Eulogy for Norma Pontello, wife of Jim Pontello

Posted by Dirk Hudson on July 28th, 2014 under Announcements  •  Comments Off

We recently attended the funeral for Norma Pontello, the wife of new Arcadia Rotary member Jim Pontello. The Assistance League of Arcadia sent us the following account of her career as it related to the League. (Norma also served as the District Director for former State Senator Bob Margett.)

“Special Bulletin

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Norma Pontello, wife of member Jim Pontello. Norma was recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and was undergoing treatment at the City of Hope in Duarte.

“Norma was an active member in Assistance League of Arcadia from 1994 to 2002 and in 2009, and served on the board most recently as Treasurer. Norma served as Operation School Bell Chairman in 2011-2012. Over the years she worked with Kids on the Block, Long Range Planning, Social, Newsletter, and many more committees. Norma is remembered as an outstanding lady, outspoken, with a great sense of humor. She was a good friend to many.”

Roger Gewecke’s Eulogy (by Roger Gewecke, Jr.)

Posted by Dirk Hudson on July 28th, 2014 under Announcements  •  Comments Off

Thank you all for coming here today to honor Dad. Thank you also for the cards, letters, and kind words of support after Dad’s passing. Our family really appreciates them.

Roger Leland Gewecke was born on April 6, 1937 in Evanston, WY. His father Cliff was a machinist and diesel mechanic for the Union Pacific Railroad. His mother Edna stayed at home with him and his brother, Cliff Jr. They moved to California in 1943, settling in Maywood. He attended Bell High School, where he was senior class president.

He then enrolled at USC in 1955, where he was a top finance student. He said that from the time he set foot on the USC campus he felt he belonged there, a feeling that never went away. He met Mom there at what was called a” TGIF”, where a fraternity and sorority would get together for a Friday afternoon exchange. He often marveled at his good fortune at meeting her there. Once we were driving past the university when he remarked how glad he was that he went to USC. The rest of us in the car agreed, because if he hadn’t gone there and met Mom, none of would have been born!

He loved the university very much and was an ardent supporter of Trojan athletics. He and Mom were long-time season ticket holders at USC football, basketball and baseball, and made many road trips to see theTrojans play football across the country. They also attended the College World Series in Omaha twice.

He and Mom married in 1959. Dad had enjoyed and excelled in his investment classes at USC and he wanted to get into the investment business. He thought it might be a good profession since you didn’t get your hands dirty and that he would likely become well-off, because an investment professional would only invest in the stocks that went up! He was told by potential employers that he was too young and needed to get sales experience, so Dad took a job with Colgate Palmolive in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A stroke of good fortune came when he was making calls one day with his supervisor. They had had a good day when the man told him he wanted to give him some advice. His supervisor was a Stanford graduate and the father of four who had wanted to be a doctor. He told Dad that if he really wanted to be in the investment business that he should do it before being confined by family financial obligations. The next day Dad resigned, turning in his company car and his sample case.

Dad was unable to find a job in San Francisco but was hired to work in the research department at Bateman Eichler Hill Richards in 1959. Over the next decade he found the time to earn his MBA, teach finance classes at both USC and UCLA, hold a demanding full-time job, and father four children. He ultimately became the director of research at Bateman Eichler and a shareholder of the firm. He stayed there for 25 years.

Their first child was born in December, 1960, and [they] decided to look for their first home. Since satisfactory housing on the Westside was unaffordable, they decided to look for a home in the San Gabriel Valley. They headed toward Temple City and overshot it, winding up in Arcadia and finding a small real estate office. The agent showed them some homes in Arcadia, and they bought the first of three homes in this city, where they lived for 53 years. Dad loved the city of Arcadia, finding it a wonderful community with great schools and great people.

He coached youth baseball in Arcadia from 1970 to 1983. He had been a very good player himself when he was young, playing on his high school varsity team as a freshman. He showed up as an observer at his oldest son’s first practice in 1970, where the manager asked him if he’d like to help with the team. It didn’t take a lot of arm twisting for him to take the job! He later coached all three of his sons and coached kids whose ages ranged from eight to 16. He prided himself on teaching kids that the most important part of their whole experience was being part of a team. He taught them to play the game right and to always know what to do with the ball in any given situation. Although he was a very competitive man, he was always the type of person a parent would like their child to play for. Dad made many friends through the time he spent coaching and always looked back fondly on those times as some of the best he ever had. His interest in baseball never waned, and he greatly enjoyed seeing his grandchildren play at all levels and his son Steve’s teams play at Alhambra High. He had a permanent seat at ground level at the Alhambra games. One time, when a pitcher threw an especially poor curveball, he picked up his cane, took a perfect level swing, and proclaimed that “I could have hit that hanger!”

Dad also became an active member of the Arcadia Rotary club and a board member of the Santa Anita Family YMCA.

One area where he was an especially active volunteer was the Los Angeles Society of Financial Analysts, serving as its president from 1971-72. He especially enjoyed his twenty years as membership chairman after that. I still often hear from people how grateful they were that when they moved to Los Angeles and didn’t know anyone in the investment profession, they would call him as membership chair to join the analyst society, and he would routinely invite them to have lunch. He was always generous with his time and a great mentor and friend to young professionals.

In the early 80s Dad had the pleasure of seeing his daughter Ellen be presented at the Debutante Ball. She remembers him as being a very good dancer. Mom and Dad also started taking vacation trips to Hawaii, almost every year since their 25th anniversary in 1984. They became experts on all of the islands. Dad’s leisure wardrobe also took a dramatic turn at that point, as he developed an affinity for Hawaiian shirts, amassing over 150 (by conservative estimate) on their trips to the islands.

Dad left Bateman Eichler after 25 years in 1984 and after a short stay at Kidder Peabody, he joined Van Deventer & Hoch as a portfolio manager in 1985 until he retired in 2002.

He had four children and 11 grandchildren. His idea of a perfect day was to have all of his family running around in his home, but geography made that difficult, as Rob lives in the Bay Area and Ellen in Carlsbad. He was an ideal father, grandfather, and role model whose kindness, patience, and generosity are still an inspiration to all of us. He was quite often the smartest person in the room without the compulsion to let everyone know it. As a parent he was always at his best in the big moments. He always gave good advice, and was ready to give you a pat on the back or a kick somewhere a little lower and a little harder if he felt you needed it. But you never walked away from any encounter with him feeling worse than you did when you started or without the definite feeling that he was in your corner, regardless of whether he agreed with your current course of action. Once one of us was arguing with our mother and, once away from Mom, appealed to him to validate our side of the argument. He said it didn’t matter if you were right; he had never won an argument with Mom so it was futile to think that you might, and finished by saying sometime one needs to take the path of least resistance. As his health problems began to accumulate, his final few years were very painful for him physically. But his attitude never wavered—he was always resilient, graceful, cheerful and positive with everyone he encountered, and his grandchildren noticed how happy people were to see him when he was out and about.

His most important relationship and the one he most cherished was with Mom. They were married for 55 years. His love for her was apparent. He never took a moment with her for granted, and remarked often how grateful he was that everything had worked out for them and their marriage. From a child’s perspective, they were always on the same page; if they disagreed on anything large or small, we never knew it. Over his 43 year career he never left for work without kissing her goodbye and he never returned without kissing her hello.

Thank you for allowing a few remembrances of Dad, and our family appreciates all of you for being here today.

Recognitions July 25, 2014

Posted by Andy Bundesmann on July 28th, 2014 under Announcements  •  Comments Off

George said the job was stressful so started by calming his nerves with a nice “beverage”.
Tom Crosby was the first “recognizee” for $40 for a number of things: his work leading songs and remembering Denny Gearhardt, his daughter’s wedding and his work in remodeling homes. His specialty is bathrooms, proven by a picture of 5 urinals in a person’s home.
Frank Griffith was recognized for his skills playing golf. After playing every Thursday for a very long time, Frank finally broke par for the Eaton Canyon course by scoring a 33…on the first 4 holes. Such skill was recognized for $40. Now, Dick Martinez offered a small defense saying that Frank’s intent is to lower his effective cost of playing…more strokes results in a lower cost per stroke…the PGA is not waiting…
Finally, Bob Novell was recognized for his skills in managing money and investments for his clients. George happened to meet a retired client of Bob’s. The client was in the clothing business. To help Bob remember this client, George took his picture in his current home …a shopping cart…$35.

Announcements – Rotary meeting 07/25/2014

Posted by Pat Barnes on July 26th, 2014 under Announcements  •  Comments Off

1.  Art Killian is still recovering at Methodist Hospital.  Jim Helms said that he is now in the Rehab unit receiving physical therapy.

2.  The District Governor’s visit and dinner will be on Friday 08/22/2014.   There will be a signupfor those who plan on attending the dinner..

3.  There will be a club social on Thursday evening 08/07/2014 at the Ball and Chain Restaurant in Hollywood.  There will be a shuttle bus to and from the restaurant at a cost of $25 which will also include 1 appetizer and 1 cocktail at the restaurant.  This should be a great event and would be a great time to bring a prospective member.   There will be a signup sheet for those who plan on attending.


Craft Talk, Ramon Oseguera

Posted by Brian Hall on July 25th, 2014 under Announcements  •  Comments Off

Ramon Oseguera introduced us to the world of Westfield in Arcadia, where he manages the mall operations and lease relations with all the tenants.  This is Ramon’s second Rotary club, he was a blue badger at West Covina, but lost that when coming over to Arcadia. Ramon grew up in northern California, in Redwood City.  Ramon attended the University California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), graduating and making the difficult decision of either living back at home with his parents or in Hermosa Beach with 3 of his college friends that had employment as bar tenders.  He wisely chose to live in Hermosa Beach and shortly there after began 6 wonderful years of employment with Enterprise Rent a Car.  While Ramon speaks highly of Enterprise, their Management Training Program that starts you washing cars, then moves you along in the business, he did get a bit weary of answering questions from family and friends about when he was going to go to work using his educational degree.

Ramon was invited by a friend to interview with Westfield whereupon he landed employment managing a mall in the Bay area, he moved and his career and life blossomed.  He married Erin and they were blessed with a daughter, Lauren who is now 6 years old.  Not long after, Ramon was invited to manage a mall in the thriving West Covina area, which involved “selling” the location to his lovely wife Erin.  They moved and not long after had twins, a boy and a girl.  Ramon noted that as the children began to outnumber the parents, management became more challenging, moving from a man-to-man defense to a zone defense, or something like that.

Now at the Westfield mall in Arcadia, Ramon’s twins are 3 years old and life is pretty good.  Jeff Johnson asked if the Internet has had a debilitating impact on physical locations like Westfield mall?  Ramon said that people still want the hands on and social aspects of shopping in stores, business is good.  Great craft talk Ramon!!!!

Craft Talk, Teri Muse

Posted by Brian Hall on July 25th, 2014 under Announcements  •  Comments Off


Teri Muse, Red Badger and leader of the Ice Breakers Club introduced Rotarians to the wonderful world of Waste Management (WM) where she works as the Public Sector Solutions Manager.  WM’s core values include: Knowing more about customers & serving them better; Extracting more value from waste material; and Innovating to optimize performance.

WM employees over 42,000 people and serves 20 million customers.  WM extracts value from “Green Waste” compostable materials and from trash by recycling and generating methane gas from the trash.  All their trucks are run on natural gas produced at the landfill, which is located in El Sobrante near Corona, CA.  The landfill encompasses 1,333 acres which does attract trash picking Sea Gulls.  Sea Gull populations are kept in check by using a Falconer, a “green” solution.  Tours are available to Rotarians upon request.

Teri has a wonderful family, she is the youngest of 4 and was in the newspaper at 4 years old, consulting on “career path choices” advising the interviewer that it was a bit early to make that decision.  Teri also has a wonderful husband, dog that eats anything left unattended raw or cooked, and most importantly 4 children ranging in age from 13 to 24.  Teri noted how interesting it is to parent adult kids at home, Brian Hall relates, noting that they know everything and motivating them is a unique challenge.  Teri is a college graduate from Cal State LA; Public Relations & Journalism, loves to work in the yard, where she is also a overachiever with 4 Pergolas and drought resistant plants throughout.  Great talk Teri!!!!

Announcements for July 18, 2014

Posted by Dave Totten on July 20th, 2014 under Announcements  •  Comments Off

Member Update

  1. Services for Roger Gewecke will be held on Saturday, July 26, at 11 AM, at Holy Angels Church in Arcadia.
  2. Art Killian is suffering from pneumonia and is at Arcadia Methodist Hospital. According to Ken Mallory, Art is on oxygen and is recuperating.
  3. The club expressed it’s deepest sympathy to Jim Pontello who’s wife Norma passed away recently.


  1. Eric Barter said the District Governor’s visit would be on Aug. 26. Larrgy Skaggs, the new D.G., will be here for our board meeting starting at 10:45 and ending at 11:45. There will be a dinner that night and details will be provided later.
  2. Mimi Hennessy is trying to finish up her two water projects. If you pledged money to the projects, please give Mimi your check or send it to the club. They should be made out to Rotary International.

Club Assembly – Opportunities for Involvement

Posted by Brad Miller on July 14th, 2014 under Weekly Programs  •  Comments Off

The directors of each avenue of service and committee chairs presented a summary of their plans for the Rotary year.

Arcadia Rotary Foundation’s chair, Yvonne Flint reported on donations from funds within the foundation:

The Johenk Fund can be used for any charitable purpose inside Arcadia:

  • $1,000 to the Arcadia Historical Society
  • $1,000 to the Arcadia Performing Arts Center
  • $3,600 to AUSD for teacher mini-grants
  • $10,000 for Arcadia’s expenses as a Special Olympics Host City

The McBane Fund can be used for charitable causes, medical work in Mexico, needy students including small grants for glasses or hearing.

  • $4,000 to the Wheelchair Foundation for wheelchairs in Mexico

The Walter Fund provides two $1,000 college scholarships to Arcadia high school seniors each year.

Club Service – Erich Rail (club meetings, socials and events).

  • New Treasurer Ed Beranek takes over from Roger Grant
  • Secretary Jack Lamb and Club Administrator Sandra Caldero
  • Programs – Dave McMonigle
  • Social – Chris Haddow
  • Fundraisers – Mike Real and Jim Rider
  • Membership Development – Brian Hall
  • Public Image – Andrea Bundesmann
  • Communications – Website, High Gear support and e-mail.
  • High Gear Coordination – Dirk Hudson

Environment – Richard Shulhof (environmental projects and awareness – several Arboretum projects are in process).

Sargent-at-Arms – George Fasching

Vocational – John Davis

International – Ashley Andrews. Also, Dick Martinez and Tom Crosby: they are surveying potential projects in Tijuana and Ensenada.

Community Service – Daniel Johannes

New Generations (Youth) – John Wilson

GET INVOLVED!! The leadership team of President Mike Ojeda, President-Elect Mike Hoey, Vice-President Rosie Mares and Past-President Mimi Hennessy ask that you look at areas of interest and sign up on the flyers on each table. Let them know how you would like to participate in the coming Rotary year.

Recognitions – July 11, 2014

Posted by Yvonne Flint on July 13th, 2014 under Recognition  •  Comments Off

It’s a new Rotary year and a new Fine Master, George Fasching, took over. It’s been 11 years since George was in charge of recognitions, so look out, Arcadia Rotary!

Chris Haddow was first up on George’s list. With no vacations lately or planned and everything going well at the bank, what could it be? Chris is this year’s Social Chair and also on the Food Service committee. George proposed an addition to Rotary’s 4-Way Test, a Fifth test: Will it build strong bones eating chicken forty Fridays a year? Chris’ reply raised his fine from $35 to $70.

President-Elect Mike Hoey has been in the optometry business for 30 years, 13 of those years in Arcadia. As one of Mike’s patients, George received a letter last month noting that his last appointment had been in 2002 … oops! The letter continued to state, “At this time in your life, as with other things, expect your vision to go down.” Unable to explain what else might be going down or to justify the letter’s use of the word “spectacles,” which George maintains he hasn’t heard since his grandparents were alive, Mike was fined $40.

Finally it was Andy Bundesmann’s turn. Also with no vacation planned, just lots of work, Andy is the Administrator of a veterinarian hospital. Per George, she “runs the joint.” She agreed with George that pets cannot talk but he apparently found some of her patients whose faces he was able to read. A sweet-faced dog reported that Andy had taken him to the Derby where he enjoyed drinking beer out of a dish on the floor, while an unhappy cat maintained that Andy promised it wouldn’t hurt but she lied. Andy was fined $50 for being unable to dispute George’s translations.

Announcements for July 11, 2014

Posted by Dirk Hudson on July 11th, 2014 under Announcements  •  Comments Off

Member Updates

1. Roger Gewecke passed away on June 30, 2014. Memorial Services will be on Saturday, July 26, 2014, at 11 a.m. at Holy Angels Church in Arcadia.
2. Art Killian has pneumonia and for the last few days has been at Methodist Hospital in Arcadia.
3. Ashley Andrews couldn’t be here due to her father having become seriously ill.


1. The H.T. Michler Award for 2014 was presented to Bob Harbicht by Jim Rider (last year’s recipient). Present at the ceremony was Bob’s wife Patsy and a grandson Robert (who is about to enter Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo).

General Announcements

1. The Rev. Phil Wood is distributing a sign-up sheet for volunteers to lead the club in invocations for the next few meetings.
2. Andy Bundesmann stated that volunteers are needed to help in a BBQ next Thursday (July 17) for Arcadia High School football. A sign-up sheet is being distributed.


1. John Wilson introduced his young guest, Margaret Sandoval, a member of the Boys and Girls Club of the Foothills. Margaret described her life from early childhood to the present. At age two she was living in a trashy home surrounded by empty beer cans and cigarette butts. A shooting took place and social services took her away from her biological parents. She was then taken in by another family who raised her lovingly. She joined a summer program with the Boys and Girls Club of the Foothills. Unfortunately Margaret’s sister Rosie went back to their biological parents causing Margaret great distress. After counseling, Margaret returned to the Boys and Girls Club as a volunteer. Margaret became a top student at Monrovia High School and is about to enter Azusa Pacific University.

88th Annual Installation of Officers & Directors

Posted by Ashley Andrews on July 5th, 2014 under Weekly Programs  •  Comments Off

By Ashley A. Andrews, Esq.

On Saturday, June 28th, 2014 approximately 140 Arcadia Rotarians gathered at our local, historical gem (the Santa Anita Racetrack) to celebrate the end of now Past-President Mimi Hennessy’s reign and the beginning of current President Mike Ojeda’s usurpation of the throne. Congratulations to him – he has now acquired another full time job.

President Ojeda was sworn in by Mike Real, who apparently has a certain fascination with jumping out of perfectly good airplanes with Jay Harvill – both men having yet to be formally diagnosed with some sort of mental illness for this feat.  Mr. Real sternly instructed President Ojeda to “proudly wear the tattoo of Rotary.” I am not really a fan of “ink,” so I will not throw my hat in the ring for president any time soon; but, I gladly participated in the obligatory line-up of incoming Officers and Directors. We also received instructions: “do everything that President Ojeda tells us to do.” A dangerously broad statement,indeed;I assume this is solely in the context of Rotary tasks  because members, who have not already, are likely not interested in employing one of our criminal defense attorneys ( Rich Hutton or Mark Khalaf) or our bail bondsman (Eric Barter) any time soon. While “your momma does want you home,” Eric Barter, my momma generally does not envision this mandate as one requiring posting bail.

Following the swearing in and obligatory line-up, Ms. Hennessy gave an eloquent and instructive speech. I only heard parts of it because I was distracted by the constant flow of pictures of Rotarians (mostly President Ojeda for the first 30 minutes of the evening) on the twenty or so televisions peppering the room; but, knowing Mimi, it was full of profound and wise words.  I did hear the part about the “lead goose going back into the flock”; so, Ms. Hennessy, you have served well and deserve a much needed break from breaking wind.

Last year’s Board members were also given accolades and asked to rise and receive acknowledgement and/or assignation attempts depending on how well they did or did not do in their respective capacities this past year. Some of our amazing and selfless members like Aaron Rose and Daniel Johannes received awards for their incredible service and dedication to the Club – we should all be in awe of these two guys as they manage full time jobs, family and some how to keep their wives relatively happy. These are two truly extraordinary men and our Club is so lucky to have them – without these two our meetings would be without Powerpoint and, perhaps, any new members under the age of 80. From those of us who enjoy eating solid food at lunch, we commend you.

A number of  Past-Presidents provided words of wisdom for our incoming President. Most compelling were the words from Bob Novell who instructed President Ojeda to “make it your best year; you don’t want to get to the end of it and say ‘ I wish I would have done’…..” What’s wrong with next year, Mr. Novell? Do you know something we do not know? Are you plotting?

Finally, President Ojeda took control of the microphone as the Club’s 88th President. 88th! This is outstanding and really should instill pride in our members because for 88 years we have been tolerating substandard food and weekly meetings when we would rather be doing something else, anything else, and songs not even campers would dare to sing anymore (or even our public schools) to unselfishly come together for the good of the community,  the nation and the world. This year’s theme is “back to the basics.” It will be interesting to see how this plays out – but, a big focus will be on membership. So, here’s a tip to all of you on the fence about joining Rotary – 140 people of all ages gave up their Saturday night to get together at the Santa Anita Racetrack where we were served “food” of questionable origin, forced to wear formal attire when it was close to 100 degrees outside, and seated somewhere between a cafeteria line and betting windows to rally behind our outgoing and incoming Presidents. Like the Who’s in Whoville holding hands and singing when the Grinch stole Christmas – there is something special in Rotarians that brings us all together and keeps up coming back despite less than ideal circumstances and choice of venue. Each member has something to contribute, something to give, some way to serve – as my paternal Grandmother always said “the only thing that fulfills you in life is volunteering.” Rotary is a living, breathing embodiment of her words. And, I regret not being more assertive with trying to take the centerpiece home because I do not think anyone claimed it and the staff probably just threw it away.

Demotion – President Mimi’s era comes to an end

Posted by Brad Miller on June 27th, 2014 under Weekly Programs  •  Comments Off

Past President Matt Weaver, chair of the Demotion Committee Brian Cogbill M.C. the eagerly awaited demotion. For the membership, the demotion is looked forward to as a fun meeting.  For the Presdient perhaps not as eagerly but still as a signal of the end of their Rotary year. Brian dressed up in a suit proved to the membership that he took his responsibility seriously. With gavel in hand he eventually hushed Mimi into demotion submission.
Brian invited Bob Harbicht up to reprise his demotion role explaining to us more of Mimi’s personal history that we knew little of (read: “none and mostly made-up!”). As always, the membership enjoyed his creative humor.

Outgoing ASUD Director, Joel Shawn and incoming Director David Vanasdall took over the demotion to explain that close examination of the records showed the Mimi never really graduated high school despite her higher credentials. They felt it appropriate after thorough examination to re-graduate her with a G.E.D. Mimi dressed in cap and gown received her recognition and was blessed her with a bottle of Hennessy cognac.