Author Archives: Paul Riehemann

Hello, Goodbye

I am pressing to depart for Summerfest, so briefly:

We had a great year and accomplished significant objectives.

We had meaningful fellowship.

I survived the roast.

My last post is to share a dense one-pager reporting on the year.   Add or amend and happy 4th.Rotary Club of Madison 2010 11 Summary

Service above self, Juli

reflections on “busted” as well as a report

Last night, I cochaired the Access Community Health Center Dinner with fellow Rotarian Brad Hutter and former Rotarian Jeanan Yasiri.  At the end of the night, I had a napkin full of pin/no pin notes (more on that below) and realized that there is something more important:  Actually talking with people.

Whether or not Rotarians had on their pins became the topic of conversation and at the end of the night, I felt the absence of more meaningful exchanges.  I feel like I have created a parable about elevating a symbol to importance and through that learning the importance of what it stands for: friendship and fellowship.

That said, we did have some fun and we are about to have some more.

Since “busted” started, we had a trial run on election night.  I was just back from vacation and not in Presidential mode or prepared to record names but I did learn some valuable lessons: Not everyone has read the rules.  Frank Byrne and I were both in casual clothes (i.e. not acceptable at the Madison Club) and not wearing pins.  We were not fineable. If you are not wearing a pin and if you ask me if enough Rotarians are present to earn a make up, there should be a whole new class of fine for you.  If you are wearing a different pin, it doesn’t count.

I am too busy during our weekly meeting to play “busted,” but I understand pin sales have been swift at the button box.

Otherwise, here is my report for April thus far:

4/15 @ the new Union South.  Dawn Crim=busted. (Dawn: no pin + me: pin = $1 to MRF).

4/19 @ YMCA HQ. Carrie Wall=busted. Me=busted. (Carrie: no pin + me: no pin = $2 or a buck each).

4/27 @ UW Hospital. Larry Zanoni= not busted! We were both wearing our pins!

4/28 @ ACHC dinner:

No pin: Brian Fick, Mark Moody, Kevin Huddleston (pin he was wearning did not count), Kathryne McGowan, Virginia Henderson (I know, how can I fine Virginia), Susan Phillips, Cheryl DeMars, Suresh Chandra, Katharyn May, and Joan Collins. Several of the women listed were wearing jackets, esp Joan, that one would not stick a pin into.  That is sad.  I am sorry.  Joan’s story about wearing her Rotary bike shirt in line in Florida and meeting a fellow Rotarian doesn’t count but it’s a great story.  That is a whopping $10 to the MRF.

Certain people I just didn’t quite remember such as one who has bought four pins recently and reported the latest, a magnetic one, attached itself to her curling iron.

Pins on:

Perry Henderson (of course), Steve Goldberg (of course and extra credit for bringing pin for Rich Lynch to another event last week to save him a fine), George Nelson, Brad Hutter, Larry Zanoni and me!

Because I am a wise and just President, I will pay the $10 in fines for those at the ACHC dinner to say “thank you for coming even though you weren’t wearing your pin.” Also I have some mercy for our sgt at arms.  I however will dispatch Ann after Dawn and Carrie.

Tomorrow is Rotarians at Work Day and I dearly hope I can find my fluorescent yellow shirt from last year as that is far more effective than a pin.  Even if under a fleece (Rotary of course).

Irving Levy

One of the prices of being President has been being extracted from my beloved breakfast table companionship which has always included Marv Levy.  I have known Marv, Jeff and Phil in different ways over the years and today it took me a long time to sign cards from the club to them about the loss of their father, our member, Irving.

I did not know Irving.  Today I learned he was our member with the second-longest tenure, joining in 1963.  I just read his obituary (below) which poignantly reminded me of why we should make an effort to get to know each other, sit with new people, and just introduce ourselves in the valet line.

So I grieve for this family, especially during Passover.  But I am mindful of the legacy that softens that grief.  How rich a legacy described of service, business success, and family.  To cry for someone you didn’t know because of what their life stood for and seeing their legacy firsthand, well, that is something most of us can only wish for.

Of course, I grieve for the family and my friends in it too.  Is it really possible to feel a loss that is not your own?  I don’t know.  But whether through empathy or personal experience, we have lost a great one of our own.  The Levy Scholarship at this moment becomes such a tangible way to keep this in front of us for the “forever” of our club.  Imbuing this family’s spirit and generosity in young people is the rainbow at the end of the storm (to paraphrase badly Dolly Parton re today’s birthday quote).


Obituary for Irving E. Levy


Irving E. Levy

Irving E. Levy, age 95, retired President of Phillips Distributing Corporation, died on Sunday, April 17, 2011, after sustaining injuries in an accidental fall. A longtime Madison resident, he was born to Philip and Rebecca (Epstein) Levy on September 6, 1915, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Irving attended the University of Minnesota and Princeton. He was united in marriage to Dorothy Barvin on May 14, 1941.

During World War II, he served in the South Pacific as a Captain in the U. S. Army. Returning to Wisconsin after the War, he became an executive officer of Ed. Phillips and Sons Co. in La Crosse, Wisconsin. In 1961, he moved his family to Madison after purchasing Phillips Distributing Corporation. The firm operated the Phillips Home Specialty stores in the Madison area for many years. Phillips Distributing Corporation has distributed liquor and wine in southern and western Wisconsin since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.

He was a loving husband and father, who enjoyed supporting his family and encouraging his sons to live accomplished lives. He helped found and was President of the Jewish Synagogue in La Crosse. In Madison, he was a director of the Madison Jewish Community Council and Temple Beth El. He was also chairman of the Methodist Retirement Center Board, now Capital Lakes, where he lived and served on the residents’ foundation board. He and his beloved wife, Dorothy, also enjoyed golfing together at their winter home in Rancho Mirage, California. The charitable activities of the Irving and Dorothy Levy Family Foundation held a very special place in his heart. In 2010, the Levy family along with the Foundation was honored with the Tocqueville Society Award by United Way of Dane County.

He established a named scholarship fund within the Downtown Madison Rotary that currently helps support four Madison area students throughout their undergraduate careers. He also provided significant fund support to Beth Israel Center, UW Hillel Student Center, Madison Chabad House, Jewish Social Services and the Madison Jewish Community Council. He also gave support to the Meriter Foundation and the American Family Children’s Hospital. He was a Benefactor of the Mayo Clinic.

He is survived by his three sons, Phillip, Marvin and Jeffrey. He was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Dorothy; and an infant son, Marc.

The family wishes to thank the entire staff of the Meriter Hospital ICU for the care they gave Irving on the last day of his life.

Visitation will begin at 3:30 pm, with the funeral service at 4 p.m., on Thursday, April 21, 2011, at the CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison. Burial will be in Forest Hill Cemetery. A celebration of Irving’s life will be held at Nakoma Golf Club, 4145 Country Club Road, Madison, from 6 until 8 pm. Memorials may be made to the United Way of Dane County Foundation, or the Levy Family Scholarship Fund of the Downtown Madison Rotary.


Wednesday, I rather spontaneously (“rather” referring to running past Pat first and gaining her encouragement) announced the “busted” challenge.

I was in a big hurry to get to the debate so am recounting the details in my dead and neglected blog – but these things are related.

Every week, I get a script with a wonderful assortment of members in the news items, and while we see them in the newsletter and on screen, it’s unfortunate to me that we don’t get a chance to share them live on Wednesdays and celebrate each others’ successes, newsworthy adventures, and wearing/not wearing of the Rotary pin.  We all want to get to our speakers and so this stuff ends up on the cutting room floor most weeks.

So I thought the blog might reawaken as a way to address that AND be a venue to have some fun for the last quarter of my term.

I’ve really been taken by surprise at the apparent fun many of you are having with the whole fining business over the wearing of the pin.  I stole this from a past president or two and am uncertain how it’s taken on a life of its own but all I know is that I cannot leave my house without running into a Rotarian and I cannot run into a Rotarian without a comment about pin wearing – not to mention the many emails and photos I get about “I was wearing my pin – SEE!”

What finally inspired me to launch the game of “busted” was the photo you see attached to this post.  Walking into Bonfyre last Wednesday (in fairness after changing out of business attire and attending a casual event), I ran into Brad Hutter walking out.  Brad naturally (1) put on my name tag which I was still sporting (classy!) and (2) had his pin on.

In short:  Busted.

So, I will kick this off retroactively by fining myself $5 for the double-whammy:  Me = no pin.  Brad = pin.  Brad wearing my nametag I am not entirely sure what to do about so we will just leave that alone.

Here are the rules to “Busted”:

  • You encounter me out and about in business casual or business attire (i.e. not lawn-mowing outfit or evening gown) and I am not wearing a Rotary pin and I fine myself $1.
  • I encounter you under same circumstances and I fine you $1.
  • If you are wearing your pin and I am not wearing mine, I am fined $5.

Why this will work:  As many of you have noticed, I usually wear my pin on Wednesday.  This requires me to know where it is and apply it to my clothing.  This is a lot of effort but since I’m generally mindful of presiding over the meeting, I seem to catch on most mornings.

My big confession:  I think I’ve shared before that I pretty much always thought we are supposed to wear our pins on Wednesday when we meet. Did I think I wouldn’t be let in without a pin?  I don’t know.  However, the convention is to wear our pins whenever we want to in order to subtly remind ourselves of our Rotarian values and connect with others.  And to give ourselves one more thing to do before taking suits to the drycleaner.

So we’ll see how this goes, if it’s fun, and if we net some green for the good work of our Madison Rotary Foundation in the process – and if not, if we net some good for ourselves by using the pin to remind ourselves that we are Rotarians and all the good that stands for.

Giving before being asked

Dear fellow Rotarians,

At our board meeting the first Monday in October, Susan Schmitz, our fund drive leader this year, made her presentation about her plan for this year.  Directors and officers received at our places the donation card as an informational item.

We talked about the campaign, I made mention it would be good if we all donated at 100 percent as a board, and we moved on to other business.

Now Susan is a dynamic chair and your president is a passionate fundraiser but. . ..

I worked out a letter to the board and ok I’ve been sick and it took me a while but less than 10 days maybe and when Pat got it she said “don’t be surprised if you don’t see letters for some people.”

BECAUSE AS IT TURNS OUT 7/19 (or 36 some percent returned their donation as a result of a HAND OUT at a board meeting). I was stunned. Thank you.

I would like to think that I am an enlightened donor but I am not in that number.

Leadership is giving without being asked.  Service is giving without being asked.

I can assure you the club needs you.  I can assure myself if you are reading this you are already giving in some way.  My question to us all is what can/should/we would enjoy doing without being asked specifically.

Take it personally and see what you come up with.  It comes from the heart.  Seek that a bit.

Ok, yes and send your check :).  I will send mine.

Yours in giving, Juli

Rotaract or I can still pass as an undergraduate

Dear fellow Rotarians,

I have discovered the blog format and me are not natural friends.  So I will work at posts that suit me and are more frequent. I’m generally more “on to the next thing” than writing you a reflective post of some kind.

However, tonight I was invited to the UW-Madison kick off Rotaract meeting.  Present from the club were Dan Larson, Mary Rouse, Maggie Peterman, Rob Stroud, and Tom Popp — and a full house of undergrads!

My job was to tell them about our club and Rotary.  Which I did.

What was really cool, to use my out-dated undergrad parlance, was that I sat in between two freshman.  One’s mom is a Rotarian and she went to Brazil as a RYE student. The other knew about Rotary from Interact in high school.  Both found out about the meeting at the student organization fair and came to the meeting without knowing anyone.  They both live in the southeast dorms.

I was just very impressed that so many students turned out to learn about Rotaract and that the leadership of the club was very well organized, ran a good meeting, served my favorite Ian’s pizza and did a great job of stressing the mix of Rotary values we all love — fellowship, service, food. . . there was a real emphasis on international and multicultural interests which is a good lesson for the rest of us.

We could eat more pizza and they could consider singing.

Also in the understatement of the year department, I asked those from our club what else to add on international and Tom Popp in one sentence said something like “I just returned from a trip to Malawi.”  We need to hear more about Tom’s trip but that’s another subject.

Tonight was just extremely encouraging and fun and a great reminder that we should all take advantage of getting to know our Rotaract colleagues.  And thanks to our fellow Rotarians for their help and mentoring of our two clubs.