Ann Arbor Rotary Harpoon


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Harpoon for the Week of December 6, 2017

Wednesday's Luncheon Meeting will be in the
Michigan Union's Anderson Room

Annual Meeting This Week
Rotaract Mentors Still Needed

Program: Annual Meeting

It’s time for our annual meeting where we look back at the past year's projects and events. Immediate Past President Collyer will highlight our activities and accomplishments of his year, 2016-2017. We will also elect directors and officers for Rotary year 2018-2019. This is a wonderful opportunity to collectively enjoy all that we do as a Club.
Song Leader/Accompanist:  Shelley MacMillan/Tom Strode
Inspirational Speaker: Ruthie Ackenhusen
Greeters:  Any Freundl, Susan Froelich

Attendance:  Mary Hays, Karen Gladney


Upcoming Meetings and Events

  • Dec 6 (Wed), 11 am: International Humanitarian Projects Committee, Michigan Union, Crofoot Room

  • Dec 6 (Wed), noon - Rotary Club Of Ann Arbor Annual Assembly:  Our club's annual meeting (“Assembly”) will take place at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in the Michigan Union's Anderson Room.  We will elect officers and directors and hear about the progress of our Rotary club at this assembly.

  • Dec. 20 (Wed): Special Holiday Luncheon Performance by the Pioneer Choir. Bring a guest (or two or more)!

  • Dec. 27 and Jan. 3: No regular luncheon meetings. We resume on Jan. 10.

  • May 3-6, 2018 (Thurs-Sat): District Conference at Eagle Crest
  • June 23-27, 2018 (Sun-Wed): Rotary International Convention in Toronto

If you would like  your meeting to appear here, email

Details on monthly meetings may be found on the club's website.


Notes of Interest


Rotaract Mentors

Calling all youthful (in spirit) Rotarians! UM Rotaractors are in need of mentors. We have 11 students who have not yet been paired up with a mentor. Interests are in business, medicine, economics, neuroscience, social work, public health, biomedical engineering, law, technology -- to name some. You can make this opportunity be what works for you -- the occasional coffee, invitation to a Wed. lunch meeting, whatever. It really doesn't matter if your interests are not a perfect match - the students really appreciate our expertise and life experiences! Please email Rotaractor Savannah DeMil at to get started! Questions? You can contact Joanne Pierson at Thank you!


Meeting Notes

As always, a lovely musical prelude; this time brought to us by the inimitable Joan Knoertzer, who somehow fits collecting rare books and running a B&B into her music schedule. A particularly red-blooded “God Bless America” rang out through the crowded Anderson Room. Boy, this Rotary club is sounding hot.


Inspiration: Roger Fraser shared his love for the arts in a heartfelt inspiration. Quoting fellow-Rotarian Russ Collins, Director and CEO of the historic Michigan Theater, Roger declared, “Art is important. It ennobles the human spirit.” He then described coming across Mary Heller’s beautiful farm, at Joy Road and Zeeb. “Mary offers her art [along the roadside] for people passing along,” Roger noted. “I asked her about her art, and she told me how much she loves seeing the expressions of the children.” This is what it’s about: art without walls, capturing imaginations in unlikely places. Great Inspiration, Roger.


Songs: Talk about capturing imaginations, Ingrid Sheldon then came up to lead our merry convocation in song. The selections – “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” and “Music! Music! Music!” The former contains the verse ‘The sweet things in life/To you were just loaned/So how can you lose what you’ve never owned.’ A fine sentiment in regard to art and human emotion, and a nice way of saying the only thing we own is debt. Thanks for the velvet reminder, Ingrid!


President John Ackenhusen, opened the meeting by greeting everyone warmly. He then noted that the day’s Wednesday Welcomer was Chief Larry Collins “who is here to explain Rotary and our Club to anyone who might be interested in joining.” Now Larry is such an enthusiastic spokesperson, your reporter almost joined the visitors in enquiring. Guests were welcomed next, among them the parents of our Junior Rotarians, Sam Uribe, Sean Maclatchy, and Catherine Nicoli; all from Community High School. Others included Jay Platt, owner of the West Side Book Shop, Ann Arbor’s premier antiquarian establishment, who was introduced by PP Joe Fitzsimmons; and Sam Rostenkowski. Branding Committee chair, Laura Thomas, announced that “Mary Jean Raab is going to be helping me,” in regard to her work with the Junior Rotarians. She also thanked the students’ parents for their dedication: “We value the care you have bestowed on these Junior Rotarians.” Then she made her usual gracious appeal to the JRs before they left the podium: “As you go on with your lives and education, I hope you’ll stay connected with Rotary.” Truly, Laura has mastered the art of the close as proficiently – and this is saying a lot – as PP Ashish.


Continuing in the vein of ‘the day of the presidents,’ PP Collyer Smith, joined by Barbara Eichmuller, made a welcome announcement: “We would like to introduce our newest member, Toni Gupta.” This generated a hearty ovation from the assembly as members have had the pleasure to get to know Toni at several past luncheons. She and her husband are parents of Meghan Gupta, an active Junior Rotarian last year, who is now studying art history at Yale. [By the way, ask Toni about Meghan’s examination and conservation of mummified Egyptian animals for the Yale University Art Gallery; very important as to the evolution, and disappearance, of species. She’ll show you the pictures.]


President John then made an announcement about Board appointments: “…we’ll vote next week, December 6.” However, John shared the names of the chosen – Dave Williams, Sergeant-at-Arms (RCAA’s ‘muscle-for-life’); Barbara Eichmuller, Secretary; Mark Ouimet, Treasurer; Greg Stejskal, President-Elect. New Board members are Ebru Misirli Mansfield, Carol Senneff, and our Vice President and president after Greg’s term, Rosemarie Rowney. A barrage of exuberant applause followed the announcement. Another outstanding class of RCAA officers. Lastly, John reminded the assembly that our annual Christmas concert will take place in the Union ballroom on Wednesday, December 20.


Speaker: Ken Fischer, President Emeritus of the National Medal of Arts-winning University Musical Society (“…of the University of Michigan,” as Ken always says), rose to introduce the speaker. If ever an introduction provided a speaker with a better Yellow Brick Road pathway to success, this writer can’t recall one. “I’ve known Ed Hoffman for a number of years, through Rotary and as a guest on his radio show, ‘Speaking of Art,’” Ken began. He went on to describe Mr. Hoffman’s background in arts fund raising in the Washington, D.C. office of former Sen. Bill Bradley, in museum administration, and art auctions. “He was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, and grew up in the shore town of Mantoloking, known for its beautiful Victorian-era houses.” Apparently, the Hoffman home had its share of antiques, art, and books, exposure to which seems to have benefitted the lad. Ken’s concluding words were reassuring -- “Ed will speak on the subject of Art in Ann Arbor and Environs” – as your reporter was pondering the thorny possibility of being elbowed into buying a Louis XV settee. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce my friend, Ed Hoffman.”


Warm applause welcomed Mr. Hoffman as he approached the podium, where he – embraced Ken while shaking hands. Displays of such exuberance before the guest has uttered a single word are always off-putting, placing the spectator in the garish role, historically speaking, of a low-life habitué of public executions. As Hoffman paid his emotional tithe to Ken; confident, no doubt, of receiving ‘a clean cut’ in addition to a generous dose of audience sympathy, your reporter’s anxiety meter shot to red. This speech had better be good.


Then, a welcome surprise, for Hoffman’s opening remarks centered on his admiration for Ken; on warm conversations over the years “in and outside Rotary, as well as in the broadcast studio.” Rather gracious, all things considered. A quote: “[Ken’s] iconic leadership at the University Musical Society, his love of the arts, and his colossal enthusiasm has ennobled everyone fortunate enough to have crossed his path. Inspiration, Polymath, Mentor – Friend. Thank you, Ken.” Your writer, his eyebrows arching pleasantly at the unexpected insertion of ‘Polymath,’ detected a slight thawing of his initial impression of the speaker. Perhaps this kid’s got something to say.


Mr. Hoffman outlined three objectives: “1. To highlight the arts, particularly the fine arts and architecture in our community and beyond; 2. To relate that to the national situation, and to Heritage generally; 3. To encourage the sustained cultural participation of the audience.” By Heritage he meant a kind of general sense of stewardship for the values and artifacts of the past while, at the same time, holding those tropes up vigorously to those of the present. Relevance seems to characterize Hoffman’s approach; perhaps a result of his museum-auction house background. Ditto for his earlier arts lecture program, which he designed for cancer patients and visiting family members in hospitals. Indeed, there is something of the zealot here, of the proselytizing cultural insider. It then struck your reporter that this was not a speech focused solely on Ann Arbor’s public art and ancient houses, but an appeal to his listeners to take up the mantel of participation in our community’s cultural life. Also, he seemed to underscore the importance of art, antiques, and other bric-a-brac in the home: “Such proximity to beauty and human creativity is a natural shoe horn for the child looking for cultural influences.” He drew on literary metaphors as well: “It’s Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, where the people who’ve memorized the books go out into the wilderness and recite. It has to come from us.” Then the bottom line – “It’s my opinion, having dealt with contracting arts budgets in Sen. Bradley’s office in 1984, through my museum experience, that the good days will never come. We have to lead the charge.” Indeed, according to Hoffman, the initiative has already passed from the large, federally-funded museums, to those on university campuses. “The University of Michigan Museum of Art (with its superb Frankel Family Wing); the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, ensconced in its Richardsonian Romanesque Newberry Hall (and snappy new Upjohn Wing); Albert Kahn’s Palladian William L. Clements Library; the Bentley; the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library; and the museums and collections of the various academic departments – these are the most exciting research-education places today.”


Hoffman then held up two books. “These books were written by the renowned photographer Samuel Chamberlain. The first, Open House in New England, was published in 1937. The second, Old Rooms for New Living, was a collaboration between Chamberlain and his wife Narcissa, and appeared in 1953. Between these two works was bred a generation of American collectors – your grandparents.” He explained that “a real cultural trickle-down” occurred between the two World Wars, as the taste-setting example of certain Gilded Age collectors (Electra Havemeyer Webb, founder of the Shelburne Museum, and Henry Francis du Pont at Winterthur) were absorbed by middle-class Americans.” Hoffman noted that the craze for Americana fueled the proliferation of antiques fairs across the country: “People arriving at the Washtenaw County Fairgrounds before dawn, flashlight beams crosshatching the blackness as dealers were sought and appealed to.” Then came the 60s, with its entertainment-based mores, political turmoil, war, and the rightful battles for civil rights. “It scrambled Americans’ cultural references, and we’re still dealing with the fallout,” he observed. However, diversity, as understood today, is not the problem: “People need to embrace their heritage and assume the role of custodians for the next generation,” Hoffman asserted.”


Toward the end of his address, Hoffman cited a cogent observation by former UMMA director James Steward: “James revealed to me during an interview that museum administrators had finally recognized the crucial role played by collectors. It used to be like the last Indiana Jones movie, where Dr. Jones is wresting an important Baroque cross from an art thief. He shouts, ‘That cross belongs in a museum!’ Collectors were seen as ‘inconvenient possessors’ of cultural milestones. We now think differently; rather than trying to secure their art by any means necessary, we now realize that collectors – at all levels – are to be cultivated. That is where the judicious pipeline resides for the future.’”


(By the way, a wonderful example of local art patronage and stewardship is that of our own Jim Irwin. Some time ago Jim commissioned a series of paintings highlighting the historic buildings of Ann Arbor; those still standing. Following an unforgettable tea, my son, Edwin, and I experienced Jim’s stunning collection, room by room. By their taste and generosity, Jim and Millie are making a significant contribution to the appreciation of Michigan, and Ann Arbor, history and culture)


As Hoffman received a hearty ovation from appreciative Rotarians and their guests, your reporter pondered that perhaps the mental image going forward should be the Phocian Wall at Thermopylae, where the 300 Spartans (sorry, Steve, not those Spartans) and their helots and allies held off an invading Persian force of 100,000 for three days in 480 B.C. The wall had been there for about a century; it stretched about 300 feet, from the hillside to the Gulf of Malia. Soldiers even built a hook-shaped extension into the sea to preclude flanking maneuvers. It stood only about five feet, and needed repair. This the Spartans did, but they did not heighten the wall. They didn’t need to, as they had no plans to fight behind it. Rather, they sported and drilled in front of it, facing an incredulous Xerxes and his horde. Spartan discipline and élan would provide wall enough, as Xerxes found out with the loss of one fifth of his army by battle’s end. Federal and state cutbacks? No thought to the 50,000 jobs and hundreds of millions in revenue generated by Michigan’s museums, orchestras, art theaters, historic sites, and performance halls? No matter that Detroit is experiencing an architectural renaissance, with commensurate spaces devoted to live performance and art exhibitions -- and that this revival is spilling over into a multi-county area? Okay Lansing, okay Washington. For we have our Phocian Wall, in our minds and our demeanor. Those who know that you either have a civilization or you don’t are confident. We laugh and sport before the wall. Come on, come on; we are ready. Hail the coming victors, the vanguard, of the arts!


JET: Join leaders; Exchange ideas; Take action!


 Notes by  Ed Hoffman, Photos by John White 

Meeting Statistics

A total of 108 artistically-minded Rotarians heard from Rotarian Ed Hoffman present, "Art in Ann Arbor and Environs." Once again, the turnout that day continued our recent streak of good attendance. In addition, we had one U-M Rotaractor, President Sam Ozminkowski. We also had three Jr. Rotarians and four guests. In advance of the lunch, a total of thirty Rotarians (including nine of our newest ones) assembled in the New Member "Seven-week Check up Meeting." Seven members of the Rotaract committee met after lunch.


Makeup Cards for Roving Rotarians:

None this week.


Monthly Membership Report to the District:

After the resignations of Mary D'Alessandro, Tony DiGiovanni and Kelly Fitzsimmons and the transfer of Jim Dempsey to Dexter, we finished the month of November with 313 Active Rotarians. Average attendance during the month was 41% for the five meetings. Not reported to the district but calculated for club use were the averages of 107 Rotarians and 11 others (mostly guests) at our weekly meetings. Our Engagement Ratio for the month was 67%. In addition, we had 33 members who attended all five luncheon meetings in November. Especially encouraging was that three of the "five star" attendees were relatively new members; Jennifer Fike, Marcia Lane and Andy Sohn.



  • December 8 - Greg Dill
  • December 9 - Cassie Rein
  • December 10 - Stephanie Freeth

Websites of interest to Rotarians

Rotary International: The RI home page has links to About Rotary, The Rotary Foundation, Club Locator and Member Access. Our Club is in Zone 29. The zone has 17 districts and covers portions of Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ontario.

District 6380: Our district's website includes 51 clubs in the counties of Washtenaw, Livingston, Oakland and Macomb in Michigan and Kent in Ontario. The district’s monthly newsletter and articles of district-wide interest are posted there.

Rotary Club of Ann Arbor: Our Club’s website provides background material and information including the current Annual Report, Active Framework (aka Strategic Plan), New Member Nomination Form, Committee Descriptions, Club and Golf Outing brochures, synopses of upcoming programs and an archive of Harpoons. Find us on Facebook.

Submit news, committee meetings, and announcements to the Harpoonthe newsletter of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor. Contact the Club to subscribe by email.

Our Club also sponsors the following Rotaract and Interact Clubs:

 U-M Rotaract Club

Huron High Interact Club

Pioneer High Interact Club

"Rotary Serving Humanity"