Category Archives: 8. Honors

Jim Christensen Receives Community Service Award

–presented by Joyce Bromley on February 22, 2023

From left: Joyce Bromley, Jim Christensen and Club President Paul Hoffmann

The Member Recognition Committee was established by our Board of Directors to annually recommend members who have exhibited outstanding service in one of Rotary’s Five Avenues of Service: Service to our Club; Service to the Community; Service to the international community; to vocational service; and to youth service.

On behalf of the Rotary Club of Madison, I am honored to announce that Jim Christensen has been selected to receive the Community Service Award.

In the 30 years that Jim has been a member of our club, he has served us well in a variety of ways.

He has served on our club’s board of directors, has been a mentor to several Rotary Scholars, has been a regular volunteer at our annual Ethics Symposium, and he currently chairs our Member Retention Committee.   

We see him at work within our Club and on behalf of our club in the community. He has been involved over the longest period of time with the Community Projects Committee, where he has served as its chair and regularly volunteers in its group activities within the community.  He helps organize and contributes to our holiday gift project for children in need.  He has organized and participated in a number of tree planting projects at area schools. 

Additionally, he volunteered at Ironman, at Habitat for Humanity, and the picnic we held at Concerts on the Square for One City School students.  Jim is a champion in helping our Rotary Club make a difference in our community.

For Jim’s continual service over 30 years, our Club has made a $200 gift in his name to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International for his Community Service.

Thank you, Jim!

Nelson Cummings Receives Joseph G. Werner Meritorious Service Award

Introduced by Renee Moe on October 20, 2021

Nelson Cummings pictured here with Renee Moe (left) and Club President Teresa Holmes (right)

Our club’s Joseph G. Werner Meritorious Service Award is granted in recognition of outstanding club service in the Rotary tradition of “Service Above Self.”  Joseph G. Werner was a committed Rotarian.  He chaired many significant committees, both before and after serving as club president in 1953-54.  He served as district governor and became the second member of this club to serve as director of Rotary International.  He later served Rotary International in many other positions.  Following his death, in 1974, the club established the Joseph G. Werner Meritorious Service Award as the club’s highest recognition for club service.  The Werner honor is not an annual event, but is given under special circumstances when warranted.

Today we are going to recognize Nelson Cummings, a valued member that we all adore, with this prestigious award.  We are pleased that his four sons and other family members are in the audience today as we recognize Nelson.

Nelson was born in Springfield, Illinois on August 18, 1934.  He received an A.B. Degree from Texas College and holds a Master’s Degree from St. Francis College. 

He came to Madison in 1968 to become the first Director of the Madison Urban League.  He later became a counselor at Beloit School System and worked for Madison Public Schools and Wisconsin Education Association.

Within the community, Nelson has served on the boards of Catholic Charities, Dane County Mental Health Center, Madison Hospital Foundation and Four Lakes Council of the Boy Scouts.  He also was a member of the Madison Redevelopment Authority for 10 years.

In 1969, Nelson was the first African American to join our Rotary Club.  He maintained 100% attendance starting in 1973 until the pandemic caused us to stop holding in-person meetings last year.  In fact, Nelson holds the third longest record of 100% attendance in our club, and he has enjoyed seeing 52 club presidents up here at our podium.

He was on our club’s bowling team and led the Civic Bowling League for 40 years.  He bowled every year until he retired.  Nelson says that even though it was sometimes lonely because others in the league did not look like him, he was accepted and enjoyed the company of so many Rotarians.  He says “I love Rotary!  You meet so many fine people you would not otherwise meet.  I come to meetings because I enjoy it. It has broadened my opportunities, and it is educational.”  He takes Rotary’s Four-Way Test to heart, and he is especially proud of the scholarship program and the many students we are able to assist each year in obtaining a college education. Nelson says the greatest Rotary event he recalls is when women were allowed to join in 1987.  Nelson has been a long-time volunteer of our annual Rotary Ethics Symposium, and he loves greeting the students and helping them feel welcome at our event.  Nelson has also served on our Club Board of Directors. 

Nelson is a pillar of our Rotary Club.  He is always a friendly face in our audience, and he makes everyone he meets feel welcomed.  We enjoy his company, and the recognition we are providing to him today is so well deserved.

It gives me great pleasure to recognize Nelson Cummings as our 30th recipient of the Rotary Club of Madison Joseph G Werner Meritorious Service Award.   Congratulations, Nelson!

Nelson Cummings pictured here with his four sons.

Robyn Kitson Receives Rotary Club of Madison Youth Service Award

Presented by Deb Archer on Feb. 4, 2015; photo by Karl Wellensiek

Kitson AwardEach year, our club recognizes six members for their service to our Rotary Club in one of the five avenues of service which are club, community, international, vocational or youth services.  Today, I am pleased to introduce you to one of our Rotary Club of Madison 2015 Youth Service Award recipients.

Robyn Kitson (pictured here with Club President Tim Stadelman)  is Director of Marketing and Communications for the Wisconsin Historical Society and is married to fellow Rotarian Stan Kitson.  She joined our Rotary Club in 2009 and became very active in committees from the start.  She has chaired our International Grant Review process, co-chaired the 2013 Rotary District Conference, and she is currently on our board of directors.  In addition, and what I’d like to focus on today, is her service to our club in the youth service area.  Robyn has served on our Ethics Symposium Committee and chaired last year’s event.  In that role, she spent countless hours in organizing the breakout sessions.  She also designed a workbook for the student participants that they could take with them and continue to use after our event, and she is helping to update that booklet that will be used by this year’s participants in just a few weeks.  Robyn is a member of our Foundation Scholarship Committee.  This is another committee that involves extensive volunteer hours.  She reads through lengthy applications each year, is involved in the personal interviews of each of the applicants and the selection of recipients, and she is part of the planning of the annual scholarship luncheon.  Robyn also co-chairs our Scholar Mentor Committee along with Ellie Schatz.

For her extensive volunteer service in helping us with the success of our club’s youth activities, our Club Board of Directors has named Robyn as one of our Rotary Club of Madison Youth Service Award recipients.

Thank you for your continuing service, Robyn.

As is our club’s tradition, President Tim present Robyn with a special certificate and a pin, and our Club also made a $200 gift in her name to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

Melanie Ramey Receives Joseph G. Werner Meritorious Service Award

–presented by Carol Toussaint, June 4, 2014


Club President Renee Moe (left) pictured here with Melanie Ramey

Club President Renee Moe (left) pictured here with Melanie Ramey

The 2014 Joseph G. Werner Meritorious Service Award is presented to Melanie Ramey for her extensive service to Rotary.

Joining the club in 1991, Melanie immediately signed on for committees, especially those that called for a tireless volunteer.   She brought humor and hard work to every task and seemed always ready for the next assignment.  She became a Rotary News reporter, managed the Sergeant at Arms position and was elected to the board of directors, then vice-president, president in 1998-99, followed by more service on the board of the Madison Rotary Foundation.  Her Rotary reach extended to leading the Ethics Symposium Committee and helping organize the first Ethics Symposium for high school students.  She is a mentor for Rotary scholars, an advocate for UW and Edgewood College students in Rotaract, helped secure funding from Rotary International Foundation to launch CECADE, the club’s signature international project, is active on the Orientation, Visitor Hospitality, Member Development Committees, and on and on.

There is also something special about Melanie and money.  There was a club auction held in 1994 to raise funds for community grants and youth awards.  President Alan Orenberg used words such as brash, forceful, persuasive to describe her auctioneering style, but he also praised Melanie for the $8000 added to the fund.  In 1998 at the start of her term as president, she inaugurated the system to pay forward on your birthday with the suggestion that each celebrant make a gift of one dollar for each year of age, rounded up to 100.  Succeeding presidents have not wanted to tamper with a sound money scheme and to date Melanie’s presidential year idea has averaged over $26,000 a year for a 15-year total of $402,021 to the Foundation from the birthday “tax”.

The Werner Award Committee also takes into consideration an individual’s work for community causes whether as a volunteer or professional.  In 2010, Melanie was nominated by our club and was selected by the Madison Area Service Club Council to receive the Ruth Gordon Service Award.  This award is given to honor an individual who, over time, has exemplified the concept of volunteer service for the betterment of the community.

In 2012, the club honored Melanie with the Manfred Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award and detailed many of her selfless acts in support of others.  Individuals and organizations needing an advocate seem to find Melanie or perhaps she finds them.  Those living in poverty, those in prison or any who are denied rights as citizens have seen that same forceful, persuasive, might I add, brash and effective style, put to work on their behalf.

In November 1974, nearly 40 years ago, club president Ted Long presented the first Werner award.  He told the club that the intention is not to provide a reward or incentive for Club efforts, but rather to maintain examples of the Rotary tradition of “Service above Self”.  It was a special moment for Ted.  Joe Werner had been his mentor at the law firm and his sponsor for Rotary membership.

Congratulations Melanie!

Congratulations Melanie!

It is also a special moment for me to congratulate a friend who becomes the 29th member of this club to receive the Joseph Werner award.  Melanie Ramey.

History of Joseph G. Werner Meritorious Service Award: In 1974, our club established the Joseph G. Werner Meritorious Service award as the club’s highest recognition for club service.  This award is granted by our Rotary Club in recognition of outstanding club service in the Rotary tradition of “Service Above Self.”  Joseph Werner was a committed Rotarian.  He chaired many significant committees, both before and after serving as club president in 1953-54.  He served as a district governor in 1958-59 and became the second member of this club to serve as director of Rotary International in 1969-71.  He later served Rotary International in many other positions, and two different RI Directors indicated that Joe was in line for president of Rotary International at the time of his death from cancer in 1973.  Joe was a truly committed Rotarian whose example of “Service Above Self” is memorialized in this award.

Club Member Perry Henderson Receives RI Avenues of Service Citation

–Introduced by Mary Rouse on February 26, 2014

Perry Henderson Award

Club President Renee Moe pictured with Perry Henderson

Each year, our club selects one member to be recognized with Rotary International’s Avenues of Service Citation.  Recipients are selected for their volunteer efforts carried out within all five avenues of service which are club, community, international, youth and vocational service.  I am pleased to introduce Perry Henderson as this year’s recipient. Here is some background on him and his impressive Rotary service.

Perry Henderson joined Rotary in 1981 and has maintained 100% attendance since 1984.  That means he marks 30 years of perfect attendance this year!  He has served on a variety of club committees, including the Orientation and Classification Committees. He has been involved in planning our annual Rotary Ethics Symposium, and has assisted with our club’s Strategic Planning process. Not only was he our president from 1997-98, but also has served on our Club Board of Directors.  His service goes way beyond our Club through district committees and events for the past 15 years. And, I think he likes titles because he became Governor Perry of Rotary District 6250 in 2002-03. However, behind any title he holds, you can always know there is great substance and hard work.

District Governor Perry Henderson (center) pictured with Rotary Youth Exchange Students during 2002-03 Rotary year.

District Governor Perry Henderson (center) pictured with Rotary Youth Exchange Students during 2002-03 Rotary year.

Perry and his wife, Virginia, who is also an active and outstanding member of our club, have established a scholarship fund within our Madison Rotary Foundation to provide college scholarship assistance to graduating seniors in the Madison area who have financial need.  They have also been generous supporters of The Rotary International Foundation.  Perry and Virginia stepped forward in 2006 to provide a $10,000 matching grant to encourage member gifts to the Polio Eradication Campaign effort.

Perry and Virginia Henderson pictured here during our club's centennial celebration at the Capitol Theatre in February 2013

Perry and Virginia Henderson pictured here during our club’s centennial celebration at the Capitol Theatre in February 2013

Perry and Virginia have been recognized with our club’s Senior Service Award.  Perry has received our club’s Joseph G. Werner Meritorious Service Award.  Today, we are pleased to add another award category to Perry’s Rotary resume – the Rotary International Avenues of Service Citation.

Let me also remind you that Dr. Henderson was an outstanding faculty member in our UW-Madison Medical School who specialized in obstetrics and gynecology with special emphasis on high risk pregnancies and premature infants His practice and research has contributed to advancing this field.  And, in case you did not know, he has musical talent as a singer and piano player. He knows how to have a good time.

Perry Henderson RI Service Award 2

President Renee Moe presents Perry with the Rotary International Avenues of Services Citation

Perry, you are a beloved member of our community and admired by all. You live the Rotary motto of Service Above Self, and we are pleased to recognize you with this year’s Rotary International Avenues of Service Citation.  Congratulations!

Rotary District 6250 Annual Conference

Rotary District 6250 Annual Conference, June 8th & 9th in LaCrosse, WI

June 13, 2012 //
Submitted by Jacqui Sakowski
When I accepted President Paul’s invitation to car-pool to LaCrosse the environmentalist in me leapt at the chance.  I learned so much about Paul’s life – his family, his aspirations for the future, his perspective on Rotary as he approaches the passing of the pin. What a bonus!

We arrived for the Business Meeting where we got to vote on the budget and other operational issues, before attending a very fun and inspiring lunch. We were addressed by a remarkable woman – Rotary International’s first female corporate officer and cancer sufferer, who was clearly in poor health, but spoke with confidence, energy and passion about the origins of the Four Way Test.  She was to address us 4 more times before the conference ended. A display of resilience that we were all proud to witness!

Afternoon presentations on The Holocaust, the plight of children around the world and programs that help youth adopt and live by life-enhancing values made for a very informative and fast-paced afternoon. Inbound RYE students shared cultural insights about their country before supper. Our first Oktoberfest in June, was colorful and celebratory, as you can see …

It’s June 8th it must be Oktoberfeste!

Lots of connecting and re-connecting over dinner, made for lively breakfast meetings the next morning. After you dined with a District Governor clad in leiderhosen, it’s hard to stand on ceremony ever again! We celebrated gifts to the RI Foundation, and were in awe of the impact of RI dollars, and the creativity of clubs around the district who had doubled and quadrupled funds by leveraging Rotary and non-Rotary grants to expand their reach.

Mary Kessen shares the RI Foundation update.

Jerry Mcnellis tells us why Polio is one of the gifts of his life.

Rotary Club of Madison’s Honored Hero, Nelson Cummings

At lunch on Saturday we honored Rotarian’s, selected by their own clubs as Heroes. Here Nelson Cummings is greeted by Emily, a very bright RYE student who presented him with a certificate.

The afternoon flew by with programs on wellness, Rotaract, Interact and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards – the future of Rotary and the world seems to be in great hands if the young people who addressed us are the measure.

The faces of Rotary’s future. Pauline, Charlotte and Emy.

At dinner John Hewko and Betsy Demaray spoke about the importance of documenting Rotary’s true impact in the world, before the conference concluded with the (slightly early) installation of Rob Stroud as 2012-2013 District Governor.

Rob took the pin and then the stage, from where he invited Rotarian’s to assemble in Madison on May 31st and June 1st next year to celebrate 100 years of Rotary Service and Fellowship in WI, at Monona Terrace.

Paul and I headed out of LaCrosse at about 9;15 p.m. As we compared experiences on the journey home we realized that we each had new friends, new appreciation for the works and opportunities of Rotary, and an invigorated Rotary spirit to bring to our best efforts in the coming months.  I am already excited for next year!