Posts Tagged ‘Rotary Club of Columbus’

John FLournoy Named Rotary Dan Reed Award Winner

November 5, 2014
Rotary Club of Columbus President Ryan Clements and John Flournoy, recipient of the Dan Reed Service Above Self Award.
Rotary Club of Columbus President Ryan Clements and John Flournoy, recipient of the Dan Reed Service Above Self Award. (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

Congratulations to Columbus business leader John Flournoy on being named this year’s recipient of the Rotary Club of Columbus Service Above  Self Award.  He received the  honor for his  work in beautifying interchanges on I-185 in the Columbus area, especially the Gateway entrance to Fort Benning,   He was also honroed for his contributions to Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus.

Let There be Rotary Light

July 7, 2014
Alexa, Luke, and Ryan Clements performing the unity clap to close Rotary Club of Columbus President Clements acceptance speech.  Of them,  he said, They're my daily reminders of why it's importan to go  the extra mile each and every day to  help make our community and world a better place for all people." (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

Alexa, Luke, and Ryan Clements performing the unity clap to close Rotary Club of Columbus President Clements acceptance speech. Of them, he said,”They’re my daily reminders of why it’s important to go the extra mile each and every day to help make our community and world a better place for all people.” (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

Rotary International’s theme this year is Light Up Rotary, and carrying the torch for that effort in Columbus is Ryan Clements.  He just became president of the Rotary Club of Columbus.  Greg Camp, last year’s president, passed the torch to Ryan at Wednesday’s meeting.

President Ryan – local Rotarians stick to first names –  said, “This is an exciting theme for  me because it encourages all of us to tell the Rotary story and to invite our family and friends to celebrate Rotary with us.”  I can’t go into all of the Rotary story in this short space, but I can tell you that a major  part of it is supporting the Rotary Foundation, which raises hundreds of millions of dollars to help  people in parts of the world who. as Ryan says. “would otherwise go without basic necessities such as clean water, proper sanitation, and fundamental  nutrition.”

Vice-President Greg, who is an executive at the National infanrty Museum, said that the drive for  Rotary Foundation Funds during his term as president exceeded its goal.  In order to keep that ball rolling and hopefully raise impressive funds for Rotary’s “greatest cause, the eradication of polio,” President Ryan, who is in the construction consulting business,  will lead the club in reviving the 1983 Run to the Sea, a relay race of 275 miles from Columbus to Jekyll Island.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed to match funds for polio eradication 2 to 1 up to  $35 million a year through 2018.

When you add this effort to all of the other services Rotary offers the Columbus community,  local Rotarians should have no  problem at all Lighting Up Rotary by spreading the word on how remarkable the Rotary experience can be.


Robert George Personified the American Dream

November 12, 2013

Robert George, who  died of a heart attack Monday, recently told me, “Dick, when I see you, I think I should be marching behind you playing my trumpet.” That’s because he was a freshman in 1948 when I was a senior and drum major of the late Bob Barr’s Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket Band.  He broke out his trumpet a few years ago and played with the Bob Barr alumni band at a memorial half-time ceremony at a Jordan-Columbus football game. He was CEO and  Chairman of the Board at Lummus Industries at the time.  Lummus was a manufacturer of cotton gins in Columbus.  It moved to Savannah.

I mentioned him in my Reader’s Digest article “Unforgettable Bob Barr.”  It was the story of a music man who inspired a lot of kids to do quite well  in life.  Robert George was a prime example of that.

As his obituary says, when he was with Lummus he traveled all over the world “with his favorite destination being the People’s Republic of China.” After retiring from Lummus, he became involved as an executive in a number of companies engaged in international trade, and he consulted with American companies wanting to do business in China.

He also lectured on international trade at universities in  the U.K.  Africa, and China, and a number of American civic clubs. He also served as President of Beacon College and Graduate School in Columbus from March 1998 to March 2000.

He was a fellow member of the Rotary Club of Columbus, where he served as president in 1991.

There will be a memorial service at Evangel Temple Wednesday, November 13, at 3 p.m. Visitation is from 5 – 7 p.m. today, November 12th, at Striffler – Hamby on Macon Road.  His obituary states that he is survived by his wife of 59 years Sara Crews Goerge, two daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. You can read the full obituary in tomorrow’s Ledger-Enquirer.

Not only was he intelligent and successful in business, he had an upbeat personality and was fun to know. We’ll miss him.


Resuming the War on Poverty in Columbus

November 30, 2012
Betsy Covington

Betsy Covington, Executive  Director, Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley

Betsy Covington  really grabbed my attention when she told Columbus Rotarians that the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley now has assets of $95 million.  The Foundation can distribute the interest that is generated by that endowment to non-profit organizations that need it. The 200 funds that contributed that money can designate who gets it, but, as Betsy told me after her Rotary talk, the Foundation itself is given authority to decide who gets some of it.

Columbus’ greatest problem is poverty. That was determined by a study a few years ago by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute.  Former Muscogee County Schools Superintendent Guy Sims tells me that the problem has gotten worse, not better. Guy,  the original and unpaid Director of the Building Prosperity Initiative, which was organized to coordinate efforts to lessen the poverty problem in Columbus, says that program was put on hold three years ago after the 2008 Great Recession hit because charitable giving dried up. It appears  that now givers are feeling confident enough to start giving again.

The Building Prosperity Initiative, which has been on hold for three years, may crank back up and coordinate the effort to solve Columbus’ biggest problem, poverty. The program, headed up by former Muscogee County School Superintendent Guy Sims, with the help of Columbus business leader  James Blanchard,  did accomplish one of its goals before it became dormant, determining how to get people out of poverty. That was accomplished by a study  that was financed by a grant  from the  Community Foundation of the  Chattahoochee Valley.  Betsy says the study shows that “…there are three things a person can do that greatly lessens their statistical chance of living in poverty: graduate from high school, get some kind of a job, and wait until they are 21 and/or married before having children.” 

Guy Sims said the Building Prosperity Initiative now has an office in the state’s Enrichment Services building. To get things going again, he says, money has to be raised to hire an executive director. He donated his services to get the program started, but a salary will be necessary for a permanent director. No, he tells me, he is not a candidate for the job, but he is still supporting the program.

Retired Ranger Col. Ralph Puckett Gets Top Columbus Rotary Award

April 25, 2012

It’s not the top award he has received, since he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, second only to the Medal of Honor, twice, once for valor in Korea and once in Vietnam.  Among his other combat medals are multiple Purple Hearts for his battle wounds.  The honor retired Colonel Ralph Puckett received today, the Mary Reed Award for Service above Self, at the Rotary Club of Columbus was, however, the highest one that can be bestowed on a member of the club.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Ralph Puckett and former Sec.of the Army Howard "Bo" Callaway

He was surprised that he had been selected and was visibly moved. He was being honored by his peers, peers that include  not only some of the top  business and professional leaders in Columbus, but also a number of retired Army generals, and the highest ranking veteran in the room, retired Secretary of the Army Howard “Bo” Callaway, who was a fellow classmate  at West Point.  Both were members of the class of 1949.

Mary Reed, veteran Rotary Club secretary for whom the award is named, Ralph Puckett, Jean Puckett (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

He was also surprised when his wife Jean was escorted to the dais, because he thought she was out of town.  He said, “She is my hero, the wind beneath my wings. I would be nothing without her.”

This proven Army Ranger hero is no friend of war. I have heard him say more than once that war is insane and stupid, but there are times when they simply have to be fought to preserve our country’s freedoms.  One of the freedoms, the one I put at the top of the list, freedom of speech,  is courageously practiced by Col. Puckett.  He is not happy that our soldiers are being deployed too long and too often, and that  less than one percent of the country’s population is fighting our wars, while the rest of us are shopping in the malls. He made all of this clear in a talk to the Unitarian Univeralist Fellowship of Columbus. You can read my blog post about it at this link

He was given the most thundering and prolonged standing ovations I have ever witnessed at a Rotary Club meeting.  And, in my view, deserved them.

He continues to  give his time freely and makes many trips to Fort Benning to support our soldiers. And when he is honored as he was today, he quotes President Eisenhower’s comment on humility:  “Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.”

I can’t think of a person more deserving of the Mary Reed Award than my fellow Rotarian Ralph Puckett.

The Rotary Club of Columbus was the Center of the Rotary World Today

February 15, 2012


Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee speaking to Columbus area Rotarians

What a day at Rotary today. As my old broadcast journalism friend Phil Scoggins – I brought him to Columbus from Albany when I hired him as Sports Director for WRBL back in the early 1970s – said the top story for our area today was happening as he spoke.  He gave a short newscast at the beginning of the Rotary Club of Columbus meeting.  That was something I did for many years until I passed the baton to Phil.

The President of Rotary International, Kalyan Banerjee of  Calcutta, India, chose the Columbus club for his visit to the state of Georgia.  He did that because the Rotary Club of Columbus is the largest 100% Paul Harris Fellow Club in the world.  That means that every one of the clubs more than 300 members is a Paul  Harris Fellow.  Rotarians who give $1000 to the Rotary Foundation become Paul  Harris Fellows. 

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who is now a Paul Harris Fellow beacuse she was given the award by the Rotary Club of Columbus, honors RI President Banerjee by declaring Kaylan Banerjee Day in Columbus, GA. She's not a Rotarian, but President Banerjee says she should become one.

RI President Banerjee and Mayor Tomlinson displaying proclamation honoring President Banerjee. (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1.)

The Rotary Foundation is a major contributor to eradicating polio  in the world. President Banerjee told of how India,  his country, went from being an endemic polio country to a country virtually free of the disease. It went from 40 cases in 2010 to 1 case last year.

Polio  is not the only beneficiary of  the Rotary Foundation. President Banerjee told the story of a 12-year-old girl in Nigeria who couldn’t see. Her sight was restored by Indian Doctors who operated an Eye Camp sponsored by the Rotary Foundation. Banerjee said nothing we do is more important than things like that.

He also told of how such efforts can bring countries together. He reported on a meeting in India of the last 4 countries that still have polio problems, with one of the those countries being Pakistan. Pakistan, an enemy of India for a long time, was represented at  that meeting as the countries came together to fight polio.

As a gift to President Banerjee, the Columbus area Rotary Clubs gave $99,200 in his name toward the refurbishing of one of the cabins  that can be used for recuperating patients at Warm Springs in connection with the polio museum. Club President Jimmy Elder said he was sure that the $800 to raise it to $100,000 would be donated before the day was over.

I have been a Rotarian since 1972.  I can’t recall a bigger Rotary day than this one. The Columbus club is one of the largest in the world, the largest one that President Banerjee has visited. And, no doubt, it  has one of the biggest hearts in the service club world, which makes me extremely honored to be a member.    


Steve Butler is this Year’s Dan Reed Award Recipient

November 10, 2010

If anyone deserves the title Chairman, it’s Steve Butler. 

Steve Butler (Photo by Jim Cathorne, Camera1)

He has more chairmanships than anyone I have ever heard of.  Most of those chairmanships are for civic and social organizations. And I am sure that’s why he was chosen as this year’s winner of the Dan Reed Rotary Award for Service Above Self.  The award,  named after former Rotary Club of Columbus Secretary Dan Reed,  is given each year to a non-Rotarian for selfless service to community. 

 Steve Butler works, not only as Chairman of the W.C. Bradley Company, but as a contributor to the welfare of his community. 

Now, he is Chairman of Brookstone School, the Pastoral Institute, and Strategic Planning for St. Francis Hospital.  which is undergoing its largest expansion. His parents, Dr. Clarence and Mrs. Butler, were very active supporters of St. Francis.  

He just stepped down as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Bradley-Turner Foundation.  Abbott Turner, Bill Turner’s youngest son, is now filling that position.

Steve was also Chairman of United Way, Columbus State University Foundation, Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Columbus ’96, Columbus Sports Council, and the Administrative Board of St. Luke United Methodist Church where he teaches Sunday school.  That’s apparently a family tradition because Bill Turner, his philanthropic uncle,  taught a class there for many years.

During a video presentation announcing his winning the Dan Reed Award, Robert Granger, President/CEO of St. Francis Hospital, who nominated Steve, said that he had been instrumental in facilitating the hospital’s largest-ever expansion, “Steve never seeks the spotlight. He is a humble leader who provides strong leadership.”

Brookstone School Headmaster Brian Kennerly said, “He embodies Service Above Self as he clearly keeps an eye on the people he is leading as he paves the way for the organization.”

 Ron King, Executive Director and CEO of the Pastoral Institute, said, “Steve Butler is a compassionate, committed, community leader that calls forth the best from all around him.”

His pastor, Hal Brady of St. Luke United Methodist Church, said, “I cannot think of a better nomination for the Dan Reed Award than Steve Butler. Steve is a choice servant leader who lives out the Rotary motto Service Above Self in his life, church, community and commitment.”

Congratulations to the Rotary Club of Columbus, GA

October 21, 2010

Rotary District Governor Casey Farmer presents 100 Percent Paul Harris Fellow Club banner to Rotary Club of Columbus President Betsy Covington. On the left is Rotary Foundation Director George Flowers, and on the right is Past President Bob Jones. (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

The Rotary Club of Columbus reached an impressive landmark Wednesday.(Full disclosure: I am a member.) It became the largest service club in Georgia to be designated as a 100% Paul Harris Fellow Club. That means that each member is now a Paul Harris Fellow, which means each gave $1,000 to the Rotary International Foundation, which, among other accomplishments, has just about eradicated polio in the world.  Since the club has more than 300 members that means it has given more than $300,000 to the Foundation.  It’s not called a service club for nothing.

Paul Harris was the founder of the Rotary Club.  The first club was organized in Chicago in 1905; now it is all over the world, including places like the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia.

Selby Rollinson Honored with Mary Reed Award

May 2, 2010

Mary Reed gives Selby Rollinson the Mary Reed Award trophy as Rotary Club of Columbus President Bob Jones, Rollinson's wife, Sarah, and son, Zack, look on. (Photos: courtesy Jim Cawthorn, Camera1)

Selby Rollinson, Deputy Chief of Staff at Fort Benning, member of Rotary Club of Columbus

Selby Rollinson, who is a retired Lt. Colonel and now Deputy Chief of Staff at Fort Benning, which is one of the highest civilian positions at Fort Benning, and member of the Rotary Club of Columbus, was honored with this year’s Mary Reed Award.  The award is named for the club secretary and honorary member Mary Reed, widow of Dan Reed, who preceded her as secretary. The Mary Reed Award goes to a member of the Rotary Club of Columbus who demonstrates service above self over a sustained period of time.  The Dan Reed Award, which is given at a different time, goes to a non-Rotarian.  

A video was shown of notables who praised Rollinson for his work in facilitating Columbus area people with issues relating to Fort Benning. 

Greg Camp, National Infantry Foundation executive and member of the Rotary Club of Columbus

Greg Camp, who is with the National Infantry Foundation, and  who introduced Rollinson, told me that Commanding Generals come and go at Fort Benning, usually staying about two years, but the Deputy Chief of Staff stays on the job for years – Rollinson has been at it for 20 years – so he is especially equipped to be the “go to”  man when members of the Columbus community need assistance with arrangements on post.

Some Folks That Truly Deserve to be Called STARS

January 28, 2010


 Rotary Club of Columbus President Bob Jones, Muscogeee Cunty System-wide STAR Student Andrei Markov, his STAR Teacher Luther Richardson (Photo Courtesy:  Jim Cawthorne Camera 1)









STAR stands for Student Teacher Achievement Recognition  program.  More than 21,500 Georgia high school seniors, and the teachers they chose as their STAR Teachers,  have been honored by this program over the last 51 years.

Photographs are courtesy of Jim Cawthorne, Camera 1.