Long time dedicated Niles Rotarian Don Amsbaugh passed away on February 12, 2016. He was 91 years of age, and had been a member of Niles Rotary since 1961. Don was club president on 1969-70, and he boasted of his fifty years of perfect attendance.
During Don’s presidential year, District 517 came into being, breaking out of District 516. The major fundraiser for the club during Don’s year was the annual pancake breakfast (it showed a profit of $1,370 – considering the cost of living then and now, that is a very tidy profit!). The breakfast profit was donated to the City of Fremont to finance a youth fishing pier at Lake Elizabeth – Niles Rotary has revisited that pier since then to move and refurbish it. (It needs it again in 2016!). Other community projects funded then included the YMCA, Boy’s Club, Boy Scouts, high school scholarships, and a two-year project to fund the flag pole, benches, and landscaping at the then new City Government Building. Lunches cost $3.00, and the population of Fremont reached 100,000.
Don and his late wife Babs were our club historians for many years. They served on the History Committee to write the Second Twenty-Five Years history book, and they collected the annual club history years from each club president as they left office. Much of our club history, as reflected in a year-by-year accounting on our website, comes from Don and Babs’ work. Don also served as our Rotary International Foundation chairman, and presented Paul Harris Fellows to many club members over the years.
As a polio survivor with post-polio syndrome, Don was our local inspiration for Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign. Here is a photo of Don showing we are “this close” to finishing the battle against Polio.
Don was quite involved in the community, having served on the board of Washington Township Hospital, Washington Hospital Foundation, Ohlone College Foundation, and serving in his professional organizations. Don was a key figure in the growth and development of Washington Hospital.
Among Don’s hobbies were planes and wine. He flew a Citabria airplane and a sailplane, and was famous for his aerobatics. Don’s demotion was held in the “Bucket of Blood Saloon,” a trendy establishment where the wine was stored in Erlenmeyer flasks and served through intravenous tubing. He also told great jokes, and was the winner of the first annual Niles Rotary Bad Joke Contest.
Don loved Niles Rotary, and will be missed.