Memories of Joseph 'Joe" Hahn

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Memories before becoming District Governor in 1986-87

Shortly after joining my Rotary Club of Bath, ME in 1973, I had the pleasure and honor of serving as Secretary, and then as Club President in the year 1979-80.  By that time I had become very involved at the district level having attended seven district assemblies and as many district conferences.  DG Dom Tardif had enlisted me in 1976 to train the incoming Secretaries and that job continued for a few years.

When District 779 requested nominations for DG in 1984, the Bath club board of directors asked me if I was interested.  I told them that as a working man I would find it difficult, but as long as it did not cost me anything out of pocket, and if selected to serve, I would resign my position with the Pine Tree Society for Handicapped Children and Adults.  The board volunteered that they would prepare a “war chest” to cover all of my extra expenses.

I was interviewed by the District Nominating Committee along with two other candidates.  One question from Marcel Morissette was about my lack of knowledge of French.  My response, “Marcel, when you Canadians have a martini and loosen up, you all speak and understand English.  When your wives have two martinis, they all speak and understand English.  And when I have three martinis, I speak and understand French.”  I was selected as the nominee of the committee.

Upon my selection, my club began collecting $1 per week per member to build the “war chest” to cover extra expenses. 

In May, 1985, Betty and I attended the International Convention in Kansas City, Kansas – our first exposure to the internationality of Rotary.  In October, 1985 we went to a zone institute in Tea Neck, NJ and met many Rotarians & wives who would become life-long friends.

One of the highlights of that institute happened upon arrival when Betty was in the bathroom preparing for the first night festivities.  She called to me and inquired where her dresses were.  My response, “on the back of the bedroom door” in Maine!   A frantic afternoon of shopping followed which allowed Betty to pick up some New York fashions.

Among the new friends we made that weekend were PDG Frank and Naida Rasbury from Massapequa, Long Island, NY.  Frank was a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, retired Executive Director of the Red Cross in New York City, and former Rotary International Ambassador to the U.N.  Naida had been in the original cast of “Porgy and Bess.”

In January, 1986, Betty and I went to Opryland in Nashville for our week of training, along with 447 other incoming governors from 160 countries.  It was colder in Nashville that in Maine, and it even snowed during our event.  One of the very best instructors I had there was PDG Frank Rasbury (more about Frank above, and later on).

As a part of our experience at Opryland, we joined Zone 2 (Canada) in a Winter Carnival presentation on stage.  The zone had flown in the “Bon Homme” from Quebec City to dance with us in our eight minute act.  Betty was asked to represent the state of Maine in a fashion show to be in native dress.  She wore a lobsterman’s Sou’wester, a yellow slicker, overalls, and hat.


In the “small world” department, I discovered the 1986-87 DG from Hawaii was Ed Berlin.  I had worked with Ed in the Office of Naval Intelligence in Hawaii from 1963 to 1966 – long before either of us ever thought about joining Rotary.

Upon our return home, I wrote to RI requesting that PDG Frank Rasbury be named to be the president’s representative at my district conference to be held at The Balsams in June of 1987.  In response I received a form letter that told me that the needs of Rotary must be first considered before this type of decision can be made and that it probably would not happen.

A couple months prior to my taking office, Betty and I were invited to take part in the charter presentation to the new West Bay Rotary club in Camden.  We were delighted to attend and were seated along with others at the head table.  Soon after the meeting started, a few standard Rotary songs were introduced and we all sang along.  Unknown to me, the president-elect’s wife mentioned to my wife that she did not know there were such things as Rotary songs.  Betty told her of course; that there is even a song book full of songs that sing about Rotary.  Betty then added that I would not even come to bed with her unless she danced around the bed singing “R-O-T-A-R-Y that spells ROTARY!”  This story quickly made it through the room, but I did not hear it until we were on the way home after the event.

On May 30, 1986, we went to the International Convention held that year in Las Vegas, NV.  We shared the plane from Chicago to Las Vegas with a very happy and noisy group of champion professional bowlers and the incoming president of Rotary International, M.A.T. Caparas and his wife Nita.  In Vegas we stayed at the MGM Grand and shared some wonderful reunions with Rotarians we had met at earlier events.  The Zone 2 group was asked to reprise our Nashville Winter Carnival performance.  Since we had not planned to bring in the “Bon Homme” from Quebec, I danced as the “Bon Homme” for this performance.  It was a warm job dancing in the snowman’s costume (104°), but I survived it.

On June 4, I was officially elected as the incoming District Governor of 779 – and that was Betty’s birthday (almost completely forgotten in the excitement of the moment).