Posted by John Marr

(Reporter’s remarks: We’ve grown accustomed to gaining a sense of our meetings by way of the Bits and Pieces in each edition of the Windjammer. When KERCK KELSEY, a former member who moved up from Boston and then on to Freeport, first mentioned having a column that covered the differences of the members and life’s goings on in general, I didn’t give it much thought. Kerck was somewhat of a gregarious person who would meander from table to table at the Portland Club and gather personal tid bits that gave spice to the newsletter. One thing I’m certain about, we like one another and consider fellowship to be the lynch pin that keeps us connected. This writer, for one, thinks the spice is nice and it wouldn’t hurt to have more than just a recitation of the commonalities of the meeting. As I sat with Matt Tassey, Bob Clark, Bob Martin and David Clough at last Fridays meeting, I realized how much I enjoy the fellowship and how varied and fascinating the group is. Despite enjoying the company of Bob Clark for over a couple of decades, I never knew how involved he is with the clam festival and the stories he can tell. When Matt get’s into his travels to his place in NH, it’s as every bit interesting, and learning why the Martins love to visit Boston. Of course if you  want to get Maine’s political pulse, there’s no better source than David Clough. Each of us has something worth saying. Appreciate it as the sharing of fellowship that adds spice. Consequently, as you pick up interesting life tidbits related to our members, share it with the B&P’s reporter.)

Like the New England Patriots, we’ve got depth and when a player goes down, another star rises and shines. President John Curran and First Vice President Amy Chipman were unable to attend the meeting, so we called upon Second VP Ellen Niewoehner (photo at left) to conduct the meeting. Ellen has been with the Club long enough to know it’s not rocket science, but it does require attention to assure that the meeting goes on with the customary aplomb. It didn’t take her long to find and gong the recently-restored bell and call the meeting to order. Our invocation duties befell to Paul Tully, who weaved the seasonal solstice and the message of Rotary. Tom Nickerson followed Paul and directed our “Pledge Of Allegiance” to the flag. Next was an inspired rendition of “America The Beautiful” led by Gracie Johnston, sans keyboard.  

It was with poignant sadness that Mike Fortunato (photo at right) reported one of our own heroes of the Greatest Generation, Airman Earle Leavitt, age 97, had succumbed to a brief illness and will join the pantheon of great ones who put their lives on the line to keep our world safe and free from tyranny. Mike, a passionate aficionado of history, told us how Earle, as a wandering late teen found his way into the U.S. Air Force and was serving in Hawaii.

What Earle (photo at left) never expected was that his most memorable call to duty was going to be in his skivvies, when the Japanese bombed Hickam Air Force Base and Pearl Harbor, drawing the U. S. into World War II. The days of the wanderer were obliterated by the horrors of war and Earle became a focused young man as he survived the battles. He took advantage of one of America’s greatest ideas, the G. I. Bill, after returning home. Earle went on to law school and parlayed his education into a rewarding career in the insurance industry where he retired as president of the consortium that protected Maine’s medical professionals. In essence, he was always serving to protect others and was the natural personification of a Rotarian. To say he will be missed is an understatement.

After having our lunch, Second Vice President Ellen Niewoehner reconvened the meeting by welcoming 36 club members, and 2 guests.

The winter months, along with the years, takes a toll on us mortals. Fortunately, we have wonderful medicines and good health practitioners to keep us moving and on the mend. We learned that gentleman PP Jim Willey was recovering from pneumonia and while he is on the upswing and gaining strength, he would love to hear from his Rotary friends. Joining Jim in sick bay is The Maestro, PP Russ Burleigh, who was afflicted with benign positional vertigo, as reported by PP Bill Blount. According to Bill, Russ Burleigh’s disorientation was so profound that the medical practitioners decided that hospitalization was necessary. The cliché that bad things come in threes won out and we learned that another of the Greatest Generation, Leatherneck PP Bob Trail was also recovering from pneumonia. So....let’s keep our mates in our healing thoughts, prayers, and notes of well wishes.

Bill Blount (photo at left) has been instrumental in getting Portland Rotary and the Portland Sea Dogs together. Consequently, it was appropriate that, as song leader, he got us to think spring baseball and blast out lively “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” to prepare us for our guest speaker.

Our club has been assigned the third Wednesday of every month to serve dinner to the indigent guests of the Preble Street Resource Center. Gracie Johnston (photo at right) has been leading the team assisting the staff at Preble Street, but she is in need of more hands on deck. If you can carve out some time, 3 to about 6 p.m., please join us in serving our needy neighbors. For more information, contact Gracie at:

Every month Dave Putnam (photo at left), Mike Fortunato, PP Jim Willey and others visit the youth at the Cedar Unit at Long Creek Youth Development Center to show them that they aren’t forgotten and forsaken. The group of Rotarians sits and listens to the young men and delights them with various foods that are uncommon during their time away from the free population. For more information, contact Mike ( or Jim (

Once a month a group of Rotarians, accompanied by students at USM School of Law, take an hour to meet with the youngsters at Lyseth School and read aloud to them. All who participate have a fun time, so please see if you can help out as we put CHE into action. Contact Jan Chapman at:  or  Megan Peabody at:

Few would argue with DNE / PPDick Hall being called a Rotarian’s Rotarian. It was with ebullient joy that Dick introduced two Rotarians who were becoming PHFs for the second time. Paul Tully and Tom Nickerson both moved on to being awarded a new PHF pin, adding a blue stone,  that we all know as a sapphire. The stone is a befitting token of the precious gift that ‘Service Above Self’ represents. Congratulations to Paul and Tom! (Photo at right L-R: Tom Nickerson, DGN/PP Dick Hall, and Paul Tully.)

The weekly raffle, led by David Clough, was up to $300, and the speaker pulled PP Bowen Depke’s name out of the bucket. Though he tried, Bowen was unable to find the Queen of Hearts and pulled the King of the pot continues to grow.