While “Member Moments” are generally presented by the club’s newest members, longtime member, Rod Hokenson, was invited actually to do our program today…..  He and his wife, Helen, will be leaving the area and the club to begin a new season in their lives,"back to a college dorm” lifestyle (actually The Fountains at Kalamazoo near  oldest son, oldest granddaughter and families).  Rod  is originally from North Dakota, a farm kid during the Depression and Dustbowl, the youngest of 10 children! He said he actually had two lives here in Adrian: the first, 1972-89, as Pastor of Christ Redeemer ELCA church on Maumee -- he admitted trying to cut it short here after 6-8 years,  thinking he had done most of what he could.  But "the Lord,kept pulling on my coattails” and seemed to want him to stay put. So he did, . Then he really got involved in community activities. Rod said he’s really loved Adrian.

His life of 38 years as a Pastor, 17 of them here, he said, was very rewarding; particularly fulfilling in retrospect seems to be in the Copper Country 1964-72, helping two old ethnic churches (Finn and Swede) merge and build new facilities in the face of great economic uncertainty.  After leaving Adrian he ministered in Oak Park MI,  Hammond, IN, Connersville, IN, retiring in 1996. Earlier churches, following College in MN and Seminary in Chicago,  were in WI and MN. “I am not shy to say I have reached age 87” he added.

After  seven years “away" , Rod and Helen decided  to Adrian  for their “second life”, now at  23 years. They are moving to where some of their family lives. That is, however, at the moment  on hold (possibly moreso by the government shutdown and its possible impact on FHA loans). As you know, Rod and Helen started the Great Pasty Project to benefit Habitat for Humanity (Shown at last year's program at left).

Rod then spoke about Rotary and specifically about the first Rotary Show he was in (about 2002 titled “Who Wants to be a Billionaire?”). He was put into a role which even won him the “Cracked Mirror”award for being the "best looking character in drag " playing the coveted role of “Miss Birdsall”! He actually joined Rotary while in Connersville, IN and was recognized “The Most Valuable Rotarian” his very first year as a member! It was Joe Wagley III, Rod said, following his year as president, who invited him to join this club. Joe was starting in real-estate at that time: he helped Rod find their present house, and ironically is again handling its sale. Nate Smith, he said, was his banker back then so it felt like he was truly coming home, he said.

Rod said he joined Rotary because he has a passion for international involvement and to raise the awareness that the US is not the only country in the world. Rod lived in Germany, traveled to India, and “hit another continent in between”. One recent focus was on developing solar power in Africa. Another passion of his, he said, was RI’s GSE program – Group Study Exchange. He shared with the audience an experience he had with Chip Moore who took a group of visitors in the two-engine King Air at the Adrian airport, going over Cedar Point and Detroit and the group “loved it”.  As a private pilot he also took a group from India on an overflight of Lenawee County, apparently their first time in a small plane.

“To sum up my lifetime”, Rod said, he is gratified to still be able to do things and to care for his “beloved wife”. How very grateful he’s been, he said, to be able to grow old together, in sickness and in health. The simple phrase “I love you”, Rod said, has been spoken more often in the past 5 years in their home than ever before! …… In closing Rod wanted to leave a word of wisdom ,  especially to the newer members – “Don’t wait to be asked to do something, be bold, look at yourself and ask ‘what do I have to offer?’ You don’t have to be a Bruce Goldsen, a Mark Murray, or a Nate Smith. Simply volunteer and make clear to the leadership what your interests. abilities and limitations are. Come, then, with what you have to offer and your passions and maybe they will become someone else’s”. “It’s been a pleasure to be a part of this club. I love you all, God Bless You”.

Following Rod’s presentation President Kathy presented him with a maple wooden plaque designed and made by Luke in honor of his 20 plus years of service to the Adrian Noon Rotary Club. ……. Ed note: We’re going to miss you Rod and Helen. God Speed.