November 18, 2021
Westwood Village Rotary Club

Coming up on November 25th

NO MEETING. We are Dark. Happy Thanksgiving!

Westwood Virtual Rotary Club Meeting for November 18, 2021

Acting President of the Day, PP Marsha Hunt, opened the meeting right on time from her ‘home away from home’ Arkansas, with a verbal clanging of the bell. Immediately, a “Happy Thanksgiving” with a smiling turkey (it won’t be smiling for long) appeared to start the slide show.

Marsha’s first task called upon Bill Roen to lead the pledge to our country’s flag. Being a true patriot, he did a fine job. Next, Marsha called upon John O’Keefe to give the ‘thought of the day.’ He did so calling on the thankful Lord for the blessings of the week. Following John, and in the same spirit, Ed Gauld sang We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing. Very emotional few minutes, I might say. PP Mark Rogo introduced a guest, Dr. Sameh El Kharbawy, who has attended for a third Zoom meeting and has, we understand, requested to become a member of our Club.


  • Marsha recognized Steve Day for a successful Foundation Celebration and a very big Thank You to Steve for his efforts.
  • There would be no in-person lunch meeting until February as the Luskin Center curtailed such events until then. Gordon Fell questioned why we could not have an in-person meeting sooner than February. Tom Barron, the program coordinator, was happy to arrange one if Gordon searched for a suitable location.
  • Marsha said the Shopping Trip for the SA Transitional Village kids was well under way. Contact Phil Gabriel if you wish to participate.
  • Happy November birthdays were accorded to Sook Heikkila, Nevin Senkan, Rose Gaynor, Dwight Heikkila and Bill Roen. Only dates, no ages were announced.
  • The Rotarian of the Month was announced. The receipting member was John O’Keefe for his wonderful work in garnering speakers.
  • Club anniversaries were announced with the oldest tenure at 20 years given to Sally Phillips.
  • Announced were plans for the upcoming Holiday party. Tom told of our Thursday, December 16th luncheon at Guido’s restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd, near Bundy Drive. Included will be prizes, raffles, etc. However, bring a ‘White Elephant” gift to exchange for the fun of it! No speaker, but plenty of fun to enjoy the season! The cost is $50 per person. Bring a spouse, or best companion, for sure. Also, the Club desires to have everyone attending be vaccinated. Most important however, when Diane Good sends out the invites on-line, please respond ASAP because planning is critical.
  • ***END OF THE YEAR FUNDRAISER!! Please consider asking Treasurer Terry M. White to bill your account for a donation to honor the Westwood Police & Fire Department by providing a Holiday meal this year!! It will be tax deductible for you and, will honor the men and women who serve and protect us daily. Thank you for your contribution!!

Speaker of the day – Peter Johnson

John O’Keefe introduced our speaker for the day, Peter Johnson, a retired English teacher at Palisades High School. His topic The Power of Reading, seemed a natural for a person who has taught the subject for 21 years at Palisades High School. John said a few comments first about Peter’s family, who John knew from years past. Dick and Barbara Johnson were a sort of renaissance couple, fine people, and who actually lived across from Tom Barron on Tavistock Avenue in Westwood. (This author remembers them well and so true of the Johnson family). Peter has two brothers and a sister and, as John pointed out, with Peter, the ‘apple did not fall far from the tree’. Peter graduated from the University of Colorado and received a Master’s Degree from Pepperdine. After a stint at sales with IBM, Peter turned to his real desire to teach. Only recently, did he retire from teaching at Palisades High School.

Peter Johnson

Peter started by thanking John and did indeed remember the Barron’s as his neighbors.
His emphasis, and really the thrust of his talk, would center on how reading can be a source of changing your life. He began teaching with one of his favorite books The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. From that, he realized that reading must be “relatable” to the student. As Holden Caulfield in the Catcher was from an all-white community in Upper New York, the significance of this book may not ‘relate’ to the students. Thus, Peter switched to Streetcar Named Desire and Malcom X for assigned reading. He quoted several statistics supporting the fact that reading within the black student population was not a priority. Reading needs to be inspirational and engaging, he professed. It should be something that you remember the rest of your life. Reading Macbeth was a perfect example.

Peter told the story of the author, Ann Morgan, who desired to see the world from ideas of other people. So, she set out to read a book authored from every country in the world. Eventually Morgan wrote the book Reading the World. At this point in the presentation, Peter asked our members to offer suggestions for their choice of favorite books. O’Keefe spoke first telling of his granddaughter at 11 years of age read Macbeth, and suggested everyone should read it as a memory keepsake. Phil Gabriel suggested reading modern 20th century authors worthy of selection. Marsh Hunt offered her days at college she read Catch 22, which changed her perspective of WWII.

Peter then brought up the subject of famous individuals who were committed to extensive reading habits. Elon Musk, a futurist, was first of his examples. Musk read science fiction extensively, but also read the Encyclopedia Britannica at age nine. Eventually, Musk desired to purchase rockets from Russia, however the cost of $62 million was impossible for him to absorb. So, he read ‘how to build one’. Other famous individuals who read for achievement were Henry Ford, the carmaker, Thomas Edison and Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek.
But there is one Hollywood type that endorsed her success to reading, and that is Oprah Winfrey. As a child she read to her church congregation, and eventually quoted as ‘seeing the world beyond her front porch’.

Others included Mortimer Adler, who wrote How to Read a Book. Warren Buffet, who enjoyed reading business and investment books. He suggested, as he proclaimed he does, to read 500 pages a day. Gloria Steinman, a prodigious reader, said books were her escape, making invisible become visible. Winston Churchill, another avid reader, was quoted by Oscar Wilde: “life as a drama, with him in a starring role.” Of course, Churchill was the only world leader that upstaged Hitler.

At this point, Peter concluded his presentation, offering time for questions.

Bill Roen – “Give me a good book you have read?” Response: the Road to Character, by David Brook.

Ed Gauld – “with the advent of radio, television offering a variety of informational topics, and newspapers, magazines, etc., where does one get the time to read extensively? Response: a good point, said Peter, time is limited, but find it!

Phil Gabriel – “For the 9th to 12th grades, shouldn’t the curriculum be oriented to more modern literature, with additional commentary.

Mike Newman – Will libraries continue with move to high tech access, and what were your favorite books? Response: Definitely, digital access will only improve access. Favorite books, well The Longest Day, a World War II movie, and I also like comedy, so Woody Allen’s’ films are always favorites.

Commentary by Tom Barron

WVRC 2020/2021 Leadership Team
President: Nancy McCready
Treasurer: Terry M. White
Youth/Vocational Service: Phil Gabriel
Director/Peace: PP Marsha Hunt
Foundation: PP Steve Day
Global Scholarships: PP Chris Bradford
Webmaster: PP Ron Lyster
Director/Merchant Minute: PP Mark Rogo
District Governor: Bette Hall
Immediate Past President: Diane Good
Secretary: PP Diane Good
Community Service: Aaron Donahue
International Service: Nevin Senkan
Program Chair: PP Tom Barron
Membership: PP Mike Newman
Director/Social Media: PP Aly Shoji
Windmill Editor: P Nancy McCready
Assistant District Governor: Michael Lushing