During the past few years, a common link has added a new dimension to the lives of four Husky Alumni in Utah, serving together as officers in Rotary International in the state of Utah.
Jerry Summerhays, D.D.S., 1973, Fred Berthrong, M.S., Nuclear Engineering, 1972, Gene Banks, M.B.A., 1972, and Wally Brown, D.D.S., 1963 were pleased to discover the commonality of their Rotary service and the University of Washington. After each moved to Utah at various times, they were established in their business and professional vocations. With an interest in service, they joined local Rotary clubs and became very involved in community and international service in this organization.
Rotary is comprised of more than 34,000 clubs in more than 200 countries. Rotary International is organized into 532 districts worldwide and Utah is one of those Districts. After serving in their local clubs for several years, they were each elected club president and then later were nominated to serve as District Governor, directing the activities of the more than forty Rotary clubs in Utah.
Brown served as District Governor in the Rotary year 2003-04, Berthrong in 2005-06. Banks served in 2006-07 and simultaneously served as Chairman of the Host Organizing committee for the huge Rotary International annual convention held in Salt Lake City in June 2007.
After three years as a commissioned officer in the United States Public Health Service, Brown then practiced General Dentistry in Tacoma for five years. In 1971, he returned to the School of Dentistry as a Resident in the Graduate Dental School. Part of that training was to serve as a clinical instructor for the 3rd and 4th year undergraduate dental students. It was there that Brown and Summerhays became acquainted. They each completed their training in 1973 and left Seattle. Brown moved to Salt Lake City and established his practice of Endodontics. Summerhays also served in the United States Public Health Service, later receiving his specialty training in Periodontics at the University of California San Francisco, where he also completed an M.S. in Oral Biology.
Brown and Summerhays each served in leadership roles in the Salt Lake District Dental Society and the Utah Dental Association. Their paths crossed many times and later they each were awarded the Utah Dental Association Distinguished Service Award.
Banks interrupted his UW studies to serve as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. After leaving Seattle, he was employed by Merrill Lynch in Phoenix and Honolulu. In Honolulu, he oversaw offices around the Pacific Rim and as far west as Guam. He later moved to Salt Lake City as General Manager in the Merrill Lynch office there, with seven offices in the Intermountain West. He had been a member of Rotary clubs at each previous assignment so it was natural that he would join the Rotary Club of Salt Lake City while employed in downtown Salt Lake City. Rotarians often visit nearby clubs. Banks was committed to 100 percent attendance so he often visited the Rotary Club of Sugar House where Brown was a member. They became well acquainted and later that relationship was accentuated when the Banks family moved into the neighborhood where the Brown family lived. That provided many opportunities for their wives and families to become acquainted.
Berthrong moved to Logan, Utah in 1996. In 1993 he had previously joined a Rotary Club in Oakland, so he was pleased to be invited to join the Rotary Club of Logan, 90 miles north of Salt Lake City. He served as president of that club and later was selected by his club to be considered for the post of District Governor. As a Past District Governor, Brown often served on the District Nominating Committee. In two consecutive years Banks and Berthrong were interviewed by the committee. Berthrong was selected to serve as District Governor in 2005-06 and Banks to serve the following year.
In reviewing the nomination resumes for Berthrong and Banks, Brown noticed the common thread of education, not only at the UW, but the fact that they were enrolled at the same time in the early 1970s. As a proud lifetime member of the UWAA, Brown admits that he made a point of the commonality and was not at all reticent to make the point in conversation with other Rotarians.
Serving together in Rotary since that time and particularly as they worked closely together preparing for the 2007 Rotary International Convention in Salt Lake City, they have become close and lifetime friends. A third bond for these Rotarians is their mutual membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Banks, Brown, and Summerhays were members of the Church from their birth. The Berthrong family joined the LDS Church as converts in Oakland in 1982. They have each had significant leadership responsibilities in the Mormon Church.
When Summerhays joined a Rotary Club in Utah, he then became the fourth UW alum to join the group of Rotary leaders in Utah with the three points of commonality. The four have many opportunities to serve together in leadership roles.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Fred Berthrong and his wife Candy, are currently in Chile, serving as Welfare specialists for their Church, an 18-month assignment. Fred has become fluent in Spanish so will be an effective force for International Service with Rotary after returning to Utah.
Gene and Evelyn Banks spend significant time in Hawaii visiting a daughter, grandchildren, and other friends. They have eight children and 20 grandchildren, which keeps them busy visiting. Gene continues Rotary service in the Utah District and in his home club. He continues to be an exemplary leader with the Boy Scouts of America.
Wally Brown continues to be very involved in Rotary service in Utah. He has served as District Literacy chair and now as the representative for ShelterBox, an international Rotary disaster relief project. He recently was awarded a Presidential Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama for his work with that charity. His wife Pat, a native Washingtonian, teaches and writes instructional materials for the LDS Church.
Jerry and Cherie Summerhays are now beginning service in his role as Rotary District Governor in Utah. It will be a very rewarding and busy year as they travel the state directing the service activities of the 47 Rotary clubs in the District. After this year of service, he will resume his favorite role in International service with Rotary. Being fluent in Spanish, he has had many opportunities to serve in Mexico and Central and South America.