Posted by Dick Hall
We all arrived to a very festive venue....the Clarion, along with Elise’s and Loretta’s added holiday items, had decorated the room and each table.

President Amy Chipman called the meeting to order and welcomed 51 Rotarians and 3 guests. Paul Tully (Photo at right) gave the invocation and told of his experience with Wreaths Across America. He visited the mortuary, the wreath prep area and with 50-75,000 other volunteers placed wreaths on 275,000 veterans graves. He asked that we all take a moment during the holidays to remember the veterans who have ensured our liberty. Paul read the poem, A Christmas Poem for Our Veterans, (available at the following website: and left several of us with tears in our eyes.

Brian McDonough led us in the pledge to our flag and Gracie Johnston led us in singing “God Bless America.”

President Amy reported that 35 Rotarians attended the special performance on Friday, Dec 13th, of Portland Symphony Orchestra’s Magic of Christmas, which was magic for the group. (Reported in last week’s WJ.)

We had our second experience of “Happy Dollars”: President Amy was happy that both her boys will be home for Christmas. PP Bowen Depke crowed that his freshman son has secured a starting varsity goalie position, and congratulated Bruce Jones on his retirement. Mike Reed told us of his new grandchild. Elise Hodgkin is glad her son is home for Christmas and also glad that PP Loretta Rowe is back with us from her first round of re-entry into chemo treatment. PP Larry Gross (Photo at right) announced he has a team for the 34th Rotary assist to SMAAA Meals-on-Wheels for Christmas day. Charlie Frair told us it is his first Christmas with no family. He has places to go, but reminded us all to cherish time with family.  Charlie is also glad the manuscript of his book is done.  PP John Marr is happy to have completed his last run of the Polar Express. Dick Giles has only three sons, but will have 16 family members visiting for the holidays. 1st VP Ellen Niewoehner is happy to be heading to Bethlehem, PA to be with family. Terri St. Angelo announced she has made her last college tuition payment.

In our weekly raffle led by Brian McDonough, Paul Tully’s guest, Marla, had the chance to pull the Queen of Hearts, but she found a 5 of Clubs instead. $1205 will roll over to the next raffle draw.

President Amy gave holiday gifts to the Clarion staff, and thanked them for all that they do for us; she also read a thank you note from the Lyseth School for the reading program and gave a special shout-out to PP Laura Young for organizing it.

PP John Curran (photo at left) conducted the election of officers for the upcoming year 2020-21. The slate of officers are:
Ellen Niewoehner – President
Bob Martin – 1st Vice President
Gracie Johnston – 2nd Vice President
Bruce Moore – Secretary
Scott Blakeslee-Treasurer
Dave Putnam – Sergeant-at-Arms
Nan Heald – Club Protection Officer
Mike Fortunato and Jennifer Frederick – Directors with terms ending 2021
Bob Clark and Mark Foster – Directors with terms ending 2022. 

The vote was unanimous and by acclamation with all in favor and none opposed. Congratulations to all!

PP John Marr (Photo at left) told us of the recent visit to Long Creek Youth Center, where they had a fabulous time feeding the kids eggnog and wings, then playing games. John thanked Mike Fortunato and PP Jim Willey for all their work on the program.

Gracie Johnston told us that we were back ringing the bells for the Salvation Army at Monument Square, after a lull due to a change in the ownership for storage area of the needed materials.

PP Russ Burleigh, President Amy and PP Bill Blount told us the stories behind many Christmas carols.  They finished by leading us all in a rousing version of  “Jingle Bells.

President Amy told us of a story she heard from a South Portland Rotarian selling Christmas trees. Apparently, there was a very tall and very gruff Portland Rotarian who bought a tree. Unfortunately, he returned within hours saying that, “My wife rejected my tree.” We all knew that our own recently-deceased John Houghton was the Rotarian from Portland.