The Norman Transcript

February 3, 2013

Rotary International leaders to visit Norman

Transcript Staff
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Rotarians from all across the state will gather to meet and welcome president of Rotary International, Sakuji Tanaka, of Japan, at the sixteenth annual Bi-District Rotary Foundation Banquet to be held on Friday at the NCED Conference Center and Hotel.

The banquet will be held by Rotary Districts 5770 and 5750 which cover the southwest and northwest quadrants of the state.

Tanaka is visiting the home Rotary district of Ron Burton, of Norman, who has been named president-elect of Rotary International and will serve as President in 2013 – 2014.   

This year’s theme of the banquet is “Let’s Celebrate Your Giving” honoring the service and support given to the Rotary foundation.

“We are excited to have President Tanaka come to Norman, Oklahoma. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate to our president our commitment to Rotary, Ron Burton, and the Foundation,” said District 5770 Governor, Phil Moss.

Shari Kinney, president of the Norman Rotary Club, said Norman was very fortunate to have the president of Rotary International and the president-elect for Rotary International as our guests in Norman and at the Bi-District Foundation Banquet.

“President Tanaka and president-elect Burton will both have the opportunity to observe Norman Rotarians in “Service above Self” visiting the Norman High School Pancake Breakfast, Thunderbird Clubhouse and Food and Shelter,” Kinney said.

James Harp, president of Norman’s Sooner Rotary Club, said this has been an exciting year to be a local Rotary president.

“The Sooner Club of Norman celebrated a 25th anniversary and we have the very unique and distinct pleasure to have a Normanite be the International Rotary president for our next year,” Harp said.

Dr. Marion Paden, president of the Oklahoma City Downtown Rotary Club 29, the 3rd largest Rotary Club in the world noted, “We consider this event very significant since president Tanaka represents over 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide. The 34,000 Rotary Clubs located in virtually every country, share a common quest – service to community and the workplace around the globe,” Paden said “We hope to learn much from president Tanaka during his stay that will aid in our club’s local and international humanitarian efforts.”

President Tanaka and president-elect Burton’s visits are unprecedented. Norman has never had both the president and president-elect visit at one time. The Norman Rotary Club is especially honored as Burton, the president-elect is a member of the Norman Rotary Club and has served as president of the club, in addition to being a former district governor of 5770.

Tanaka’s presidential theme is “Peace through Service.”  During his brief stay he will visit the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, and local social services agencies that the Norman Rotary clubs support.

In his monthly message that he posts on rotary.org, Tanaka expresses that there are many ways to describe the Rotary Foundation. “But I think of our Foundation literally – as the foundation for all of Rotary,” he wrote.

Referring to the analogy of what the foundation and walls are to a home, Tanaka draws the comparison of the devastating earthquake that shook Japan to its core on March 11, 2011, killing more than 15,000 people with another 4,000 still missing.

“What happened that day changed Japan, and everyone who lives there.  It has made us realize how fragile our lives are.  And it has made me realize how little separates me from the people we help through Rotary,” wrote Tanaka.

The Rotary International Foundation mission is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education and the alleviation of poverty. 

For more than 25 years, Rotary has been a leader in the global effort to eradicate polio, and helping countries like Turkey, India and Thailand provide schools and villages access to clean, quality water.  Since 1947, Rotarians have contributed almost $2.9 billion to The Rotary Foundation to help Rotary do good in the world.

Tanaka is the former chair of the Daika Company, past president of the National Household Papers Distribution Association of Japan, and served as vice president of the Yashio City Chamber of Commerce.   He was a Rotary Foundation Trustee, Director of Rotary International (RI) and District Governor. Tanaka has received the RI “Service Above Self Award” and the Foundation’s Citation for “Meritorious Service” and “Distinguished Service” Awards.  He and his wife, Kyoko, are Paul Harris Fellows, Benefactors and members of the Arch C. Klumph Society. He also established an Endowed Rotary Peace Fellowship.  They have three children and seven grandchildren and live in Yashio, Saitama, Japan.

Burton is a member of the American Bar Association and retired president of the University of Oklahoma Foundation. He has served as Rotary Foundation Trustee, Rotary International Director, District Governor, and Norman Rotary Club President and is a Paul Harris Fellow, Arch C. Klumph Society member and Benefactor.

He recently unveiled his presidential theme at for his rotary international term to be “Engage Rotary, Change Lives.”   Delegates elected him last May at the Rotary International Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, and he was officially named president-elect this past October. He will take office in June 2013 at the Rotary International meeting in Lisbon, Portugal.

A Rotarian since 1979, he is a member of the Norman Rotary Club and his wife Jetta, a member of the Cross Timbers Rotary Club. 

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