RIP Brunnier Anectodes

RIP Brunnier Anectodes
The sometimes humorous recollections of Rotary's 1952 President
from San Francisco and the husband of "Rotary Ann."
In 1908 the second Rotary Club was organized in San Francisco. As a charter member, it has been my good fortune to have been a living part in the growth and development of Rotary International.

My business and other activities have taken me to many countries around the world and thereby have had many opportunities to visit Rotary Clubs, and my outstanding experience is that I found my membership card a passport to fellowship wherever I visited.

The following anecdotes are a few of my experiences in visiting Rotary Clubs.

Here is an experience all speakers occasionally encounter. As District Governor I organized the Fresno Rotary Club and on their 20th anniversary was asked to be the speaker. Their first President was chairman of the day and in presenting me he reminisced for 20 minutes about the early days of their club which left only 10 minutes of my allotted time. In Rotary we always adjourned on time, so I gave a short extemporaneous talk

Many years ago I attended a District Conference at Little Rock as the representative of the President of Rotary International and was scheduled to speak at the banquet. The District Governor had arranged with a well known local judge, who was not a Rotarian, to be he toastmaster for the evening. After being introduced I was seated beside him. At the time the Maitre d' gave the signal for the waiters to bring in the entrees the judge turned and asked me “who are you and what are you supposed to do?" When I told him that I was the speaker of the evening he replied, "well, might as well put you on now," and proceeded to announce me to the audience. The dining room was full of columns which obstructed the view for many of the people and the waiters were rattling the dishes and si1verware serving the entrees, and since there was no microphone, the audience except a few close by could not hear me. After five minutes of effort I sat down. There were many apologies later.

In Rio de Janeiro a fellow Rotarian without my knowledge arranged with the President of the Club for me to sit at the head table. It was the day of the District Governor's visit. The Governor spoke briefly, and since he spoke in Portuguese, I did not know what he was saying but I thought he was a poor speaker or something because the members were conversing and paying little attention to him. When the Governor finished, the President turned to me and asked if I would favor them with a 10 minute talk in English. I was taken completely by surprise but fortunately the reason for my being in their country was something that was of interest to their members so I complied with his request. To my surprise the members paid very little more attention to me than they did to the Governor. As I sat down my friend (?) came over and slapped me on the back and said “Bru, I just wanted to see if you could take it. You see, we prefer to read speeches. Your talk has been translated and all the members will receive a printed copy”.

On a vacation trip into the ancient Inca Region I found a Rotary Club in Cuzco, Peru, a small community isolated in the mountains at an elevation of 11,000 feet. On attending a meeting of the club I was quite surprised to hear an excellent talk on United Nations given by one of their members. Later when I complimented him he told me that he had never made a talk before and when he accepted the assignment he read everything that he could find on the subject and thereby gained an education that he might never have had.

Recently, as President of Rotary International, I visited many Rotary Clubs, and a few incidents might be of interest.

On the occasion of official visit to the Sydney, Australia Rotary Club, the District Governor of that region arranged to have all of his clubs represented by a delegation with their ladies. He wanted my wife and I to meet them all and at a reception prior to the dinner we shook hands with 858 people and, might add, those people really shake hands. As we entered the banquet hall we saw a canvas backdrop for the head table on which there was an 8 ft. picture of myself. Everything is big down there, including their bridge.

On an official visit in the Philippines the Rotarians arranged an Inter-City luncheon in Baguio. The mayor, a Rotarian, was ill and sent his deputy to the meeting to welcome me. Somehow, the signals got mixed and the deputy spent 20 minutes eulogizing the Knights of Columbus. The District Governor frantically pulled at his coat tail several times but the deputy was on a single track with no terminal facilities.

A president of Rotary International learns very early in his career that nearly every club would like to have him attend a meeting of their club and later on he finds out that even a past president will frequently be invited.

Recently, on a vacation trip in South Africa, my wife and I motored for 22 days from Bulawayo, South Rhodesia to Cape Town. Whenever we stopped in a community that had a Rotary Club the President of the club and his wife would call on us at the hotel and invite us to a special ladies night meeting.

Evidently the information that a Past President of Rotary International was on the loose was passed along the line. This resulted in my making eleven talks on this trip and I hasten to say that this experience added a great deal to the enjoyment of our holiday and gave us an opportunity to meet and know people in different parts of the Union of South Africa.

Submitted by

P. Michael Davies, PE, SE, Principal
H. J. Brunnier Associates
Structural Engineers
55 New Montgomery Street, Suite 608
San Francisco, CA 94105
Member: RC of San Francisco #2

The certificate decorating Mr. Brunnier as an Officer of the Legion of Honor along with a photograph of the
presentation ceremony that took place during the Rotary Convention in Paris, France May 24-28, 1953 the year Mr.
Brunnier was International President of Rotary

Note Rotary wheel on pachydermal forehead. [Rotarian, March 1953]. (photo courtesy of Rotary International archives)

Guided by a turbaned mahout, an Indian elephant carries President Brunnier and his wife, Ann, to a District Conference session in Hyderabad. Riding with them is District Governor Edul C. Edu

The presentation was made by His Excellency Vincent Auriol,
President of the French Republic (1947-1954) (right side of photo). The photograph is inscribed and signed by
President Auriol.

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