June, 2019
Debbie and I can hardly believe this amazing ride has come to an end! We want to wish the new governor team of Steve and Jill Albright, all the incoming presidents and all the officers and members a wonderful, prosperous and exciting year! It has been an honor to serve you. Here is the transcript of my farewell speech I gave at the Installation. I think it sums up our thoughts.
Three and a half years ago I sat in a small room at White’s of Westport with many of my peers in this room and said “I would like to be Governor”!!! And I was sober!!! When I arrived home and told Debbie I had been chosen, she was so proud! You see Debbie thought being Governor was an AWARD and felt I deserved it. This was before I explained the upside down pyramid principle of Rotary!!! If I have not explained it to you, the members are at the TOP and the governor is definitely NOT!
I personally knew the 25 previous governors and thought “I know what to expect” and when we asked them what to expect they said “You’ll be FINE.” The fact is we did not know what to expect and fine is an opinion! The good news is that while the job of Governor is more work than either of us could have imagined the rewards far exceeded our expectations. We have traveled and met Rotarians and people we never would have imagined due to our position. Our view of the Rotary world has been expanded and we will always be proud to be part of it!
While we have hobnobbed with celebrities and presidents of Rotary the true reward of the job is the fact that what I call my Rotary home will be forever changed!! When I am at my home club of Braintree I always wear my club badge because only as a member of my club can I help to change the world for the better. However, when we are asked where our Rotary “Home” is we say District 7950!! EVERY club welcomed us as though we were a member!
When this year began I had two hopes. First, that we could stop the downward slide in membership this and most districts in North America have experienced. We have lost almost 80 members every year for the last ten and that is the norm!! Because of relaxed rules and clubs trying innovative ideas I am hopeful we will stop the slide and soon increase membership!
You may have seen my business card “Bill says it’s OK“ I am thrilled to see clubs changing to fit their membership rather than expecting the members to change to fit the club. This does not mean we should not embrace our 114 year heritage!! While the attendance rules have been relaxed, Rotary only happens when we join together at a meeting, a community project or a social event. A strong Rotary club has good attendance not because it is REQUIRED but because the members WANT to be there!
 I beg you all to ask EVERY guest what they thought of their experience and let your leaders know their thoughts.
Second, I asked every club to use every form of advertising to let their community know what wonderful things they do. Local newspaper and cable, website and social media are critical if we want to entice people to join us. Debbie and I spend an hour every day liking and sharing posts from nearly every club. I firmly believe this has had an impact on membership. As of now we are up 11 members from last year! While that does not seem like much, I pray we continue to increase membership!!
To end, Debbie and I have been honored to meet nearly every member in this district, be welcomed to countless meetings and events and made to feel at home where ever we went! When president Barry Rassin asked us to “Be The Inspiration” to our District I thought, “How can I inspire 2200 Rotarians?” After much thought I decided the people who Inspired me, including many in this room, thanked me for the things I did well and offered to help me improve the things I did not!! I hope this is the impression I left you after our official and many unofficial visits.
We are proud to have served and proud to be members of District 7950.
Thank You!!
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