If I was in Northeast Texas today doing the Celebration of Life, I would tell you about Carl.  We met when we were both visitors to the Rotary Club in Angel Fire, New Mexico.  He was 19 years older than me; I was pretty new to Rotary and he had several decades of Rotary perfect attendance.  We found that we both had a love for church, the mountains, art, and music; he was generous and kind; he loved his wife and family.  One day we met up on a walk and right away I noticed his ball cap and instantly realized we were on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  But he and I lived by the motto, “Service above Self”.  Our friendship never wavered because we were bound together by the strong bond of Rotary, service and compassion.
As I began to receive the notices of these men and women of our district who have died this past year, I felt as if I was reading from Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation.  I came late to know these Rotarians and like many of us who read newspaper obituaries, we marvel at what we don’t know, even about people we thought we knew.  Often we are privileged to see only a slight glimpse of others, and then upon their death, we find ourselves wishing we had taken more time to get to know them even better.
The notices you submitted put me in a predicament; they came as printed newspaper obituaries; some came simply as names with dates of birth and death with a photo; others came with glowing testaments from friends and family and included great detail.  In order to be fair, I will share these men and women as a group, and then we will call their names with their images on the screen and allow their club members and family to stand for a moment as someone receives a rose to thank them for a lifetime of service. We may not know any, or many of the men and women we remember today but we are bound together in a unique way that mentors us and inspires us to live the best life we are able.  They exemplify the values that caused us to be part of this organization.  Many of you know them as friends and coworkers as they are “Service above Self” people. 
We remember these men and women who have served their communities, districts, and internationally as Rotarians.  In reading their obituaries, I have been touched by their experience and skills that they shared as Rotarians. 
Their average age is 83.92; The US national life expectancy this year is 78.74 years.  Join Rotary and live longer could be our slogan. The earlies birth was in 1921 and most recent, 1954. And, with 24 on to glory, we have virtually given thanks for the equivalent of an active highly experienced Rotary club.
Together they are Aggies, Longhorns, Bears, Red Raiders, Cornhuskers, Rams, Pioneers, Mountaineers, Boilermakers, Mules or Black Knights, Huskies, and Bearkats.  My nephew is the mascot of the Atlanta Braves and I just imagined all these men and women in mascot costumes enjoying a celebration together. 
They majored in: horticulture, genetics, education, architecture, engineering, computer science, chemistry, business administration, law, biology, agriculture administration, marketing, criminal justice and accounting.  Even one was a Southwest Conference Heavy Weight Wrestling Champion; another was the 1949 A&M class president.
They are Republicans and Democrats and Independents. They are patriotic serving in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines; they served in World War 2, Korea, Viet Nam; even one with 6 years as a POW; there were two Colonels, a Flight Surgeon, Hospital Commander, and a Lieutenant Colonel.
Eight go by a nickname and instead of their given name, and 5 are Juniors.
They are past presidents of their club (at least 8), most were Paul Harris recipients, one Rotarian of the Year, several on the District Roll of Honor, two club founders, a 31 year perfect attendance; one spouse of  a DG.  They were Mr. Food Drive, Foundation leaders, scholarship committee members, treasurers and many focused on Polio Plus.
They are Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodist and Catholics and many had active roles in their home congregations, and even helped found churches. They knew how to enjoy life; they fish, do woodworking, raise roses, plant asparagus, play the trumpet, active in baseball, golf, football, tennis. One is a U.S. Master Race Walking champion who ran 32 marathons.
They coached little league baseball, served as a chief of police, conducted food drives, sold fruit and raced Porsches.  They supported YMCA, Audubon Society, Heritage Society, Austin Woods and Water Club, and Scouting. They have been part of scouting, even as Eagle Scouts, and followed that as adults with Silver Beavers and Silver Eagles
They are MD’s, CEO’s, a Public Heath Service Officer on the Apache Reservation, led the largest business in Shiner, Texas; founder of the Dr. Pepper Museum, founders of WW Clement Free Enterprise Institute, founder of 10-2-4 Collector Club, founder of the Texas Bison Association, and Founder of the Austin Rodeo Association.
They loved their spouses, their children and grandchildren.
And now we call the roll.  As I call their names, please stand if you are fellow club members, friends or family; and Amber will present a yellow rose to remember our friends and fellow travelers on the journey.
James (Jim) Van Ness, 1932 – 2018, Temple South Rotary
Nance Griffin, 1938 – 2018, Marble Falls Rotary
Richard Diller, 1931 – 2017, Killeen Heights Rotary Club
Earl J. Nesbitt, Jr., 1935 – 2017, Austin Westlake Rotary Club
Colonel James E. Foster, 1926 –  2017, Austin-Southwest Rotary Club
Jack Beckett, 1925 – 2018, Georgetown Sun City Rotary Club
Edwin Jefferson (Jeff) Bomer, Jr., 1936 – 2017, Austin Rotary Club
Robert (Bob) German, 1927 – 2018, Austin Rotary Club
Thomas Mack (Tom) Madison, 1929 – 2017, Austin Rotary Club
Venton L. Doughtie, Jr., 1930 – 2017, Austin Rotary Club
Don Kaspar, 1928-2017, Shiner Rotary Club
Dr. Harold Lawless, 1929 – 2018, Georgetown – Sun City Rotary Club
George O. Lewis, 1928 – 2018, Northwest Austin Rotary Club
John Westervelt, 1921 – 2018, Lakeway – Lake Travis Rotary Club
Hornor Newton Shelton, 1924 – 2018, Waco Rotary Club
Wilton Lanning, 1936 – 2018, Waco Rotary Club
Robert (Bob) O’Beirne, 1954 – 2017, Waco Rotary Club
Gloria Fikes, 1947 – 2017, Waco Rotary Club
Larry Gene Folmar, 1937 – 2017, Waco Rotary Club
Charles Thomas (Tom) Robb, 1938 – 2017, Waco Rotary Club
William Joseph (Joe) George, 1946 – 2018, West Austin Rotary Club
Edgar (Ed) Leroy Bauer, 1927 – 2017, LaGrange Rotary Club
Fay Salem, 1933 – 2017, wife of DG John Salem, Jr. (1996-97)
Marble Falls Rotary Club
Thomas Howard Vannoy, Jr., 1937 – 2018, Temple Rotary Club
In our shared life with these twenty four, they are given new life through us; in our hearts, in our memories, and in our hopes and dreams of what we want our lives to be, what we want our lives to stand for.
These men and women, with all the choices they could make in the world, chose to be part of Rotary International.
And together with them, we have made that same choice:  “Rotary, Service above Self.”
And we live together by the hallmark questions:
Rotary, “Is it the truth?”
Rotary, “Is it fair to all concerned?”
Rotary, “Will it build goodwill and better friendships?”
Rotary, “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
And as they say in Angel Fire, New Mexico: “Rotary, make it fun!”
These 24 have witnessed to us; and now we witness to one another and to our home communities.  We walk gently on the earth and we strive to leave behind marks of generosity, integrity and compassion; these days are our opportunities to make a meaningful life and together we cheer, encourage and celebrate our time together, as we give thanks to God for those we remember today.
Thank you