Will It Still Be the Sacramento Zoo?
It appears that the day is not far off when the Sacramento Zoo will be moving. Is the move a done deal? And if it moves to Elk Grove, will it still be the Sacramento Zoo? Find out the answers to those and other questions at next Tuesday’s Rotary Club of Sacramento meeting, when Zoo Executive Director/CEO Jason Jacobs will be our featured guest speaker. As usual, we will gather for lunch on Tuesday, March 7th, at the Annunciation Greek Church, 600 Alhambra Boulevard. Also as usual, we ask that you register in advance for the meeting. Please keep an eye out for the email invitation and sign up as soon as you get it. Thanks! See you Tuesday—and bring an animal-loving prospective Rotarian to lunch!
Call for Nominees

April 25th will be our annual Jean Runyon Day at Rotary Club of Sacramento, the day on which we honor a fellow Rotarian who exemplifies the spirit of our club’s first female member and long-time community leader with the prestigious Jean Runyon Award. The awards committee is currently accepting nominations, so if you have someone in mind who you think is deserving, now is the time to submit their name. To do that, go to https://rotarysacramento.com/get-involved/jean-runyon-community-service-award/ and complete the online form. The deadline for nominations is March 9th.
“Sled Driver” Brian Shul
Recap of the Weekly Meeting of February 28, 2023
Reported by Danielle McGarrity
One of the largest crowds in recent memory attended Tuesday’s meeting at the Annunciation Greek Church auditorium, braving rain and wind to hear from former fighter pilot and author Brian Shul (pictured above in a “selfie” taken from the rear seat of an SR71 with an escort plane flying nearby above the crest of the Sierras).
Thought for the Day
MATT PAGE (Lucas Group Financial Planners) encouraged us to take a moment in this fast-paced world to appreciate going slow and enjoy the anticipation of waiting for things. When speed is a commodity, he said, slowness can be a luxury!
Guests Welcomed
Sergeant-At-Arms KATHE NATHAN (Merchants Bank of Commerce-retired) introduced our more than 30 guests, visitors and prospective members:  PETER COYL (Sacramento Library, prospective member); MARY EURETIG, guest of DAVE McKIE; LUISANA VICTORIA (College Track), guest of NIKKI WARDLAW; TOM TENGE (Business Central), guest of BOB ROSENBERG; MICHELE SALINAS (Golden Pacific Bank), guest of VIRGINIA VARELA; STEVE MACKENROTH, guest of KIEFIE and ART BREUER; RICHARD SANDLER (KOR-IT, Inc.), guest of Past-President TIM PINKNEY; PHIL PLUCKEBAUM (UCDH), guest Of President-Elect-Nominee BOBBY REED; DAVID NYSTROM (McCuen Properties), guest of JEFF STONE; JOE PETERS, guest of Past-President THOM GILBERT; KEVIN NGUYEN (Equity Zone Mortgage), guest of JOHN MASSEY; CHUCK THOMPSON, guest of BRIAN SHUL; TOM BACON; and the following guests of Past-President JOHN FRISCH: LARRY BOOTH (Frank M. Booth, Inc.), CHUCK TRAINOR (Trainor Fairbrook), PAULETTE TRAINOR (Paulette Trainor Design), CHRIS HOLBEN (Runyon Saltzman), DAN RAMOS (Ramco Enterprises), JOHN DRURY (Pacific Neon), FRITZ BROWN (Brown Stevens), DON TURNER, CECILY HASTINGS (Inside Publications), ROY BREWER (Brewer Lofgren), MIKE MONAGAN, JIM ELDRIDGE, BRAD SQUIRES, RICK FOWLER and MAGGIE FRISCH.
Meeting Sponsor
BOB REDIGER (Rediger Labor Law) was our meeting sponsor. He donated his time to the Sacramento Children’s Home. DAVID BAKER shared about a recently launched program called The Source, which supports youth up to 26 years old and caregivers during times of crisis and struggle. The program features urgent crisis support, which includes a free hotline for youth and families, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Source is also available via text message, live online chat, and social media. Last year there were 15,000 crisis response calls across the state and programs like The Source can help to prevent or divert these types of calls from requiring a police response. Source staff regularly hear from their clients about the beneficial impact the program has had on their families. David invited Club members to learn more about all SCH programs by attending their Impact Luncheon on April 20th at the Sawyer Hotel.
Rotary Spotlight
SHIRLEE TULLY (Capital Public Radio) again treated attendees to the Rotary Spotlight, which features different club members at each meeting. This week’s featured Rotarians were:
LEN SIMPSON – Len was born in Atlantic City. A few years later, his parents packed up their Rambler and drove south to Florida, where Len grew up. Len’s story is one of bold determination. While in college, he dreamed of a career in medicine and worked as an Emergency Medical Technician in the emergency room of a Level 1 trauma center in Miami. He describes the experience as mayhem! That’s where he met his future wife, Maida. Len was seriously smitten at first sight. When he asked her to lunch, she turned him down—until a dozen long-stem roses convinced her he was serious. They were married just three months later and will be celebrating 47 years in July. While working his way through college, Len became a dad and worked multiple jobs to feed his growing family. Through sheer grit and some luck, he got a start in the financial services industry more than 36 years ago. In the early days, he did cold-calling from the kitchen table. There was no computer, just a phone book, a landline, and a file cabinet! Len quickly rose into senior management and eventually landed in Sacramento in 1998. Eight years later, he left the corporate world to go back into private practice. Len was invited to join our club in 1998 by Rusty Hammer but had become a Rotarian decades earlier in Florida (during the dark times when there were no women). He even served part of a term as president of the El Paso club, before that was interrupted by his move to California. Even though Len had a great run in financial services, he never gave up on his dream of a medical career. He has come full circle today by serving as a volunteer for the City of Folsom Community Emergency Response Team, and as a first responder under the direction of the Folsom Fire Department, where he can be called to assist in anything from light search and rescue and emergency medical care to providing first aid at local community events. A fun fact about Len is that while still in high school, he spent a month hitchhiking around the country with a friend. During their travels, they were picked up by some commune members who saw them as potential fresh recruits. They obviously didn’t know who they were dealing with. This future cold-calling Executive VP and first responder was having none of commune life. He just wanted a place to stay and food to eat. Determination!
KATHY HERRFELDT (Home Care Assistance-retired) joined our club in 2013, under direct orders from the late Oleta Lambert. And if you knew Oleta, you KNOW they were, in fact, orders! Kathy was born in Baltimore, MD, one of six kids. The family moved a lot because her father was in the lumber trade. She went to Regis College (now Regis University) in Denver with only 1,200 students. Why? Because she wanted to ski, of course. After college, Kathy had an impressive 30-year career in information technology, mostly at Intel and Sterling Software. She always wanted to start her own business, because she was an entrepreneur like her father, and she’s a breast cancer survivor. In her words, “Life is short, so go for it!” And go for it, she did. When her employer was developing much-needed technology for senior care, Kathy was quick to note the massive growth predicted for taking care of our country’s elders. The entrepreneur in her saw the potential and soon she became the owner of the first franchise of Home Care Assistance in California. The highlight of her career was creating a successful business and, after 10 years, selling it! Kathy is passionate about playing golf and pickleball, and now she has all the time in the world to display her competitive streak. On that note, she once was a long-distance runner, and paced a friend for 30 miles of the Western States 100 ultra-marathon. She got him to the finish in 21 hours. She is also a closet birder, so if you want to know when the Sand Hill Cranes arrive in the delta, Kathy is your girl. And if you know anything about Kathy, you will know that she loves her 49ers almost as much as she loves Golden Retrievers. A fun fact you may not know about Kathy is that her uncle was the professional comic strip artist who drew Prince Valiant after Hal Foster retired. When he and her aunt would come to visit, Charles Shultz and his wife, Jean, were often guests. According to Kathy, he was a nice man, and her family is still friends with Jean.
Club Announcements
  • PRESIDENT LINDA GEERY (California Lawyers Association) asked everyone to save the date for our next People of Action Day on April 15. Several service project opportunities will be shared by email for folks to choose from. You can sign up by clicking on this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScV4bqk_wj8AWolg5VVx1AwTN712MM4OIVLb7LL8At0GDONyg/viewform?usp=sf_link
  • PAST PRESIDENT SUSAN SHERIDAN (Law-retired) informed us that the 2023 Sacramento Century bike ride will be held on September 30. She showed off the new cycling gear and said registration will open on June 1st.
  • MAGGIE HOPKINS (Capital Premier Lending & Premier Realty) announced that Jean Runyon Award nominations are due March 9th and decisions will be made March 16. If you would like to nominate someone, click on this link: https://rotarysacramento.com/get-involved/jean-runyon-community-service-award/
  • VIRGINIA WADE invited people to sign up for the next Loaves and Fishes day (March 30th). We need eight or nine volunteers for both the morning and afternoon shifts. Keep an eye out for the sign-up email.
Featured Guest Speaker
Past President “Top Gun Tim” TIM PINKNEY introduced BRIAN SHUL, the only man in America to have flown the extremely secret SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, and fly with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, and with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, while photographing his exclusive experiences.
Brian served as a Foreign Air Advisor in the Vietnam War, flying 212 close-air-support missions. Near the end of hostilities in 1973, his T-28 aircraft was shot down near the Cambodian border. Unable to eject from the aircraft, Shul was forced to crash land into the jungle and suffered severe burns. Finally rescued just as enemy troops were ready to close in, he arrived at the military hospital in Okinawa in such bad shape that doctors believed he would not survive. But following two months of intensive care, he was flown to the Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Physicians there told him he’d never fly again.
During the following year, even as he endured 15 reconstructive surgeries and countless hours of physiotherapy, his will to live drained. Then a shift in his mindset occurred one day as he watched children playing soccer outside the hospital window while at the same moment, on his hospital radio, the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” came over the air. He decided that he wanted to see the world outside the hospital once again. He changed his attitude and today tells audiences that “the slightest change in attitude can affect the rest of your life.” Months of physical therapy followed, enabling him to eventually pass a flight physical and return to active flying duty. The day he was released from the hospital he had two thoughts: “Life is short and it’s uncertain;” and “Pursue your dream and live your passion NOW.”
With a child-like naivete and determination, he volunteered for, and obtained, a spot in history as one of only 89 men to fly the SR-71, the fastest plane on the planet. “Sled driver” is the name SR-71 pilots gave themselves; embodying supersonic speed, sensory overload, overcoming the impossible, and living life in the fast lane.
Brian retired from the Air Force in 1990, with 5,000 fighter jet hours. Today, he runs a photo studio and museum, and spends hours lost in nature, photographing birds of flight. He has published seven books illustrated by his photography. He remembers the 18,000 men who went to Vietnam and didn’t get to see their 21st birthdays and honors them by donating the proceeds from some of his book sales to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Thank Yous
PRESIDENT LINDA thanked Greeters BOB MILLER (First US Community Credit Union), ROBERT REDIGER and KELLEY MORAN (Bajrang Yoga), photographer JOHN SWENTOWSKY (Swentowsky Photography), wine reception host DAVE McKIE and Sergeant-at-Arms KATHE NATHAN.
(Courtesy of John Swentowsky)