My name is Alex Stanley Beloff III. I have been a Rotarian for 50 years somehow with “perfect attendance” involving Rotary Clubs from coast to coast including Canada and Mexico. Today it is hard to imagine what a challenging effort this was. Years ago we did not have the benefit of cell phones, GPS, or on-line make ups. It was a very strict 7 day only make up limit with verifiable signed documents. Ahh – the fun of finding a new Rotary Club location for make ups especially in the land of snow up to the door handles, rusted cars and dead batteries. Having served almost every elected office and district levels defines the heart of a Rotary volunteer.
Grapevine Texas Rotary President Janice Kane requested my personal testimonial. As in Hee Haw, we are not ones for gossip so listen close the first time. Obviously through Rotary Clubs, I discovered life changing, up-lifting, educational, informative, humorizing, and entertaining Rotary experiences that has sustained me through half a century of personal strife certainly qualified me for Laugh In’s Sock It To Me. The secret to this remarkable path of “service to others” lies in your ability to read between the lines. This memorable journey is of perfect attendance.
I graduated near the top of my class at the year long US Air Force Aerospace Electronics Warfare School resulting in recommendations to the Air Force Academy. I am officially listed by the VA as an “in country” Vietnam Laos decorated combat Veteran. I was selected by the U.S.A.F. 1st Mobile (1st MOB) and assigned to the top secret Black Ops Air America in Laos and Phoenix project in Saigon. In my first of 34 missions as a technician and concealed door gunner in the old H-19 helicopter when the AK-47 rounds of ground fire came through the doors, I was heard to say, “I quit.” The VA in 2016 approved my 60% agent orange disability from covert Farm Gate and Ranch Hand, C-123 Air crew participation at Bien Hoa Vietnam 1961-1962 endorsed by Lt. Colonel Lee R. Ziegelgruber, Director of Combat Operations. I served 1 year 9 months 28 days of my 8 year Air Force career in SE Asia combat zones. Yes, I did re-enlist as I just could not resist that $811.00 reenlistment bonus.
For 54 years, I was in the fine car and high end luxury car business in every sales and management capacity as well as owner; remember Hee Haw? Jr. samples used cars BR549. I was merely a servant to the socially and financially privileged. I was one of the youngest unencumbered owner/operators of Beloff Pontiac Cadillac GMC, Peru, Indiana as well as a master Cadillac dealer in 1973 at age 31.
By 1970 as a state officer in the Indianapolis JC’s I was facing mandatory membership termination at age 35. I had observed that many JC’s had become qualified Rotarians. Rotary Clubs are comprised of business and professional men in a world-wide organization devoted to serving the community and promoting world peace (1982 dictionary).
Rotarians were pillars of the community, fascinating, formerly educated, sophisticated, virtuous, compassionate occupying positions of great responsibility and all dressed impeccably. They proudly displayed a Rotary pin in their lapels on a daily basis even on Sunday at church. Sadly, that appears to be all gone now. A large Rotary emblem was also displayed on the back window of their vehicles. I wanted to be a Rotarian. Plus they owned vehicles created for the cognoscenti and priced for the privileged.
You had to be asked to be a Rotarian. They checked your pedigree and your lifestyle. You had to be in a position to hire and fire or occupy a position of great responsibility – no exceptions. You were only admitted under an available classification assigned to you. For me, it would be auto retail new. If an existing automobile dealer didn’t want the room full of car people, his rejection would be final. An additional active classification was possible. 100% attendance was strongly emphasized. After 15 consecutive years of verifiable achievements, no classification was required any more freeing up your classification for a new member.
For me two hours every week at Rotary was just about the most satisfying almost therapeutic of all fellowships. Making up was an exhilarating experience! You were introduced, everyone wanted to be your friend, and extending hospitalities that no accommodation or influence could buy.
When new to a Rotary Club or community, a make up meeting was a great up lift and natural high. Humor, biting sarcasm, a few risqué comments plus reliving Caddy Shack, Blazing Saddles and Casablanca was a guy-thing ritual. Hey Judge, $100 bucks you slice! Did anybody bring any dimes? This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Great speakers and programs were wholesome career enhancements.
Remember the Rotary three “H’s” – health, hunger and humanity? Years ago, this was a Rotary effort to aid those in need facing challenging life altering conditions (disease, famine, shelter etc). My 1996 Paul Harris certificate, of which I am now +5, reads Goodbye Polio. Thanks Rotary. Today we still need an avalanche of cash to eradicate polio world wide.
I have personally funded and encouraged private unique donors to support the Rotary Foundation in excess of seven figures. As a top producer for Cadillac for 30 years, I was offered coveted assignments at the point of sale from coast to coast. Tough for me because I do my best sleeping when I drive.
It is now 2019. You have the benefit of going back to those thrilling days of “yester year” as the fabled Lone Ranger would say.
INDIANAPOLIS ROTARY CLUB IN – Tutwiler Cadillac 1970 Mr. Ed Tutwiler’s personal recommendation for membership in this Club was a logical step for my community involvement.
KOKOMO ROTARY CLUB IN – McGonigal Buick Cadillac 1970-1971 Mr. Tutwiler endorsed me as their new Cadillac Buick Sales Manager 40 miles away. Fenton Gangrich, General Manager (he was known as The Flying Dutchman), strongly recommended me for membership in the Kokomo Rotary Club. Rotary’s slogan was He profits most, who serves best.
PERU IN – Beloff Pontiac Cadillac GMC dealer/owner 1971-1974 1972: The Eagles – Take It Easy. I was familiar with the community having been stationed at Bunker Hill AFB and the Strategic Air Command B-58 nuclear wing. Ron Schramn, President of Peru Trust Bank, and Sheldon Woodruff recommended me for membership in the Peru Rotary Club. I fully funded and participated in projects originated by the Rotary Club of Peru including Mayor Moon’s civic, historical, spiritual, police and fire, Grissom AFB and Circus City parades. When I made up at a Mexico City Rotary Club in 1972, women were not even allowed in the room so my wife was invited to a luncheon with the ladies. Without deep pockets, OPEC, fuel embargos, CAFÉ requirements and a highly depressed economy forced the sale of my dealership. Peru IN is the only town where the fire station burned down and the police station got robbed by John Dillinger. Patrick Roberts’ Father was the police officer on duty. It is also the home of Cole Porter and winter home of the Circus.
RICHMOND IN – Wagner Cadillac 1974-1978 I personally developed a clientele where none existed as his used car manager. As a member of the Richmond Rotary Club, our guest speaker and long time friend was Richard Lugar, former Mayor of Indianapolis and freshman US Senator. The Richmond Rotary Club relied on me for three years to provide 24 vintage convertibles for the annual Rose City parades – a huge event. I personally called on Rotarian Ralph R. Teetor, a brilliant engineer, to service his existing 1970 Cadillac. The owner of Perfect Circle Piston Rings in Hagerstown IN has been blind since his youth. As I went downstairs to his shop, I told him I couldn’t see . . . it’s dark – he had forgotten that I needed the lights on to find my way down the stairs to him.
PERRYSBURG OHIO ROTARY CLUB – Ed Schmidt Pontiac 1978-1981 It is difficult to single out a Rotary Club that was the most memorable. I was called upon by the Toledo Rotary Club and Mr. Ed Schmidt of Ed Schmidt Pontiac of Perrysburg, Ohio, to become the first year full term charter president to the newly formed Rotary Club of Perrysburg Ohio 1978 -1979. Dave Kester was Charter President but not a Rotarian. I was the only existing experienced Rotarian so we began with 22 of the best guys anyone could want. We were definitely Rotary’s motley crew, and certainly capable of accomplishing the community service most difficult projects.
We had no money. We were so broke that every Friday I went to the Mayor’s office to borrow his American flag and State of Ohio flag for our meetings. Later on we got a podium from the Toledo Rotary Club, a bell from the Maumee Club and a flag from the Lucky Steer Restaurant. I was the sergeant at arms, the bulletin editor, the secretary, arranged for the speakers, and was president. For attendance, I passed around a big manila folder that everyone signed and inserted their makeups for their home clubs. We had a lot of fun even though I mispronounced most everyone’s name. I know how to speak correctly but I cannot spell. I misspelled words in our weekly bulletins so it was a humorous disaster. No one wanted the editor job until a member finally volunteered.
I proudly welcomed Congressman Delbert Latta as a surprise guest speaker in May of 1980. He had comments about the auto industry and economy and said, It is time for Americans to invest more in the country . . . (His schedule opened up — so keep trying to get your speakers!) An interesting speaker was R. A. Stranaham, Jr. (CEO Champion Spark Plugs Toledo) who spoke on Career Exploration. Fellow Rossford classmate, Fuzzy Reiter, CEO of all Ohio Mid Am Banks, was a speaker for our Club too. Thanks Sloan, Sluhan and Dunbar.
I heard of the terrible hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico and they were in desperate need of trucks. I arranged for a friend who owned a Toledo Ohio paving company to get six new tri-axle heavy duty GMC dump trucks from Ed Schmidt GMC of Maumee Ohio. I said, Having written off these six dump trucks that you are trading in, why not donate all six to help the Puerto Rico Rotarians? He happily agreed. I had to get them to the East coast. I got a CEO Rotarian from B & O Shoreline Railroad to ship them all for free to New York City port. I got the CEO Rotarian of Matson Lines to ship them by boat for free to Puerto Rico.
I became a Governor’s aide by accident. At district conference and 75th anniversary of Rotary, the district governor was asking for anyone who was interested in governor’s aide. No one raised their hand. I did but ignorantly I thought it meant money for our Perrysburg home club. I was a governor’s aide for three years and twice nominated for District Governor. I personally hosted three Rotary group study exchanges while a Governor’s aide in District 660 in Toledo Ohio. It was my privilege to be Governor’s aide to District Governor Jack D. Glick. I asked him to please send me a copy of “The Four Supposes” – where are YOU?
In keeping with Rotary’s theme of “Let Service Light the Way” 1979, for the very first time I sent hand written congratulation letters to newly formed Rotary Clubs on a number of continents. The response was overwhelming positive as reflected by Rotary International “well done” letters to me from Kirk W. Morledge, Area Supervisor. He asked permission to share many of my examples of increasing membership as we had doubled our membership in eight months which is a reflection on my successful client development skills. Every Rotarian making up and every guest speaker received thank you letters from me encouraging repeat visits and membership. Everyone who received a promotion in their vocation as reflected by a photograph featured in the Perrysburg Rossford paper got a personal congratulations from me as Club President encouraging them to be my guest at the next Rotary lunch. Our new Club’s fellowship welcomed many new members. 1980 was the 75th anniversary of Rotary International. I received a letter that was dated 1 April 1980 from Gordon D. Moyer, Department Manager, Canada and United States stating that it was most commendable and appreciated that letters were sent to the new clubs admitted to Rotary International.
How about this Proclamation for “Rotary Week in Perrysburg”!!
It was our pleasure in 2009 for Connie and I to attend the Perrysburg Rotary Club and present them with a book of memories of their charter group. It was nice to see old friends and meet new ones as Rotarians are always welcoming you. The Perrysburg Rotary Club started with 22 members and now has 110.
PLYMOUTH, (DETROIT) MI ROTARY CLUB – Massey Cadillac 1980 Mr. Don Massey hired me as his sales manager to maintain his status as the largest #1 Cadillac dealer and he recommended me to the Plymouth Rotary Club. My success was interrupted by emergency surgery to remove a diseased gall bladder which back then required 18 stitches and that meant no driving a car for 3 months.
PERRYSBURG, OH ROTARY CLUB – Gumpp Cadillac Toledo OH 1981 I was welcomed back to the Perrysburg Rotary Club. Mr. Massey and Dick Gumpp had new Cadillacs in my driveway which I was unable to drive. Family members and Rotarians from clubs in Northern Ohio took me to meetings. Mr. Gumpp (a first) allowed me to sell new and pre-loved Cadillacs from my house, make my own deals, appraise my own trade-ins, and collect their money. Gumpp Cadillac became Taylor Cadillac. I delivered 36 vehicles in three months to mostly Rotarians from Perrysburg. Our rental River Road home was sold. I turned to Perrysburg charter member and realtor John Kurfess who immediately sold me on a land contract a new home he owned with plastic still on the floors. John would later become Past President and District Governor 1995-1996. Connie and I were glad to see John in 2009.
PARK CITIES (DALLAS) TX – Lone Star Cadillac 1982-1987 I reported January 2nd 1982 and was divorced, cold, broke and hungry. In four years, I delivered 900 Cadillacs and was four times salesman of the year. Rotary District Governor Frank L. Meier (1981-1982) recommended me for membership in the downtown Dallas Rotary Club. With glowing endorsements from Glenn G. Dunbar Past District Governor, Past President Toledo Club in District 660, I still could not gain downtown Dallas membership due to classifications.
I received a letter dated January 11, 1982 from N. Alex Bickley, the President of the Dallas Club saying the classification for active as well as additional active was filled and he recommended Park Cities. Dwight Sleeper and City Manager Leland Nelson strongly urged me to be a member of Park Cities Rotary.
Lone Star Cadillac owned 5 city blocks of downtown Dallas since 1934. The Art District was taking 36’ off our service department. Our property on Ross Avenue was sold to Trammel Crow and we had to move. America’s most expensive new $14 million dollar Cadillac facility almost in Garland would not be ready for another year.
I was invited to join the Dallas Exhausted Roosters where many members were Rotarians and past JC’s.
Maurice Ackers of the Dallas Club became my most trusted mentor. He had me on the committee to billet 16,000 Rotarians for the International Rotary convention in Dallas in 1982. Everyone wanted me to show them South Fork where the TV Dallas show was filmed but it was disappointing because they thought it was on 50,000 acres and it was a few acres. Big “D” truly opened its arms to Rotary’s 73rd convention.
FORT LAUDERDALE FL ROTARY CLUB – Bay View Cadillac 1985 I was recommended to Rotary by a local federal judge, Paul M. Marko, III. The membership was filled with very well accomplished retired influential folks from all the Northern financial districts. All they want to do is have fun. I witnessed them raise over $56,000 for the Rotary Foundation in only one Rotary meeting. Way to Go!!
IRVING-LAS COLINAS TX ROTARY CLUB – Moritz and Lone Star Cadillac 1985 1986 Sales Manager Bob Lueke of Moritz Cadillac of Arlington said, Now would be the perfect time to come back to DFW. The retired dentist Dr. Ben W. Thomas (Rotarian of the year 1980) who had 50 years perfect attendance in 1985 insisted on my membership in the Irving Rotary Club at Las Colinas Country Club. Then Mr. Bill DeSanders, owner of Lone Star Cadillac personally phoned me and said, We want you to come back and personally drive my 1941 four door Cadillac convertible ($150,000) in the televised parade to our new facility. I am the only person he had allowed to drive this car. This Irving Rotary Club is where I make up at on Thursdays now. Dr. Donald L. Oberlin (Rotarian of the Year 1983) is still there. I once saw him there early and he was sitting at a table all by himself – He remarked, I am sitting with all my friends. Fun note: I won the Bobby McGee zany sarcastic product presentation of a 1966 Dodge Dart – a real toad. See it on my website: alexbeloff3.com.
LAS VEGAS NV ROTARY CLUB – Cashman Cadillac 1987 Mr. James Cashman Jr. recommended me to the local Rotary Club and I was accepted. My responsibility was the refurbishing of Cashman baseball field for children.
PENSACOLA NORTH FL ROTARY CLUB – Ron Mitchell Olds Cadillac 1987 Mr. Mitchell, a downtown Pensacola Rotarian with a Paul Harris fellow proudly displayed on the wall in his office, recommended me for membership in the Pensacola North Rotary Club. All Navy pilots had to qualify for their wings with successful take offs and landings on the aircraft carrier Lexington – now a museum in Galveston. Our club was packed with former and existing Navy members including Admirals and a host of anchor clankers.
OXMOOR (BIRMINGHAM) AL ROTARY CLUB – Drennen Cadillac 1988-1989 Carver Hendrix, Cadillac Motor Car Division #2 man in Detroit and John Grettenberger, GM of Cadillac Motor Car Division asked me if I would take this assignment. My attorney Robert Kracke, recommended me for membership in the Oxmoor Club. I was a Director and was successful in reinstating dormant projects as well as civic leader participation. I was featured in Jackie B Cooper’s national publication. My aftermarket restyling efforts highly increased Vogue product sales per Regional Manager Greg Paul. “My time was up” as I like to say.
COLUMBIA SC ROTARY CLUB – Jim Moore Cadillac 1989-1990 Owner Jim Moore hired me to a newly created position as General Sales and Servicing Manager of Cadillac restyling. Jim Leventis and Richard M. Unger urged me most earnestly to be a member of the downtown Columbia Rotary Club. We were involved in beautification and preservation of the Sons and Daughters Confederacy for monuments, grounds, a youth study exchange, increasing membership and supporting flood victim and hurricane disaster relief locally and in the Caribbean. The club also supported military troupes as the Gulf War had started (Fort Jackson plus Air Force and Naval bases). This encouraged other Rotary Clubs in such a small state to participate too.
THE ROTARY CLUB OF TORONTO – Vogue Tyre Corporation 1991 I was still a member of Columbia Rotary Club and was making up in Toronto and surrounding Clubs. Highly successful restyling efforts resulted in me making their money flow out the windows and provided Canadian owners with unique rides. My 90 day assignment was complete.
WALNUT CREEK CA ROTARY CLUB – Prestige Products, Vogue Tyres 1990-91 Chuck Butte, President and owner of Prestige Products in Los Angeles CA selected me nationwide to fulfill a difficult assignment calling luxury car dealers. While getting fuel in my Cadillac in Walnut Creek, a well dressed man noticed a Rotary emblem in the back window and said, What Rotary Club? He said, My name is Mel Becker and I want you to be my guest at Rotary and propose you for membership. Wayne Stead Cadillac was a non-existing account that I made the second highest restyling dealership in California. They said, When you are tired of being on the road calling on 52 car dealers, we are saving an office for you – so I took the office.
On a trip to Dallas in 1991 visiting my Toledo Ohio friend Fred Badyna, I met Connie Sharp. She would become a life long friend. California is the mecca for cars, Pacific Coast Highway and FUN, FUN, FUN.
WALNUT CREEK CA ROTARY CLUB – Wayne Stead Cadillac 1992-1995 I was known as their gypsy Rotarian who they were anxious to retain because of my charm and good looks! Our Rotary Club had a fund raising with priceless art paintings including the ones by Thomas Kinkade. It was a “top of the line” evening with lobster, exotic wines, a silent auctions and Rotary jocularity. We raised huge bucks for the Rotary Foundation. I was responsible for the uncorking of wine bottles (now that is ironic – a non-drinker in charge of the wine bottles). I could hardly keep up with the demand as their “corker”.
At the District 5160 Annual Foundation Dinner and Silent Auction in November 1992 at Travis Air Force Base, we were privileged to hear as the featured speaker M.A.T. Caparas, Manila, Philippines, 1986-87 RI President and Chairman of Rotary Foundation Trustees in 1991-1992.
FORT WORTH TX ROTARY CLUB – Frank Kent Cadillac 1995 Frank Kent selected me for 90 days to teach them restyling exclusively with Vogue products. It was an honor each week to make up at the prestigious downtown Fort Worth Rotary Club. R. Randolph Walker, Walnut Creek President 1993-94 wrote a letter on my behalf to Texas District Governor Paul N. Geisel that I would be pleased to lend a hand in Fort Worth or at the District level when needed. Fort Worth Rotarians Felix Ankley, Boswell Flowers of Fort Worth, and his family including Fredricka became valued life time friends. Felix took me to the Colonial Country Club – home of Ben Hogan – what a treat. An unforgettable speaker was Robert Crandall, President of American Airlines.
What is the name of the Ford dealer with the Ankley sisters? This Club gave me a gold golf putter for the longest distance make up! Now that’s unique!
WALNUT CREEK CA ROTARY CLUB – Wayne Stead Cadillac 1995-1996 Our Rotary Club hosted the Russian bakers (who bake 80 thousands loaves of bread daily). They came to our area to study our methods and enjoy Rotary fellowship at various Rotary events. I provided all of the Cadillacs and translations as I spoke pedestrian Russian, Ukrainian and Polish. The jokes we told through our translator were most memorable. It was a very historic gathering as we are learned about our difference in lifestyles but more importantly how alike we all truly were.
Our Rotary Club helped sponsor the Rotary train from the Bay area to downtown Reno and back through Donner Pass. Gambling and drinking abounded and mostly legal. This was a huge amount of fun and the train stopped and picked up several other Rotary Club members along the way.
It was a Rotary friendship in March of 1996 when Adrian F. Mendes, California District 5160 Governor 1984-1985 wrote a letter to the Rotary Club of Irving recommending that my Daughter Theresa be admitted for membership. She was accepted into the Irving Rotary Club and was very active. What a thrill for me to have a Rotarian daughter!!
At the post office in Walnut Creek, I met Linda Briggs, a window supervisor whose postmaster boss was in our Rotary Club. In 1996 we were in love and wanted to get married. Bill Fry, a Toledo boy and fellow Civil Air Patrol member from Squadron 601-C was the #8th senior 747 United pilot out of 5,000. He provided two passes, which we paid the taxes due, for us to fly to New Zealand to get married. His friend met us at the airport.
We went to the downtown Auckland Rotary Club luncheon. I presented the President with a Rotary hat from Walnut Creek and made the comment that we were a couple of renegades from the States and would like to get married. Without any prior arrangement, the entire club got up and applauded.
Dame Barbara Goodman, the former Mayoress of Auckland said, After Rotary, come with me to my office and I will make arrangements for all the legal documents. In the Club was The Very Reverend John O. Rymer who said, I will be glad to marry you in my church. This Rotary Club extended all courtesies to a Walnut Creek Rotarian. The New Zealand folks are first rate. How remarkable that Rotary is truly international and our Rotary fellowship is universal.
All of my offices prominently displayed a large framed Rotary 4-Way Test. My owners and honored guests were impressed with its description of high business ethics. Many Rotarians swelled with pride to see it verbally announcing my strict adherence to its outline of behavior. They planned to display the 4-Way Test in their own place of business. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all did this!
NASHVILLE TN – Currie Andrews Cadillac 1996 My wife was seeking a transfer to the Nashville post office. After six months, the transfer was unsuccessful and I returned to Walnut Creek. Currie Andrews was personally disappointed as I had become his salesman of the month for September, October and November. Since Currie was a member of the Brentwood Rotary Club, he recommended me for membership in the downtown Nashville Rotary Club. I was assigned to numerous projects. Note: Did you know that the gorgeous home and acreage that Sgt. Alvin York received for exploits on the WWI battlefields was created and provided by the Nashville Rotary Club? This is a true story.
WALNUT CREEK CA ROTARY CLUB – Wayne Stead Cadillac 1996-2000 It was Randy Walker who took me back into the Walnut Creek Rotary Club. I was asked to be involved in the Rotary district. I was invited to the special San Francisco Bay Area dinner in 1997 attended by Dr. Cliff Dochterman (past RI President 1992-1993) at His Lordship’s Restaurant in Oakland. We served on several committees with our past District Governor Adrian F Mendes and on the California “Rotarians Against Substance Abuse” Committee as well as various district conference agendas.
MEMPHIS TN ROTARY CLUB – Bud Davis Cadillac 2001-2003 My wife was dying of breast cancer. She wanted to return to Memphis where she grew up and went to Memphis State. Mr. Bud Davis hired me immediately. Wearing your Rotary pin EVERYWHERE identifies you as a person with strong business ethics who lives a life of service above self. Mr. William L. Taylor saw my Rotary pin, and said, Hi, I am Bill Taylor. What Rotary Club? The Rotary pin led to a personal invitation to the Rotary Club of Memphis and eventual membership. The Memphis Club represented luminaries and celebrities from the music industry. It was elegant, proper, classy and fun. New members were required to shake hands and welcome guests as they enter. I was introduced to Shelby County Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton and Congressman Harold Ford Jr. and we developed a very strong relationship.
I represented the Memphis Club at the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Naples Rotary Club where I met RI Past President James L. Lacy, Rotary Foundation Trustee). Guest speaker at one of our meetings was Glenn E Estess, Sr. RI Past President 2004-2005 and The Rotary Foundation Trustees Chairman 2008-2009.
NAPLES FL ROTARY CLUB – Bob Germain Lexus 2001-2006 Sales Manager Matt Calavan assigned me to the new car sales staff as their only special agent for global private clients 11th of September, 2001. Bill Crone CEO of the hospital, member of the Naples FL Rotary Club was my first delivered client. He endorsed for membership in the Naples Rotary Club. A Rotary program with Shelter Box was created for disaster relief and shelter for individuals. The comprehensive contents were complete and expensive at $1000 each. Our Naples Club purchased 126 of these temporary shelters for shipment. I gave requested talks on the car business and develop humor. I staged a satire of the movie Casablanca widely known to this group. I fined most of the Club for massive football betting programs by telling them, I am shocked, shocked that there is gambling going on here. I had handed one of our members a stack of one dollar bills. He rushed up to me and said, Your winnings, Sir (aka Claude Raines in the movie). Naples Rotary has a history of massive donations to the Foundation.
My Past President’s pin has a red cloisonné ribbon attached signifying private personal funding and encouraging others to donate to the Foundation over $100,000. A really fun program was to make several of us with silver hair appear younger in minutes by a professional makeup artist. I was all for it!
The Naples Early Riser Rotary Club was unique in that all members show up in their jamies and their fluffy slippers and sleep caps ready to start their day. It is a hilarious fun group of luminary Rotarians where out in front of the Country Club are parked Rolls, Bentleys, Ferarris, Aston Martins and Jags all driven by the “jammie” clad Rotarians. The Rotarians making up at 6:30 in the morning look very out of place!
NAPLES FL ROTARY CLUB – Dick DeVoe Infiniti 2006 Dick DeVoe urged me to accept an assignment at his gorgeous new Infiniti dealership in Naples and I was his top producer. This Rotary Club has many Rotarians who winter every year so they leave members on the books. Yes, I know dual memberships are not allowed, but this is successfully what they do and why I could go back and forth. In 2008 after my Connie arranged for my first cruise, we stopped and enjoyed the Naples Rotary Club with a tumulus welcome even winning the $75 pot. It is nice that you can always be a Rotarian!
BARTLETT CORDOVA TN ROTARY CLUB – Infiniti of Memphis 2006-2007 As my wife’s condition worsened, I returned to Memphis and we enjoyed our new 6 car garage home in Eades, TN. I was hired over the phone by Bruce Lamb GM of Infiniti of Memphis. On the 7th of February of 2006, Linda heard the Lord call her name. I was encouraged by Deann K. Wingo, Tennessee Rotary Governor, to become a member of the Bartlett Cordova Rotary Club meeting at the prestigious Colonial Country Club. My assignment was to generate luminary speakers of a celebrity status.
Since Senator Bob Coker was running for the US Senate for the first time (September 2006), I called his Nashville office and immediately got the cold shoulder because our Club wasn’t big enough and they were not even sure where the Colonial was (like the Master’s golf tournament for TN). I got mad and called the cell phone number of my friend Harold Ford Jr. (Congressman for 14 years and Coker’s opponent). I told him the story and said, Can you speak at our Rotary Club? He said, Put me down and I will be there. I immediately called Connie Sharp in Dallas and said, I need your help. I’ve got to contact 60—70 people including the media and the TV people for this event. I told A. C. Wharton (Shelby County Memphis Mayor) that he absolutely had to be there. He is usually booked 8 months in advance. The TV media from New York City and local stations were on hand for this tightly contested senatorial race with Harold Ford’s American flag colored bus out front. We had 165 attendees (usual attendance is about 40) representing the leadership of the State and nation. A hush fell over the audience when I told my story about Bob Coker’s refusal. I held up for all to see that I was a card caring Republican since Reagan and I got snubbed. When Harold Ford Jr. took the podium and thanked me personally with A. C., his comment was, That Coker probably is not sure just where Memphis is and he also probably doesn’t know the difference between wet and dry ribs. It was pandemonium and mass hysteria. After Harold’s convincing proven comments, his popularity really surfaced. He had even clerked for one of our local lawyers who was present. Coker narrowly beat Ford by dumping seven million dollars into his campaign the last six days before the election for a job as a US Senator that pays $200,000 a year? What a patriot?
DALLAS TX ROTARY CLUB – Grubbs Infiniti 2007-2008 I found it exceeding difficult to remain in my home. After a continuing discussion with Connie Sharp, she agreed to adopt me, my two dogs, four cars, and a load of archives to reside in Grapevine Tx. George Grubs III and his father George Jr. assigned me to the new car sales staff which was a logical step with my Infiniti sales success and product presentations. I was approached by Bill Slicker and Jim Struble to become a member and I did.
This Club has a “Salute to America’s Veterans” every year that is outstanding. Veteran’s Day is very close to my heart and I am honored to present my own Veteran’s Day program to all the second graders at Keller Harvel Elementary since 2008. Examining my Brownie camera, the kids want to know what film is. In August of 2008, I retired from the luxury car business.
GRAPEVINE TX ROTARY CLUB – Alex Beloff III LLC 2008 to present Thanks to Past District Governor Walt Milner who made it comfortable for me to transfer from the Dallas Club in 2008. I suggested to Debbie Hinton we combine the Grapevine City emblem with Rotary for our new Club insignia. My table with Grapevine Rotary friends is up front — we have no social graces and it is the “fun” table. We add to the 4-way test a #5 – “and will it be fun.” I look forward to all the smiling faces every week as we greet each other. I especially enjoy all the ladies ensembles, the men’s demeanor, and poking fun at anyone I can including known honored guests.
I presented Connie with a Paul Harris Fellow back in 2008. She and I became members of the Rotary Bequest Society. John Miller District Governor 5790 2009-2010 and our President Duff O’Dell presented the certificate and the Foundation pins to us. Even with Rotary “the best laid plans of mice and men” can happen so if you look closely at the certificate you will find it is Duffs — ours had not arrived yet.
On “flag days,” assigned Grapevine Rotarians put out flags up and down each side of Main Street. It is truly a sight to behold as the American flags wave in the wind! I enjoy being a Rotary Speaker to share my knowledge of motoring joy. I was proud to bestow Connie’s daughter Susan and my daughter Theresa with a Paul Harris Fellow.
It is a treat to visit other Rotary Clubs to make up missing a meeting — so much more fun than reading an article off RI’s website. Connie and I were delighted to visit and be cordially welcomed by the Ames Iowa Rotary Club. I naturally had a Grapevine banner to present to them.
One of our memorable moments was meeting RI President Kalyan Banerjee and his lovely wife at a District #5970 dinner. My Connie created this Rotary theme collage to present to him in memory of her Iowa Rotarian Father Michael E Corless and to honor me as well as our Grapevine Rotary Club February 2012.
Memorable note: Connie’s Father was a Mason City IA Rotarian of many years, a Past President 1953-1954 and her parents attended the International Rotary Convention in Seattle Washington in 1954.
The members of my Rotary Club were truly comforting when I had my double knee surgery in 2014 with their many visits. I was in the hospital and then rehab and it was the highlight of my day to see a Rotarian coming to cheer me up. It is always nice to receive various cards in the mail too. The Grapevine Rotary Club is truly a Rotary family of 126 members. Personally I derive great pleasure in supplying material from my archives to Rotarians and friends who I know have a special interest in those subjects, places, events and luminaries. Nothing is more gratifying than seeing the excitement displayed by them as they receive something personalized.
Our Rotarian friend, the Honorable Bill Tate as Deacon of his Church, married Connie and I on November 21, 2015 at The Rec in Grapevine surrounded by family, Rotarians, friends and neighbors. He said it would be a “fun” wedding and it was! And one of the few times Alex and his salesmanship got the “cart before the horse” as he started to introduce me as his wife and I had to say We are not married yet. The guests roared with laughter.
One very historic Grapevine Rotary luncheon day for me was the 10th of October, 2016, which answered a question going back to the Vietnam War and my South Vietnamese pilot in this photo. Our speaker was a lovely lady, Mimi Tran from Southlake, sharing all about Vietnam today. After the meeting, she and her Father Dzuong Vuong were looking at one of my Veteran’s Day brochures that I give to the second graders at Keller Harvel Elementary each year. He had tears in his eyes as he recognized his dear friend and fellow helicopter pilot. Some 53 years later I now knew that my pilot with the helmet whose nickname with Special Forces was “Cowboy” was actually LUAN VAN TRAN. Sadly Luan was not with us anymore but Mr. Vuong and I shared memories. I will always be grateful to “Cowboy” for our 34 safe missions.
Grapevine Rotary’s rubber duck race at The Rec in the spring is an event to be enjoyed amid much laughter. This year there was even an alligator chasing the ducks around the lazy river. What fun! And the ‘gator was faster than the ducks. Do you want to buy a duck??
This Rotary Club started again hosting a lovely dinner for senior citizens on Valentine’s Day. Thank you for this beautiful gesture Grapevine Rotary and to your sponsors too. The various Rotary committees all do a great job. You know that we really like the efforts of Grapevine’s “fun committee” – or social committee.
I cut my teeth on my Dad’s Buicks and Cadillacs. I have loved cars and music since I could crawl. Music is nature’s natural sedative. Graduating from Rossford high school in 1959, I can remember many did not lock the doors to the house even though there were contents of great value. Keys to the cars were above the sun visor. Not one child was killed in any school in America and no police lock downs. Something to be said for a disciplined society. Yes, change is inevitable. The things I value most never change. I learned early to love and respect everyone – short, fat, thin, ugly, beautiful, black, green, yellow, LTV, and LSMFT. Everyone to me was a potential customer who influenced the buying habits of others.
In my view, society today should discourage contemptuously ignorant behavior. Blinded arrogance has ruined lives. People face addictive lethal consequences. Shameful behavior can be hostile to life. I am convinced that we can make life better, ease suffering, eradicate polio, and promote world peace. Look out for each other. Solicit view points of experienced Rotarians. Lend a hand. Extend a warm smile. Give a welcome and show meaningful interest in people’s life and their vocation. Be ever mindful of our faithfully departed. Wear your Rotary pin! Display Rotary on your vehicle!
Some in our society have the attire of a wretched peasant. As Robin Williams said in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, I’m going for the refuge fleeing my homeland look. What we do as adults is one thing, but children see us and think that is acceptable behavior.
Women joined Rotary in 1987. You can see the tremendous positive, compassionate, almost emotional impact that women have in Rotary – look at the 39 women members of the Grapevine Rotary Club. They are dedicated, hard working, involved, dress appropriately, far better than most of the men, are fun to be with, they’re small, don’t each much and smell nice. We have the finest cross section of talented, devoted, professional men of great influence and accomplishment. For me, it is an honor to be in this Rotary Club.
This is a good place for me to mention as I am fond of saying, Enjoy your senior years. It’s a privilege denied many. A close friend and fellow Rotarian was left on a doorstep as a baby. He was Clyde A. Sluhan, President of Master Chemical supplying engine coolant to the automotive industry from Perrysburg Ohio and Houston Texas. He is deceased but we saw his son in 2009 in Perrysburg. I remember my dear friend, now departed and great Rotarian, my mentor Maurice Akers of the downtown Dallas TX Rotary Club. His wife Ebby Halliday was my friend now deceased. We remember Ed Lancaster, Lou Hillman and Dr. Zadeh who all graced our table. Fortunately Dallas Past President Jim Struble is still going strong as is Charles Ashcraft who frequently makes up in Grapevine. Many really great faithfully departed Rotarians will forever remain in my memory.
Be recognized visually as a Rotarian with your Rotary pin as a respected member of your community and your vocation. A day when you most need a friend and that little Rotary pin just might be a very welcome symbol. Strive for perfect attendance. Let Rotarians get to know you. Be involved, have fun, spread your word, and fellowship. The reason that I strive to do business with Rotarians and seek their advice is because we live by the same code of business ethics as outlined in the Rotary 4-Way Test.
My dear friend, Fred Badyna, has observed me since high school days and throughout my entire professional career. He said at bible study one morning, Alex, your level of service to others is that of Gandhi – – If you want to make a life for yourself, lose yourself in the service to others. 5/3/2019
For further in depth discussions, it may require you personally funding the donuts and coffee!
My Connie and I wish you good health and happy days.
May God Bless the Trails You Ride!
Alex Stanley Beloff III