This blog post is built from notes taken by Paul Andrus during the speech where all four past Rotary International Presidents were on stage at District 5170’s District Conference held in May/June of 2016.
Richard “Rick” D. King, Cliff Dochterman, M.A.T. Caparas & Gary C.K. Huang
President of Rotary International 1986-1987, Graduate of Harvard Law School
When M.A.T. Caparas took the stage, he preferred to stand at the podium and is 92 years old. He was proud of four large events that took place during his term.
The Launch of Polio Plus (originally started in the Philippines)
“Many people thought we were crazy to try to raise 120 million when the previous fundraising campaign to raise only 12 million had merely raised 6 million. It was a bold assertion. In the end, we raised more than double the initial goal of 120 million. It was true that more than half was raised in the U.S., but what was truly amazing was that the governor’s global wide had helped raise the second 120 million outside the U.S. This is where the campaign began for immunization and worldwide efforts for the betterment of children’s health. The immunization began in the Philippines. Eventually WHO (World Health Organization) decided to join our efforts.”
Purchased a new building for Rotary International Headquarters
“Previously the headquarters was a small picturesque building, but it was too small for global operations. The situation became desparate, expanding into neighboring buildings and very limited space. There was discussion of moving to another town or even another state. Then, almost by accident, a new building appeared in the marketplace. It came about through the merger of two large medical supply companies and they no longer needed the space. The mortgage of the building was paid off within 8 years of Rotary purchasing it. One Rotary Center in Evanston, Illinois has 18 stories, and is much larger than the old office allowing the organization to grow and function more properly.”
Built “Rotary Village Corps”
Admission of Women to Rotary
Admission of women to Rotary was a very controversial thing. In 1986, there had been movement to make changes to allow women into Rotary, but there was substantial resistance which had been taking place over a solid 10 years. Rotary did not admit women until 1987 when, by court order, women were admitted as members of Rotary. In 1989, Rotary’s Council on Legislation (which met only every 3 years) moved formally to allow women to join the international organization. M.A.T. Caparas said, “Without women, Rotary would be in a sad state. Having women in our Rotary clubs has allowed new energy and allowed us to have more meaningful projects. They have changed the tone of club culture and the pace of the work being accomplished. They have brought us kindness and compassion”.
Gary C.K. Huang
President of Rotary International 2014-2015
Gary C.K. Huang served closely with Richard “Rick” D. King (Niles Rotary Club Member) when Rick King was President of Rotary International. They have such a close relationship that there was one time when Rick King was on a plane heading home to the U.S. when Gary gave him a call. He wanted Rick to change his flight and go directly to Taipei, Taiwan to address Rotary members there. Rick asked Gary if it was organized yet and Gary replied “No, but it will not be a problem.” So, Rick turned around and flew to Taiwan. Within 48 hours, Gary had organized an audience of over 1000 Rotary members to greet Rick and attend this meeting. Rick stated “I knew then that Gary is a man of the people and a leader of men”.
During Gary C.K. Huang’s speech at the District Conference, he also addressed that he was happy women were and are involved in Rotary. He was also very excited to address the fact that Rotary International is zeroing in on completely eliminating Polio from the world. At the time of the District Conference, there had only been 7 cases reported worldwide in 2 countries. It is fully expected to be eradicated within the next two years.
President of Rotary International 1992-1993
Cliff shared a story where local Rotary leaders had contacted him when he was Rotary International President to help with a refugee crisis situation that had developed from the Balkan War covering Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia. Ernst Rag, an Austrian Rotarian, sent in a letter to President Cliff at Headquarters. Cliff opened the letter and read it. Ernst shared that in his district there was a civil war breaking out and there were thousands of people pouring out of Bosnia and Croatia. At the end of the letter, he said if you cannot help, “I will understand, but please do not appoint a committee to this task.” Cliff spoke with the Rotary Foundation people at headquarters and was told that there was no way they could pull together something last minute. Large projects like this take years of planning to execute properly. Cliff decided to give it a go himself.
Cliff flew to Zagreb to meet a small Rotary club there. They took him and visited refugee camps – “thousands and thousands of people”, recounted Cliff. The refugees were comprised of children and the elderly. The adults were fighting or had been killed. Each camp had between three and four thousand people. There were 34 camps in total. At the airport when Cliff arrived, a reporter cornered him and asked him, “Who are you helping? The Serbs, the Croats or the Bosnians?”. Cliff replied simply, “I’m helping those people that need help.”
An account was set up in Austria to handle incoming donations and 8 millions dollars was raised in prompt order. Canada Air stepped up and helped with transporting refugee supplies. Once on the ground in Europe, Rotarians drove these supplies across Germany all the way to Croatia in vans. Sometime later, the United Nations sent a letter telling Rotarians, “Thank you for what you did. We estimate you saved the lives of over 100,000 people throughout that winter with your supplies.” To this day, Cliff keeps a photo from Rotary’s magazine from this campaign. It’s one of his fondest memories serving as a Rotarian. Outside of Polio Plus, this was the largest campaign affecting the most lives done by Rotarians. It was done quickly and by simple normal people stepping up to accomplish the task.
Finally, Cliff shared how he became involved in Rotary. He used to be a waiter where the Rotarians met each week. Many years later, he returned to assure this club that even the busboy can make it to Rotary International President!
Richard “Rick” D. King
President of Rotary International 2001 – 2002
Rick’s speech was fairly short as time was short at this point in time. He has so many wonderful experiences and stories to share, we hope that he will be helpful in helping us at Niles Rotary publish some of them for historical purposes on our site. We are very proud to be the home club of a Rotary International President who had more growth in his year than any other Rotary International President. he is known the world over by Rotarians from the four corners of the earth.