Club News Archive
South Haven Rotary celebrated its 59th Paul Harris Fellow on Tuesday, June 23. President W.C. Askew is pictured presenting the award to
member John Harding. John has been a member of South Haven Rotary since 2004. The Paul Harris Fellow recognition acknowledges individuals who contribute, or have had contributions made in their name, to the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. It was established in 1957 and today the number of Paul Harris Fellow exceeds one million. See South Haven's Paul Harris Fellows
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South Haven Rotary Club sponsored its third community pancake breakfast of the summer on Sunday, Sept. 6. Nearly 600 breakfasts were served. The proceeds from the breakfasts will be used to support South Haven Rotary's community outreach programs which last year totaled $14,000 given to more than 20 organizations. Enjoy photos from our breakfast. - See more at: Haven Rotary Club sponsored its third community pancake breakfast of the summer on Sunday, Sept. 6. Nearly 600 breakfasts were served. The proceeds from the breakfasts will be used to support South Haven Rotary's community outreach programs which last year totaled $14,000 given to more than 20 organizations. Enjoy photos from our breakfast. - See more at:

A Record Breakfast Servings!

South Haven Rotarians served a record 1,916 breakfasts at the club's 48th consecutive year Blueberry Festival Fly-in Breakfast on Sunday, August 11 at the South Haven Area Airport. Thank you South Haven for your support. Thanks to you the Rotary Club of South Haven over the past year has donated over $40,000 in support of local, regional and international non-profit initiatives. Enjoy photos from the breakfast.

Rotary District 6360 Governor Margie Haas joined South Haven Rotarians in flipping pancakes during own annual Independence Holiday breakfast on Sunday, July 7. President Mark Odland offered some tips. Enjoy photos from our breakfast.

Leader of the Parade

Rotarian Jerry Gruber was the grand marshal of South Haven's Sesquicentennial parade on the Fourth of July. He was driven in the parade by fellow Rotarian Tom Ruesink. Rotarians were responsible for organizing the units in the parade and our own Rosalie Plechaty chaired the committee of judges. Enjoy photos

Service to Community Recognized

Pictured left to right are President Mark Odland, honoree Al Ruppert and President-elect Dan Thompson.
The Rotary Club of South Haven honored longtime businessman and community benefactor Al Ruppert by presenting its Community Service award to him at the organization’s recent annual dinner.
The Rotarians annually honor a resident who makes a difference in the community while embodying the spirit of Service Above Self.
A resident of South Haven since 1972, Ruppert founded Clementine’s restaurant in South Haven and Clementine’s Too in St. Joseph and the HawksHead Links golf course and Inn in South Haven.
“Al has given back to the South Haven in immeasurable ways including donating generously of his time, talent and treasures to make our community a better place to live, work and play,” said Rotary president Mark Odland.
At the dinner the club also recognized Tom Renner as its Rotarian of the Year.
“Tom truly exemplifies “Service Above Self,” said Odland. “He is passionate about Rotary and loves to be at just about every volunteer project we sponsor.”
The club announced its officers for 2019-20.  Odland will continues as president while Dan Thompson is president-elect. Rhonda Wendzel will continue as secretary while Bob Straits will serve another term as treasurer. Board members will be Dene Hadden, Paul Hix, Steve Larsen and Richard Swanson.

Our Club Hero

South Haven Rotary Club has proudly declared member Robert (Bob) Straits its “Club Hero” for 2019.
Straits will be honored during the Rotary District 6360 conference on Mackinac Island on Saturday, May 18. Each member-club in the district is invited to declare a “Club Hero” for recognition at the annual gathering.
“Bob Straits is a perfect example of what it means to be a Rotarian. He represents our club with dignity, and is always in search of ways the South Haven Club can be of service to our community. He exemplifies our core belief of ‘Service Above Self’, and is most deserving of this recognition," said President Mark Odland.
Bob has been a Rotarian since 1985, first in Kalamazoo and in South Haven since 2010. He is currently treasurer and is a past president (2015-16).
In 2009 he was presented the Irving S. Gilmore Lifetime Achievement Award for his three decades of service to dozens of community organizations in the Kalamazoo area. He served five terms on the Kalamazoo City Commission. He has been passionate about serving on organizations that assist socially and economically vulnerable persons.
In South Haven is also treasurer of We Care INC and a current board member and past chair of the South Haven Community Foundation.
He retired from the W. E. Upton Institute for Employment Research where he served as administrator and director.
He and his wife Kathy of 50 years have two daughters and three grandchildren. The Straits family has roots in southwest Michigan going back to 1892.
He received the bachelor's degree from Southern Utah University and graduate degree from Western Michigan University. He served in the U.S. Naval-Air Helicopter Combat Squadron II.

Educator of the Year

A South Haven educator whose teaching technique helps her students relate what they learn to their own lives and experiences has been presented the 2019 Education and Service Award by the Rotary Club of South Haven.
Julie Sheppard was honored during the Rotary club’s South Haven Future fundraiser on Saturday, April 27. Julie is pictured with Rotarian Dan Thompson.
The Rotarians, in collaboration with the South Haven Public Schools Educational Foundation and the South Haven campus of Lake Michigan College, annually  recognizes an educator who exemplifies the attributes of quality teaching and is an active volunteer in the South Haven community. Nominations for this honor are received from the education community.
Rotarian Dan Thompson, chair of the club’s recognition committee, presented to the Educational Foundation a $250 contribution in Sheppard’s name.
Sheppard teaches fifth grade at North Shore elementary school. She is also the advisor for the South Haven Public Schools History Club which year-after-year is  viewed as one of the best in Michigan and on a national level. Later this spring the History Club will be represented at the national competition a tenth consecutive year.
"Mrs. Sheppard has a special gift for bringing the subjects of social studies and history to life for her students," said her nominator. "She displays endless patience and is always looking for ways to accommodate students' learning styles so every student can be successful."
She is also active in the community, partnering with the Historical Association of South Haven on projects, serving on the board of Our Town Players and assisting many local students in 4H activities. She also coaches the Baseline Middle School volleyball team. In 2017 she was presented the Kalamazoo County 4H Leader of the Year Award.
"In short, Mrs. Sheppard goes above and beyond to ensure she does her best for her students, her school family and the community of South Haven."
Sheppard has taught in the South Haven school system since 1988. She received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Nazareth (Mich.) College and the Masters degree from Western Michigan University.
She lives in Gobles on a 103 acre horse farm with her husband Dale and three sons, Justin, Antonio Garrett and Nic. She volunteers her time in many ways. For example, she boards the North Shore Elementary school's miniature fainting goats, Sirius and Dobby, at her farm during the winter months.
"I am deeply humbled and appreciative of this kind award," said Sheppard. "I have always felt it was my purpose in life to make the world a better place and the place to start is with empowering and educating the young minds of tomorrow. It takes a village to do the job and I am grateful for the villages in which I live and in which I come to work. I touch all kinds of lives with my volunteer and other educational services, and they all impact mine for the better."
The Rotary Club of South Haven has raised nearly $200,000 since the event’s inception 15 years ago. The funds that are raised provide financial aid for students attending classes at the South Haven campus of Lake Michigan College and benefits programmatic initiatives with the South Haven public schools system.

A Growing Club

Pictured from left to right are: sponsor Don Hodgman, new Rotarian Pete Swanson, sponsor Ted Weber, new Rotarian Ross Woodhams, sponsor Scott Mark, new Rotarian Sue Duvall, new Rotarian and sponsor Rosalie Plechaty, new Rotarian Francis Peet, new Rotarian Don Dobbin, new Rotarian Kevin Schooley and sponsor Steve Miles.
In response to a challenge from Rotary District leadership and Rotary International, President Mark Odland of the Rotary Club of South Haven has made new membership recruitment a top priority for 2018-19.
A Membership Plan was created under the direction of President-elect Dan Thompson. An assessment of past membership recruitment successes and failures was conducted and ideas for attracting new members in specific categories such as age (younger), gender and diversity were presented. The Club's bylaws were reviewed and subsequently amended to add a Corporate Membership classification. Membership is now a regular topic at Board and Club meetings. Rotarians who are sponsors of new members are regularly reminded of their vital role in helping the new Rotarian to become engaged in the life of the Club.
South Haven Rotary has added eight new members since December for a net increase of five to a current roll of 54. Two new Rotarians joined through the new Corporate classification. While we celebrate the addition of these new members we also mourn the loss by death of two longtime South Haven Rotarians, Don Hixson and Glenn Pietenpol. Another member moved out of the area for employment reasons.
"We are fortunate to have Rotary held in a very high regard throughout our community," said Odland. "At the same time, we are an unknown to a lot of folks. Increasing awareness of our Club has become another high priority for us with initiatives in that regard being developed."

Community Pride

Thanks to South Haven Rotarians,  the finishing touches on a major renovation to the gymnasium at South Haven High School has been accomplished with the installation of purple-and-gold banners heralding the accomplishments of athletes and teams over the years. The banners were donated to South Haven Public Schools by the Rotary Club of South Haven with matching funds from our District Foundation. The South Haven Rotarians were also the donors of the time-worn banners installed in the gym in the early 1980s. The banners will be formally presented to the school district by Rotary president Mark Odland at halftime of the January 25 boy's basketball game. See more photos.

In Service to Community

South Haven Rotarians were among the community volunteers who participated in a service project on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We gathered to package 5,000 pounds of rice to be distributed to local food pantries. See photos.
2017 Rotary in Review