Rotary Club of Hamburg honors 60-year, 50-year members; president passes the gavel in ceremonies held in Lake View, where District Governor presides at historic event

By Eileen A. Hotho

The Rotary Club of Hamburg held its annual “passing of the gavel” ceremonies signifying the yearly change of administration, but additionally honored one member for 60 years of service and another for 50 years. Dale Stanley accepted the gavel from outgoing President Timothy J. Hoelscher, who was also commended for his service and received a new presidential service pin and award in recognition of his year of leadership.

Stanley said his vision for the Rotary Club of Hamburg in his presidential year is to develop a strategic plan, sponsor a Rotaract Interact club for high school youth, and to identify an international project to support.

To mark the momentous occasion, incoming Rotary District 7090 Governor Jack Amico of West Seneca presided at the affair held June 24 at J.P.’s Pub in Lake View. “Congratulations to President Dale Stanley on this auspicious occasion as you begin your new Rotary year as the leader of your club. It is really remarkable to have a 50-year member in a club, but it is really extraordinary to have a 60-year member and a 50-year member honored in the same club at the same time,” Amico said. “I heartily congratulate the Rotary Club of Hamburg on having two such committed members and commend Larry and Tom for their longtime service.”

Larry Wilson, who will be 95 this month, was honored for 60 years of service to Rotary and W. Thompson Eaton was honored for 50 years of service as a member of the club. Both men have served as president of the club, Wilson in 1965-66 and Eaton in 1981-82.

A native of Vermont, Wilson served in the U.S. Navy for three years during World War II and continued for 28 years in the Ready U.S. Naval Reserve throughout the Cold War. He retired from the E.F. McCarthy Co., a distributer of industrial supplies in 1986.

Eaton, 76, is an active member of the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department and worked for his family’s business, Eaton Equipment Co., a distributor for Toro until it was sold in 1994.

Rotarians Earl Knauss and Tom Johnston presented Navy veteran Wilson with a pin and an authentic brass Navy Captain’s bell, which Knauss plans to install in the former captain’s home. Knauss, Johnston and Wilson regaled those in attendance in a lively story about an early Rotary project in which the club raised money for a local widow to purchase a cow to replace one that had died, leaving the family in need. Wilson also led the effort on projects including raising funds for the driver education program at Hamburg High School in the 1960s, for park benches in the Village of Hamburg and has assisted in numerous efforts throughout the years.

Wilson said his proudest moment as a Rotarian was that knowing that when he was president of the club, its membership swelled beyond 80. Today, most service clubs struggle to maintain and grow membership. Hamburg’s current enrollment is at 34, but the lower membership can be partially attributed to the club’s creation of a morning club in the 1990s, where some of the members transferred to.

Eaton recalls fondly the Rotary Club’s active participation in getting the word out when seatbelts first became mandatory in motor vehicles in the 1970s. Members distributed “Buckle Up” stickers that could be applied to the dashboard as a reminder for the new law.

Club member Dr. Sid Jack made a humorous presentation on Eaton’s history with the club and lauded his record of service. “He generously gives Rotary his time and his money,” he said, noting that over the years, Eaton has supported the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department as both a volunteer firefighter and in leading Rotary support for projects to purchase necessary equipment for the department. Eaton’s father, W. Kenneth Eaton, was a charter member of the club founded in 1942 in Hamburg. “Forty-five years and going strong!” replied Eaton when asked how long he has been a member of the Hamburg Fire Department.

Besides the changeover of the new president with Stanley’s new term which runs from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, other new officers are: Maria Guizzotti, president-elect, 2015-16; and Donna Banach, secretary. Eloise Zoyhofsky will retain the office of treasurer and Cindy Taylor is assistant treasurer. Paul Harris, a Chicago business owner established Rotary in that city in 1905 and today Rotary clubs provide service throughout the United States and internationally. Rotary District 7090 encompasses Western New York and Southern Ontario. Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self.”