People admire Fred Kroeger so much that even some Democrat friends came to honor him at the Southwest Republican Women's Roast.
Held Friday at the DoubleTree Hotel, the evening was, as Master of Ceremonies Don Mapel put it, heartfelt and a feel-good time.
After dinner, friends and admirers shared fun stories and memories. Among the roasters were former state Sen. Jim Dyer, D-Durango; current state Rep. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango; John Porter; Tom Shipps; and Dick Elder.
Old friend Elder wrote a poem in the elder statesman's honor, and Dyer showed off his sketching skills in a likeness of Kroeger, which he positioned on a photo of Mount Rushmore, making Kroeger "Bust Number Five" alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
Shipps and Porter talked about one of the former Durango mayor's most enduring contributions, his work on water and water storage.
Mapel said Bobbie White and Donna Cox of Southwest Republican Women were always kidding Kroeger about throwing him a roast, and that it would be a fun way to raise money. They were right. More than 100 people bought tickets to give Kroeger a hard time and honor the man who has worked hard to make this a better place pretty much every single day of his adult life.
These Gemini birthday folks love the twin sides of the day - cake and ice cream - Phyllis Stone, Sandy Studer, John DeLeo, Jonathan Steinhart, Sue Hampton, Chris Dunker, Brady Sutherlin, Tracy Willbanks, Phil Jones, Zoa Huckins, Tom Williamson, Will-iam Hakes, Tony Santistevan, Casey Carman, Bill Collins, Nancy Furry, Tracy Zellitti, Pat May, Jon Kirchner, Ron McKay, Kelly Becker, Lauren Cotgageorge, Marjorie Appel, Ethan Ryan, Michael Fusco, Nancy Stevens and Lauren Wolfe.
I don't get enough Kiwanis stories, which is unfortunate, because the two local groups do a lot of good, particularly with area children.
Recently, five members of the Kiwanis Club of Durango (the other one is the Narrow Gauge Kiwanis Club) were honored by being named Noris A. Lusche Fellows. Lusche, who is known for his leadership and service, is a past international president of Kiwanis and past governor of the Rocky Mountain District. There are currently 300 fellows.
The award is given after a donation of $1,000, either outright or paid over three years to the Rocky Mountain District Kiwanis Foundation. It's similar to the Paul Harris Fellowships in Rotary International. Much of the money raised goes to places such as the Children's Hospital in Denver and the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Unit.
The club already had two Lusche Fellows, Don Baker and Don Emmanuel, and Baker was asked to present the awards to the newly appointed fellows.
Steve Schlageter founded the Child Print ID Program and continues to serve as its chairman for the club. He also was the chairman of the Kiwanis famous Pancake Day and has served as lieutenant governor and president of the Durango club. He has been a Kiwaniian (or whatever they're called) since May 1988.
The next to be honored was Mark Simon, who joined the club in 1999. In just 10 years, he has been responsible for a number of years for the Smokin' Fourth of July BBQ, has been chairman of the club's golf tournament and is now the club's official auctioneer.
Bob Tyner definitely gets kudos for having been a member of the club since 1968. He is the founder and current director of The Eye and Ear Program, which provides financial assistance for adults and children who can't afford glasses and hearing aids in La Plata and San Juan counties. He is a past president of the club and was one of the leaders who brought Bright Beginnings, an early childhood program, to the area. After 41 years, he is a life member of the club.
Another life member is Mac McInnis, who joined Kiwanis in 1973. In 1985, he moved to Durango from California and joined the club. For a number of years, he has been the treasurer of Pancake Day, the adviser for the Fort Lewis College chapter of Circle K International and keeps the club's membership roster. McInnis also is active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and will become the commander of Durango VFW Post No. 4031 in a few months.
Last, and far from least, the final Lusche Award Fellow installed this year was Fred Kroeger. Yes, in addition to all of his other community work, enough to make him the subject of a roast in the first item today, Kroeger has been an active and giving member to the club since 1948. You're doing the math right, that would be 61 years.
Kroeger is most proud of the fact that at one time during his membership, the club was down to 15 members and was about ready to dissolve. It came up with a plan - and the plan worked.
Congratulations to all of the honorees, and thanks for all of your contributions to our community.
For many organizations, May is the end of the program year. True to form, Durango's two oldest book clubs, the Reading Club of Durango and the Tuesday Literary Club, both held their final meetings until the fall.
On May 7, Reading Club, which was founded in 1882, met at Kennebec Café in Hesperus for a delightful spring luncheon and a reflection on the year that was ending. Outgoing President Deborah Barnes was happy to hand over the gavel to incoming President Lou Falkenstein.
Barnes left a gift at each member's place as her memento of the year. A pink carnation (the club flower) and a packet of seeds to plant (mountain beebalm) represented members' connection to this place. Art cards by photographer Masatomo Kuriya, who combines two Japanese art forms - zen brushwork and ikebana - symbolized the year's study theme of Asian culture, its people, politics, art, environment, economics, food and history.
The club has enjoyed the theme so much, it will continue to study Asia for the coming year.
Tuesday Lit was founded in 1938. It spent the 2007-08 year studying the first decade it was in existence and the most recent year studying the second decade. Invitations to the final spring picnic sported a photo of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, who produced the "Roy Rogers Show" from 1950 to 1957, smack dab in the center of the decade.
The club ended the year at the home of Kathy Redford in Falls Creek, which provided magnificent views as a backdrop to the conversation. Only eight members of the 24 were able to attend the potluck, which led to an intimate conversation about aging and caring for our foremothers.
Next year's program book was handed out, and members were delighted to learn that the theme lives up to its name: "Endless Possibilities: Food for the Soul."
Incoming President Kay Baker will be presiding over a tantalizing year. As an Arab proverb in the book says, "If a pot is cooking, the friendship will stay warm." Amen, sisters.
Thanks to all for the warm hospitality.
On a related theme, the cornerstone laying at the new Durango Public Library on Tuesday was a powerful ritual that has roots as ancient as the art of building, going back to the times of ancient Egypt, Babylonia and Jerusalem.
A number of grand masters of the Masons had traveled to Durango from all over the state for the event, which is done for significant public buildings. As Judith Reynolds and I were discussing, our society doesn't have enough rituals, but this one had all the right ingredients. Regalia rich with symbolic meaning, words that smacked of times gone by, such as "so mote it be," after prayers and, in true construction lingo, praying to "the Supreme Architect of the Universe."
The more than 100 locals in attendance got to see a duplicate of the cornerstone ceremony George Washington conducted in 1793 when the cornerstone was laid at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Grand Master of Masons in Colorado Brian Cotter of Pueblo; Grand Treasurer Jerry L. Fenimore of Littleton; Deputy Grand Master Charles Johnson of Akron; Junior Grand Warden Dan Gannon of Paonia; Grand Lecturer Dave Salberg of Howard; Grand Orator Bruce Fritzsche of Monument; Grand Tiler; and stand-in Marshal Lawrence Fritz of Lafayette journeyed to share their traditions.
Also on hand were some of the Mason Lodge No. 46, our local Masons, who assisted in the ceremony. They were: Joe Janson, Benny Beniham, Jeff Jeeger, Don Dalrymple, Steve Jackson, Tim Butler and Dean Dooley. In 2007, when the cornerstone of the Andrew Carnegie-sponsored library was opened on its centennial, there were a lot of interesting artifacts of the time, including the front page of The Durango Herald, photographs and other memorabilia. Some of those were returned to the new time capsule, including a Roman coin circa 300 B.C., and a program of the Reading Club of Durango, whose members were among the movers and shakers who got that library built.
Added to the capsule from our era were invitations to both the grand opening and the cornerstone ceremony, the 2009-10 Yearbook of the Reading Club of Durango and a lot more photographs.
A number of dignitaries spoke - Mayor Leigh Meigs, City Manager Ron LeBlanc, Chairman of the Library Advisory Board Steve Redding, Beverly Darmour from the Reading Club of Durango (donating $1,000 toward the sculpture The Guardians) and historian Duane Smith. They all reminded us what a significant contribution it is to the community to build a new library.
Thanks to all who made it a powerful and memorable occasion.
Enjoying cool June anniversaries are Dave and Connie Trautmann, Mark and Donna Bauer, Bill and Mary Foreman, Bill and Cindy Donelan, Bill and Peggy Hoffman, Alan and Brenda TeBrink, John and Eliane Viner, Don and Deanna Schardt, Charles and Carol Gordon, David and Diann Wylie, Chris and Sue Hampton, John and Emily TerMaat, Mike and Susan Johnson and Robert and Jackie Manning.
For information on upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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