Stadalsky: Rotary Club embracing its feminine side
By Kris Stadalsky email@example.com March 29, 2013 7:28PM
Clif Lyda, governor elect for Rotary International District 6450, celebrated women in Rotary at the Joliet Rotary Club. Also shown (from left) are Tina Zugel, Lisa Allen, Erica Egger, Kris Stadalsky and Mary Ann Egger. | Submitted photo
Updated: May 2, 2013 6:04AM
It’s hard to believe that up until January 1987 women weren’t allowed to be members of a Rotary Club. Now women are not only members, they are at the forefront of many clubs and international projects within Rotary International.
The Joliet Rotary Club celebrated women in Rotary at its regular meeting Tuesday. It was one of many celebrations and events the club is conducting to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year.
Joliet was one of the first 100 Rotary Clubs to form worldwide. As a matter of fact, it was No. 78.
Joliet Rotarian Bob Leckrone, along with four or five other Rotarians, presented the resolution officially admitting women into Rotary Clubs worldwide in Singapore on Jan. 12, 1989.
The very first female Rotarians in Joliet Rotary were Mary Jane Broncato, Ruth Calvert Fitzgerald, Carolyn Healy and Sister Dismas Janssen.
Mary Ann Egger of the Channahon-Minooka Rotary Club was asked to lead the Joliet meeting last week. Egger was the first female District Assistant Governor for 6450, the first female District GSE Team Leader and the first female Paul Harris Fellow.
Egger invited several other women of Rotary to join her to celebrate, including member Tina Zugel and incoming President Lisa Allen, both of the Channahon-Minooka club; her own daughter Erica Egger of the Shorewood club; and me, as a past president of the Channahon-Minooka club.
I was honored to lead the Joliet Club in its Four-Way Test, a long standing tradition that Rotary was built on.
As always, there’s a fun side to Rotary meetings. Joliet City Manager Tom Thanas was appointed the day’s sergeant at arms. It’s the job of the sergeant to fine members for things like forgetting their Rotary pins, not knowing a trivia question or for appearing in the media.
Thanas said he fined himself $50 for the week, getting a big laugh from the crowd. He then fined all the men in the room in honor of women in Rotary. That got a good chuckle, too.
The day’s speaker was District 6450 Governor Elect Cliff Lyda, who has been a Rotarian since 1984, before women were admitted.
“In those days Rotary was a classic, old white man’s club and being asked to join was very prestigious,” Lyda said. “All the top people (in a town) were part of the Rotary Club.”
While Rotary presidents all over were busy discussing whether it would be advantageous to allow women, the question went to the Supreme Court. In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that because Rotary was a public accommodation, it could not exclude women.
“That meant to me that Rotary belongs to the world,” Lyda said. “It was a long time coming.”
People make jokes about women in Rotary, even women make jokes about women in Rotary, Lyda said. But the organization has benefitted tremendously from the gifts and talents of women.
Even so, women outside of the U.S. are not as well recognized as Rotarians.
“We still have a lot to do,” Lyda said.
Lyda said the next in line for District Governor after him is a woman, whose name I didn’t get. Her comment to Lyda is that she looks forward to the day when women in Rotary is no longer an issue or is even discussed.
Save the date
Joliet Rotary is co-hosting the Rockdale Ramblin’ Run with the Joliet Park District on April 13 to celebrate the club’s centennial. Pledges can be made to sponsor Rotarians in the race and the money will be used to fund Joliet Rotary’s water well project in Malawi.
Contact Dan Malinowski at 815-994-2796 to support the event in any way.
Reach Kris Stadalsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.