All posts by Pat Dolphin


Our Guest Speaker today was Dr. William “Bill” White who has lived in our community for over forty years. Bill joined the Sierra Madre Medical Group as a partner practicing general medicine in 1963 and a staff member at the Methodist Hospital. He became Chief of Staff there in 1984 and is now retired from practice.  Dr. White has got to be one of the most knowledgeable people around about the Mt. Wilson Trail and its history.


Back in 1889 one of the most difficult pack trains was planned for the trip to Mt. Wilson. It would be to transport the first telescope there, a load estimated at 1200 lbs. It turns out that when they received the telescope at the beginning of the trail for packaging in crates it weighed in at 3700 lbs. It was such an arduous journey on the narrow trail that at times where they encountered a sharp angle they had to drill and blast out a rock to widen it before they could proceed. When they were within two miles of the summit a sudden snowstorm dropped a foot of snow and the men had to abandoned their packs and wait a week at the Halfway House, a small wooden cabin built for shelter along the way. They had to wait for the snow to melt before going further. The entire trip took a total of six weeks to deliver the telescope. Dr. White said that is what made Sierra Madre famous and people poured in to the area to book a trip up the mountain to see the telescope.


A few men built camps to house campers along the trail. One built by Peter Steil called Steil Camp. Mr. Steil owned a drinking establishment in the Pasadena area during the prohibition era and he was frowned upon by many city staff for the alcohol he sold. Another developed a camp named the Strain Camp after A.J. Strain, the builder. Unfortunately to get to the Strain Camp one had to walk through he Steil Camp so Mr. Steil put up a fence to block the trail. When it went to court in Pasadena the judge ruled a $1.00 fine and opened the trail to all people.


The telescope was moved years later to Peru, where Harvard was building an observatory and is now at the Boyden Observatory in Bloemfontein, South Africa.


What a great historic moment Dr. White shared with us. This is simply fascinating!


Thank you Dr. White.


(Pat Dolphin)

Practice, Patience and Perseverance

Our speaker today was Bill Ukropina, one of the founders of Coldwell Banker Commercial Advisors. They currently employ thirty-three people who specialize in leasing and selling commercial properties in the greater areas of Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia.

Bill graduated from San Marino High School and Washington State University and has lived in Pasadena with his wife for thirty-two years. He has three boys, Nick who works in manufacturing sales and is in the USC MBA program. His son Grant is a management engineer at McMaster Carr Industrial Supply and is finishing his MBA at USC and Conrad, who graduated from Stanford in June of 2016 and just received his Masters degree there. Conrad was a member of the Stanford Football team and played in the 2016 Rose Bowl Game. He broke six (6) all-time kicking records while at Stanford.

Bill and his wife Lynn-Ann were lead sponsors of a Pasadena Cancer Support Community Event last year and are very involved as volunteers and donors.

Bill mentioned that he always wanted to be a quarterback from the time he was 8 years old. When he was in third grade he went with some friends to a San Marino High School practice and was able to meet Rich Haley, an outstanding quarterback in 1988. Fast forward to Bill’s youngest son Conrad, who was also interested in quarterbacking for his high school, Loyola High School. Conrad tried out for the position with several others and the coach had narrowed his choice down to three candidates, Conrad was one of them. Unfortunately, three days before the season opener Conrad broke his arm in four places during a tackling drill. He was determined to find some other way to stay involved with the team where all of his friends were. So Conrad decided to take up kicking. He was so good at it, his dad, Bill, decided to make a DVD and sent it to eighty (80) college coaches. Some schools responded with an offer of a partial ride, like USC, Princeton, and Yale. Only one responded with a full scholarship from Fresno State, Coach Pete Alamar. Conrad, meanwhile, decided to accept a non-scholarship “walk-on” position at Stanford. His first day there an announcement was made, “we have a new special teams coach, Pete Alamar”. It didn’t take long for Conrad to realize he had made a wise decision. In his first game in his sophomore year, with no experience at the position, Ukropina drilled a 44-yard field goal against UCLA on regional TV.

Conrad received a full scholarship his senior year at Stanford. He learned the art of Practice, Patience, and Perseverance and increased his work out routines, strategy and the patience it takes to win. He made a 42-yard and a 46-yard field goal against USC to win and against Notre Dame he made the game winning Field Goal after the defense tried to ICE him out by calling time outs. Stanford won that game 38-36.

Our thanks to Bill Ukropina for sharing his story and passing on a good lesson of Practice, Patience and Perseverance.


(Pat Dolphin)


Our own Frank Hall inspired us all when he approached the podium and took us on a tour of his life as a Rotarian.  Frank joined Rotary in 1965 after he had been transferred as an assistant manager of a bank in Alhambra.  Frank had been in the banking business since 1957 and tried to join other clubs but back then the RI bylaws stipulated there was to be only one classification in each club, i.e., real estate, lawyer, banker, etc.  Attendance was mandatory, make-ups were permitted but if you missed four straight meetings you were out.  One time Frank was on vacation in Napa, California and attended a make-up meeting in nearby St. Helena, he shared with us that there were so many vineyard owners that membership had to classify them as Winemaster Chardonnay, Winemaster Merlot, Winemaster Cabernet. He noted that Robert Mondavi, owner of Charles Krug Winery, was a member of the club and during a two year period when his winery was not producing wine the club reclassified him “Vinegar Manufacturer”.  Rotarians having fun!


Frank spent a brief time in San Bernardino where he joined Rotary and then moved to Palm Springs where he opened a branch of Crocker Bank.  Once there he joined the Rotary Club of Palm Springs, about one hundred members strong.  In 1971 the President Elect passed away four months before taking office as President and the club asked Frank to take over as President.  Frank remembers the members and celebrities who made up there were the likes of J.C. Penney (yes, that one) and Liberache’s brother George all the way from South Lake Tahoe as well as Don Wilson, the master of ceremonies for comedian Jack Benny.


Frank spent ten years (1976-86) at the Rotary Club of Newport Beach before moving on to the L.A.5 with its six hundred members. He recalled his involvement with the first Polio-Plus Fundraiser, which raised over $100,000 and the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled Rotary International could not exclude women from membership to Rotary.  Frank then joined the South Fullerton Rotary for a time but joined the Sierra Madre Club since he lives there.  He was in Sierra Madre Rotary for a total of nine years before joining the Greatest Rotary Club in the World, Arcadia Rotary.  For the last ten years he has enjoyed our club, made numerous close friends, and is currently the President of the Arcadia Rotary Foundation.  We extend our sincere gratitude to Frank for sharing his experiences and service over 50 years in Rotary.


(Pat Dolphin)

Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation

Program Chairman Jim Pontello introduced his first speaker of the new Presidential year and she was on fire. Not really, but she did speak about the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. Our guest speaker was Jan Share, Operations Manager of the Southern California office of the foundation. The history of the organization began years ago. In 1971 a devastating backyard fire broke out at eight year old Alisa Ann’s home. Her little brother sat down in the yard and rolled to stop the flames but Alisa Ann ran inside to her mother. She was so badly burned she did not survive. The family decided to start the foundation in her name with the goal of helping young burn survivors get through the horror of recovery after being burned. The foundation connects them with resources for coping with and managing their injuries. Dealing with disfigurement and rebuilding ones own self confidence is a daunting task but with the help of thousands of volunteers statewide and numerous fund raising efforts, it is being accomplished. Support groups are provided for burn survivors, their loved-ones, care givers and burn care professionals.

Jan played a short video, which showed many ways the quality of life is enhanced for these young survivors. The organization stages field trips, ski trips, kayak trips, beach adventures, and family camps. Just last month the organization sent 144 kids to the Largest Burn Camp in the country where the kids stay for one full week. When kids reach the age of fifteen they transition into the Young Adult Summit where they can learn about things like fixing cars and writing resumes for future employment. Once they reach seventeen or eighteen they become a C.I.T., counselor in training.

The Alisa Ann Ruch Foundation partners with Hospitals and Burn Centers, Fire Departments and Schools and Community Groups to get the word out about fire safety and training. They have developed the F.I.S.E., Firefighters in Safety Education, which teaches kids that “It Only Takes A Second” to change your life forever. Jan says all funds are raised through relays, grants, and donations. She pointed out to always have a plan for escape, know your surroundings and use caution when cooking on the stove or heating soup.

Thanks Jan for a great subject to talk about, Burn Safety.

(Pat Dolphin)

Matching Global Grants


Our speaker Friday was Chehab (Shab) El Awar, a Past District Governor of District 5330 and a member of Rotary Club of San Bernardino Sunset. He was born in Lebanon and raised dirt poor but always listened to his mother and followed her example of helping people throughout her life.  Shab emigrated to the United States in 1978 and became a U.S. Citizen in 1986. He received his B.S. Degree as a civil engineer from Chico State University and his Masters of Structural Engineering degree from Long Beach State. He is married to Dr Bricia El Awar who is a dentist and practices on missions to Mexico and Central America . Shab joined Rotary in 1997 and both he and his wife are members of the same club.

Shab spoke from the heart with a passion to help others and a passion for building a future that has a promise for all. He and his wife have traveled extensively on missions for Rotary and have mastered how to research and apply for a matching global grants. There are two websites he shared with our club that list opportunities for matching global grants and projects to partner with other clubs. The first,, lists projects all over the world along with contact information, project details, etc. These projects are typically located in very poor areas of third world countries such as remote India, Nepal, Philippines, or Mexico. Many are cleft pallet or water purification, or even medical equipment needs, but all are important. is the other shared website that is full of “how to” instructions with step-by-step Rotary procedures on idea sharing.

Make no mistake, Shab not only tells us how to find projects and get matching grants, he takes part in missions to areas like Guatemala to repair cleft pallets, Bangladesh for a 3-H Project to deal with Health, Hunger, and Humanity at a school for drop out girls in poverty (2015). He currently lists another pending “water/sanitation” project waiting for RI Foundation approval with a $60,000 budget in an area of India. He is truly an amazing man with incredible talent to get things done. Many thanks to Shab and his wife for joining us and sharing this valuable information.

(Pat Dolphin)



Easter Memories

Our own Jim Helms took the podium and reminded us that he was a PK. What is a PK you ask? It means Preachers Kid and as the son of a preacher, Jim experienced many Easter Services, especially Sunrise Service. Jim recalled visiting an area of Arizona known as Window Rock, commonly referred to as the Navajo Nation. It’s an area his father visited back in 1935 during the Great Depression to bring the Word to the Navajo people. Don’t forget, it was the Navajo who helped us win WWII by sharing their language (Code) with our armed forces, that code, was never broken by the enemy.

Jim still remembered, as a young PK, an Easter Sunrise Service at Window Rock with an altar and organ set-up at the opening, while he watched the glorious Sunrise.

Mimi Hennessy remembered wearing matching Easter dresses with her sister, Easter baskets and dying Easter eggs and don’t forget the Jelly Bellies she has shared. Her most enduring Easter memory was of the Ramos Gin Fizz, playing Messiah and celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. She recalled while in colonial Taxco, Mexico, with its cobblestone streets, there were endless parades depicting Jesus carrying the cross, people carrying chains and walking on their knees all through the Plaza Borda (the main square). There is an elaborate landmark 18th century rose-colored church named Iglesias de Santa Prisca where Easter services continue for as many as eight hours.

In Greece, Easter services conclude around midnight, at that point all stand, holding candles and sing “Christ has Risen”. The faithful then break the Lenten fast with feasts of lamb and fish and of course red dyed eggs.

Board Member Frank Hall, a past President of Palm Springs Rotary Club in 1972, coordinated a memorable Rotary Easter egg Hunt, together with the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. It was suppose to be a unique venue at the top of the Palm Springs Tramway. Volunteers met the day before to hide the Easter eggs along with a select few special eggs that contained a gift card for a Mc Donalds hamburger. Unexpectedly, it snowed that night and by the time the event started the eggs were buried under snow. Franks daughter was lucky enough to find one of the special eggs with a gift card but when she opened another egg in the car, it had not become “hard boiled”, still had its yoke due to the altitude and boiling temps. Needless to say Frank had to pull over and clean up the Easter mess.

Thanks to our three speakers for their great Easter memories.

(Pat Dolphin)