She had been president of the Interact Club, sponsored by the Lake Shore Rotary, during her senior year at Chesapeake High School. His father was a Rotarian back home in Seattle, Wash.
Together, Michelleand Stephen Cummins became the first husband-and-wife team to join Lake Shore Rotary. And she became the club's first female member.
They hadn't really thought about breaking new ground, Michelle said in a telephone interview. They had started their own business -- P. Cummins Oyster Co. -- and were "trying to get involved in the community," she explained.
Rotary "was a perfect organization for us," she added. "I didn't have a goal to become the first woman Rotary member. It just happened that way."
Rotary International, a service organization of business and professional people, amended its bylaws in 1987 to allow women. But the Lake Shore Rotary had none until last month, when Michelle was inducted.
"It wasn't that we had anythingagainst women," explained Hugh K. Holmes, a spokesman for the group."But she was the first candidate we knew."
Membership rules allowonly one person in a certain business in each chapter, Holmes said. And Michelle's business -- providing oyster growing systems for people with access to water -- is so unusual that she qualified for membership.
But Stephen is an auditor, a field that's a bit more crowded. Fortunately for him, he specializes in internal audits for Alexander & Alexander Inc., and there were no internal auditors in the club.
Both of them were "just what we were looking for," recounted Dr. Randall McLaughlin, the club president who recruited them. "Young members."
In fact, at 24, they are the youngest members of the club.
"I think the average age is something like 57," Stephen said in an interview. "This club was chartered in 1947, and some of the foundingmembers are still active. They wanted to reach out to somebody younger."
Michelle was asked to speak to the club last fall about her business. And McLaughlin, "being the opportunist that I am," invited both of them to join, he recounted.
"We're always looking for lady members," he said. "And we had two or three prospects in the Pasadenaarea. But it didn't work out."
When Michelle arrived at the meeting at Mount Carmel United Methodist Church on Mountain Road, McLaughlin remembered her from her days as president of the Interact Club eight years ago.
"She was one of the best presidents that club ever had," he said. "She's a fine young lady, and I'm really glad she came in."
Stephen said he is glad the older members have tried to make them feel comfortable, despite their age differences