President  Chris Kimball  convened a truly somber meeting of the Rotary Club of Lakewood on January 8, 2016, at the Clover Park Technical College Rotunda because our usual venue—Tacoma Country & Golf Club—was closed.  The mood was sad due to the untimely passing of our beloved member Larry Saunders, the first Police Chief of our fair city. .
 
                          
 
 
Larry died unexpectedly on Wednesday evening doing one thing he loved:  running in Fort Steilacoom Park.  He will be sorely missed by all.
 
                                                   
 
Dave Coleman gave a moving invocation as only he can do, followed by Mike Zaro leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Setup was done by the usual stalwarts: Bob Hammar, Duncan Cook and Rob Erb.  Judy Hosea pitched in as well, helping at the front table, and President Chris' able assistant, Caroline Brady, was her usual helpful self.  Nicole Hancock collected $332 at the Paul Harris table; Tom Crabill handled the drawing tickets and kept track of Visiting Rotarians.  Walt Richardson took photos and Joe Quinn is writing this bulletin.  Visiting Rotarians included Bob Almquist and his wife Marcia from Ecuador.  They served as a host family when Don Daniels visited that fine nation recently.
 
                                         
Sunshine was provided by Dave Reames, who said Richard Simmons is going home.  Greg Rediske reported that long time member Jim Skar, 85, passed away in Yakima. 
 
Next, Andrew Neiditz provided a thorough summary of Larry Saunders' life and accomplishments.  Andrew said that Larry exemplified the Rotary motto of "Service Above Self.” He said it was truly impossible to summarize Larry's contributions to this world in the time allotted, but he gave it his best effort.  He met Larry in 1998 when that retired Colonel was applying to be the Police Chief for Lakewood, as provided in the service contract with Pierce County, before Lakewood became a city. Larry won over skeptical police officers when he attended police academy at the age of 50+ and proved he could keep up with those younger guys.  Larry Saunders built the Lakewood Police Department, almost single handed, hiring all 120 personnel, Andrew said.  Larry saw policing as a community activity; he had an unequaled passion for this city.  He stressed police work in the bad neighborhoods.  Larry retired in 2008 from that position, and "enjoyed retirement" by going back on active duty in the US Army, being deployed to Iraq!  He did police training for the Iraqis over there and made many new friends.  He was so active in community organizations. We hate to miss any but Andrew mentioned at least Rally Point 6, the Lakewood Boys and Girls Club (he was a director and then President of the area club’s organization), American Leadership Forum, Partners for Parks, and of course Lakewood Rotary.  He had been active in Lakewood First Lions but we stole him from them. Andrew said Larry used the word "reverent" in a self-assessment one time with regard to his city employment.   (Very apt though, as Larry clearly "revered" his city, his family, the police, the Army, and his friends.)  He was hyper-active, "in your face", and committed to what he cared about, Andrew said.  He was all about service.
 
 
                                                 
 
 
Jim Rooks described his friendship with Larry and recounted a story of working five hours in the cold rain with Larry Saunders recently, both on and off Joint Base Lewis McChord, delivering bikes in the LR bike delivery for the holidays program.  Larry went the extra mile when one bike did not fit the targeted child...he just went out and bought one and delivered it the next day.   Jim also introduced Mike Zaro, our member and the new Lakewood Police Chief, as well as Tony Velot of Rally Point 6 (who is being proposed for Rotary membership).
 
Next, this scribe got up, but since I could not take notes this will depend on memory.  Oh yes, I said that three words best described Larry Saunders:  "Larger Than Life.” My point was that this was a man who transcended the everyday things he did and his legacy must live on after him, as he was an inspiration.  Not only was Larry a great Police Chief (and loved by the cops), he was a great soldier (and loved by the soldiers), he was a great Rotarian (and loved by us), but also he was a great Husband, Father, and Grandfather (and loved by them).  In the interest of time, I may have left this out:  Larry was the ultimate team player.  Not only could he lead, he was also a great "follower.”   No job was too big or too small for Larry...he got it done (note Jim's story about the kid's bike, above).  In closing, I got back to the theme of Larger Than Life with my gentle suggestion that we cannot let Larry's legacy pass away into the fog of time.  Symbolically, why not name a street, building or better yet...a park after Larry?  You have to admit, along with first Mayor, General Bill Harrison, who is better identified with this young city than its first Police Chief, Larry Saunders?  Don't you like the sound of Larry Saunders Park, better than just Fort Steilacoom Park?  Oh, I know it is a historical name, but really history should be all about people (not forts) and Larry is a big part of this city's history.  By our actions, we also need to continue to support the causes that Larry loved and lived for, so his legacy lives on.  We are Rotarians. We will do that, right?
 
Finally, Greg Horn told a short anecdote about Larry. When the four Lakewood police officers were ruthlessly gunned down in 2009, Larry called Greg, who was then President of Lakewood Rotary.  The dilemma Larry presented to Greg was that 120 outside city and county police were being brought in to staff the city for a week while the whole Lakewood police force was given one week off to grieve and honor the fallen.  Larry, retired by then, volunteered to get the folks together who might provide the food and the funds to feed all those replacement cops, saying with his usual humor to Greg:  "Cops do eat more than donuts and pizza, 'ya know, so we need some nutritious food."  Greg said with the help of Dave Reames, Fae Crabill and Rotary (plus Lions) they got it done.  In closing, Greg pointed to this year's Rotary motto—“Be a Gift to the World" and he said Larry sure was that.  Thanks for your service, Larry.
 
                                                                                      
 
About a dozen photos of Larry and his friends were provided to the Editor.  I wish he could include all of them but I fear this bulletin is already too long by LR standards.  No apologies, as Larry Saunders deserves every word.  Print them all, Boss!
 
THE PROGRAM
 
Ironically, our program was about Lakewood, and primarily about city Parks programs.   Rose Stevens, President Elect, introduced Sally Gilpin Martinez, a relatively new employee of the city.  She started in July 2015 in the Parks Department, but is hardly a stranger to Lakewood as she grew up here.  Sally, her husband, and two children just relocated here from Bellevue.  She did her undergrad work at Santa Clara U. and then got a Masters Degree.  Her past work had been in the area of Human Resources and she worked a lot with the disadvantaged.  She also serves on the Board of First Tee.   Her Parks Department work now includes the Lakewood Farmers Market, held every Tuesday in season at the Towne Center.  She is very excited to be working for the City of Lakewood, her home town.  She has four generations of family here.  So she feels the job is a perfect fit for her, even though she loved the job she left. 
 
                                                      
                                                   
                                                              Above: Presenter Sally Gilpin Martinez
 
Sally said the Farmers Market is a great forum where about 50 vendors come (and many return every year) and sell all sorts of things.   The market attracts about 600 to 1,000 visitors per day.  Surveys show visitors love the location at the Mall, the live music, the fountain, etc.  St. Clare's sponsors a cooking class and the Lakewood Playhouse sponsors productions.  June 7th is the opening day for 2016.  Sally also spoke about and showed slides or video about, the 5th Annual Summerfest Triathlon, the Summerfest (LR hosts a beer garden), and other parks events, such as Truck and Tractor Day.  This year, she wants to add more diversity, more arts, and even circus arts to Summerfest.  The Tacoma Art Museum and the children's museum may be involved in 2016. 
Sally also mentioned the traditional Tree Lighting at Towne Center.  She has an idea for a Lego Building contest for boys and girls too.  Oh, there is also the Jingle Bell 5k and 1k runs and then in March 2016 there will be a Father/Daughter Dance.  (Did you have any idea the Parks Department had this many programs?) 
After the Program, President Chris picked up on a few missed items on the agenda, such as Guests.  Belatedly, we welcomed Echo Curry of the Lakewood Branch of the   Boys and Girls Club, Tony Velot of Rally Point 6, Pat Price (Bill's wife), Larry Clark of Clover Park Technical College (and prospective member) and Caroline Brady, Chris' assistant. (He really needs to give her a raise now.)  All Presidents make mistakes with Guests, but ordinarily it is not caused by too many milkshakes.  Sorry Chris...remember that journalists are immune from fines.
 
                                                   
Chris asked me to include this link to a web site you may have heard about at a prior meeting: Check this out:  www.gofundme.com/bringingheroeshome.  (Now he can't fine me can he?). Help us locate those who have served our country with honor.
 
Past President Dave Coleman rose to announce our new board members.  The President-Elect will be Andrew Neiditz and Greg Rediske will continue as Secretary, and Bill Potter as Treasurer.   Newly elected to two-year board terms:  Clayton Denault, Janie Frasier, and Larry Saunders.  The board will fill that last vacancy or at least try to do so.
 
Drawing:   Bill Allen won but only $5, drawing the white chip.
 
                                     
 
 
 
 
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