Rotarians recognized for service

NASHUA — Jack Atkinson has been attending weekly Rotary Club of Nashua meetings since before humans walked on the moon, as he marked 56 years of perfect attendance during the Monday meeting.

Atkinson is followed in years of perfect attendance by Skip Bryant and Bob Cater, who mark 47 and 36 years, respectively. The three men, along with 14 other rotarians, marked 268 cumulative years of perfect attendance, which, as District Gov. Venu Rao pointed out, is longer than the U.S. has been independent from Great Britain.

“It’s pretty mind boggling,” Rao said, adding that their efforts and attendance show their “continuous and enduring” support for rotary.

After the presentation of awards for perfect attendance, Rotary Foundation Trustee Julia Phelps took the podium to share a few words about how important she finds the club.

Phelps, a school administrator, was widowed at a young age, she said, and it was through rotary that she found a new family to provide her some solace. Aside from the impact it had on her own life, Phelps said she has also seen firsthand the work the club’s fundraising has done to help eradicate polio, provide clean drinking water and educate young women across the globe, among other charitable causes.

Rotarians have the opportunity to become Paul Harris Fellows, a designation for those who have donated over $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation, contributing to the work of many of the charitable organizations the club supports. People can also become Paul Harris Fellows by having someone donate the money in their name, as Phelps said she has done for many in her family.

Being named as such declares, “we believe you embody the spirit of Rotary and live service above self,” she said. Rotarians can become fellows up to “plus 8,” meaning they have donated at least $9,000 and after that they are recognized as “major donors.”

The Rotary Club of Nashua named 21 people as Paul Harris Fellows Monday, which Jack Tulley, a major donor

himself, said was a “high-water mark.” He promised to help the rest of the rotarians in the room become fellows by the club’s 100th anniversary in two years.

“I’ll carry you on my shoulders and help you get there,” he told the room.

In a surprise moment, Bob Cater also announced that he named his life partner, Carol Decker, as a Paul Harris Fellow as well. Cater and Decker were introduced by a church friend six years ago after both lost their spouses. Since then, Cater said, they have been “more or less


Cater received his second Paul Harris award Monday. Of Decker, he said through her extensive involvement in community organizations, she embodied that for which rotarians stand.

“She’s just a beautiful person inside and out,” he said.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or