Rotary's new president is a woman committed

Neighbors/ Severna Park

July 09, 1992|By Joni Guhne

Donna Salisbury, a 20-year resident of Severna Park, assumed a historic role on June 26 when she was installed as the first female president of the Severna Park Rotary Club.

"Rotary is very demanding," says the new president. "It meets 52 weeks a year, and has an attendance requirement."

But Salisbury is committed to Rotary International and its motto: "Service Above Self."

"Donna will make a very fine president," says Mel Hastings, who held the office last year for a second time. "She did an exceptional job as vice president directing community services."

"Women first became involved in Rotary in the U.S.A. when the Supreme Court dictated that they should. It's been a little slower in other countries," Salisbury says.

Salisbury and Terrie Price, manager of Maryland National Bank in Severna Park, were the first female Rotarians in Severna Park. Both assumed leadership roles from the beginning. Price is club treasurer.

Facing some challenges earlier in life has helped prepare Salisbury for her new assignment.

She is the single mother of two grown children -- Carla, who holds a master's degree from the London School of Economics and is a research analyst with National Economic Research Associates; and Buddy, a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology.

When her children were teen-agers, she opened her home to a young friend whose family was having problems, and in the process gained a second son.

He is now 25 years old, a graduate of St. Francis College in Pennsylvania and a successful salesman.

"We have three [children], the way I count," says Salisbury, who took a second job to make ends meet while the three were in


She was set to remarry, but her fiance was killed in an auto accident.

He had been a past president of the Kirkwood Highway Rotary Club in Delaware, and through their relationship she developed an interest in Rotary.

As a measure of her commitment, she became a Paul Harris Fellow. To earn this designation, a Rotarian donates or has donated in his honor a gift of $1,000 to the Rotary Foundation.

The foundation has awarded $198 million in scholarships since 1947; $29.4 million in health, hunger, and humanity grants since 1978; $172 million to immunize 594.5 million children against polio; $32 million for Group Study Exchange since 1965; and $16.4 million in matching grants to service projects and districts.

In the Severna Park club, with a membership of less than 50, there are 19 Paul Harris Fellows.

Salisbury's primary goal as president is to increase the club membership with young, dedicated, service-oriented people.

"By young, I mean 40," she says, laughing. Membership is by invitation, and she has her eye on all those graduating Jaycees.

The largest and oldest service organization worldwide, Rotary had its beginning in 1905 in Chicago and today includes approximately 1.1 million men and women in more than 28,000 clubs in more than 182 countries.

Salisbury points out, "There are still no chapters in China, but all the Bulgarian states have chapters, and the one in Moscow is active again."

Since its charter in 1949, the Severna Park club has raised more than $100,000 for community work, says Hastings, who became a member in 1952, and has completed 34 years of perfect Rotary attendance.

"One of the organizers [of the Severna Park club] was Howard Wheeler, an architect who designed the Chartwell Country Club and many local schools. Another founder was Harvey Garcelon, who organized the Green Hornets. The first president was Don Rossi," said Hastings, a Severna Park historian.

One of Salisbury's favorite Rotary programs is Interact, a service club for young people. A chapter has been set up at Severna Park High School.

Community volunteers are needed for the joint environmental project she has proposed for the adult and junior clubs that is based on the Rotary International mission: Protect Planet Earth.

"We are going to plant oyster seed beds in the Severn and Magothy [rivers]. We need volunteers who have piers to allow us to use their space."

When the oysters are big enough to live on their own, they can be transferred to the bay. Oysters are natural filters, and the quality of the bay has diminished along with the oyster population, she says.

"I'd like to interest other groups [in this project], with Rotary acting as a clearing house," says Salisbury. "The bay is important to all of us."

The Magothy River Association has already started some seeding.

Since 1974, Salisbury has owned and operated Odenton Office Supplies, and has recently become affiliated with Leimkuhler Office Products.

She is also a tax accountant and a real estate agent.

The other incoming officers are: Frank Wadsworth, president; Julian Domenech, vice president; Mike Dittmann, secretary; Terrie Price, treasurer; Bob Lucke, director; Marc Wirig, director; and Hastings, director and immediate past president.

With the 1992 Summer Olympics as inspiration, you may decide take up kayaking.

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