by Mitch Lehman
Family is a consistent theme at all Rotary events, never more so than the San Marino club’s recent Paul Harris Luncheon at San Gabriel Country Club, where Marilyn Peck and Ivy Sun became the 63rd and 64th community members acknowledged for ‘Service Above Self.’
At least two full tables were allotted to the Peck and Sun families, who – fields of flowers in tow – gathered from near and far to witnees their matriarch’s inclusion into the exclusive fraternity. Or in this particular case, sorority.
“Marilyn has dedicated forty-two years of her life to this community,” said Rotarian Lucille Norberg, who presented Mrs. Peck to the capacity crowd.
“I work best under the radar,” said the honoree when given the podium. “I am honored to be chosen and when I look at the list of previous honorees, I am certainly in good company.”
She then explained her lifelong appreciation for the volunteer spirit, telling the audience how in 1955 she worked in a Michigan polio ward, a notation that certainly made an impression on Rotarians.
“I started early,” she said, “and I feel all children should volunteer. Even my ten and twelve-year-old grandchildren!” – a line which brought a roar of approval from those assembled.
“To know I have made a difference is very rewarding,” Mrs. Peck concluded. “But I am Marilyn Edith Peck – not Madeline!” she quipped, refering to the former San Marino teacher and resident.
Mrs. Sun informed the audience that she met her husband, San Marino City Councilman Richard Sun, in the fifth grade – a feat that could qualify her for sainthood as well as entry into the Harris Fellowship. A longtime professional educator, she later became active in scores of charities and other community service projects – among them, a sister city campaign between San Gabriel and Jong Wan, China and a parade “that closed down Mission Blvd.,” she proudly told the audience.
Rotarian Bill Payne introduced former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Marina Wang Mellis, who delivered a brilliant presentation about her days at San Marino High School and her experience abroad at the University of Hong Kong in 1995-96.
San Marino Rotary’s Honorary Paul Harris Fellow Award recognizes special men and women who give their time and talents to make our community better, but who are not themselves Rotary members.
The international organization’s motto and mission is to give ‘Service Above Self.’ The club in San Marino selects and honors annually one or two people with this Fellowship, saluting their service while contributing in their name to educational exchanges and to improving health, hunger, and humanity around the globe.
San Marino’s Rotarians are leaders in giving in excess of $1 million to the Rotary Foundation, the charitable arm of the international organization. The San Marino club has selected and funded recent college graduates for Ambassadorial Fellowships to study abroad, and has supported projects including the remarkable PolioPlus program to eliminate the polio virus from the world, nearing complete success after twenty years’ effort. In fact, Rotarians world wide have donated well over $1 billion in the quest.
Also attending the event were past Paul Harris Fellow honorees Rosemary Simmons, Judith Carter, Lois Matthews, Winnie Reitnouer, Charlene Liebau, Valerie Weiss, Jeanne & Wray Cornwell, Eugene Dryden, Dr. Allan Yung and this reporter.
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