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Dan Smith, president of Kent Rotary, handed off leadership of the club to Dr. Joseph "Joe" Giancola, superintendent of Kent schools, in an exciting setting Tuesday.
Inauguration of the new Rotary president took place before more than 90 Rotarians and guests who assembled for lunch in the new Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center in the McGilvery Banquet Room, named for John McGilvery, the university's first president, a century ago.
Club members also honored Dr. Bill Brinker and his wife, Grace, for exemplifying the Rotary slogan of "Service Above Self." The two are moving to LaCrosse, Wis. on Saturday where they will reside in a retirement community near their son, Will, who attended the meeting.
"It feel odd being honored from something you love to do," Brinker, an ophthalmologist, said. Besides maintaining a large practice out of his offices in Ravenna the past four decades, Brinker has helped operate volunteer eye care clinics in impoverished countries around the world focusing in recent decades on people in Central America, who lack access to good eye care.
Smith, the outgoing club president, who has been battling a serious illness for several weeks, thanked Rotary's past presidents who presided during his absence. He also thanked his wife, Melissa, for her support and the city of Kent, where he works as economic development director, for letting him take the time to lead the Kent Rotary Club for the past year. He reviewed Rotary services over the past year and, thanking club members for their support, said, "There's a tradition in this club that when you're asked to do something you say 'yes' right away."
With his wife and his parents, Larry and Nancy Smith, in attendance, he added, "When all is said and done it comes down to family and friends." He received a standing ovation.
Giancola, outlining his goals for the coming year, indicated an important one would be the promotion of reading and literacy among the community's young people.
Stephen Moore, the hotel's assistant general manager, welcomed the group and mentioned the kitchen had received reservations for about 70, prepared lunch for 80, and yet had more than 90 in the Rotary gathering. The hotel proved up to that challenge serving tasty, hot meals on time. Tours of the new hotel were also provided.