By Ray Klinginsmith, Trustee Chair 2015 – 16
Western movies were the most popular film genre for several decades, and they were well known around the world. In many of them, after a victorious battle between the good guys and the bad guys, the hero would accept the appreciation of his friends and supporters – and then ride off alone into the sunset.
I won’t be alone due to my Rotary friends, but I will be riding into the Rotary sunset on 30 June, and I can’t avoid the comparison, because my life has been much like a movie for more than 50 years. From the time I was selected as a Rotary Scholar in 1959, good things started happening for me, and they have continued in much the same way as they did in the heartwarming movies of yesteryear.
Due to my Rotary Foundation scholarship to study in South Africa, my life has been an amazing adventure. I never dreamed when I was sailing from New Orleans to Cape Town on a Lykes Line freighter ship in 1961 that I would be the presiding officer at the 2011 Rotary Convention in that same port city of New Orleans exactly 50 years later. But it happened, and I truly have a deep appreciation and passion for The Rotary Foundation.
I also am fortunate that I found a way to utilize my farm heritage with the music and lyrics of “Cowboy Logic” and the wisdom of the Code of the West as recited in the book Cowboy Ethics. It has been a signal honor to play a role in the fantastic story of Rotary as it has emerged onto the world stage. But above all else, I am proud to acknowledge that I am a living, breathing product of The Rotary Foundation – because I was a Rotary Scholar.