Celebrating 100 Years: A Look Back in Club’s History – Manfred Swarsensky

Rotary Club of Madison-Centennial LogoAs part of our celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Rotary Club of Madison, Jerry Thain and Rich Leffler are publishing original documents from the Club’s archives and other sources. We hope that these documents will recall for you the rich history of the Club and the times during this momentous century.

This week, Rich Leffler provides the following history piece:

On Wednesday, November 14, we honored Melanie Ramey with the Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award. The Rabbi was for many years a beloved member of the Club, and his many ways of service to the Club and beyond were well understood. His death in 1981 was eulogized in The Rotary News on November 11, 1981. The eulogist was a giant figure in Madison himself, The Reverend Robert Borgwardt, Senior Pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church.

It was our intention just to quote excerpts from Rev. Borgwardt’s eulogy, but after reading it again carefully, we were struck at how brilliant it is as prose, or perhaps it is more appropriate to refer to it as poetry. But read it for yourself as a remembrance of the Rabbi by a heartbroken colleague.

Following the Rev. Borgwardt’s eulogy, you will find another surprising piece. It dates from November 14, 1967. It is the full text of Rabbi Swarsensky’s Thanksgiving Address at Rotary. Virtually the entire Rotary News was devoted to the Rabbi’s remarks, something very unusual. And the reason this was done is almost certainly that what the Rabbi had to say is timeless, in the sense that what he said forty-five years ago still resonates in us today.

We wish you a happy Thanksgiving holiday. And we congratulate Melanie for a career that well deserves an award that commemorates Manfred Swarsensky.

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