Issue 37, September 11th

I have to say I was especially humbled last week at the presentation orchestrated by John Crowder and Mark Vickers for Past Presidents’ Day.  If you were unable to attend, we dedicated the program to Past President Dole Kelley Jr. who passed away earlier this year.  John and Mark took the time to invite Dole’s wife Kathy, and Daughter Diane who were both in attendance.  They were also joined by Georgianne Pionessa, who while an SBMC member herself was there representing A.J. for the day proudly.  While our weekly door prize auctions are never boring, this week’s was especially eventful.  Scott Schilbrack was kind enough to give Jepp Walter the day off, and found himself bouncing back and forth between Gene Bushor and Tera Williams who were eager for our tickets to today’s Jag’s game.  The bidding was fierce, but in the end Gene donated $450 for our 2 tickets to see the Jags face the Green Bay Packers!  Gene is always incredibly generous to SBMC, but I want to publicly thank him for such a generous donation.  I want the Jags to have a good showing, but I know he has a special place in his heart for the Packers.

As we’re constantly growing as a group, we have many members who never had a chance to get to know Dole.  Joining in 2008 my time with him was very limited as well, but I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity.  Our Chairmen tag-teamed the presentation talking about Past Presidents in generalities & as a whole, and sharing details of Dole’s life and immense accomplishments.  I enjoyed researching him when we planned the message to announce his passing earlier this year, but their delivery to the group was outstanding.  Also it was widely known that he planned nothing on Wednesday’s that might conflict with SBMC.  Diane shared that many always told Kathy never to die on a Wednesday, as he would most likely still be attending the weekly meeting.  To think one of our members made such a contribution to buildings, amusement park rides, military installation, and much more is what I meant when I said I was incredibly humbled.  Dole was the embodiment of SBMCs own Renaissance Man.

Following Mark and John’s remarks, they turned the microphone over to all the Past Presidents in the room to share memories of Dole, and to pass along useful anecdotes of their time at the helm.  Jimmie Harden (1970) was in attendance and his daughter shared memories speaking across the room to Dole’s Diane and encouraged us to involve our children whenever possible.  Both women recalled their fathers’ years and the great times they shared at SBMC.  Dole’s wife Kathy warned us upon agreeing to attend that she might burst into tears, but I think as the program unfolded she went the other way and enjoyed laughing and reminiscing with old friends.

This was probably one of the most heartfelt and engaging Past Presidents’ Days I’ve seen in my tenure with the club, and no doubt the bar has been raised for those in the future.  I had no doubt when Mark and John were chosen to chair this event, we’d have a well-planned, polished, and executed event.  The combination of a Speaking consultant and CPA is probably something we should try and leverage more often, maybe I could enlist them in drafting some of these messages!  Or maybe they’ll be sitting in the crowd one day, sharing experiences having led the club themselves at some point.

Saturday was our Angelwood Civic Project, and the final one of the year.  This was our first time working with this member-organization, and as expected we left with the joyful feeling of accomplishment and having lent a hand to such a worthy cause.  A big thanks goes out to Tera Williams for leading the event.  As she’s becoming more involved with the club, I look forward to her chairing other events in the future.

This week we’ll shift gears into a Jacksonville Entrepreneurial Series beginning with John Valentino, President of the Legacy Restaurant Group.  John opened our local Mellow Mushroom franchises, two stores of which have repeatedly been the highest grossing stores in the country if I’m not mistaken.  If you’ve ever visited a location outside of Jax, you quickly noticed significant differences from those we enjoy here locally.  Since then John has teamed up with and taken Burrito Gallery to the next level, partnering with the Jaguars and opening additional locations.  Also, he’s purchased the well-known French Pantry and is working to expand its operations.  In a club made up of business people, we need to take every advantage of the knowledge and success stories of these individuals who started small and grew to become pillars of the community.  Also coming up in just a few weeks, we’ll dip back into politics for 1 week to host a debate for Congressional District 5, (formerly Corrine Brown’s district) between Republican Nominee Glo Smith, and Democratic nominee Al Lawson.  This will be a highly attended event, so advance reservations will be crucial.  Georgianne Pionessa already told me to anticipate the pleasure of the Republican Women’s Club’s attendance en masse.   The event is already listed on Florida Politics’ website, and I anticipate we’ll attract attendees from all around for this highly contentious race.

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