Palm Coast, FL – Hitting 40 is pretty big milestone and for the Rotary Club of Flagler County it was an opportunity to examine the tremendous amount time, talent and treasure that has been infused into the community over decades of service.
Their motto is one often heard – service above self, and as past presidents took to the lectern to share fond memories and funny stories it was a chance to recall the good old days for each, while inspiring the next generation of Rotarians to dream big and strive for greater service to others.
It’s a legacy the Ryan family is proud to see being carried on.
Kent Ryan served as president of the club in 1993, and while shoulder to shoulder with his daughter Casey, shared his feelings about seeing her following in his footsteps.
“Of course I’m so excited that my daughter has taken on that tradition of the Rotary and allowed me to retire so she can be the representative,” he said proudly.
“The legacy as Rotarians, we are doing everything we can to make our community the best community and internationally, do the same thing. Each community makes it better for the community and then together we make it better for the international community itself.”
Drawing on her father as a role model, Casey works hard to exemplify the values instilled over the years.
“It’s service above self. He has always demonstrated that. Also, to be present. If you’re signing up for something, if you put your name on it, you follow through and you work hard at that,” she said. “His work ethic and just being a good person and living by the Rotary motto which is the biblical living of life, that’s what it is.”
Many of the past presidents brought forward special programs such as Bill Butler’s famed ‘Fantasy Lights’, to Cindy Kiel Evans’ ‘Hoods for Heroes’. The signature efforts not only define a presidency, but leave a lasting impact on the community as a whole.
“You’ve got all of the leaders in the community, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a business-minded person, who really want to do better things in the community, when you have one person you can do a little less, but when you put people together who are like-minded, you can get a lot more accomplished,” said Evans, whose husband Jeff Evans and her brother, have both served as presidents at other Rotary Clubs.
“When I stepped in and started off, it was like I got bit by the bug. (Before), I didn’t realize how great Rotary really was,” she said. “We really are a family.”
Pulling the program together, Maralee Walsh McDaniel, president from 2019-20, said it was heartwarming to reflect on the accomplishments.
“In the beginning of November I realized it was the 40th anniversary of the club and we should have a celebration especially after not having meet for months due to COVID, so I thought it would be fun to take a Walk Down Memory Lane. Having past presidents share their memories of the club, the memories shared were definitely from the heart,” said McDaniel.
“My father was the President of the Rotary Club of Yonkers New York in the 60’s so Rotary is in blood and felt it was important to recognize this milestone. I became a Rotarian in 2014 and have been proud to see the success of the club and the contributions to the community from build gazebos, and handrails for the elderly, to mailboxes in Bunnell so Dolly Parton Library books could be delivered and a well project in the Mondex,” she said.
Serving as the District 6970’s Governor in 2018-19 and now the district’s foundation chair, Jeanette Loftus called Rotary an amazing journey for her and her family as she talked about decades of impact.
“You heard here today how awesome it has been that the Rotarians in this room and how much you’ve all contributed to the success of our community and the success of this Rotary Club. We’ve come full circle by hearing so many wonderful stories,” said Loftus.
“Over the past 40 years Maralee and I estimate that we have contributed collectively over $500,000 to our community. And that doesn’t even include all of the countless community service hours that you all have done to serve our community, to make our little piece of the world a better place.”
The program’s speakers included charter member Michael D. Chiumento, Chuck Warren (1984), Lesley Gottlonger (daughter of Sam Newton, 1986), Jay Gardner on behalf of his father James Gardner (1988), Kent Ryan (1993), Carl Laundrie (1995), James Callender (1999), Patrick Kelly (2000), Guilio Lancia (2001), Joel Fallon (2010) and Jeanette Loftus (2009), Rick Staly (2012), and District Governor Rich Cooper.