There are so many things I love about Rotary. The people and the incredible leaders I have met have to be at the top of the list. Rotary is about leadership and service. To be a member of Rotary one has to be in a leadership capacity in their profession. Rotarians must bring with them a commitment to making their local communities and the world we share together better places for all. I could literally write about dozens of folks I have had the pleasure of meeting through Rotary. In my earlier days with Rotary, most were older and they certainly were wiser. Rotary gave me a good opportunity to enjoy some generational diversity. One should never underestimate what can be learned having lunch with and listening to some of the types of people who make up Rotary’s membership. Many have been mentors to me, without it ever being an official mentoring relationship. In today’s world of tweets and texts, it is nice to slow down and look someone in the eye and have a conversation. Rotary provides that and if I had advice to give to young people it would be to take time to slow down and have a conversation with folks who have had life and business experiences for longer than we may have been on the planet. Rotary is a great venue for this kind of dialogue and conversation. And the relationships last a lifetime.
The Rotarian I want to talk about now is Larry Kissler. He taught me a lot about life. Larry was the epitome of what Rotary stands for. He lived by the Four Way Test and “Service Above Self”. He was as positive an upbeat a person as I have ever met. If Larry ever had a bad day he never showed it. In his last years he had Alzheimer’s, but even then he was always pleasant and happy. His smile was warm and genuine. His love and respect for his wife Fran was inspiring and a model for any husband. He was humble and had a great self-deprecating humor. I could list many other things I learned from Larry and here are just a few:
Larry always said “You can’t outgive God!” Funny thing about it was that I don’t know anyone who tried harder. Whether you are religious or not, we can all learn from this. While Larry was an astute business man who worked hard, he also knew he was blessed in life. He never forgot where he came from. He believed that to whom much is given, much is expected. I do not know anyone who was more generous with his time and his money than Larry. I do remember my first meeting as a Rotarian in Boise. Larry and his great friend John Wagers, got up and bantered back and forth raising their self imposed fines on one another up to about $150 each. I thought I could never afford this club. Someone told me that this was just two very generous Rotarians having fun giving to Rotary and this was not expected from the rest of us at that level. Whew! Dozens of times over the years we Rotarians witnessed similar scenes of these two giving from the heart and with great joy for another Rotary project. Larry’s generous spirit certainly lives on with his family.
Larry also loved to talk to young people about business and life. One of his favorite things to do as he presented was to pull out a silver dollar and begin flipping it with his thumb and catching it. He repeated this while asking the audience “who wants this silver dollar?” Lots of hands would go up and Larry would keep flipping the silver dollars, ignoring the hands. Finally someone would walk on to the stage and ask for the dollar. Larry would give it to them and explain that this is how life worked. If you want something you go for it. You don’t wait for it to come to you. You make it happen. You do things ethically, using the four way test and through hard work, but you must seize opportunities when they are presented to you.
Larry passed away several years ago. I miss him and the spirit he brought to Rotary, but I will never forget him and try to live by the lessons I learned by listening and watching Larry in action.
Chief Executive Officer
TREASURE VALLEY FAMILY YMCA / ASSOCIATION SERVICES