Tag Archives: Rotarians

Rotarians Share in St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Fresco on March 17 2014

–submitted by Wendy Wink; photos and video by Mike McKay

Two of the most Irish Ladies: Valerie Kazamias and Wendy Wink

Two of the most Irish Ladies: Valerie Kazamias and Wendy Wink

Sure ‘n begorrah (shure-en-bah-gora), honorary Irishwomen and Irishmen – Downtown Rotarians all – pledged their fealty to “service above self” at the March 17 Rotary Culinary Arts fete at Fresco’s.  St. Patty’s Day couldn’t ‘a been finer.  Tellin’ tales galore, no one gave a thought to countries of origin other than that green land ‘o ours.  ‘Twas a grand eve ta be alive, Irish (or a fibbin’ facsimile), and a member of The Fellowship O’ the Culinartarian.

Fibbing is acceptable on St. Patrick’s Day; di’ ya’ know that?  If truth be told (and it was, sometimes, at least), there could never have been a finer meal in all of this green (snow-laden, though it be) land.  Suspend one part ‘o the four-way test – Is it the Truth?  Sure ‘n the rest outweigh that ‘n for a few hours of joviality– fair to all, build goodwill and better friendships, beneficial to all—practiced to the finest extent by this little band of Fellows, the Fellowship of the Culinartarian,  17 o’ us on the 17th, that’s the truth, told by all in attendance and every leprechaun in the land, or at least those on State Street.

Cathy O'Durham

Cathy O’Durham

Launched by those leprechauns, Cathy O’ Durham and Valerie
O’ Kazamias
, the Fellowship O’ the Culinartarian joined hands and sang “When Irish Eyes are Shining”.  (No, actually, we didn’t, but we could have if asked.  What really happened was truth tellin’ over cocktails of either Champagne or a delicious wine blend and hors d’oeuvres of tender flank steak rolls covering fresh arugula and globe-shaped green risotto cakes covered with crispy bacon strips sitting on a mound of creamy Ireland.  Yes, Ireland.)

All the Fellowship (or, almost all) wore colorful bowler hats, some green, some shamrock-covered and were seated, followed by a stirring welcome from O’ Durham and her introduction of Chef John, a tall, smiling fellow, recognizable because he was the only soul not wearing green.  He was charming, explaining his approach to the meal and the feast awaiting Culinartarians.  He admitted he loved the challenge – a traditional meal, but not.  He accomplished a marvel.

The feast and festivities launched with three songs from Steve O’ Goldberg, the resident Culinartarian troubadour (say that a couple of times over a wine cocktail).  So glorious was his voice, no Irish pipe nor drums were needed.  Our bard, 20 years a’singin’ in Irish pubs with fellows, O’ Goldberg leapt onto a chair (yes, he did) to regale the Fellowship with the tale of the rationale for Irish tunes – three categories be they: nonsense, drinking, and rebel.  We were in for all three!  The titles of the songs were never given, but the gist of them was: “Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder”, “Irish Jubilee and Cassidy” (we were delighted we were in for less than the full 25 verses), and “Johnson’s Motor Car”.  More later.

This video doesn’t exist

The Culinartarians were served by sweet, lively, and fully-green hatted wait staff, pleasant and delighted, also, that there were less than 25 verses, commenting on O’ Goldberg’s superb voice, memory and rendition.


“And so,” you say, “how was the food and drink?”  Absolutely out of this Ol’ Irish world.  Beginning with an amuse bouche (yes, even the French are Irish on St. Patrick’s Day) that was a superb, creamy veloute of potato soup topped with what Chef John described as a “potato chip”, but really was a lovely floating, crispy topping to the soup.  Apparently, Irish are allowed to lick their soup cup because many among the Fellowship were caught tongues a’lickin’.

“And a salad?” you say.  Well, what a salad.  Some called this far more than a salad.  Sitting atop a grassy island (you knew I’d write this) of mixed greens delicately touched by sherry vinaigrette were scotch eggs (even the Scots are Irish on St. Patrick’s Day).  And, oh my, were those eggs out of this Irish world!  How the heck Chef John managed to cover eggs with shaved pork butt that tasted like superior sausage, cook the whole item, then slice them in half and place them onto the greens, is beyond us.  Of course, we were swooning and awing and drooling and downing these luscious items.  Served with the scotch eggs was an Adami Prosecco, bubbling away in Champaign glasses.  We said we might not have needed more, but more came to us, and more we ate, and laughed, and cheered.

The entree was thick slices of corned beef that had been roasted (yes, roasted and, yes, even the Corned are Irish on St. Patrick’s Day) beautifully hung over (cute, eh?) colcannon (potatoes mashed with roasted Brussels sprouts), a side of roasted carrots, and “house made 1000 island dressing” that doesn’t come close to describing the horseradish glory of this dipping sauce.  Some (moi) ate the whole thing; some took a bit home for the wee ones.  Accompanying this incredible main meal was a delicate Timbach pinot blanc.

“And, dessert?” you say.  Well, how can a tale-teller describe this?  Called a “Guinness chocolate cake” as stated on the menu simply does not do justice to this sculpture and taste extravaganza.  Follow me, if you dare: it looked like a slightly singed dahlia – a beautiful flower, with meringue petals lightly touched by flame to caramelize the peaks, under which was mint iced cream and a wafer of Guinness chocolate cake.  This had seated, at its side, a truly glorious (and lickable, if you dared) Irish whiskey caramel sauce.  Some Culinartarians asked for seconds.  Ask and ye shall receive replied the green-hatted wait staff.  A perfect port, Graham’s Six Grapes, was served to accompany this astonishing dessert.


But, there were two endings to draw the evening to a close: O’ Durham thanked the Fellowship of the Culinartarians, paying special tribute to the Fellowship for their joviality and to spouses and friends for their patience.  This was followed by… O’ Goldberg, who rose, literally to the top of a chair to sing us through to the end of the evening.  The last songs: “How did Ireland get its name?” (or something like that) and, as O’ Goldberg fibbed to the audience of happy Culinartarians, the “Only Irish Love Song” which started more like a wife-murder and ended happily.

This tale does not include the claim, so certain, that St. Patrick was Greek Orthodox and that St. Patrick’s Day started blue, not green, becoming green as it passed across the seas.  “Is it the truth?”  Only the Irish know.  And they know, all great evenings end happily with shamrocks, blarney, and joy.  Many, many thanks to O’ Kazamias, O’ Durham, Chef John, his crew, and our evening’s bard, O’ Goldberg.

New Member Coffee Event October 3 at Madison Club

–submitted by Patty Struck

On Thursday morning some 25 new and longstanding Downtown Rotarians met over breakfast at the Madison Club for the first of this Rotary year’s new member events. Jason Beren chaired the event and briefed the group on the schedule for the remainder of the year’s new member events, including Rotary Bingo in Spring of 2014.

After inviting members to introduce themselves and summarize their Rotary involvement, Jason introduced the leaders of three initiatives to talk about service opportunities.

Sorensen_ScotScot Sorensen: Community Projects Scot told us about October’s collaboration with Lions on eyeglass collection; Salvation Army bell ringing and our Giving Tree around the holidays; Tri-Quest volunteer opportunities; and Summerpalooza. He explained how the committee chooses projects by thinking strategically about where service gaps exist in our community.

McGrath_MichelleMichelle McGrath: Youth Exchange
Michelle told us about the Youth Exchange program and about our current Rotary Youth Exchange Student, Kanon Ando from Japan. She stressed the ongoing need for host families and reminded us that Kanon’s experience will be enriched by Rotarians including her in plans such as sports events and field trips.

Larson_DanielDan Larson: Rotaract
Dan told us about the large Rotaract footprint around the world and then described our existing Rotaract chapters at UW and Edgewood. The committee is considering adding a chapter at Madison College. The Rotaract Advisory Committee supports the chapters by helping identify speakers, field trips and community service opportunities. We had a chance to hear from representatives of both chapters talk about their service activities.

It was a great way to kickstart the day! We finished up at 8:30.

Celebrating 100 Years: A Look Back in Our Club’s History: Happy Birthday to Us!

Rotary Club of Madison-Centennial LogoAs we celebrate our 100th anniversary, our History Sub-Committee is taking a look back in our club’s rich history and is sharing highlights from the past century.  This week’s message is shared by committee member Rich Leffler:

Founders Photo

From left: John McKenna, C.R. (Rex) Welton, Art Schulkamp and Bob Nickles

These days 100 years ago were momentous for the Rotary Club of Madison. As you all know, the first meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a Rotary Club here was held on March 13, when Bob Nickles invited three fellow businessmen to have lunch at the Elk’s Club. In addition to Nickles, those in attendance were John C. McKenna, Art Schulkamp and C. R. (Rex) Welton.

On March 20, ten men met and probably discussed a letter and some Rotary literature that Nickles had received from Chesley Perry, secretary of the International Association of Rotary Clubs in Chicago, that explained what Rotary was all about. The group apparently was interested, and they decided to form a “temporary organization,” anticipating that they would affiliate with the IARC. They also elected McKenna as “acting chairman” and Welton as “acting secretary.”

On April 3, nineteen members of the Rotary Club of Madison met at the old Madison Club, adopted a constitution and bylaws, and voted unanimously to affiliate with the IARC. They then elected their first officers, including as president, John C. McKenna, who appointed a membership committee to recruit appropriate people for the Club. Perry had sent Nickles some suggestions on how to recruit members. He advised that forty or fifty business leaders of different lines, many already known to Club members, should be called upon and that it should be explained to them that the Club was “something new and unique which would be a benefit to the city and to them as individuals.” He advised, “Make sure that those who join with you have caught the spirit of Rotary and exclude those who see in the Rotary club naught but possible commercial advantages for themselves.” He also invoked the concept that “He profits most who serves best.”

Typically for this Club, although the Club had voted unanimously on April 3 to affiliate with the IARC, there seems to have been some ambivalence about a relationship with the greater Rotary organization. Welton told Perry of these doubts: “Many of the members, in fact most of them, have somewhat hazy ideas of what the Rotary Clubs are really doing and of the lines along which they are working.” Perry would have liked to have sent more explanatory literature to the Madison club, but he explained that “As the whole Rotary movement is in a process of evolution–not only as to its philosophy but as to its literature, we are not able to send out just the printed matter we should like you to have.” Instead, Perry appeared personally before the Club on April 17. Finally, on May 16, the Rotary Club of Madison formally applied for affiliation.

Charter Pic

On June 10, Perry wrote to the Madison club that “We are pleased to advise you that your application for membership in the International Association has met with the approval of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors by whose vote [on June 2, 1913] the Rotary Club of Madison has been made an affiliating Rotary Club.”  Perry enclosed with the letter The Charter, making Madison, with thirty-three members, the seventy-first Rotary Club in the world.

Rotary Holiday Spirit Spread throughout our Community!

During the month of December 2012, many of our fellow Rotarians took time to make someone’s Holiday just a little bit better.

Bell Ringing 2012 3   Bell Ringing 2012 4  Bell Ringing 2012 5  Bell Ringing 2012 1

There were a number of opportunities to provide service, and we caught a number of them in action.  Some members rang Bells to raise funds for the Salvation Army.  Pictured above from left: Donna Beestman, Ellie Schatz, Christine Beatty, Joe Silverberg and Nan Zimdars

Toy Depot 2012 Photo 1  Toy Depot 2012 Photo 2

Others chose to sort donated food with the Share Your Holidays Food Campaign for Second Harvest Foodbank.  We also distributed toys at the Empty Stocking Club Toy Depot at the Alliant Energy Center, where over 11,000 children in our community received a gift.  Pictured above from left: Lew Harned and Tom Lucas.

Road Home Party 2012 2And our Annual Holiday Giving Tree was able to provide 60 gifts to children at local organizations.  And Santa Jim Ruhly and Elves Cheryl DeMars and Ted Waldbillig visited and shared a meal at The Road Home, an organization dedicated to helping families with children that are homeless.   Our club has received thank you notes from children at The Road Home shelter, and we are sharing a few here so you know the children appreciated the gifts.



Thanks to everyone who volunteered as well as the Community Projects Committee (and our Rotary office staff) who helped organize these activities!

These are just a few more examples of how our Club and its members provide direct Community Service to those who could use a little help.

— submitted by Tim Stadelman, Community Projects Committee Chair

Celebrating 100 Years: A Look Back in our Club’s History – George Wallace Visits Club in 1964

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, Jerry Thain provides the following history piece:

The Rotary Club of Madison has had many famous people speak to it over the years. Possibly the most surprising name among the list of speakers is that of Alabama Governor George Wallace, whose February 1964 talk was an attack on the pending Civil Rights Bill that was enacted by Congress later that year. Since it was almost universally thought that some version of the civil rights bill that had been strongly promoted by President Lyndon Johnson was certain to be passed, political observers believed that Wallace’s purpose in speaking against it around the nation was not so much to block enactment of the bill as to start promoting himself as a future candidate for President. That campaign, of course, was ended when he was seriously wounded by a would-be assassain’s bullet in 1968.

I trust it goes without saying that this post is in no way an endorsement of the arguments by Wallace but simply the citing of a notable moment in our Club’s history. The Wisconsin State Journal reported picketing took place outside the meeting and there was a report of a supposed assassination plot as well.  As most know, Wallace later recanted many of his earlier views on civil rights and ran for Governor on a different platform.

Celebrating 100 Years: A Look Back in Our History Continued

Rotary Club of Madison-Centennial Logo


The October 3, 1939, Rotary News summarized remarks made to the Club by Henry Noll, a native of Germany who had been a Madison newspaperman for 36 years, about getting back to the United States after being in Germany in the summer of 1939 and in Vienna when World War II began. He also noted his personal assessment of the political climate in Germany just prior to the war. The Rotary News caption “Interesting Experience” seems quite the understatement.
–submitted by Jerry Thain