When I first joined the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 we had a number of members who were part of the religious community. At each meeting one of them would give an invocation to start off the meeting. We had pastors Earnest Brazill, Joseph Boles, and Sherman Davis, Rabbi Richard Rosenthal, and Father Dan Webber. I think the three pastors were honorary, while Rosenthal and Webber were regular members.
Although I am not religious, I enjoyed their weekly messages as well as what they did for our community. I think just them being involved in Rotary connected them to us, and us to them. I think religions bind people together and remind us that we are all one.
I always enjoyed Ernie. He was down to earth and came to the Pacific Northwest during World War II to work in the shipyards of Bremerton. He helped quiet members and friends of his congregation during the summer days of unrest in 1967. Most of all I liked his wisdom and his shared advice on how to stay married. It all depended upon two simple words, “Yes, Ma’am.”
Reverend Boles always gave the same invocation as he blessed those who grew the food, those who picked the food, those how transported the food . . . it went on and on each time until he arrived at prepared the food. He always brought a smile to our faces and numerous lips repeating his words. I recently enjoyed his son, Eric who spoke at the Transportation Club of Tacoma about coaching, training, and inspiring. I can see Joseph in Eric . . . except Joseph had more hair and a larger mustache. The easiness of delivery, the use of humor, and the friendliness were recognizable.
I knew Sherman better than the others. He and his wife Curly embraced the use of video. I traveled all around Tacoma and even down to Portland videotaping important members of the Church of God in Christ. Their church was located close to the Tacoma Public Library at 1119 South Altheimer Street. I loved the music and singing at the church. Although, he generally appeared serious, I had seen photos of him in the army and as a young man. He had an easy laugh and a broad smile.
What I most remember about Rabbi Rosenthal involved a Rotary meeting where the program was a local comic. Some people were offended by her jokes and comments. Dick was at the far end of the head table. He sat through the entire program looking off into the distance. His body might have been at the head table, but his mind was miles away. I remembered that luncheon last year when I visited Temple Beth El to experience a Jewish blue grass group. In the hallway, I stood and looked at the painting of our Rotary rabbi and smiled.
Father Dan had been a tail gunner during World War II, which probably gave him adequate training to rule the roost as president at Bellarmine Prep. He was a member of the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic order of priests and brothers founded half a millennium ago by the soldier-turned-mystic Ignatius Loyola. Dan was the most active of our religious members. We both sat on the program committee. He joined Rotary in 1981 and was still a member when he passed away.
Although I’ve enjoyed many of our invocations by regular members of Rotary, I have missed the connection to our religious community. I would love to see honorary membership being extended to those who represent the different churches, the synagogues, and mosques of all faiths.