Club Information
Welcome to
The Rotary Club of Webster Groves
www.webstergrovesrotary.org
Webster Groves

The city of beautiful trees, where roots of community service run very deep.

We meet In Person
Fridays at 12:10 p.m.
Webster Groves Presbyterian Church
45 West Lockwood Ave
Webster Groves, MO 63119
United States of America
ALSO Two Makeup Meetings Each Month: Rotary Coffee on Every 1st Wednesday 7:30-8:30 AM at Various Webster Groves locations AND Rotary After Hours on Every 3rd Tuesday 5:15-6:30 PM at Llywelyn's Pub, 17 Moody Avenue, Webster Groves
Stories
Congratulations to the '24-'25 Board! (l to r) President-Elect Ryan Whittington, Treasurer Becky Blair, Vice President Rob Wagnon, District 6060 Governor Jerry Nolen, President Ted Domino, Board Members Claire Winkler and Jack Pirozzi, Sergeant at Arms Gerry Kettenbach, and Past President Miki McKee Koelsch. Get ready for another amazing year as we finish out our Centennial year celebration!
Several Rotarians came out to wish a fond farewell to International Exchange Student Gabi deSouza (Brazil). Her mother made the trip to U.S. to accompany her. Thanks to Rotarian Nikki Lemley and the Kavanaughs for hosting her during the school year.
The Rotary Club of Webster Groves welcomed five exceptional new members to the club this spring! Welcome Jake Burrola, Joan Esserman, Ree Hamlin, Lou James, and Ginger Fletcher Krueger! Already love doing service with you all!
Following a Field of Humanity presentation, the Rotary Club of Webster Groves presented a donation of $3,600 to Lawrence Katumba and Peter Kalulu for their Uganda Water Project. With the funds, the organization will construct additional community water kiosks, distribute ceramic water filters, and install Sato pans across the region. The donation will make a positive impact in rural communities, providing access to clean and safe water to those in need and promoting better sanitation and hygiene practices. The collaborative project was spearheaded by chairman Rotarian Rod Cooper and members of the Rotary Club of Webster Groves international committee. 
Congratulations go to Sloane Carfield, Julia Fowler, Charlie Pearl, Sarah Staab, Jack Vedova, and Andi Ziegler for earning the six $2,000 scholarships awarded by Rotary Club of Webster Groves this year! Thanks goes to the Webster Groves Police Officers Association for making the club a beneficiary of their Trivia Night, thus increasing the quantity of scholarships we were able to award. (Not pictured: Sloane Carfield and Charlie Pearl. Photo includes two parents and Rotary Scholarship chair James Carlton)
The Rotary Club of Webster Groves received a Proclamation from the City of Webster Groves commemorating our Centennial!  It was presented by Mayor Laura Arnold and the City Council Members on March 6, 2024.
 
March 15, 2024 was designated Rotary Club of Webster Groves Day! If you took your photo by the City Hall marquee, send it to President@webstergrovesrotary.org and we'll post them here!
 
The inaugural Wine Tasting event was well-received! Great times were had by all, even the non-tasters! Guillo Rodriguez, Rob Wagnon and Susan Fletcher did a fabulous job planning. Thanks go out to Deb Wagnon, Tim Graham, Chuck and Margaret Weed for their help in set-up and break-down, Larry Fletcher for assisting with check-in. There are already calls to make it an annual event. DONE!
As always, Rotary Club Election Day arrived on the First Friday of December, and the results are in! It was an extremely tight race, as we elected four members to the 2024-25 board of directors on December 1: Nikki Lemley, Rob Wagnon, Ryan Whittington, and Claire Winkler. Congratulations to all! We extend our heartfelt thanks to the remaining four candidates, who graciously agreed to serve on next year's Board if elected: Becky Blair, Gerry Kettenbach, Jack Pirozzi, Dick Sant, and Chuck Weed.
 
As is our tradition, the name of the President Nominee was revealed at our Holiday Party held the next night at the home of Janet and Jack Pirozzi: Ryan Whittington will lead us in 2025-26, serving on next  year's board with President Ted Domino and  Immediate Past President Miki McKee Koelsch, along with the three newly elected Directors. To round out the nine-member Board of Directors, Ted will appoint a Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant-at-Arms, with Board approval.
 
On Friday, November 3, 2023, the Nominating Committee announced eight nominees for the club’s 2024-2025 Board of Directors. At our lunch meeting on November 17, we had the opportunity to nominate other members for the upcoming election. Chuck Weed nominated Nikki Lemley, who could not be considered a candidate on November 3, because she had not been a member of the club at least two years as of that date.
 
The updated list of nominees now includes nine members. Four of them will be elected to the new Board, one of whom to serve as President-Elect. The 2024-2025 Board will also include President Ted Domino and Immediate Past-President Miki McKee Koelsch; Ted will appoint a Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant-at-Arms, with Board approval.
  1. Becky Blair
  2. Gerry Kettenbach
  3. Nikki Lemley
  4. Jack Pirozzi
  5. Dick Sant
  6. Rob Wagnon
  7. Chuck Weed
  8. Ryan Whittington
  9. Claire Winkler
The election will be held on Friday, December 1, 2023 at the Annual Meeting.  Members in good standing are eligible to vote in person; Bylaws do not permit absentee ballots.
 
If there are any questions, please contact Guillo Rodríguez or another member of the Nominating Committee: Andrew Chao, Tim Graham, Dan Moore, and Dick Peterson.
 
 
Rotary members around the world are gearing up for World Polio Day this Tuesday, October 24th. Efforts continue throughout the year, but every October 24, we renew our commitment to eliminating Polio forever.  You may click here to The Rotary Foundation: https://www.endpolio.org/donate
 
The Rotary Foundation has received the highest 4-star rating from Charity Navigator 15 years in a row! It's no wonder that The Rotary Foundation remains the first-choice charity for people all over the globe. We "Create Hope in the World."
On Thursday, we had the honor of volunteering with the Friends of Kids with Cancer Fall Festival at Grant's Farm. Although we arrived from nearby Webster Groves, Chewbacca journeyed from a galaxy far, far away!
 
OUR OCTOBER EVENTS
October 5 - Hand out wish list items to Friends of Kids with Cancer
October 6 - Pancake Festival
 
October 20 - District 6060 Assembly in Sikeston
October 27 - District 6060 Assembly in Wentzville
 
October 28 - Make a Difference Day at Blackburn Park
 
Email Miki at peanut1006@sbcglobal.net for more information or to sign up to help. 
Join your friends and neighbors at the annual Rotary All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Festival on October 6! Options are lunch 11:00 am - 1:30 pm or dinner 4 - 7 pm.  Message us for tickets. Go ahead! Invite your workmates, family members and friends! The more, the merrier!
Our 2023-2024 Board of Directors was installed on Friday night, June 23 at the Webster Groves Rec Center, following a buffet dinner by Westwood Catering. The new board includes President Miki McKee Koelsch, Vice President Rob Wagnon, Secretary Tim Graham, Treasurer Dick Peterson, Sergeant-at-Arms Becky Blair, President Elect Ted Domino, Past President Guillo Rodriguez, and Directors Jack Pirozzi & Claire Winkler. They will lead us into our year-long Centennial Celebration surrounding our 100th anniversary on March 15, 2024. (Left to right: Guillo, Miki, Becky, Rob, Claire, Dick, Jack, and Ted; Tim could not be with us for the festivities.)
Volunteering at the Art Fair Beverage Booth was so much fun with these guys! (Not pictured: Ace beer draft specialist Tim Graham)
Our very own Rob Wagnon brought a great Power Point presentation when he came to tell us all about honey bees last week. Virtually all of our members stayed 20 minutes over, because it was so interesting. What a fascinating program!
“Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands….” So goes Longfellow’s poem about this towering giant that was lauded as the Sequoia of the East, until it was virtually wiped out by an Asian fungus that was introduced here about 1900. For the past fifty years, molecular biologists with The American Chestnut Foundation have been working on a restoration program to save the species from extinction through the miracle of genetic engineering. Webster Groves Rotarian John Dougherty has been one of these dedicated scientists for two decades, and he has been keeping us up to date with the latest news on the development of a blight-tolerant strain. Earlier this month, we learned this Herculean effort has just one more hurdle to cross: the final phase for Federal approval, which involves public comments and endorsements. Time is of the essence, since the window for comments closes on December 27.
Please click here https://www.esf.edu/chestnut/regulatory.htm and look for the official "NOTICE" to read more about it and to click on the blue "Comment" button to post your support. You can also check out the American Chestnut Foundation website to read more about this remarkable scientific endeavor: http://www.acf.org/
As always, Rotary Club Election Day arrived on the First Friday of December! Members were presented with a slate of eight nominees and charged with picking four to serve as directors for 2023-2024.  Becky Blair, Jack Pirozzi, and Rob Wagnon will serve on the new Board with President Miki McKee Koelsch. along with President Nominee, Ted Domino, who will serve as President in 2024-2025. Congratulations to all!
 
The Nominating Committee contacted every member of the Club about throwing their hat in the proverbial ring for this year's election. Thank you to the remaining four candidates, who graciously agreed to serve on next year's Board if elected: Dick Sant, Steve Tlapek, K Wentzien, and Claire Winkler.
Last week, we welcomed Julie Hood Leverenz, the dynamic DG of District 6060, who challenged us with five lofty goals for this Rotary year:
  • Build better friendships
  • Lead with passion
  • Tell the story
  • Be peace builders
  • End polio now!
Imagine how much difference we could make by living into these goals!
 
Dr. Therese Chavaux Turnbull educated the club about various kinds of stress and stressors, and then demonstrated stress management techniques so we can deal with it. We can all rest easier now!
The Rotary Club of Webster Groves and the WG High School Interact Club made a difference on Saturday, October 22, working with the Webster Groves Parks Department. One group winterized the business district pots and prepared cannas for over-wintering at the Service Center, and another did trail maintenance at Blackburn Park. 
World Polio Day is coming up on October 24! The Rotary Club of Webster Groves is one of more than 35,000 clubs worldwide that support the eradication of polio through our contributions to The Rotary Foundation.
 
After two years of pandemic restrictions, we eagerly resumed our traditional Pancake Festival on October 7, where we served 500+ meals for lunch and dinner. We are most appreciative for the contribution of Webster Groves High School's Rotary Interact Club and Robotics Team, whose members provided much-welcomed assistance in the dining room, as well as members of the High School Jazz Band whose dulcet tones were the perfect background during lunch. AND, we can't forget the volunteers from Webster Hills Methodist Church, whose presence in the kitchen was invaluable!
 
Our 65th Festival will be back before you know it. See you the first weekend of October 2023!
Rotary Club of Webster Groves president Guillo Rodríguez (right) exchanged his club’s trading banner with Spain District 2201 Past District Governor Andrés Barriales Ardura during the Rotary Club of Gijón’s meeting on Monday, September 12, 2022. 
 
Gijón is a port city in the northern state of Asturias on the Atlantic’s Cantabrian Sea. The Webster Groves and Gijón clubs are collaborating in the rehabilitation of a historic 17th century chapel in Gijón. The project to repurpose the deconsecrated chapel for a community center should be completed in mid-2023.
 
The tradition of Rotarian visitors’ trading small club banners with their hosts was started by the Rotary Club of Galveston, Texas in 1913. Exchanging banners has been extremely popular with Rotary clubs around the world.
Webster Groves Rotarians were armed with gloves, shovels, and rakes when they showed up at Blackburn Park on Saturday, August 13. They had responded to a call to help the Webster Groves Parks Department staff spread new mulch after a historic torrential rain storm carried away a lot of the mulch in the landscaped beds. Pictured left to right: Chuck Weed, Nikki Lemley, Becky Blair, Margaret Weed, Guillo Rodríguez, & Steve Turner.
Almost immediately after the Pacific Railroad built its first platform stop on Gore Avenue in 1853, riders began commuting back and forth to Downtown St. Louis. Because commuter trains actually made living in "the country" a possibility, residential development quickly followed all along the rail lines.
 
David Huelsing, Archivist for the MoPac Historical Society, shared the story of commuter trains carrying men to their Downtown offices, highlighted by dozens of photographs of stations, trains, maps, and lots of train schedules. A number of our Members recalled meeting their fathers at one of the ten MoPac and Frisco train stops that served Webster Groves for almost ninety years.  
At last week's meeting, we heard the fascinating and heart-warming story of how our very own Webster-Kirkwood Times came back to life after COVID virtually closed it down. Publisher Randy Drilingas and Editor-in-Chief Jaime Mowers presented a lively recap of how they and another long-time employee, Kent Tentschert and Kent's brother Eric came to buy the paper when founder Dwight Bitikofer was ready to retire two years ago.
 
We enjoyed a real treat at our meeting on August 5, when Webster's own Patrick Murphy regaled us with tales of his family's "Candy Men."  Patrick's book and PBS documentary by the same name tell the entertaining and fascinating story of the Candy Men who created Switzer Candy Company, home of world-famous Switzer's Licorice.
Barry Kraft came to visit our Rotary Club a couple of weeks ago to tell us about his unique business, Reclaim Renew, which hand-crafts 100-year old barnwood into timeless furniture for home and office. The 15-year old business purchases barnwood milled from a wide variety trees – oak, cedar, chestnut, hickory, and poplar, to name a few.  The first step in the process is to kiln-dry the wood to remove any potentially organic material, followed by cutting, planing, sanding, oiling, or staining the wood to highlight the rich uniqueness of each wood grain.  Barry also partners with Rise Together Ministries, founded by an Ethiopian immigrant, which ministers to some 4,000 newcomers to our region each year. It offers a range of services, including job training through Reclaim Renew, which provides furniture-building skills and jobs for immigrants and refugees.

The Rotary Club of Nuku'alofa has sent thanks to the Rotary Club of Webster Groves for a $6,000 donation to the Village of Houma, as a result of the devastating tsunami that struck the island kingdom a few months ago. The Nuku'alofa Club worked with Houma leaders to identify specific needs for computer and photocopy equipment to support their education system. The CEO of the Tonga Ministry of Education and Training and the Nuku'alofa Rotary Club President Marcellina Wolfgramm Ha’apai are shown here with some of the equipment to be delivered to Houma. Our club also provided three large water storage tanks to Houma in 2020, after we learned of the local school's desperate need from Webster Groves native, Lonita Benson, who was stationed there as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Welcome to our most recent new members, who were inducted this spring: Margaret Weed and Steve Graman. Margaret is shown with her sponsor, husband Chuck Weed, who is pinning on her Rotary wheel.  Steve (on the left) is shown with his sponsor, Dan Moore (on right) and President Andrew Chao (middle). Congratulations to all involved! 
The First Friday of December brought Rotary Club Election Day, as always!  Brian Corrigan, Susan Fletcher, Miki McKee Koelsch, and Steve Turner were elected as directors for 2022-2023, serving on the Board with President Guillo Rodriguez. Miki is our new President Nominee and will serve as President in 2023-2024. 
 
Thank you to the other four candidates who graciously agreed to serve on next year's Board, if elected: Becky Blair, Ted Domino, Steve Tlapek, and Rob Wagnon.
 
On October 8, we were delighted to welcome back Webster University's Dr. Kristen Anderson, who was such a hit when she visited with us two months ago.  Kristen shared more about St. Louis and Missouri history, picking up where she left the story of St. Louis preceding statehood in 1821. It seems that St. Louis saw such high levels of immigration in the first half of the 19th century that by 1860, the majority of the city’s population had been born outside the United States!  Kristen also contrasted the two major immigrant groups ~ Irish and German ~ describing reasons for leaving their homeland; details of the journey to St. Louis; why they settled in specific St. Louis neighborhoods; and what their lives were like in their new homes.
 
On Friday, August 13, during the week that Missouri celebrated the bicentennial of its statehood, we met again for lunch at the Hawken House Hearth Room and heard retired attorney and historian Jim Erwin talk about Steamboat Disasters on the Lower Missouri River; this is also the title of the latest book by Jim and his wife, Vicki Berger Erwin, which addresses the perils that steamboats, their passengers, and their crews faced on every voyage. Jim is author or co-author of six books on the Civil War in Missouri, the history of St. Charles, and true crime in Missouri, and he is a frequent speaker on the Civil War and local history. Jim and Vicki live in Kirkwood and are currently working on a new book about 19th century Missouri history. He is the Vice-Chair of the Kirkwood Arts Commission, President of the St. Louis Civil War Roundtable, and Treasurer of the Unbound Book Festival.
      
This is a "Fan Favorite" year for the Hawken House Concert Series. The third performer for the 2021 season is a Webster Groves mainstay - Rosewood. They will bridge the gap to the final show with their rendition of 1960s and 70s folk rock... by guys who lived it. Bring a lawn chair, a picnic basket, and a cooler - the entertainment is FREE. The Rotary Club of Webster Groves has been a sponsor of this great community event from the very beginning. This is a perfect networking opportunity for members to talk about Rotary and to enhance our presence in the community. 
 
                         
For the first time in several years, we returned to the Hawken House Hearth Room, gathering in-person on August 6  to hear guest speaker Kristen Layne Anderson present the first of three scheduled Missouri Bicentennial history lectures. Dr. Anderson is an associate history professor at Webster University, where she specializes in 19th century U.S. social history, teaching a wide variety of courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, women’s history, St. Louis, the American West, the Gilded Age, and the Progressive Era. She is the author of several scholarly publications, including her first book: Abolitionizing Missouri: German Immigrants and Racial Ideology in 19th Century America  (LSU Press, 2016). She is currently working on a new book that examines how German immigrants remembered and commemorated their Civil War roles. (We are delighted to report that Kristen has already committed to a return speaking engagement on October 8.)
July's Hawken House Concert is Monday night, July 12, featuring Miss Jubilee and the YAS YAS Boys on the front lawn of the Historic Hawken House Museum, 1155 South Rock Hill Road (Southwest Park), Webster Groves.  Bring a chair or blanket, along with your own snacks and beverages and enjoy this entertaining music of the twenties and thirties. This is a great networking opportunity for us to talk about Rotary and enhance our presence in the community.  AND....the weather is expected to be perfect!!  
On June 25th, we held our first in-person club meeting in about 15 months. We met at Olive + Oak on Lockwood in Webster Groves. Dereck Bastian, Director of Webster Rock Hill Ministries was our guest speaker. It was wonderful to all be together and to hear about WRH Ministries and their work in our community. This is an organization our club supports.
 
Rev. Dereck Bastian speaks to our Club on June 25th
 
Club members Chuck Weed and Steve Turner present a donation to
Webster-Rock Hill Ministries
 
 
On April 14 and May 8, 2021, members of the Rotary Club of Webster Groves and students from Webster Groves High School held a work day in our Rotary Memorial Garden adjoining the Rec Center. This garden was dedicated to the memory of Alan J. Hoener, a beloved Rotarian, whose involvement with Rotary Youth Exchange, and many other projects with our club and in the community, was legendary.
 
From left to right: Guillo Rodriguez, Phil Moppert, Franceca, and Kerry Arens
 
 
The Rotary Club of Webster Groves has completed the second phase of an international project with the Rotary Club of Nuku’alofa in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga. This project provided urgently needed water storage tanks for a primary school in the Village of Houma, located on the Tongan island of ‘Eua. This project came about at the request of Lonita Benson, a 2014 graduate of Webster Groves High School, who was serving with the Peace Corps in Houma.
 
For many years, the village primary school was forced to operate with an insufficient supply of potable water, which meant the school was routinely forced to close after lunch, and the fifty young students were sent home. Our club contributed a total of $5,600 to purchase the three water storage tanks having a total capacity of 5,800 gallons, and the Nuku’alofa Club oversaw their purchase and installation. 
 
More photos of this project are available in the slide show link "Tonga Water Project" in the lower left column of this website.
 
 
 
 
 
The Rotary Club of Webster Groves recently expanded the Ambrose Family Center lending library.  With a $2000 Community Assistance Program Grant, the club donated 165 books that provide greater depth and diversity for young readers.  In recent years the Rotary Club has focused its grants on early literacy, providing books to individual families.  This year, the club wanted to make books available to more families and, at the same time, provide young people with more books that featured fictional and real characters who reflect the community and give them current and historic figures who make great contributions to society but are often not recognized.
 
Three representatives from Autism Speaks (Staci Gerchen, Lisa Radtke, and Colleen Shinny's) presented our program on August 21st. We were pleased to hear about what your organization is doing in our community.
 
 
In January 2020, our club collaborated with the Rotary Club of Nuku'alofa in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga, to provide an urgently needed water storage tank for a school in the Village Houma. This project came about at the request of Lonita Benson, a 2014 graduate of Webster Groves High School, who was teaching for the Peace Corps in Houma, which is located on the Tonga island of 'Eua.
 
Although the Houma primary school compound had two water tanks, only one of them was suitable for storing drinking water. As a result,  the fifty students were routinely sent home after lunch, after all the potable water had been consumed.  Our club contributed $2,600 to purchase a 12,000-liter water tank (about 3,200 gallons), which collects rain water for the school children.
 
(This story was updated on March 4, 2021, to include details about two more tanks that were funded in December 2020. More photos of this project are available in the slide show link "Tonga Water Project" in the lower left column of this website.)
 
 
 
 After learning how the COVID-19 pandemic had severely strained the resources of the Hixson Middle School food pantry, the Rotary Club of Webster Groves sent the Webster Groves School District a check for $2,000 that was earmarked for Hixson’s food assistance program. The money was used to restock much-needed pantry items, since the normal supply chain has suffered during this time of lock-downs and social distancing.
 
Principal Grace Lee responded “It was a big surprise. Thank you!” The Rotary Club was honored to be able to provide this emergency assistance. 
 
 
          
 
RI President-elect Holger Knaack’s theme for 2020-21, Rotary Opens Opportunities, asks Rotarians to create opportunities that strengthen their leadership, help put service ideas into action, and improve the lives of those in need.
 
 
It's always a treat to have visiting Rotarians from other clubs attend our club meeting. It's particularly special when the visitors are international. Today Nithil Jose, from the Rotary Club of Cochin Technopolis (in India), attended our club luncheon and exchanged club banners with our club president, Chuck Weed.
 
Friday, October 4th was our club's annual Pancake Festival. Lots of fun and pancakes were had by all. Check out our Facebook page to see more photos of our friendly members and happy customers.
 
 
Our own Guillo Rodriguez recently visited Gijón Spain where he was hosted by the local Rotary Club and visited a 17th century historic chapel (see photo below). This is the second oldest building in that Atlantic coast city in northern Spain. The chapel, San Esteban del Mar del Natahoyo, is in a precarious state of conservation. Our local club is one of the contributors to repair this building. The project consists of rehabilitating both the chapel and its surroundings so that it can serve as a space available for the people of Gijón as a community center.
 
"The Rotary Club of Webster Groves presented the Webster Groves Police Department with six Automated External Defibrillators (AED). A donation of $5,850 by the civic organization made the purchase of the AEDs possible. The Police Department will place the devices in vehicles designated for routine patrol." - from a Communications Release from the Webster Groves Police Department.
 
  
The Rotary Club of Webster Groves is partnering with the Rotary Club of Gijón, Spain, as they rehabilitate the chapel of San Esteban del Mar. This historically significant, 17th-century chapel is being renovated to use as a community center. Our club provided $1,500 towards the project
 
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Upcoming Speakers
Tracy Bono & Nicholas Prainito
Jul 26, 2024
Greater St. Louis Scouting Council
Frank Trampe
Aug 02, 2024
National Building Arts Center
Doug Houser, 40 South News
Aug 09, 2024
Webster-Maplewood Connections
Anita Taylor, CEPAD
Aug 16, 2024
Plan Grande, Nicaragua
PROGRAMS COMMITTEE
Sue Fletcher,
   Chair
~~~~~~~~~
MONTHLY SPEAKER CHAIRS
July 2024
  Tim Graham, 
  Rob Wagnon, &
  Miki McKee Koelsch
August 2024 
  Ann McReynolds
September 2024
  Becky Blair  
October 2024
  Nikki Lemley
November 2024
  Miki McKee Koelsch  
December 2024
  Gerry Kettenbach
January 2025
  Dan Moore &
  John Dougherty  
February 2025
  Ginger Krueger  
March 2025
  Ree Hamlin &
  Steve Graman
 April 2025
  Guillo Rodriguez
May 2025
  Chuck Weed &
  Margaret Weed
June 2025
  Tim Graham &
  Claire Winkler   
July 2025
  Ted Domino
 
   
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