Pulse for the week of February 13, 2023
Flying at the Speed of Life
Legendary pilot, author and nationally known inspirational speaker Brian Shul will share his remarkable story in a special presentation to Rotary Club of Sacramento at its regular weekly meeting at noon on Tuesday, February 28th, in the auditorium of the Annunciation Greek Church, 600 Alhambra Boulevard, in Sacramento. Be sure to watch for the registration email and sign up right away. We’re expecting a really big crowd. (In observance of President’s Day, there is no meeting on the 21st.) Schul, a former Air Force pilot, survived being shot down on his 212th mission in Vietnam and was told he would never fly again. But he went on to fly the SR-71 spy plane, the fastest aircraft ever built. Read more…
It Was a Lovefest with Kitty
Recap of the Weekly Meeting of February 14, 2023
Reported by John McIntyre
Welcome/Gavel In
President Linda Geery (California Lawyers Association) gaveled in the meeting at 12:10 p.m., to the strains of the Beatles “Love Me Do.”
Moment of Silence
Notwithstanding the upbeat spirit of the occasion, President Linda rightly called our attention to the terrible suffering in Turkey and Syria resulting from last week’s earthquake and called for a moment of silence. After ringing the bell, she noted that Rotary International will be taking steps to help, but for those who want to take immediate (and needed) action, please consider a gift to ShelterBox (https://www.shelterboxusa.org/). This organization was created by a Rotarian and is expert in quickly getting essential, life-saving supplies to disaster sites.
Thank Yous
After offering kudos to STEVE HUFFMAN (Retired) for chairing a highly successful Brown Bag Day last week, President Linda thanked this meeting’s greeters: Past-President Dan McVeigh (Downey Brand LLP), Robyn Delong (Coldwell Banker) and Mik Miklaus (Integrity Mortgage). This was followed by a collective yawn at the announcement that the Pulse Reporter would be John McIntyre (Mercy Foundation). The crowd regained enthusiasm with the announcement that Virginia Wade (Retired, SAFE Credit Union) would be handling photography duties, and that Surender Singal (Retired, Army Corps of Engineers) for pouring a creative mix of wines (provided by President Linda, Steve Heath and Käthe Nathan) at the pre-meeting reception.
Thought for the Day
Nancy Smith-Fagan (YMCA), after noting that St. Valentine is purported to be the Patron Saint of Beekeepers (although, I thought that was St. Ambrose), Epilepsy, Engineers and others, offered several reflections on love. She noted that you don’t need to make your verb tenses align with your nouns to serve, we can all serve as an act of love. She then offered relevant quotes. “You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.) A quote from Mr. Rogers: “You can’t really love someone else unless you really love yourself first…If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” And, from Angelita Lim, “I saw that you were perfect, and I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect, and I loved you even more.”
Introduction of Guests and Visitors
After leading the club in the Pledge of Allegiance, President Linda asked Sgt.-at-Arms Käthe Nathan (Retired, Merchants Bank) rose to introduce guests. In addition to visiting Rotarian JOE SCHEIMER (Fair Oaks Club), they included:
  • CARRIE McGANN (daughter of JIM PHILLIPS)
  • GUNILLA BOGREN (guest of HUGO)
  • MARY JO STRENG (guest of JIM)
  • PAT JUNOD (guest of FORREST)
  • ROSIE DALY (guest of BOB)
Head Table
President Linda announced those who graced the dais with her:
  • Kenn Altine (CEO, Sacramento SPCA), guest of Meeting Sponsor Past- President Diane Mizell (Retired)
  • President Linda
  • Speaker Kitty O’Neal (KFBK News Radio)
  • Chair of the Day Diane Mizell
Meeting Sponsor’s Time
President Linda invited Kenn Altine forward to speak about the Sacramento SPCA. Kenn shared that there is a shortage of veterinarians and, by the end of the decade, the shortfall number will be 15,000—so, it’s no surprise that it’s hard to get our animals in to see a vet. This presented the SPCA with both a challenge and an opportunity. Kenn says the Sacramento SPCA is now the largest veterinary care provider in Northern California, recognizing that fewer animals will be surrendered if they can be kept healthy and owners thus don’t have to consider surrendering them out of financial hardship. To learn more: https://www.sspca.org/
New Member Induction
Past President Peter Dannenfelser arose to introduce new member, Dr. Dennis Godby, the head of the Sacramento Naturopathic Medical Center, where he works with two of his sons. Past President Peter noted that Dennis was just back from celebrating his 35th wedding anniversary in Hawaii and that Dennis is nearing the end of his third walking trek across the US in support of Health Equity. President Linda then read Dennis into the club and he was welcomed with a standing ovation from the members.
Rotarian Spotlight
Shirlee Tully (Capital Public Radio) took the mic to spotlight three Rotarians who have February birthdays:
John Phair has been a Rotarian since 2002. He was born in Vancouver, BC, and his family moved to La Jolla at the age of seven, which started his love affair with the ocean.  He was trained in scuba diving at the renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography and dove with Navy Seals. He couldn’t get enough of life under water, so he studied Biology and Marine Science at San Diego State. After graduating, he joined the Air Force, including one year in Da Nang Airbase in Vietnam.  While in the service, Cupid’s bow struck, and he met his wife Debbie at Travis AFB. They married in 1971 and have one son and two very precocious grandsons. After Vietnam, John took a job on dry land and discovered that he loved sales. He specialized in pharmaceutical sales, which led to a transfer to Sacramento. In the early ’80s, John and a friend formed their own (legal) drug distribution company that served pharmacies throughout the state, a business that endured for 28 years, until he retired at the age of 58. As for early retirement, says John, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.” About that time, John and Alan Markis started diving in exotic locations all over the world. Soon they were planning trips for other divers, including characters like Clayton Lee and Frank Cook. Together, they dove into New Guinea, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands, the Red Sea, and Fiji, to name a few. However, the most memorable trip is the one he and his son took to Cuba in the ‘90s, when few Americans could gain entry. After landing in Havana, they were advised that Castro knew they were in the country and might be sending a “welcoming party.“ Thankfully, that never happened, but they were successful in smuggling 75 Cuban cigars into the US, stashed in their dive gear. His last dive was in Malaysia and John says he plans to keep diving until he no longer knows which way is up.
Sergio Robles is one of our newest members. He was recruited to our club last June by (then) President Bob Miller and, thankfully, we haven’t scared him away yet. Raised by a single mom, Sergio was born in Texas, spent his early years in Minnesota and then moved to California and settled in the Elk Grove area when he was 15. Still a Vikings fan. Sergio says he learned his morals in Minnesota, his culture in South Sacramento, and his work ethic from his mom. Sergio is a proud graduate of Hiram Johnson High School. After attending community college, he went to Cal State Northridge. This future elected official was a Political Science major, who gained useful experience for his career by learning to debate. And because he is bi-lingual, he can debate in Spanish and English! During his time in college, Sergio earned a prestigious internship at the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, DC, where he got to work on immigration issues, especially for Dreamers, which was very close to his heart. Sergio loved DC and would have stayed, but Congressman Ami Bera persuaded him to bring his talents back home to Sacramento. Sergio is now a Field Representative for Congressman Bera, and considers Janine Bera to be his “other mother.” With such impressive mentors, it’s no surprise that Sergio was sworn in last December as the youngest person ever elected to the Elk Grove City Council. As a member of the National Guard, Sergio is also the only member of the active military serving on the council. When asked about the most surprising thing about being an elected official, he said, “People try to overcomplicate things. I just try to get them to agree on taking the first step forward and the rest will follow.” When asked what he does for fun, he had a long list of projects he’s working on to serve the Elk Grove community. He absolutely loves working to develop the 2nd largest city in the region. He is also ‘paying it forward’ by mentoring young professionals to create change in their own communities. When pressed about what he does for fun outside of community work and mentoring, he offered that he does Cross Fit and Brazilian Ju Jitsu. Do not mess with this dude! He also loves spending time with his niece and nephew playing video games. A fun fact about Sergio – he enjoys doing Tic Toc dances with his niece.


Giuliano Kornberg joined Rotary in 2019, brought to the club by former member Alice Sauro. Giuliano grew up in Minnesota and lived there until he went to Stanford. With an undergraduate degree in Percussion and a Master’s in Music Science and Technology in hand, he got his first full-time job from that the same Alice Sauro as a fundraiser for the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera. Giuliano continued to grow professionally and was appointed be Executive Director of the Philharmonic and Opera in 2022. Rumor has it that he is one of the, if not THE youngest, persons in the US to run a professional orchestra. According to Giuliano, the hardest part of being the leader is that, while he used to have one boss, he now has hundreds—because he answers to the audience, the musicians, the union, the donors and the community. The rewarding part has been seeing first-hand how much classical music impacts lives, and having the chance to work with people like Sandy Smoley, who has been involved with ‘the Phil’ for twice as long as Giuliano has been alive! Giuliano is engaged to Laine Himmelman, to whom he will be married in June. He met Laine a few years after moving to Sacramento, when he was helping a friend open the Fizz Bar in DOCO. The crowd was larger than planned and Giuliano became the de facto bouncer. Three very attractive women tried to enter and Giuliano welcomed them. The owner quickly realized that Giuliano was not cut out for bouncer duties, stepped in and drew the line. In an act of grace, Giuliano offered the women champagne before telling them they had to leave. Only one took him up on the offer: Laine. They ran into each other a month later and he feared she might have bad feelings about his bouncer career, but she didn’t hold it against him, and they’ve been together ever since. Last summer, he proposed at the Bogle winery in 100-degree heat, with several of her friends hiding and ready to jump out and celebrate the newly engaged couple. Two days later, they were on a plane to Belgium for the Electronic Dance Music Festival, Tomorrowland. For astute listeners – that is NOT classical music. Giuliano’s main hobbies are travelling, playing tennis, and attending music festivals or concerts. He also loves going to the beach and swimming in the ocean, reading, and visiting family back in Minnesota. Fun Fact – Giuliano was almost born in a sushi bar! His parents were eating sushi on February 26, 1993, after which his mom immediately went into labor. She gave birth on the 27th and  – true story – sushi is his favorite food!
Club Announcements
  • Clayton Lee (retired) shared an update on the Club’s Global (Water) Grant initiatives. He encouraged members to share with others, as an act of marketing the Club’s accomplishments. He noted that many clubs have done water initiatives internationally, however, nearly half of these have not endured past five years and their reach has benefited hundreds or low-thousands of individuals. By comparison, our club’s efforts (with World Vision and other large-scale nonprofits) continue to thrive and are helping approximately 300,000 individuals. He further noted that our Club’s gifts/investments in these water projects have been leveraged up to a value of $8 million, which dwarfs the efforts of other Rotary water initiatives. Lastly, he noted that, for the first time in Rotary history, every club in a district has signed onto a project; all of District 5180 has embraced our water project!
  • Bob Rosenberg (Inve$tNet) announced that our meeting on February 28th will feature pilot Brian Shul, who piloted the world’s fastest aircraft, the SR-71, and who has an inspiring story of courage and achievement. For more information…
  • Sharna Braucks (YMCA) reminded everyone that, given that it’s Valentine’s Day, hearts need blood and they can help by donating blood through Vitalant. Schedule your donation now!
  • president-elect-nominee Bobby Reed (Capitol Tech Solutions) noted that Golf4Kids is coming and there’s a great need for virtual auction items. Please think of things you could offer!
  • Steve Huffman (retired) thanked everyone involved with last week’s Brown Bag, especially Steve Heath!
You’re a Gem for Giving
  • Ruth Tesar (PET Imaging Center, for now…) announced to the world that she was retiring from full-time work and celebrated the occasion by becoming a Ruby-level donor.
  • Lev Kaganovich (Energy, LEED and Commissioning Consulting) shared a story about his son, Oleg, and wanted to celebrate him with a $100 gift toward his next Eddie Mulligan.
  • Steve Huffman (retired) wanted to honor Steve Heath with a $100 investment.
  • Käthe Nathan shared that she’d been to the area of the Turkey/Syria earthquake and wanted to make a $25 gift in support of the wonderful people there.
Guest Speaker
Chair of the Day Past-President Diane Mizell pointed out that Kitty O’Neal has been a fixture in Sacramento media – both radio and TV – for 38 years. Noting that we were celebrating Valentine’s Day, she shared that for 33 of those years, Kitty has been married to restaurateur and executive chef Kurt Spataro. And because Kitty has graced the dais on prior occasions, Diane encouraged a warm Rotary re-welcome!
kitty shared many observations about her life and her roots. She grew up in a military family, noting with pride that all from her family who’d served now have their rest at Arlington National Cemetery. She shared that among her grandfather’s claims to fame was that he was Charles Lindbergh’s flight instructor. That claim has a bit of tarnish, as Mr. Lindbergh’s politics have come increasingly to light, but it’s still a brush with history. Further along in his military career, her grandfather was the Commander of Rhein Main Air Base (today, Frankfurt, Germany’s main airport) and during that time his daughter was asked out by a young Lt. O’Neal. She declined. Later Lt. O’Neal was called to the Commander’s office. The Commander instructed Lt. O’Neal that he’d be taking the Commander’s daughter to a military ball. She made him work for it, but Lt. O’Neal eventually struck a marital bargain. Kitty shared other stories – including how she met her husband, while she was singing with a touring band. Her band had gigs in Medford, Oregon and, while there, she asked around if anyone wanted to go check out the nearby Ashland Shakespeare Festival. Kurt was the only one to say yes. Over time, Kitty said yes, too! They now live happily together with five cats. Kitty also related that she had a favorite first cousin who lived in Virginia, but wanted to move to California. Kitty went back to accompany her on the trip, which was a memorable experience. After they arrived, she wanted to introduce her cousin to connect her in town. She suggested that her colleague Tom Sullivan (the radio finance guy) invite her cousin out, to which he replied, “I don’t do ‘charity dates.’” Kitty told him it was his loss. Then Kitty had her cousin come by the studio and, when Tom saw her cousin, he sent a text asking to be introduced. Tom and Kitty’s cousin have now been married more than 20 years! Kitty then shared several photos of her years covering the Oscars in Los Angeles, with a focus on her dresses, some designed by a well-known designer, some designed and made by Kitty herself. It was a St. Valentine’s Day love-fest with Kitty and the club thanked her warmly for her presentation.
Next Meeting
After thanking Kitty, President Linda called on Sergeant-at-Arms Käthe Nathan, who announced that there will be no meeting next week in observance of President’s Day, but that on February 28th, we will feature a special presentation by SR-71 pilot Brian Shul. Past President WALTER DAHL offered a closing thought, and President Linda concluded the meeting at 1:30 p.m.
Photo Gallery
(Photos Courtesy of VIRGINIA WADE)