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Who is your special Rotary mentor?

By T. Murray Forde, Past Assistant Governor of District 7020 and Past President of Rotary Club of East Nassau     

Part of what makes Rotary so special are the connections you make with fellow members and the impact that has on your life.

I first met Sir Durward Knowles in 1963 when I was dating his niece (now my wife). He was well known in sailing circles both locally and internationally.  I remember with pride going to the airport with the family in 1964 to welcome him home from the Olympics in Tokyo. He had won the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the Bahamas, and is now the oldest living Olympic gold medalist in the world.

The Knowles family after his Olympic Gold Medal.

Durward brought me into the Rotary Club of East Nassau in July 1975 when he was incoming club president. I knew a little bit about Rotary, but through Durward I was able to learn even more and get involved. Looking back, I realize the positive influence he’s had on my life and how his mentoring helped shape who I am. Durward was an outstanding example of what it meant to encompass vocational service by leading with integrity and contributing his expertise to the problems and needs of society.

During his year as president, Durward led his club to achieve great things. As president, he really stressed engagement and introduced new projects that encouraged fellowship, which in turn led to an increase in membership. Growth happened naturally as the club became more involved in fundraising, community service, and gained publicity from inspiring guest speakers.

He also got the club thinking big, doing larger community service projects and collaborating with other charitable organizations. His favorite charity is the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled. He spearheaded fundraising projects to finance construction of a building for the association. Following his lead, the Rotary Club of East Nassau has since financed the construction of other buildings.

Durward, who just celebrated his 100th birthday on 2 November, continues to be highly respected in Rotary and our community. A great Rotarian, sailor and humanitarian – I am grateful that Durward introduced me to Rotary.

Who introduced you to Rotary? In what ways are you inspiring others to stay engaged with Rotary? Share your comments below.

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