Maurice Oliver’s Rotary Story:
Rotary is one of the most trusted organizations in the world. Membership in Rotary opens many doors and magnifies the possibilities of making a difference.
After leaving the RCAF, I married Betty Bushfield and opened a photography business in St. Marys. I was asked to join the Lion’s Club and although I went to a few meetings, I decided it was not for me. Later Dr. Bill Davis asked me to photograph his Carnival Glass collection and then invited me to come to several Rotary meetings which led me to join on June 20, 1966.
Soon after Rotarian Herb Sparling asked me to join his Crippled Children Committee and I became involved in Easter Seals as a local director and then as National Director in Toronto. As a side note – PDG Scott Whaley (member of our club) was responsible for bringing Easter Seals to Canada. While serving as Chairman for 6 years for Woodeden (the Easter Seal Camp at Komoka), I was inspired to have a tree house built so the children could have the experience of outdoor sleeping overlooking the valley and Thames River below. The treehouse is still very much in use and appreciated. It is good to still be in contact with many of the children who we (Rotary Club of St. Marys) helped and who attended Easter Seal Camps around Ontario. E.G. - Missy Little, Laura Elliott, Jesse Davidson, Sherry Campbell and Susie Mathias who is now on the Board of the Mouth & Foot Painters.
Betty and I attended our first International Convention in Mexico City where I saw what Rotary was all about and became a true Rotary believer. Over the years I have been to 20 or more Conventions world-wide. Rotarians Bill & Betty Hanly, Gord & Helen Gregory went to some conventions with us.
One of the proud endeavours was when Rotarian Oliver Gaffny from Stratford and I went around this District promoting the new District Youth Exchange Program. Bellabeth Porter was the first student that our club sent abroad. Paul Bedford and my son, Stephen, were the next to go. Stephen went to South Africa. It pleases me that my son, Mark, has joined Rotary and is doing an excellent job as Youth Exchange Officer for St. Marys. Mark had the experience of being chosen to go on exchange to Australia.
In my 50 years in Rotary, I have only missed attending a few District Conferences where there is much to be learned. In 1974, I was chosen to take a Group Study Exchange Team to South Africa for 6 weeks. Great Experience!
In 1979, I was asked to run for District Governor for 1981-1982 and was the last elected District Governor. After that, DGs were appointed by a committee.
In 1980, I married Nelda Mossip and since then we have attended most of the Zone Institutes for DGs and other Rotary leaders where we have met many of the International Presidents.
During my year as DG, another DG from the Dominican Republic requested my help for a young mother and her baby who needed heart surgery. The Rotary Club of St. Marys stepped in and did everything to bring baby Indera and her mother Evangelista to St. Marys to have heart surgery in London. Indera survived the surgery but died shortly afterwards. Our towns people were heartbroken as well as our family as the two of them had stayed in our home.
In my 38 years of perfect attendance, attending clubs around the country and other parts of the world has enriched my Rotary knowledge with world understanding and peace. Through Rotary we have met many good friends from around the world.
Being a Rotarian has blessed not only me but my family, my business, and my town and beyond. Thank you.
At 85 years of age, I look forward to continuing serving Rotary…only in a smaller capacity.
ROTARY – Learn to give, not to take.
               Learn to serve, not to rule.