of Sales and Marketing until the company was in 2002.
Tom’s father had been an Erie Rotarian and was told by Chester A. Kuebler (1940-41) when he sponsored him that "sooner or later, if you go to enough Rotary Club meetings, you will meet every one of influence in the City." Tom’s father told him the same thing when he joined and he found this to be completely true and greatly enjoyed his time in the Erie Rotary Club as he rose through the ranks, becoming President in 1989.
When Uniflow was sold, Tom began working in Jamestown, New York as the administrator for the Bilicki Law Firm, which focused on intellectual property law. This commute limited his time in Erie so he resigned regretfully from Rotary. Today, Tom is the Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) Sales Manager for Solenoid Solutions in Fairview, Pennsylvania. On October 23, 1982, Mr. Martin married Wendy Managan and they had three children, Thomas, Amy, and Robert.
Harry O. Sinden - 1988-1989
Harry Sinden was born on April 6, 1946 in Ripley, New York where he remained through high school. He earned a BS in Business Administration with a focus on mathematics from Tri-State University in Angola, Indiana; now Trine University. He taught high school math and business courses in Stryker, Ohio and Frewsburg, New York for 5 years and then became a certified high school principal after receiving his M.Ed. in Educational Administration from Bowling Green University in 1973. In July of that year, Harry joined the Jamestown, New York office of Merrill Lynch and was sent to lead the company’s Erie office in 1980. ultimately becoming Vice President and Senior Financial Consultant with over 30 years of service.
Harry has served in the United Way as a Division Leader and as amember of the Board of Directors of the Erie Historical Museum and Planetarium and a member of the Financial Management Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern PA. Harry and his wife, Martha, have been married for over 40 years and have two daughters: Heather and Jennifer.
When Harry became a member of the Erie Rotary Club on January 26, 1983, his father, a member of the Kiwanis Club, expressed reservations to which, Mr. Sinden noted that "Kiwanis" is a Native American term meaning "waiting to become a Rotarian." Harry served as point man for the Polio Plus campaign and as the District’s Sports Convener, heavily involved in the Scottish Golf Couples Exchange Program. Once elected President in 1988, Mr. Sinden worked to increase Club net membership and fondly recalls working with Pennsylvania's former First Lady, Michelle Ridge, when she led the Erie County Public Library to provide board games for children. In 2000, Harry was named the Club’s 4-Way Test Award recipient, when Past President and close friend, Jack Fatica (1990-91) called Harry “a Rotarian's Rotarian.”
Bruce H. Raimy - 1987-1988
Bruce Raimy was born in Erie on May 25, 1947 and graduated from Strong Vincent High School in 1959 and from the Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland in 1963, when he began working at his family's Welders' Supply Company remaining there until his retirement as President in 2006. On June 12, 1965 he married Kathleen Donahue known as K.D., so dubbed by the famous talk show host, Phil Donahue, as she was best friends with his sister in grade school, also named Kathleen. The Raimys had three sons: Mark, Eric, and Brian, born on Mrs. Raimy's birthday in 1973.
Bruce served on the Boards of Mercyhurst College, now University, the Erie Port Authority, the United Way, and Chaired both the Boards of Hamot Medical Center and the Hamot Health Foundation, as well as the Boys and Girls Club of Erie and the Newcomen Society and served as Vice Chair of the Jefferson Educational Society Board.
Mr. Raimy joined the Rotary Club of Erie in July 1969, a period of transition in the Club as it debated whether to admit its first member of color. His Presidency mirrored this evolutionary change, as the Club admitted its first female member that year. It was also the year in which the Polio Plus campaign was initiated and raised $50,000 over the Club target of $100,000. Bruce also led the Erie Rotary Club's 75th anniversary celebration and fondly recalls working on the Scholarship Foundation Committee.
John M. Lilley - 1986-1987
Dr. John M. Lilley was the son of a Baptist minister from Louisiana. He earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Music from Baylor University and a Doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1971 and a certificate from the Harvard Business School in 1978. John began teaching music at the Claremont Colleges in California and in 1976, was named Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State.
He moved to Erie in 1980 as a Professor at Penn State University’s Behrend College, where he would become Provost and Dean. Under his 21 years there, enrollment more than doubled and he helped secure over $65 million for college endowments and physical facilities and over $30 million for a Research and Economic Development Center, which was named for him. In April 2001, John became President of University of Nevada, Reno until 2005, when he became the 13th President of his alma mater, Baylor University until July 2008.
In Erie, John served as Chair of the United Way Board, and on the Boards of the Erie Philharmonic, WQLN, Americans for the Competitive Enterprise System, the Northwestern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Council, and the Erie Plastics Corp. He also served with the McMannis Education Trust and as a Corporator of Hamot Health Systems and St. Vincent Health Center. In 2002, he received the Behrend Medallion for outstanding service to Penn State and to the Erie community. John and his wife, Geraldine, have four children and three grandchildren. He is also a highly respected golfer, having hit a hole-in-one at the Kahkwa Gold Club outing in August 1995.
John was an active member of the Erie Rotary Club becoming President in 1986 and serving on the Scholarship Foundation Board and his service continued in all the communities in which he lived.
Carl Zorn - 1985-1986
Carl Zorn was born on January 3, 1947 in the Deep South, resulting in his "drawl," which was much commented upon with affection by the Erie Rotary Club, where he served as President of the Scholarship Foundation and thennClub President in 1985.
A dedicated community servant, Mr. Zorn served for 19 years as the CEO of the Erie Boys and Girls Club, for three years at the United Way and then became Director of Management and Training at AMSCO. He and his wife Marlene had two sons
William Garvey - 1984-1985
Dr. William “Bill” Garvey was born in Oil City, PA on December 9, 1935 and moved to Erie in 1957 to attend Gannon University, graduating in 1962 with a B.A. in History. He began teaching at Pittsburgh’s North Catholic High School and Duquesne University, later earning a PhD in History from the University of Pittsburgh.
In 1969, he moved to Erie to Chair the Education Department at Mercyhurst College and rose to Dean that year. In 1976, Bill took a brief break from Mercyhurst to become the first Director of Administration for the Erie County Home Rule of Government, returning in 1979 as Chair of the Graduate Program and then President in 1980 until his retirement in 2005.
Just a few of the awards with which Bill has been honored include being named a "Distinguished Pennsylvanian" by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and Gannon University’s William Penn Society, the Liberty Bell Award from the Erie County Bar Association, and the Distinguished Civic Service Award from the Erie Chamber of Commerce. In 1995, Dr. Garvey was honored as one of “100 of this country’s outstanding Irish Americans” and the same year, he was presented with the Erie County Historical Society Award for Outstanding Service to Local History and the Distinguished Career Award from the Sales and Marketing Association of Erie. In 1996, he was named "Distinguished Citizen" by the French Creek Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
In addition to bringing many outstanding and innovative programs to Mercyhurst, now University, Bill has served on the Boards of the Erie Western Pennsylvania Port Authority, Metro Health Center, the Erie Conference, the Edmund L. Thomas Center, and on the Board of Incorporators at Hamot Medical Center. He has been President of the Erie Historical Museum, the Erie Board of Pennsylvania Economy League, and the Association of Mercy Colleges. He was Chairman of the Foundation for Independent Colleges of Pennsylvania and served on the Board of the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities.
Bill joined the Rotary Club of Erie in 1981 and was elected Club President only three years later with raising the already high level of civic involvement and intellectual discourse in the Club and the community. He has done so most effectively with his 2008 founding of the Jefferson Educational Society, “a vehicle to ventilate public issues in a non-partisan forum…to bring about progressive change in the community.”
Cyrus R. Wellman - 1983-1984
Cyrus "Cy" Wellman was born in Erie on December 27, 1942 and married Susan Quincy Crawford. He was President of Erie Manufacturing and Supply and was a member of Volunteers in Probation and was actively engaged in tennis, squash, skiing and photography.
Cy’s family hosted students through the Youth for Understanding Exchange Program. He was admitted to the Rotary Club of Erie in April 1974, moving up the ranks and becoming President in 1983.
James Henry Parr - 1982-1983
James H. “Jim” Parr was born in Syracuse, New York on June 14, 1932 and attended Christian Brothers Academy and St. Bernard’s Seminary and College, St. Mary’s Seminary and University, and St. John’s University School of Law. Prior to being admitted to the New York State Bar, Mr. Parr served briefly with the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps from 1956 through 1959. He also attended Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program in 1981 and completed a variety of courses through the New York State Bankers Trust.
Jim worked at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City as a Personal Trust Officer, then at the Lincoln First Bank in Syracuse as Vice President and Manager of the Trust Division from 1968 until 1974, when he moved to Erie to become Executive Vice President, Corporate Secretary, and Manager of the Trust Division of the First National Bank until 1991. Jim and his wife, Audree, had four daughters: Heidi, Karen, Susan, Allison and three sons: Michael, and David and son James Jr., who died at a young age.
Jim was the Campaign Chairman of the United Way of Erie in 1979 and served as President in 1981. He was a member of the United Arts Council and served as the Council’s Fund Drive Chairman and Vice President. He was a member and Past President of the local chapter of the Serra Club, a Board Member in the Catholic Social Services, and Chairman in the Development Committee of the Erie Roman Catholic Diocese. He also was a member of the Erie Chamber of Commerce, served on the Board of Incorporators of St. Vincent Health Center and Hamot Medical Center, and on the Advisory Board for Americans for the Competitive Enterprise System, and was an active member of the Salvation Army.
He was a member of the Gannon University Board of Corporators and Mercyhurst College Board of Associates. He was named 1981 Boss of the Year by the Erie Jaycees and 1984 Man of the Year by the University of Notre Dame Club. He was also a member of the American Bankers Association and served on its Community Banks and Education Committee, the New York State Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bankers Association, the Erie County Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bankers Association, and the Estate Planning Council, Erie Chapter. Joining the Erie Rotary Club in the 1970’s, he quickly rose to the position of President in 1982.
H. David Bowes - 1981-1982
David “Dave” Bowes was born in Erie on July 11, 1941, was a 1959 alumni of Cathedral Preparatory School and was known as a lifelong “Man of Prep,” donating$1 million to the school in 2005, which named its newly renovated auditorium the H. David Bowes Auditorium in 2009 in his honor. Dave attended the University of Detroit and Gannon University, where he received a B.S. in Finance and an MBA. He served as Administrative Assistant to the Chairman of the Board at Eriez Magnetics from 1965 to 1972, when he moved to Finish Thompson Inc. and became President and CEO.
Dave served as a member of the Board of Directors of Perseus House and the Manufacturer’s Association of Northwest Pennsylvania. He also served as President of the Kahkwa Club, the Cathedral Prep Board of Trustees, Penn State Council of Fellows, St. Vincent Health Center, and PNC Bank and was the 1997 Campaign Chairman for the United Way Annual Fund Drive.
In 1981, Dave was elected as the Erie Rotary Club’s President and continued his service until his death in April 2007. He was preceded by his first wife Patricia and his daughter Mary Kathryn. He was survived by his second wife Brenda and daughters Erin and Kim, and sons Hunter and Casey, who is also a graduate of Cathedral Prep.
William Bloomstine - 1980-1981
William “Bill” Bloomstine was born in Erie on May 28th, 1933. He graduated from Academy High School and from John Carroll University with a B.S. in Business Administration in 1954. He married Carol Zipperle of Erie, on September 11th of the same year and they had four children: Mark, Beth Dubik, and Rotarians Christopher, and John.
In 1954 Bill served in the U.S. Army until his father, Ralph, C. Bloomstine, passed away in 1956 and Bill was obliged to leave the service early to take over the Insurance Management Company his father had founded in 1933. Bill remains involved in the business now run by his son John C. Bloomstine (1999-2000) andl has published many articles in his field and has taught insurance courses at Gannon University, the Erie Business Center, and Penn State University’s Behrend College.
In 1994 Bill was designated Knight of Saint Gregory and in 1996 the Erie Community Foundation presented him with the Edward C. Doll Community Service Award. Bill has been actively involved with the Catholic Diocese of Erie, St. Mary’s Home, Gannondale, and the United Way. He has served as a Corporator at St. Vincent Health Center and as a member of the Pennsylvania Society, Serra Club, Mercyhurst College Associates President’s Council, the U.S. Navy League, Newcomen Society in Pennsylvania, the Erie County Historical Society, and numerous professional associations.
Bill joined Rotary in 1974, following his Rotarian father and brother-in-law, Albert Vicks. As President in 1980, Bill raised the Erie Club’s visibility by participating in District-level activities, attending a national meeting in Chicago, and working toward designating more Erie Club members as Paul Harris fellows.
Joseph P. Scottino - 1979-1980
Dr. Joseph P. “Joe” Scottino was born and raised in New York City and moved to Erie in the late 1940’s to attend Gannon University, graduating in 1950 and then earning master’s and doctorate degrees in political philosophy from Fordham University. He taught at Fordham and at St. John Fisher College until he returned to Gannon University in 1955 to teach political science and Catholic social thought.
From 1964 to 1972 he served as Dean of Gannon’s Graduate School and from 1972 to 1977, as Provost. In 1977, Joe became Gannon’s first lay President and third in its history presiding over Gannon’s 1979 transition to a University and retiring in 1987. For his achievements, Gannon named Scottino Hall in his honor, a building housing the Department of Theatre and Communication Arts, the Schuster Theatre, and the Erie Chamber Orchestra. Joe met Mary Lou, his wife of over 40 years, while a student at Gannon, and their son Thomas and daughters Margaret and Mary Anne also attended Gannon.
Joe served as Executive Secretary of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and was a member of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists’ National Advisory Board since its inception and was named a Knight of St. Gregory in recognition of his service as a Catholic scholar, receiving the Cardinal Wright Award in 1986. He served on the Board of the Erie Public Library and of the Metropolitan Housing Corporation.
Joe was an active member of the Erie Rotary Club for over 30 years. He received the Club’s 4-Way Test Award in 1997 and in 1979 he served as the Club’s President.
Norbert A. Rydzewski - 1978-1979
Norbert “Norb” Rydzewski was born in Erie on February 9, 1931. He graduated from Erie Technical High School in 1948 and began his career with Gifford and Sunda Architects in 1950 until 1958, when he and fellow Rotarian Richard Weibel create the Weibel Rydzewski Schuster (WRS) Architects firm, remaining there until 2000 when WRS merged with Rectenwald Architects, Inc. As a Principal of WRS for more than 42 years, he specialized in the design of complex healthcare facilities. He and his wife of over 50 years, Rose Marie, have four sons: Randy, Russell, Richard, and Ronald.
In February 1996 Norb received the Man and Youth Award and the first annual Mary E. Selden Award for his volunteer service as a Board Member of the Erie Boys and Girls Club. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Academy of Architecture for Health and was a Charter Member of the Construction Specification Institute, Erie-Northwestern Pennsylvania Chapter. He served as the President of AIA of Northwestern Pennsylvania and on the St. Vincent Health Center Board of Corporators, as Chairman of the City of Erie Plumbing Code Commission, and as President of United Cerebral Palsy of Northwestern Pennsylvania.
Joining in 1971, Norb has served as an active member of the Erie Rotary Club for over 44 years, serving as Chairman of the Music Committee, Chairman of the District Awards Committee, and as a member of the Fireside Chat Committee and the Board of Directors. Upon his election as President in 1978, Norb worked to increase Erie Rotary Club participation in District events and organizations, such as the District Scholarship Committee.
Francis Brady Louis - 1977-1978
Francis “Brady” Louis was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, moving to Erie in 1969 after purchasing WICU AM radio station and renaming it WRIE. A lifelong broadcasting buff, Brady started working as a prop boy at WLWT-TV the day after he graduated from high school and continued through Xavier University, where he majored in English Literature and minored in broadcasting. He sold WRIE in 1984 and became President and General Manager of WQLN local public radio and television stations until retiring in 2004. In 2005 he began working in development at Mercyhurst College to help create its new North East campus and continued through its 2012 transition into a University, when he retired again.
In 1961, Mr. Louis married Irene "Renie" Marie and they have seven children; fellow Rotarian and Past President Mark Brady (2008-09), David, Kevin, Seamus, Jennifer, Eric, and Daniel and 18 grandchildren.
In 2005, Brady received the Edward C. Doll (1953-54) Community Service Award for his help with nearly 40 different charities, serving on the Boards of more than 20, including, including the Arts Council of Erie, Leadership Erie, Mercyhurst University Board of Trustees, Hamot Health Foundation's Board of Corporators, and the Erie Playhouse as its Past President. He is sought after as a popular Master of Ceremonies including for all the events commemorating Erie's 200th Anniversary in 1995.
Brady joined the Erie Rotary Club in 1969, becoming Club President in 1977. One of Brady’s achievements was to add to the quality and fun of the weekly with frequent stunts and reports on invented Club members and by bringing internationally recognized storyteller Paul Harvey as a guest speaker. In 2002, Brady was recognized with Rotary’s 4-Way Test Award. Brady is most proud of his work with the Rotaract program at Mercyhurst University formed in 2000 and with the Interact program at Villa Maria Academy, begun in 2004 and continued by his son Mark Louis (2008-09).
Wayne G. Billig - 1976-1977
Wayne "Doc" Billig was born in Hydetown, Pennsylvania attending High School Titusville and graduating from Erie Commercial College in 1939. He also attended both Gannon University and Penn State University’s Behrend College.
Doc began his career in 1943 working with the Jacob Haller Company, a wholesale grocer, retiring as President and CEO in 1978. He then continued working part-time with the CA Curtze Company.
From 1978 to 1990, Doc served as a Lay Reader with most of the Lutheran Churches in northwestern Pennsylvania. He and Marjorie, his wife of over 50 years, had three children: Carolyn, Gary, and David who collectively gave them 8 grandchildren.
For over 30 years, Mr. Billig was an active member of the Erie Rotary Club, serving as Program Chair, Classification Chair, Interact/Rotaract Chair, Rotary Information Chair, and was a member of the Membership Committee for a number of years. In 1976, he was Club President and continued to serve the Club for many more years, including requesting donations to the Rotary Scholarship Foundation, in lieu of funerary flowers.
Oliver W. Griswold - 1975-1976
Oliver Griswold was born in Erie on May 11, 1922, son of Roger and Mary Griswold. He graduated from Westminster Preparatory School and attended Gannon University, after which he served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Air Force from June 1944 until July 1945; piloting his P51 fighter he named “Shirley” in honor of his wife. For his wartime actions he was awarded the Air Medal and later the Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal. After the war, Mr. Griswold returned to Erie where he worked for porcelain enamel manufacturer, the Ervite Corporation for the remainder of his career.
Oliver and his wife Shirley had two sons and two daughters: Oliver Jr. and John and Mary and Deborah. They were also the proud grandparents of Matthew, Sarah, and Julie.
Oliver was an active member of the Wayside Presbyterian Church, a member of the Hamot Board of Corporators, and of the Kahkwa Club and the Erie Club for a number of years.
In the late 1960’s, Oliver joined the Erie Rotary Club and in 1975 he was elected President of the Club, serving with “his usual kind and gentle manner” to which the Club had become accustomed.
William J. Schilling - 1974-1975
William J. Schilling was born in Pittsburgh on October 5, 1919. During World War II, he joined the U.S. Army and fought in both the European and Pacific theaters. He was discharged as a Master Sergeant and returned to the States to begin working for the General Telephone Company (GTE) as Sales Director in Johnstown. He held various posts in the company for 48 years, which took him to York and then to Erie, retiring as the company’s Northern Division Manager.
William served as Past Director and President of the Pennsylvania Independent Telephone Pioneer Association. As an active member of St. George Church, he served as a Lector, Eucharistic Minister, on the Parish Bereavement Committee, and the Men’s Council and was involved in fundraising projects for the Church and served as a Past President of the St. George Lay Council. He was a member, Director, and President of the Greater Erie Chamber of Commerce, Director and President of the Erie Tourist and Convention Bureau and the Erie County Motor Club, Director and Campaign Chairman of the United Way of Erie County, and Director of the Martin Luther King Center. He served as a Corporator of St. Vincent Health Center and a member and volunteer of the St. Vincent Health Center Auxiliary. He also was a member of the Erie Mannerchor Club, Lake Shore Country Club, the Danish Club, and the Sierra Club. Among these many roles, he was also an active member of the Erie Rotary Club, serving as President in 1974-75.
Mr. Schilling and his beloved wife Margaret “Bunny” McConaughy had one daughter, Mary Ann, who blessed them with three grandchildren: Thomas, Charles and Anne.
William Irwin Arbuckle - 1973-1974
William Irwin "Bill" Arbuckle II was born in Erie on May 24, 1924 son of Rotarian "Hump" Arbuckle (1936-37). Bill graduated from Strong Vincent High School in 1942 and attended the PA Military College, now Widener University, for two years until he entered the U.S. Army and arrived in Europe in October 1944 with the 23rd Infantry to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. He became the U.S. Aide to Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš and returned to Erie as the Reserve Force Coordinator. In 1947 he joined the 112th Infantry of the PA National Guard retiring as a major in 1952.
Bill began working in the warehouse of the Wm. Arbuckle Co. wholesale business, and rose to General Manager. In 1961, he joined the First Federal Savings and Loan as a clerk and became President in 1968. Bill served as the President of Stairways Behavioral Health, Treasurer of St. Vincent Hospital and of the local Catholic Charities. He was on the Board of the YMCA and Chair of the Greater Erie Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Manufacturer's Association Commercial Division. He was also a scout leader for 9 years, as well as a member of the Erie and the Kahkwa Clubs.
In 1945, Bill married Virginia Douglass with whom he had four children: Dr. Jane Petro, William "Skip," Douglass, and Robert Humphrey. Virginia died in 2000 and in 2003 Bill married Bonni Perrott.
Bill joined the Erie Rotary Club and became President in 1973. He moved to Philadelphia in 1976 to become the Chief Investment Officer for the U.S. Presbyterian Church, and became President of that city's 500+ member Rotary Club in 1985. In retirement, Bill remains true to Rotary, founding the Sarasota Gateway Club in Florida.
Herman C. Weber - 1972-1973
Herman "Herm" Weber was born in Erie on December 14th, 1910 and attended East High School and Penn State University, graduating in 1932. Herm worked at the Erie Brewing Company as an accountant and later at Hammermill Paper Company for 27 years, retiring in 1975 as Assistant Vice President in charge of purchasing.
He served on the Board of Directors of Marquette Savings Bank for over 37 years, retiring in 1994. As an avid motorist, he was also President of the Erie Motor Club, later renamed a chapter of the American Automobile Association (AAA). Herm was a member of Phi Kappa Theta and a member of both the Kahkwa and Mannerchor Clubs.
He and his wife Patricia Gallagher of Erie had four children: Herman Jr., Michael, Patricia, and Kate.
Herm was admitted to the Erie Rotary Club on June 23, 1965 and served as the Club’s President in 1972. This began a family tradition, when his son, Herman Jr. joined the Erie Rotary Club.
Alan J. McDonald - 1971-1972
Alan J. "Al" McDonald was a native of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, moving to Erie early in his career to work at General Electric Company dealing in DC motors and generators. By the time of his retirement, he was Vice President of Employee Relations.
He and his wife Christine doted on their many nieces and nephews. He was known as a talented craftsman, accomplished musician, horseman, golfer, and bridge player, as well as an enthusiastic hockey fan. Al was a member of Lake Shore Country Club and served as local President and national Vice President of ACES.
Al joined the Erie Rotary Club in December 1966, serving as Assistant and then as Sergeant at by 1968. The following year, Al joined the Club’s Board of Directors and in 1970 he served as Director of Club Services with William Arbuckle II (1973-74), Chairman of Attendance and Membership Development Committee, and became Vice President of the Club. In 1971, Al became the Club’s 60th President.
Tracy Griswold - 1970-1971
Tracy Griswold was born in Erie in March 30, 1918, grandson of Matthew Griswold, Cofounder of famed Griswold Manufacturing Company. Tracy graduated from the Loomis School in 1937 and Yale University in 1941, followed by three years of service in the US Marine Corps during World War II operating in the Pacific Theater for three years as a Captain.
Tracy served on the Board of the Salvation Army, the Millcreek Sewer Authority, and the Erie Eye and Organ Bank. He was Secretary and a Board Member of the Erie Cemetery and served on the Board of Incorporators of Hamot Medical Center, and was President of the Kahkwa and Aviation Clubs. While serving on the Board of Trustees at Gannon University, he Co-Chaired the Gannon Library Fund in 1969, raising $2 million to construct and furnish the building that remains a central feature of the downtown Erie landscape. He was Chairman of the Building Committee of Wayside Presbyterian Church where he oversaw the expansion of the Church onto land donated by his father. Tracy and his wife, Marianne had two children: a daughter, Lawrie, and a son, Tracy Jr.
Mr. Griswold was admitted to the Erie Rotary Club in 1962 and served it faithfully through his tenure as President in 1970-71 and in 1972 he was instrumental in forming the new Presque Isle Rotary Club.
Harry E. Mueller - 1969-1970
Harry E. Mueller was born in Erie on March 3, 1931 and in 1953, the Erie Rotary Club endorsed him for a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to study at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. At the same time, he received a draft notice and was obliged to instead go to Officer's Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, becoming an ensign in the U.S. Navy.
After three years of Navy service, he returned to Erie, and became a State Certified Real Estate Appraiser. In 1970, he became Vice President and then President of the Greater Erie Board of Realtors. In 1973 he was named Realtor of the Year and in 1974, he became the President of the Pennsylvania State Board of Realtors and from 1975 until 1978, Harry was Director of the National Association of Realtors. Harry remained self-employed until 1991, when he formed Sammartino and Mueller, Inc. Real Estate Valuation Services with Ray Sammartino (2005-06).
He served as President of the Erie Day School and Hamot Medical Center Board of Incorporators and as President of the Board of Shriner’s Hospital and has been a member of the Masonic Fraternity, receiving the Honorary 33rd degree from the Scottish Rite in 1990. In 1984 he was elected as a Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1992 and to the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee.
Harry married Susan St. John in 1959 and they had two children: Margie and Susan, who is a member of the Blue Ridge Rotary Club in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Harry joined the Erie Rotary Club in 1963 and in 1969, became the youngest Erie Club President at 38. He is today a Member Emeritus and has served as an informal Rotary ambassador, as in January 2000, when he sailed around the world on the Queen Elizabeth II, attending Rotary meetings in many ports including China and Hong Kong.
Gordon J. Gebhardt - 1968-1969
Gordon “Gordy” Gebhardt was born in Erie on June 15, 1928. He served as Vice President of United Oil Manufacturing in Erie and as Vice President of Erie-United Refining Company in Warren, Pennsylvania and as Vice President of United-Erie, Inc.
Gordy was a long time member of the First Alliance Church and Bible Ambassadors Church of Erie. He often spent his time studying the Bible and reading in general. He was also Chairman of the Salvation Army Temple Corp., President of the Erie City Mission, Chairman of the American Foundry Association, President of the American Lung Association, President of the PA Lung Association, and an Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority (EMTA) board member.
Gordy had three children with his first wife Barbara, who passed away in 2011: Gregory, Scott, and Margaret, who gave him six grandchildren and his one great grandchild. He was succeeded by his second wife Meta.
In 1962, Gordy became a member of the Erie Rotary Club and its President in 1968, leaving the Erie Club in 1997 to join the Presque Isle Rotary Club. In total, he was a Rotarian for 50 years. In 1995, in celebration of the 90th birthday of Rotary International, Gordy published the “Birth of Erie’s Rotary.” His passing in January 2012 was considered a great loss to the Erie community.
Rush S. Dale - 1967-1968
Rush S. Dale was born in Clearfield, Pennsylvania July 23, 1916. For 37 years, Mr. Dale worked at the Ervite Corporation, an Erie porcelain enamel manufacturing company, retiring in August of 1981 with the title of Vice President of Manufacturing.
Rush was a member of the Weiss Library United Methodist Church, Perry Lodge Number 392, the Temple Royal Arch Chapter 215, the Jerusalem Council, the Zem Zem Shrine Temple, and the Erepa Grotto Club.
Rush and his wife, Ruth, had four sons: Rodney, Dennis, James, and David, and eight granddaughters.
Rush served as Erie Rotary Club Sergeant at Arms in 1961 and in 1967, he became the Club’s 55th President.
Asgeir Rils - 1966-1967
Asgeir "Kerry" Riis was the President of the chemical manufacturer Robeson Process Company. He joined the Erie Rotary Club in the mid 1950’s and in his first full year as a member, Kerry served on both the Fellowship and Program Committees. In 1959 he was acting Chairman of the International Information Committee, a position he held again in 1962. In 1960 he served on the Community Service Committee and returned in 1962. He served as Vice Chairman of the Program Committee in 1961 and was added to the Club’s Board of Directors in 1963 where he remained until 1967, when he completed his Presidential year.
Richard J. Beacham - 1965-1966
Richard "Dick" Beacham was Director of the Erie Day School for over 20 years. He also served as the first President of the Erie World Affairs Center Board of Directors, in the late 1940’s, in an effort to create a more globally aware city. In 1950, the Center opened in the Memorial Junior High School and the Department of Labor sent 25 visiting French labor leaders to Erie to study labor relations. The Center helped provide lodging with 25 local French speaking Erie families. Local hospitals, factories, and colleges all began to send the Center names of foreign visitors and students to be matched up with local families. The Center was also dedicated to serving area residents, providing an extensive library and collection of other material on nearly all countries of the world and was open to the public. In the first six months of operation, the Center drew in over 1,000 adults and students.
Dick and his wife, Josephine, were associated with the Erie Day School for over two decades.
Dick was admitted to the Erie Rotary Club on November 24, 1956 and served as Club Secretary from 1959 until 1964, when he became the Club’s Vice President. The following year, Dick became Club President.
Charles Rilling Beckman - 1964-1965
Charles "Chuck" Rilling Beckman was born on September 1, 1925 in Erie and was a 1943 graduate of Strong Vincent High School serving in the U.S. Army Air Corp from 1944 to 1946. After the war, Chuck earned his BS in Aeronautical Engineering from Parks Air College of St. Louis University.
Chuck worked at the Michigan Consolidated Gas Company for two years before he joined Erie Ceramic Arts Company in 1951, a family business where he worked with his father-in-law and brother-in-law. He became President of the firm in 1965 and CEO in 1981, retiring in 1992 after 41 years with the company.
Chuck served as a Corporator of Hamot and St. Vincent Hospitals, and was on the Boards of the YMCA, the United Way of Erie County, the Erie County Historical Society, the Erie Area Federation of Independent Colleges of PA, Americans for the Competitive Enterprise System (ACES), and the Enterprise Development Fund of Erie County. He was also a member of the Tyrian Commonwealth Lodge, Scottish Rite Bodies, Valley of Erie, and Zem Zem Temple Shrine. He was also a recipient of ACES Outstanding Citizen Award
He and his wife of over 55 years, Elizabeth, had one son and six daughters, two of whom were exchange students in The Netherlands and Germany. The Beckmans also hosted five Rotary exchange students and for 25 years from 1967 to1992 Chuck served as the Secretary of the Scholarship Foundation and was a member of the Youth Exchange Interview Committee and Chairman of the District Club Service Committee. He became Club President in 1964.
George L. Fuessler - 1963-1964
George Fuessler was born in Erie in 1901.he served as Secretary, then Vice President, and finally President of First Federal Savings and Loan Association.
George and his wife, Mary Baldwin, had two children: Jackson and Martha.
George joined the Erie Rotary Club on August 16, 1944 and served as Club Treasurer from the late 1950’s until 1962, when he became the Vice President of the Club and then President, the following year. He remained on the Club’s Board of Directors and served as Chairman of the Fireside Meetings Committee in 1965-66 and worked with that committee until his death in May of 1970.
Alton S. Kuhl - 1962-1963
Alton “Al” Kuhl was born in St. Louis but moved to Erie when his parents decided to come home. He graduated from Academy High School attended Allegheny College and Stanford University for a degree in Electrical Engineering. He began working as Plant Engineer at Erie Forge and Steel. He also spent many years in the U.S. Navy Reserves as a Lieutenant working at the Electrical Office for Naval Explosives Loading Facility. In 1946, he opened his Consulting Electrical Engineering Office which he operated until his retirement in 1981.
Al was a charter member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and served as a member of the Aviation Committee that was instrumental in establishing the Erie Airport Authority. As the Electrical Engineering Consultant to the Airport for 25 years, he pursued his dream of becoming a private pilot. Al also served on the Advisory Council of the Engineering Departments of Mercyhurst and Gannon Universities and was a Corporator and a member of the Building and Grounds Committee at Hamot and St. Vincent Hospitals and spent 18 years on the YMCA Board. He held the rank of 33rd Degree Mason.
Al and his wife, JoAnn Ritchmond, had one son named Eric. They also had three grandsons and one granddaughter.
Al joined Erie Rotary Club in 1949 and remained an active member for 53 years, serving as President during the Club's 50th anniversary in 1963, with his term focused on commemorative events. On April 16, 2003 he was honored as the recipient of the 4-Way Test Award at his last Rotary meeting before his death.
Irvin H. Kochel - 1961-1962
Irvin “Irv” Kochel was born on May 15, 1923, in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. He received BS and Master’s Degrees from Pennsylvania State University and was additionally awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Gannon University in 1980. His time in academia did not end with his own schooling, however. Irv served as the President of Behrend College from 1954 until 1980. He is credited with guiding the transformation of the Behrend Center into Behrend College in 1973. Upon his arrival as a history professor, Irv found a year-old Penn State campus with 138 students and by the time he left as Head Administrator, the Behrend Center had over 1,800 students. Due to Irv’s love of Erie history, all residence halls at Behrend College are named after ships or people who were part of the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812.
In 1980, Irv moved to University Park as Vice President of Administration until 1985, when he retired and returned to Erie, remaining active in the Protestant Campus Ministry program at Penn State Behrend. Irv was a life member of the college's Council of Fellows and a recipient of the Behrend Medallion, the College's highest honor. In 1998, the Kochels created the Ethel and Irvin H. Leadership Scholarship for International Study, the Irvin H. Kochel Leadership Scholarship, and the Irvin Kochel Lion Ambassador Fund and in September 2002 The Irvin Kochel Center was named in his honor.
Irv and his wife, Ethel, were married for over 60 and had two sons, one daughter, seven grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. In 1955, Irv joined the Erie Rotary Club, serving it for 50 years in numerous roles including Chairman of the Foundation and as Club President in 1962.
John N. Scarlett - 1960-1961
John N. Scarlett was born and raised in Erie, working at General Electric or 41 years beginning as a Foreman and retiring in 1967 as Community Program Manager.
Mr. Scarlett joined the Erie Rotary Club in 1947. He served as Sergeant at Arms before becoming President in 1960. In retirement, John and his wife, Eunice, their four children having grown, traveled around the world, ultimately relocating from Erie to Brevard, North Carolina in 1972, where John joined that Rotary Club, serving as Chair of the Publication Relations Committee and Membership Committee. In October 1998, John made a final visit to the Erie Rotary Club at the age of 94. He was considered the Brevard Club's “Elder Statesman” and following his death in August 1999 that Club created the John Scarlett Memorial Foundation to provide scholarships to youth in the area, an effort about which Mr. Scarlett was passionate.
Charles W. Yartz - 1959-1960
Charles "Charlie" Yartz was born in Erie on February 8, 1906. For over 50 years, Charlie served as an agent with the Sims Company, an Erie water heater manufacturer, retiring as Vice President in 1977.
Charlie’s wife was named Mina and they two children: Charles Jr. and Susan, and six grandchildren. Mr. Yartz had always been known as a dedicated family man whose service to them as well as the community was noteworthy.
Admitted to the Erie Rotary Club on October 20, 1954, Charlie was elected President in 1959 and then served for 18 years as Club Secretary from 1868 until his retirement in 1987. He also served on the Club’s Buyer-Seller Relations Committee and worked with the Rotary Scholarship Foundation and was President of its Board. When he died in 1990, he continued to serve Rotary, requesting that any memorials be made as donations to the Rotary Scholarship Foundation.
Peter Joseph Shields - 1958-1959
Peter Joseph “Joey” Shields was born in Oil City, Pennsylvania on January 9, 1945. He attended Cathedral Preparatory School in Erie and went on to study at the University of Pittsburgh.
Joey first went to work for the Pennsylvania Grade Crude Association and then moved to fertilizer manufacturer, Erie Reduction Company, where he served as Treasurer and finally President and General Manager. He was a member and served as a Deacon at Wayside Presbyterian Church. He also served on the United Way Board and as a member and Past President of the Kahkwa Club. Joey had been President of both the Board of Corporators and Board of Trustees for Hamot Medical Center and was granted the status of Honorary Life Member. He was also President of the Board of the Erie Day School and was a member of the Aviation Club.
Joey was married to Dorothy Streuber and they had one daughter, Barbara, and two sons, Peter Jr., and Hugh.
In March of 1945, Joey was admitted to the Erie Rotary Club and served on the Sports Activity and the Community Service Committees and was Chairman of the Attendance Committee and Vice Chairman of the Club Bulletin Committee. In his later years he worked very closely with Past President Kenneth Root (1956-56) to assure increased attendance in Club meetings and activities. In 1958, he was elected Club President.
Howard L. Kelly - 1957-1958
Howard L. Kelly began his long tenure as Executive Director and Secretary of the Manufacturing Association of Erie in 1952, changing the face of the Association organized in 1905 with 61 Erie manufacturers to create a more powerful voice for local businesses. Under Howard’s management, the organization began to focus more on health and safety issues and for the first time offered insurance programs to its membership, which had grown to 150 companies.
The same year, Howard was also admitted to the Erie Rotary Club and in just five short years, he became Club President. His tenure with the Club was always focused on service to the community and he served as Chairman of the Community Service Committee and on the Scholarship Committee for years until his death on August 27, 1976. Current Association President Ray Pontillo remembered Mr. Kelly in 2005 by noting, “Our Founders and Board members along with Howard Kelly...all shared a very focused vision for this Association. They were driven by an undaunted commitment to providing services that benefited the member and the community.”
Kenneth M. Root - 1956-1957
Kenneth M. Root was born May 3, 1907 in Union City, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Union City High School in 1925 as Class President. He attended Rider College in Trenton, New Jersey and the University of Pittsburgh, where he was once again Class President and graduated with his B.A. in Accounting from Ohio State University in 1935.
From that time until 1968, Ken worked for Hayes Manufacturing Company, where he served as Vice President of Finance and Assistant to the President and Treasurer. Upon retirement, Ken became a Principal with Davis Sando Associates for 10 years and was widely known as an expert in industrial cost accounting.
Ken was a member of First United Methodist Church of Erie since 1971, before that, he served on the Board of Trustees of Cascade United Methodist Church and chaired the campaign to fund the church's education building. He served on the Board and as President of the Erie Association for the Blind and was a 50-year member of Lawrence Lodge 708 F&AM, York Rite Bodies, and the Zem Zem Temple Shrine.
Ken was married to the former Anne D. Smith for 70 years with whom he had two daughters: Janith and Carol, and one son, Robert.
Ken joined the Erie Rotary Club in March 1946 and is remained active for over 50 years, serving as President in 1956. Ken believed establishing the Scholarship Foundation was one of the Club’s greatest accomplishments, which has enabled hundreds of local students to attain higher education.
Robert F. Merwin - 1955-1956
Robert F. “Bob” Merwin, an Erie native, graduated from Hiram College with a degree in Economics and went on to co-found Eriez Magnetics in 1942 with his father, Orange F. Merwin, striving to create a special kind of firm where employees are treated as an integral part of the culture of the organization. Bob served as the company’s President from 1951 to 1970 and as Chair of the Board until 1986. His wife, Betty MacKay Merwin, a 1936 graduate of Hiram College, was the firm’s Secretary.
Under Bob’s guidance, Eriez expanded to Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, and Brazil. In 1965, Eriez was awarded President Johnson’s ‘E’ award by the Department of Commerce for its substantial contribution to exportation.
Bob served as a member of the Hiram College Board of Trustees, where he lamented that visitors had to drive miles away to find accommodation. In 1995, he and Betty gave a $1.2 million gift to the college to build an inn, which was renovated and expanded in 1996 into The Hiram Inn.
Bob served on the Boards of the YMCA, ACES, and the Hamot Medical Center. He was a Trustee of the First Christian Church, the Manufacturers' Association of Erie, the Erie Philharmonic Society, and was active with the American Cancer Society. He was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Boy Scouts of America, the Alex de Tocqueville Society Award from United Way, and the Outstanding Achievement Award by Hiram College. He also received an Honorary Doctorate from Gannon University, was recognized as a Distinguished Pennsylvanian by the William Penn Society, as Man of the Year from The Americans for the Competitive Enterprise System (ACES), and was a recipient of the first Business/Arts Appreciation Award for his contributions to the arts dating back to the early 1940s. He was a member of the Erie School Board for six years, and he led a capital campaign that raised $1 million for the Erie Playhouse. In 1996, the Playhouse named the alley running from the front to the back of the building,” Merwin Alley,” to thank him for his longstanding support.
Bob joined the Erie Rotary Club in January 1950 and was elected President in 1955.
Norbert F. Alberstadt - 1954-1955
Norbert F. Alberstadt was born in Erie on October 2, 1917. After graduating from Cathedral Prep in 1936, Norbert attended Allegheny College for his undergraduate degree and then Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. While at Jefferson, Norbert was a member of the Phi Beta Pi medical fraternity, Hare Medical Society, and the Pasteur Society. He completed his residency at Wills Eye Hospital in 1945, also in Philadelphia.
During World War II, Norbert served in the U.S. Naval Reserves and then began his own practice as an ophthalmologist along "Doctors' Row" on West 6th Street in Erie. Throughout his career, he was a member of many professional organizations including the Erie County Medical Society, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the American Medical Association, the American Board of Ophthalmologists, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmologist and Otolaryngology, of which he served as President in 1961.
Norbert and his wife Mary Anne had four sons and two daughters: Norbert Jr., Jonathan, Michael, Gary, Eileen and Kathleen.
In January 1949, Norbert became a member of the Erie Rotary Club, quickly becoming an active member of the Board of Directors and as the Chairman of the Sports Activities Committee. In 1954, he became President and in his inaugural message to the Club, he urged his fellow Rotarians to “ask ourselves – what can I give to Rotary – then give it, and we will know then that we are participating members rather than attending members. We will also know that we are furthering Rotary, in this our Golden Anniversary.”
Edward C. Doll - 1953-1954
Edward C. “Ed” Doll was born in Erie in 1904 and graduated from Princeton University in 1925. Ed owned and served as President of Lovell Manufacturing. He also served as a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in the early 1950’s, representing the Erie and northwestern Pennsylvania area.
He served as the Chairman of the Erie Area Businessmen Committee of the Foundation for Independent Colleges (FIC). While working for FIC, he directed the local fund drive to support private colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania. His efforts culminated in a total of nearly $900,000 divided among 47 member colleges and universities. As well as serving on the FIC Board of Trustees for many years, he also served as a Trustee of Gannon University and of Hamot Hospital. In 1970, he served as Vice President of the Erie Urban Coalition.
Mr. Doll was married to Virginia Miller and they were members of the Erie Club, the Kahkwa Club, and the Aviation Club, and enjoyed boating and gardening. Ed joined the Rotary Club of Erie in August 1945 and became its President in 1953.
Ed is best remembered for founding and serving as longtime volunteer President of the Erie Community Foundation, which now awards the annual “Edward C. Doll Community Service Award” to exceptional citizens that exemplify Ed’s lifelong commitment to “service above self.”
Charles J. Heimberger - 1952-1953
Charles J. Heimberger was born in Erie in June 1905. He served with the First National Bank of Pennsylvania for the majority of his professional career, eventually retiring as Chairman and President of the Board. While serving as President of the Bank, Mr. Heimberger was appointed Director of the Pittsburgh Branch of the Cleveland District Federal Reserve Bank and held that position from 1961 until 1964.
Charles was married to his wife, Josephine, for over four decades. The couple had one child, Dr. Mary Heimberger, a well-known professor and researcher at the University of South Carolina.
On June 21, 1944, Charles joined the Erie Rotary Club. He served on a number of committees during his tenure with the Club, but he was particularly interested and active in the International Fellowship Fund Committee which he chaired for a number of years. Following years of service on the Rotary Board of Directors, Mr. Heimberger was then elected to serve as President of the Club in 1952.
John V. Schultz - 1951-1952
John V. Schultz was born in Erie on February 12, 1908. His elder brother, Arthur F. Schultz had started a furniture store, mainly selling commercial appliances, where John worked as a young man. After graduating from Academy High School, he worked in the credit department of the Stanley Furniture company, where he was very unhappy repossessing furniture during the Depression and did not last there long.
During World War II, John led a number of committees working toward the war effort, chaired the Erie Chapter of the American Red Cross, and was a member of the Orphans' Welfare Association. In 1945-47, he served as President of the Erie Retail Merchants' Association and in 1952, Mr. Schultz served as the Vice President of the Erie Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Board of Incorporators of St. Vincent Hospital, the Aviation Club, Erie Mannerchor Club, Erie Yacht Club, and Kahkwa Club.
Mr. Schultz married Audrey Gallagher of Erie and they had three children: John V. Jr. and two daughters, Mary and Martha. In 1940, the couple opened the John V. Schultz furniture store in Downtown Erie, working as partners in the firm.
John served on numerous Erie Rotary Club committees before becoming President in July 1951. He retired from Rotary in 1954. John died suddenly in 1962 at only 54 and upon his death, Audrey assumed control of the business and continued running the store on her own and later with her son, John Jr.
Milton Rowley - 1950-1951
Mr. Milton Rowley was born and raised in Erie. In 1916, he partnered with John Zurn to purchase Keystone Brass Works, one of the leading metalwork shops in Erie. They later acquired Lake Erie Foundry, which ultimately became the world renowned J.A. Zurn Manufacturing Company. Milton’s wife was named Margaret.
Milton joined the Erie Rotary Club in the late 1930’s while serving as President of Keystone Brass. He quickly became active in the Club, joining a number of committees. He was Chairman of the Classification, Good Cheer, and Rotary Information Committees and served as a member of the Fellowship and Sports Activities Committees. In 1950, Milton became President and remained actively involved for a number of years until he retired.
John R. Dwyer - 1949-1950
John Dwyer was born in Buffalo, New York and came to Erie as a Sales Manager and became President of Firch Baking Company, one of the leading bakers in the tri-state area during the early 20th century. John was well known for patenting and trademarking his “Bread Mover,” an easy to use device for grocery stores to display bread and other products.
John married Virginia Renz and they had four sons: John Jr., Thomas, David, and Robert.
John served as President of the Pennsylvania Bakers Association, but had little local civic involvement until he joined the Erie Rotary Club in February of 1934 and went on to become President in 1949.
In 1953, however, after a business trip to Pittsburgh he became convinced that civic improvements were needed to grow the City; in particular, he decided something had to be done to keep the Presque Isle Peninsula from washing away, a very real threat at the time. Enlisting the help of the Chamber of Commerce, led by a number of Rotary members, John organized the “Save Our Peninsula” committee and invited the entire Erie community to join. Over 500 people responded and provided enough funds to campaign the State and Federal governments for aid. This led to John becoming the first Chairman of the Citizens Action Committee in which he was succeeded by fellow Rotarian and Past President Dr. Elmer Hess (1943-44).
Christian Ostergaard - 1948-1949
Christian “Chris” Ostergaard was born in Erie on May 19, 1893 and became President of Sessinghaus and Ostergaard, Inc., a distinguished building construction firm in the Erie area.
Chris served as President of the Greater Erie Chamber of Commerce and as Secretary of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for a number of years. In 1969, Chris joined the Erie City Council Building Code Commission. He also enjoyed canoeing, and was involved in the Meadville-Pittsburgh Canoe Race sponsored by local chamber of commerce organizations.
Chris enjoyed such pursuits with his wife, Elizabeth Knudsen and their sons Eric and Paul and daughter Ann. He joined the Erie Rotary Club in December 1942, serving on the International Service Committee, and as Vice Chairman of the International Fellowship Fund, until becoming President in 1948.
Chris continued his commitment to local service as Chairman Emeritus of his firm, continually counseling and advising major construction projects in the city, until his passing at the distinguished age of 99 in 1992, when he was remembered as “one of the great construction guys Erie ever knew.”
Victor C. Weschler - 1947-1948
Victor “Vic” Weschler was born in Erie in 1904. He was best known as the Manager of the Colonial Theater on Peach Street who courageously handled a bomb attack on the Theater on November 23 1934. On that evening, a bomb hidden in the Theater detonated, injuring no one at the time but causing heavy damage. The Theater had been targeted by local labor groups, but Mr. Weschler assured the public that the event was an isolated incident and the Theater continued to operate successfully for many more years.
Mr. Weschler and his wife, Barbara, also of Erie, had two children: Barbara and James. On April 23, 1941, Vic joined the Erie Rotary Club, serving on the Vocational Service Committee and as Chair of the Rotary Information Committee for many years. In 1947, he became President. Mr. Weschler passed away at the age of 57, a few years after the Colonial Theater closed its doors for the last time.
Angelo J. Phillips - 1946-1947
Angelo “Al” Phillips was born on March 19, 1900. His family, originally from Italy, immigrated to the US, making Erie home in 1890. Al’s older brother, Louis, opened a fruit stand and a banking office dealing with foreign money orders and steamship remittances, which he officially incorporated into a private bank in 1921, around the time the fruit business became the area’s largest produce wholesaler. In 1924, Al became Vice President of this American State Bank in 1924 and took over the Phillips Fruit Company, which in the 1930s became Lake Shore Cold Storage.
Al and his wife, Amelia Bevilacqua, had one son named Robert. Al was active as a St. Paul Usher and in the Holy Name Society. He was also a member of Probus and the Nuova Aurora Clubs.
Al became a member of the Erie Rotary Club on May 17, 1939, served on a number of Club committees and became President in 1946. He continued serving the Club for decades after his Presidency.
Arthur C. Sheriff - 1945-1946
Arthur C. “Art” Sheriff was born in Erie on June 1, 1909. For 50 years Mr. Sheriff worked for the American Hollow Boring Company and retired in 1979 having reached the rank of Executive Vice President and Sales Manager. He additionally served as the Executive Secretary for the company and is remembered admiringly today by the current President, Geoff Ginader, as “a consummate salesman.”
Art was a member of the Kahkwa Club, the University Club, a life member of the Erie Maennerchor, and an active parishioner with the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul. He also served on the Board of the Marine Bank, as President of the Manufacturing Association of Erie, and on the Board of Incorporators of Hamot Medical Center and St. Vincent Health Center. Art was also a member of the Lawrence Lodge Number 708, Scottish Rite Bodies, Zem Zem Temple Shrine, and the Royal Order of Jesters.
Mr. Sheriff and his wife, Virginia, had four daughters and one son; Linda, Martha, Sarah, Jane, and James. The couple also had 11 grandchildren.
On April 26, 1940, Art joined the Erie Rotary Club where he held a number of positions including Chair of the Good Cheer Committee and was known for welcoming new members into the Club "with the best of ease."
Walter L. Blossom - 1944-1945
Walter L. Blossom was born in Shelbyville, Michigan on January 9, 1880, the son of Civil War infantry veteran. Walter was educated in the Big Rapids, Michigan public schools and began his business career as Private Secretary to the General Manager of the Munising (MI) Paper Company. He later became Manager of the Insurance Department of the First National Bank at Negaunee, Michigan, where he remained until 1910. From there, he went to Traverse City, Michigan, where he continued to engage in the insurance business until 1916, when he moved to Erie to work at the Mutual Life Insurance Company
On July 18, 1905, Mr. Blossom married Miss Amy G. Lang and they had no children. A noted member of Erie society, Mr. Blossom was a member of the First Methodist Episcopal Church and belonged to the Masonic Lodge in addition to his service to the Erie Rotary Club, of which he became President in 1944.
Elmer Hess - 1943-1944
Elmer Hess was born in Millville, New Jersey on May 31, 1889. He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1911 and in 1912, was the first to open an office in the new Commerce Building on the corner of East 12th and State Streets, once Erie's largest downtown office building.
He was then appointed a Medical Officer in the United States Indian Service on an Indian reservation for a year. During 1914-15 he did postgraduate work in urology at University of Pennsylvania.
During World War I, Elmer volunteered and was commissioned a First Lieutenant and sent overseas with the 2nd American Division and was a member of the American Army of Occupation in Germany until March 1919 when he was commissioned a Captain in the Medical Corps and was discharged from service, resuming his practice in Erie in May.
In 1921, Elmer was elected both a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Urological Association and became a urologist at St. Vincent's Hospital, spending 1924 in Europe doing postgraduate work in leading hospitals. He was a member of the Erie County Medical Society, the State Medical Society, and the American Medical Association, and served as the Medical Chief of the Erie Boys Club, as well as a Director. Elmer was the Republican nominee for Mayor of Erie in 1919, but was defeated in the general election. He was also Senior Warden of the Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church of Erie.
In 1943, the Erie Rotary Club was fortunate to have Dr. Hess serve as its President. In 1951, he became President of the American Urological Association and in 1955, President of the American Medical Association.
Carl W. McNary - 1942-1943
Carl W. McNary was born in Steubenville, Ohio, on August 6, 1887, spending his youth in Bloomingdale, Ohio and graduating from Westminster College in Pennsylvania. Carl began his career as a teacher and served as Assistant Principal and Principal in a number of schools across Pennsylvania between 1910 and 1921, finally settling in Erie in 1921 as Principal of Academy High School.
Carl was a member of the Park Presbyterian Church and of the Masonic Lodge, Zem Zem Shrine, and the Lion's Club. In 1917, Carl married Marian Lytle of Crafton, Pennsylvania. They had one son: Warren Lytle McNary. As one of Erie’s most well-known educators, Mr. McNary joined the Erie Rotary Club shortly after moving to Erie and and became President in 1942.
In the years following his Presidency, a running, friendly argument arose between Carl and his successor, Dr. Elmer Hess (1943-44) on which of the two had been the Club’s “best” President. Fellow Past President Lewis Briggs (1925-26) set out to settle the debate, stating, “During Carl’s administration, Elmer was on the Board and either offered or seconded practically every motion or resolution which was presented. In the following year during Elmer’s administration, Carl was on the Board and either offered or seconded practically every motion or resolution which was presented, which leads to the conclusion that we must consider these two years as a single and indivisible administration… it is necessary to consider these two men as a sort of Siamese twin personality and combined were the “best President Erie Rotary Club ever had and probably ever will have. I hope this settles the question and that we shall hear no more about it.”
William H. Yeager - 1941-1942
William “Bill” Yeager was born in Erie on March 22, 1892. His father, a native of Germany, was a pioneer settler of Girard, Pennsylvania, where he continued his trade as a shoemaker. Following his education in the Girard public school system, Bill joined the Dispatch Printing and Engraving Company at an early age and continued until the onset of the First World War. He then enlisted and served in Europe with the 42nd Division until his discharge in May of 1919, when he returned to Dispatch, eventually becoming company Superintendent.
Bill was a member of the Universalist Church and an active member of Lake Erie Masonic Lodge 347, which he served as Master in 1923.
Bill married Marie Smith in November of 1920, also a native of Girard.
In April 1930, Bill joined the Erie Rotary. In 1941, just months prior to the U.S. entry into World War II, Bill became President directed the Club’s service efforts toward providing support for the troops and the war’s effects on the local economy.
Chester Arthur Kuebler - 1940-1941
Chester Arthur "Chet" Kuebler was born on February 17, 1890 in Louisville, Kentucky, where he spent his youth. He graduated from the University of Kentucky, to which he would return as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. Following graduation, Chet moved to Erie where he founded Uniflow Manufacturing Company in 1920 and served as President and General Manager until his retirement in the 1960’s. He held a number of patents on refrigeration systems that helped put his company at the leading edge of the industry.
Chet married Evelyn Margaret and they had three children: Chestine, Jean, and Thomas.
Chet joined the Erie Rotary Club on April 18, 1927. An active member, he was elected to serve as President in 1940. As well as his service with Rotary and the University of Kentucky, Mr. Kuebler also served as President of the Hamot Hospital Board in the 1950’s. He passed his commitment to service and devotion to Rotary on to his son, Thomas, and to his grandson, Clarke, who both have served the Erie Rotary Club faithfully.
Arthur O. Spierling - 1939-1940
Arthur “Art” Spierling was born on October 29, 1889 and trained as a mechanical engineer, working the majority of his long career at the Hammermill Paper Company.
Art was an active member of the Zem Zem Temple and in 1969 he was presented with an emblem signifying his membership with the Temple for over 50 years. He was a member of the Erie Mannerchor Club, and was active in the YMCA and the Boy Scouts.
He was married to Evelyn Cardoo. They had four children, Elizabeth, Frank, Richard, and John, and one grandchild. The Spierlings were active members of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul.
Mr. Spierling joined the Erie Rotary Club in November 1935 and became the Club’s 28th President, in 1939. Prior to his election as Club President, Mr. Spierling served on the Club’s Board of Directors during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s and as Chairman of the Rotary Information Committee. Art passed away at the age of 100 in June 1990.
H. Rives Lemmon - 1938-1939
H.R. Lemmon joined the Erie Rotary Club on April 27, 1933 while serving as the local Manager of Dun and Bradstreet, Inc., a mercantile reports company. Two years later he became Chairman of the Program and Entertainment Committee, writing, “Knowing that pleasing programs play such an important part in attendance, it should be the aim of each to make their day eventful.”
In 1935, H.R. was elected to the Club’s Board of Directors, a position he held until 1940. Following his term as President in 1938, H.R. served as Club Secretary.
Charles E. Mueller - 1937-1938
Charles “Charlie” Mueller was born in Erie on March 29, 1880 and in 1937, became President American Hollow Boring Company, a steel forge manufacturer still in business today. He and his wife, Ruth, had one daughter, Betty, and four grandchildren.
In July 1927 he joined the Erie Rotary Club and in 1930, as Vice Chairman of the Program Committee, he sponsored a popular “Father and Son” event within the Club. He served on various other committees until he was elected in 1937 to serve as President. He remained in the Club for one more year and then resigned to focus on his new position as President of American Hollow Boring and to spend more time with his family.
W. Humphrey Arbuckle - 1936-1937
William Humphrey "Hump" Arbuckle was born in Millcreek Township on May 26, 1871. At an early age, Hump took a job at a local wholesale house for ten years and by a second wholesale house for another five. In 1903, he began his own business on Peach Street, dealing in household goods and furnishings with an extensive wholesale trade network throughout northwestern Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and western New York. In 1923, he moved his operation to West 13th Street.
Hump came from a family with a long tradition of service, which he continued as a member of the local Masonic Lodge and of the Chamber of Commerce.
On September 28, 1893, Hump married Miss Leonora Clemens. They had three children: William Humphrey II, who would become the 1973-74 Erie Rotary Club President, Priscilla Berner, and Antoinette Burton.
In 1936 Hump was elected President of the Erie Rotary Club and in May 1937, he served proudly as Host of the15th Annual District Conference held at the Lawrence Hotel in Downtown Erie.
Bernard J. Lechner - 1935-1936
Bernard “Bernie” Lechner moved to the Erie at age nine, attended local schools and graduated from Erie High School. His first job was as a clerk with the Anchor Line and then he worked at the Erie Hard Wall Plaster Company. He later became a partner in the Erie Sand and Gravel Company. Bernie joined the Erie Water Department as Assistant Secretary when the organization was run by a court-appointed commission. He became Secretary, Office Manager, and Deputy City Treasurer, ultimately serving the Department for 28 years.
Bernie was a member of the Central States Section of the American Water Works Association and served as its President for a number of years. He was a devout Catholic, an active member of the Knights of Columbus, and the Erie Maennerchor Club.
He and his wife, Katherine, had one daughter and two sons: Bernard J. “B.J.”, Jr. and Carl.
He joined the Erie Rotary Club and was active on a number of committees and Rotary International projects. In 1930 he was Chairman of the District Conference and Chairman of the Vocational Committee. He also served as Chairman of the Inter-City Acquaintance Committee and as Club Treasurer and in 1935, he was elected President.
Despite ailing health and a heart condition, Bernie continued to serve the Water Department in his final year, taking only a brief time off to rest and his passing was mourned on the front page of the Erie Daily Times.
Clarence Parks Grunden - 1934-1935
Clarence Parks “CP” Grunden was the Treasurer of Bayerson Oil Works, which merged with the local JF Sigel Oil Company in 1911, and a producer of refined oil products and greases both in the City of Erie across the region.
CP joined the Erie Rotary Club early in the 1920’s and became President in 1934. Fellow Rotarian and Past President Lewis T. Briggs, Sr. noted, "In the carrying on of this work with crippled children, the name of Past President CP Grunden is outstanding as its champion, protector, and patron saint, and when the project was finally turned over to the Erie County Crippled Children Society, CP continued as its leader with ever increasing energy and devotion.”
Harry G. Schaffner - 1933-1934
Henry G. Schaffner’s father had immigrated to Cleveland from Germany and worked as a butcher. In 1883 at the age of 16, Henry’s brother, Morris, moved to Erie and started a small butcher shop. By 1887, Henry and his mother and two other brothers joined Morris in Erie, all working at Shaffner Brothers, a wholesale food business that grew so quickly that they eventually purchased an entire block on East 15th Street. In 1906, the business was incorporated with Morris as President, Jacob as Vice President, Milton as Treasurer, and Henry as Secretary.
Henry eventually became Vice President of what was ultimately the “largest meatpacking business in northwestern Pennsylvania,” but in typical Rotary fashion, he was best known for his efforts to enhance the safety of workers as Head of the Erie Safety Council.
Henry joined the Erie Rotary Club and served as Chair of numerous committees, including the District Conference Committee in 1932. In 1933, he became President.
On June 17, 1948, the Erie Daily Times informed readers of Mr. Schaffner's sudden death by noting, “It is difficult to have to record the sudden passing of so prominent a citizen. His enterprise on behalf of lessening the toll of sudden death will not soon be forgotten.”
David William Jardine - 1932-1933
David William “Dave” Jardine was born on October 30, 1889 in Newington, Ontario, Canada. His family immigrated to the U.S. in 1900 and he graduated from Lehigh University in 1909. He came to Erie in 1930 with the United Gas Improvement Company, which had a management contract with Erie County Electric and in 1942 merged with Penelec. Dave eventually served as Penelec's President from 1946 until 1951. During his tenure, Penelec built its massive power generation plant in Warren, PA and was heavily influenced by Mr. Jardine's concern about employee safety practices and precautions.
He also served as a Director of the First National Bank, a member of the Hamot Hospital Board of Managers, as an Officer of the Erie Community Chest, and was an active member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. An avid golfer, he was a member of the Kahkwa Club and the Erie Club.
An early member of the Erie Rotary Club, he was named one of the nine original Honorary Members along with First President William Pitt Gifford (1913-14).
Dave was married to Winifred Cardon, who died in 1963. In 1964, he moved to Dallas, Texas, where his daughter and grandchildren lived, remaining there until his death on September 27, 1965, when he was buried in the Erie Cemetery.
Otto C. Meyer - 1931-1932
Otto C. “Ott” Meyer was the Secretary and Treasurer of Meyers and Sons Clothing Retailer.
On July 1, 1931, Ott became Erie Rotary Club's 20th President. Presiding over his first meeting that day, Ott was presented with a diamond tie pin by the previous Rotary President Edwin “Cap” Curtze, now known as the “Curtze Diamond, which is passed to each succeeding President. During his time with Rotary, Mr. Meyer also served as Chairman of the Program and Entertainment Committee and the District Conference Committee. Ott also helped make the Erie Rotary Club famous as one of nine father and son pairs featured and photographed in the September 1939 edition of The Rotarian.
Edwin Herman Curtze - 1930-1931
Edwin “Cap” Curtze was born in 1885 in Erie. He joined his father, Charles August Curtze, at his C.A. Curtze and Company wholesale food distributor after college and eventually inherited the company, which continued to grow as the City of Erie expanded.
Cap married Henriette Kraus and they had one son named after his grandfather. Charles Curtze Jr., who joined the U.S. Navy and eventually retired as a renowned Rear Admiral.
Cap joined the fledgling Erie Rotary Club and served on the Board of Directors and in 1930 he became President. At the end of his term, Cap ceremonially passed on the Presidency by presenting his friend and successor, Otto Meyer, with what became known as the “Curtze Diamond.” This pin is presented to every new President upon assuming office.
On August 20, 1930, Cap further honored the Club with a handsome bell in memory of member John P. Smart, which is rung to signal the start and end of every weekly meeting and at the beginning of each year in honor of Club members who passed the previous year. Both are lasting symbols of Erie Rotary history.
Will G. Reed - 1929-1930
William G. "Bill" Reed was born August 31, 1868 in Morrow County, Ohio. He became a partner with the West Ridge Land Company, where he did land allotments and was an Elder in the Central Presbyterian Church in Erie for many years and served as an Elder.
On October 27, 1892, Bill married Lettia Joanne “Linn” Stewart. They had two sons: W. Stewart and John C. Reed.
As a member of the Erie Rotary Club, Bill served as Vice Chair of the Community Service Committee and became President on February 1, 1930, when President Luman Page was forced to move to Pittsburgh with his company and resign his Club post. Soon after Bill’s own term ended in mid-1930, he moved to Lakeland, Florida, where died in 1941. However, his body was returned to Erie for funeral services and burial.
Lumen B. Page - 1929-1930
Luman "Lu" Page was a Sales Supervisor of the Johns-Manville Company, a major asbestos product manufacturer at the time, since absorbed by the Berkshire Hathaway company.
An early member of the Erie Rotary Club, Mr. Page later joined the Club’s Board of Directors and was elected to serve as President in 1929. However, Mr. Page resigned as President of the Club on January 28, 1930 and moved to Pittsburgh. He was succeeded for the remainder of his term by William G. “Bill” Reed. Mr. Page was later elected Honorary Member status for his service to Erie and the Club. Mr Page was married to Anna Page.
Robert Lewis Rodgers - 1928-1929
Robert Lewis “R.L.” Rodgers was born June 2, 1875 in Kansas. Upon his family’s return to Crawford County, R.L. attended local public schools and completed a three-year course at the Fredonia Institute remaining there as an instructor. During the Spanish-American War in 1898 he enlisted in Company K, 15th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, serving until the regiment was disbanded.
He returned to Jamestown where he taught school for three years and managed the family farm. He then entered the real estate and insurance business in Jamestown, served for a number of years as Justice of the Peace, Secretary of the School Board, Secretary of the Town Council and Editor and Manager of the local newspaper. In 1914, R.L. moved to Erie to continue working in insurance and real estate and served for several years as the Erie Representative of the State Capital Savings and Loan Association of Harrisburg.
On March 20, 1908, R.L. married Miss Margaret Ellen Cathcart, of Adamsville, Crawford County. They had three children, but only Thomas Andrews survived.
During World War I, R.L. was active in the Liberty Loan, Thrift Stamp, and Red Cross programs. He was much in demand for his public speaking skills, making hundreds of addresses on patriotic days. He was a 32nd Degree Mason and Past Master, a Knight Templar and a Shriner. He was also a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Erie Real Estate Board, the Erie County Historical Society, United Spanish War Veterans, and the City Planning Commission. In 1939, he was elected as the U.S. Representative to Pennsylvania's 29th Congressional District.
A member of the Erie Rotary Club, R.L. was elected 16th President in 1928.
James S. Dunwoody - 1927-1928
James Dunwoody was born in Waterford, New York, on April 2, 1891, where he was raised. He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and began his business career as a drug clerk. His remaining professional career from 1911 was spent with the Erie Water Department, first as a chemist, then as Superintendent of Alteration, and from 1919 until his retirement as General Superintendent of the plant.
On September 9, 1914, James married Miss Elvira Gingenbach of Erie. They had two children: Mary Elizabeth and James, Jr.
James held a commission as First Lieutenant in the United States Army, Construction Division, during World War I and served as Officer in Charge of the water supply for Camp Forest, Camp Greenleaf, and Fort Oglethorpe. He was discharged from the Army in March 1919 and returned to Erie, having been granted a leave of absence by the Commissioners of the Water Works. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, and belonged to the University Club
During his tenure as Erie Rotary Club President, Erie sponsored an intercity meeting in which the International Rotary Secretary Chester Perry was the guest speaker. James himself became District Governor in 1937 and served as Chair of the District Conference held in Erie that May at the Lawrence Hotel.
John J. Burgoyne - 1926-1927
John “JJ” Burgoyne was a native of Erie and served as a representative of the New York Central Rail Road. He worked for a number of years at the Erie Union Station as a Ticket Agent and Passenger Representative. Mr. Burgoyne also owned and operated Burgoyne Travel Bureau, later located in the Baldwin Building.
J.J. was a highly active member of the community and received numerous awards. J.J. married Agnes McDonald and they had two children: Jack and Charles, as well as one granddaughter, Patricia.
J.J. joined the Erie Rotary Club on May 19, 1920 and in 1926, he became the 14th President and served the Club in various positions for many more years. As a testament to his character, a full 50 years after his death, his daughter-in-law, Noel Burgoyne, remembers him fondly, as "a delightful person."
Lewis Terrell Briggs - 1925-1926
Lewis “Lew” Briggs was born in Erie in 1879. After graduating from Erie High School, he studied accounting and business and worked as a railroad clerk. In 1932, as part-owner of the Erie Bronze Company, he bought out founding owner Raymond Smith's co-investors and became President of Erie Plating Company, which his Rotarian son L.T. Briggs Jr. and grandson, David Briggs, own and operate today.
Lew was initiated into the Club in January 1915 after, as he claimed, nagging current members to let him in. He served on the Board of Directors and as President in 1925. In 1946 he was elected Erie's first District Governor and was honored with the 4-Way Test Award in 1959.
Lew Briggs was the noted author a number of eloquently written sketches of the Club’s history and achievements for the Club’s 50th anniversary, which have provided descriptive and first hand looks into the early years of the Club and remain an indelible piece of Rotary history. Lew’s dedication to the Erie Rotary Club led him to be granted Member Emeritus status in June of 1959 after decades of service.
Harry Alston Nye - 1924-1925
Harry A. Nye was born in Saco, Maine to a father who was a Civil War veteran. At the age of 12, Harry relocated to Lynn, Massachusetts with his family where he began working at the General Electric Company in 1892, then known as the Thomas-Houston Company. On April 10, 1910, he was transferred to Erie and appointed Supervisor of Personnel of Erie Works of the General Electric Company. In 1936, he was named Manager’s Industrial Representative until his death in 1939.
Harry served on GE’s Board of Managers for many years and was an active member of the Board of Commerce and in 1920 was added to the Industrial Board of the Department of Labor and Industry. He was also a member of the International Institute, Boy Scouts of America, American Red Cross, the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind, Erie County Health and Tuberculosis Association, and the Hamot Hospital Board of Incorporators. He also served as Chairman of the Health Committee of the Erie Chamber of Commerce, was the first President of the Quarter Century Club of the Erie Works, and Chairman of the Planning Committee of the Erie Community Chest.
Harry was an early member of the Erie Rotary Club and served on its Board of Directors. In 1924, he became the 12th Club President. Upon his passing, the community and his wife, Sarah Ann, mourned the loss and his obituary was a front page headline in the Erie Daily Times.
Maxwell G. Mayo - 1923-1924
Maxwell G. Mayo graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to Erie to open a retail leather business. He served on the Erie School Board for many years.
Maxwell joined the Erie Rotary Club on January 21, 1914. As the Club's 11th President, he undertook what is today considered one of the most challenging and ambitious projects in the Club's history. In 1923 upon his election, Maxwell and the Club highlighted the plight of “crippled” children in the city. Only a few months into his term on November 23, 1923, the Erie Rotary held a one day clinic in the Elk's Auditorium to ensure 258 children received examinations and plans for future treatment. Today, such work for disabled children in Erie has been a hallmark of the Erie Rotary Club’s community involvement with many Rotarians and Club Presidents having close connections to the Shine Club and Shriner’s Hospital.
Maxwell’s passing at the age of 50 was a great tragedy to the Club.
John Zollinger Miller - 1922-1923
John Z. "Jayzee" Miller was an 1891 graduate of Lehigh University and a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He was involved in the new telephone industry, serving as the General Manager of the Mutual Telephone Company of Erie for over 25 years.
Jayzee actively participated in the industry’s technological expansion, holding several patents concerning telephone exchange systems and switchboards. He brought this technological expertise to the Erie Rotary Club on September 4, 1913, when he gave a well-regarded talk entitled "The Business Thermometer - The Telephone."
Jayzee was a founding member of the Erie Rotary Club and served on the Board of Directors for nearly a decade until his election as Club President in 1922. Jayzee resigned from the Club in 1933 upon relocating away from Erie.
James P Kearney - 1921-1922
A native of Manchester Connecticut, J. P. Kearney worked for the Cheney Silk Company for four years and then moved to New York to work at the Migel Silk Company for a number of years. In 1911, he was transferred to Erie and the company was later purchased by H.R. Mallinson & Company, Inc. where James served as Manager. The firm’s Erie factory was its largest, with branches in at Astoria, New York, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Patterson, Hoboken, and Trenton, New Jersey.
James was an active member of the Catholic Church and a member of the Erie Club, Chamber of Commerce, and Elks Lodge. In April 1905, he married Miss Cecelia Gutting of New York City.
In 1921, he was elected President of the Erie Rotary Club and continued to serve the Club, the community, and his family until his death in June 1962.
John Casper Diehl - 1920-1921
John C. Diehl was born in Erie on January 12, 1865. He went to Erie High School and graduated from Yale with a B.A. in English in 1884. He continued at Yale for an M.A. in Latin. In 1887, he began teaching at Erie High School for $800 per year; and became Principal in 1890. In 1919 he became Principal at the new Academy High School and in 1921 became Assistant Superintendent of Schools and Superintendent the following year until he retired in 1935. His service to education in Erie is today is honored by the John C. Diehl Elementary School. John was known as a wonderful teacher, "A gentleman beloved and honored, a friend to all, justly impartial, kind, and helping earnestly."
On December 21, 1893, John married Annie Belle of Erie. They had three children: Frederick Brereton, Annabel, and Samuel.
John was a member of the Presbyterian Church, a Free Mason, and a Shriner with a special interest in vocal music. He served as Director of his church choir and was a valued member of the Temple Quartet.
John joined the Erie Rotary Club and in 1920 he became the 8th President. Fellow Rotarian L.T. Briggs, Sr. (1925-26) remembered Mr. Diehl fondly in his 1995 Club history as the Rotary Club's second longest standing member at the time, with 32 years of service. As a former member of the Yale Glee Club, Mr. Diehl served as the Rotary Club's Songleader in the 1920s and 1930s.
Fred L Weede - 1919-1920
Fred L. Weede was born in 1878. After earning a B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1899, he joined the Philadelphia Press. He later became Vice President and General Manager of the Erie Evening Herald, where he remained for 11 years.
Upon joining the Rotary Club of Erie, Fred served as the Erie representative to Rotary International Conferences numerous times, often writing articles for The Rotarian. In the 10th Edition of The Rotarian, Fred wrote an article called, “A Rotary Visiting Housekeeper,” which described Erie Rotary’s programs for the poor, sick, and widowed during the holidays. He also described how the Club had hired a woman to assist with their project year-round, who managed monthly programs for the poor through Rotary funds and members that were successful for many years. In 1919, Fred was elected President of the Erie Rotary Club.
In 1920, Fred moved to Miami, Florida, where he joined the Miami Rotary Club. In Miami, he was also active in the Four Minute Men, the Red Cross, Liberty Loan Drives during World War I, and served as the Publicity Director and eventually the Director of the Miami Chamber of Commerce. Upon his relocation, it was agreed that Fred would be considered an Honorary Member of the Erie Rotary Club for life. In 1937, Fred and his wife, Ethel Maude, moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where he served as Director of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce until 1951.
Fred B Hofft - 1918-1919
Fred Hofft was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1878. After graduating from Purdue University, Fred relocated to Erie where he served from 1914 to 1928 as Manager and then Vice President of the Erie Lighting Company until he moved to the Associated Gas and Electric Company in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He then became Vice President of the United Gas Improvement Company in Erie until his retirement in 1954.
Fred was married to Florence Hofft, with whom he had three daughters and four grandchildren.
Fred joined the Erie Rotary Club on June 10, 1914. The following year, he joined the Club’s Board of Directors, and in 1918 he became the Club’s 6th President. He “continued to serve the Club faithfully” following his tenure as President.
Edward Perkins Selden - 1917-1918
Edward P. Selden was born April 27, 1858 in Mayside, Fairview Township, His father, Samuel, established the Selden & Griswold Manufacturing Company with Mathew Griswold. Edward was educated in a Mayside private school and in the Erie public schools. At 14, he began to work in his uncle's hardware store. From there he went to work in his father's company, and at 16, he served as Office Boy in the Erie City Iron Works, where he remained until his retirement in 1924, having served as Bookkeeper, Time Keeper, Sales Manager, General Manager, Treasurer, Vice-President, and President.
On December 31, 1885, Edward married Blanche McCreary of Erie. They had two children: Edward P., Jr. and Caroline McCreary.
Edward was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, of which he was an Elder. He was President of the Erie County Anti-Tuberculosis Society and Louise Home, President of the Harvey Club, Vice President of the Elmwood Home, first Vice President of the Pennsylvania State Sabbath School Association, first Vice President of the Pennsylvania State YMCA, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Erie Community Chest, and a Member of the Board of Managers of the Erie YMCA, and of the Erie County Sunday School Association, the Board of the Mutual Telephone Company of Erie, the World's Sunday School Association, Pennsylvania Tuberculosis Society, and the Board of Managers of Hamot Hospital.
Edward joined the Erie Rotary Club in early 1914 and joined the Board of Directors in September 1915. He was elected the fifth President, and was considered within the Club "a living epistle of Christian stewardship" setting “a tremendous example for all.”
Frank S Bond - 1916-1917
Frank S. Bond was born in Pittsburgh, on March 18, 1876 and attended the city’s public schools and there attended Duff College. At an early age, he engaged in the clothing business and in 1904 he moved to Erie, where he established F.S. Bond & Company at 830 State Street.
In 1899, Frank married Miss Cornelia A. Bowman of Pittsburgh. They had two daughters, both of whom graduated from college, unusual in those days: Ethel, from Oberlin College and Frances, from Allegheny College.
Frank served as President and Director of the Community Savings & Loan Association and as a Director of the Citizens Mortgage Company of Erie. He also served as the President of the Chamber of Commerce between 1918 and 1923 and as a member of the Pennsylvania State Chamber of Commerce, the Armory Board, the Retail Merchants Board, and the Knox Hat Council of New York City. He was also a member of the Episcopal Church and belonged to the Masonic Lodge.
Frank joined the original group of 27 other Erie businessmen to form the Rotary Club of Erie in 1913 and was an avid proponent of the Club from the outset. He went on to become the Club's President from 1917-1918 and served for many years as a member of the Club's Board of Directors.
James M Dickey - 1915-1916
Mr. James M. Dickey was born September 25, 1870 in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. In 1896, James became the Manager of Armour and Company in Punxsutawney until 1900, when he moved to the Pittsburgh agency of the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. In January 1902 he was transferred to the Erie headquarters as Manager of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Agency, eventually serving 21 counties.
James married Josephine Livingston Lacy, whose ancestor, Philip Livingston, was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, and many others in the family became cabinet members and diplomats. They had four children; Harriet Estella, Lois Livingston, Allen Lacy, and Margaret Kennedy.
James was one of the organizers and second President of the Erie Association of Life Underwriters. He was also a Charter Member of the Erie Board of Commerce, forerunner of the Erie Chamber. He was President of the Associated Charities of Erie, Treasurer of the Social Service Federation, and a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, Erie Golf Club, and the Civic Club of Erie. James was also an early member of the Erie Motor Club and an avid gardener.
On December 24, 1913, James was voted into the Erie Rotary Club. As a member of the Board, James was chosen to head the Erie delegation to the Rotary International Convention in San Francisco in early 1915, and on September 28, James was elected the third President of the Erie Rotary Club.
James Russell - 1914-1915
James Russell was born on March 12, 1871 in Baltimore, Maryland. James was fascinated by the new telephone industry and was one of the organizers of the Baltimore Telephone Company. He moved to Erie he serve as Treasurer of the Union Telephone Company, which operated throughout the northwestern part of Pennsylvania. In 1907, James formed Harper and Russell with D. W. Harper, a firm which became a prominent Erie real estate agency.
In 1902, James married Miss Dorothy M. Macintosh of Erie, who died tragically in 1911. He married Gertrude O. Densmore, who died in 1921. Mr. Russell was later married to Miss Kathryn Langdon, but never had children.
James was a 32nd Degree Mason, and member of the Chamber of Commerce, University Club, and the Real Estate Board of Erie.
On September 8, 1913, upon the founding of the Erie Rotary Club, James became one of its founding Directors. On September 30, 1914, he became the second President, after which, he continued to serve on the Board of Directors and as an active member.
William Pitt Gifford - 1913-1914
Born October 5, 1874 in Greeley, Colorado, William Pitt Gifford was a member of a well-known Erie family. He attended Erie’s public schools and went to Stanford University for a B.A. in 1897. He returned to Erie, completed his training for the bar, and began practicing as a lawyer in 1899.
For ten years William worked in the office of local lawyer W.S. Carroll and also served for six years as the District Attorney. In 1910, he became a member of the law firm of Gunnison, Fish, Gifford, and Chapin, where he remained until his retirement. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Pennsylvania State Bar Association, and the Erie County Bar Society. He also served as a Director of the First National Bank and as President of the Erie County Council of Boy Scouts of America.
William was a member of Masonic Commonwealth Lodge number 695 and was a Potentate of the Ancient Arabic Order Noble of the Mystic Shrine. He was a loyal member of the Knights Templar, holding the rank of Grand Captain General. He was also a member of the Kahkwa Club, the Shrine Club of Erie, and the Covenant Presbyterian Church, where he was President of the Board of Trustees.
In 1900 he married Mae Stanton of central New York and they had three children: Gladys, Jean, and John. On September 8, 1913, Mr. Gifford became the first President of the Erie Rotary Club, where he was affectionately known as the "Dean of Rotary." He served as an active member until his death in 1964.