Posted by Tina Yarbrough
2017-11-06 Rotary Buzz - Noon  Meeting
Canada 150 Speaker Series
Speaker - David Goa on Dr. Chester Ronning

Lou opened the meeting at 12:00 pm.
  • Tickets for Rotary Cares Raffle still available and can be picked up from Ted.
  • Fellowship Activities:
    • Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 - Va Va Voluptuous Venetian Vino Wine Pairing event.  $80+GST/ticket for the public and $70+GST for Rotarians.
    • December 22, 2017 - Red Deer Symphony Orchestra playing at the Peter Lougheed Centre.
    • January 25, 2017 - Casino van going to Edmonton for dinner then on to Ice on Whyte.
    • The Robert's are looking for dates people are available to host their annual Rotarian Christmas Social Event.
    • Social Committee is also looking for something at the Bailey Theatre.
Presentation - Paul Harris Medallion
November is Foundation Month, and Roy Wallace as Foundation Chair is tasked with honoring outstanding members and efforts of RI to eradicate polio.  Rotary and its partners have reduced polio cases to 99% worldwide since 1979.  They have immunized 2.5 billion children in over 122 countries. 
To build awareness and support, Rotary International started an initiative to highlight polio survivors who uphold Rotary ideals.  James "Jim" Rasmussen is awarded the Paul Harris Medallion.
Speaker - David Goa, Dr. Chester Ronning

Chester Ronning was born in China in 1894, the second of seven children. His parents were Lutheran missionaries who went to China with the American Lutheran Mission Society. Chester Ronning and his siblings grew up speaking Chinese. The family left China on furlough in 1899, narrowly missing being caught in the Boxer Rebellion.

They spent time in Norway and Iowa, after which they passed through Canada on their way back to China. In Calgary, they met a group of Norwegian settlers who had taken homesteads at a place called Bardo. The Ronnings decided to purchase 320 acres for a future home, and they returned from China to that homestead six years later. This began the Ronning roots in Canada.  After living at Bardo for five years, the family moved to the Peace River country where Chester met Inga Horte whom he married in 1918.

During this time, Chester absorbed the way the US talked about exceptionalism, the notion of the American Revolution and the idea of the evils of the British that led to the revolution.  He also began to accept and embrace the Canadian way of life.  Chester had several cultural layers first growing up in China living in the US and Canada that would serve him in his future.

In 1920, Chester's brother drowned.  His brother was thought to be the one to go back to China and continue their fathers earlier work.  Chester would be the one to go back for his brother as well as for himself.  In 1921, Chester Ronning, his wife Inga and their daughter Sylvia set out for China, where he had accepted a position as Principal of a teacher’s school in Fracheng, his childhood home. They stayed for six years.


The China of his childhood was gone.  The old government was being destroyed, and warlords were gaining ground. During troubling time deepened Chester's knowledge of China.  He understood the revolution going on, understood the struggles and understood the modernization of China that was happening.  It was no longer safe for foreigners to be there.  The Ronnings returned to Alberta in 1927.

Dr. Ronning became principal of Camrose Lutheran College and the next 15 years were spent there. The Ronnings built their home a few blocks from the College and raised six children. He was courted to become a political candidate by some of the local farmers that knew him in 1930.  He was a member of the United Farmers of Alberta, and on October 25, 1932, he was elected in a by-election for Camrose. From his entry into the Legislature, he was an outspoken adherent of the newly formed Co-operative Commonwealth Federation party.

Chester said in a speech, "The people had a new hope and a new enthusiasm.  They were not only concerned with vital issues merely affecting their economic welfare but a far-reaching effect of moral, spiritual and cultural welfare."  He was defeated in the 1935 provincial election that wiped out the UFA government.

During the Second World War, he left his post at the College to become head of the discrimination unit of Royal Canadian Air Force Intelligence. When the war ended, he was asked to go to China to help Canada’s Ambassador to Chungking. In 1945, he arrived in China, followed a year and a half later by his wife and four children. His family stayed for two years, but he remained there, serving as Ambassador until his departure in 1951.

He became head of the American and Far Eastern Division in the Department of External Affairs, was then appointed Ambassador to Norway and Iceland, and in 1956 he was sent to India as High Commissioner. He also served as acting head of delegations to the Geneva Conferences on Korea in 1954, on Laos in 1961 and 1962, and as special envoy to Hanoi and Saigon in 1966, where he attempted to negotiate an end to the Vietnam War.


In a difficult period covering a quarter of a century, Chester Ronning worked to bridge gaps in communications between North America and China. Because of his involvement with China over the years, he developed a unique comprehension of that country and its people and constantly strove for better understanding between East and West.

Dr. Ronning graduated from the University of Alberta in 1916 with a B.Sc. degree in education and worked towards an M.A. degree during the 1930′s. He was awarded Honourary Degrees from the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, Lethbridge, Waterloo, and Simon Fraser, and St. Olaf’s College in Minnesota. He was a life member of the Alberta Teachers Association. In Camrose, a school was named for him, and in India, three places commemorated his name.

He was designated an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1967 and became a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1972.  Chester also inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1983.

Chester Ronning returned to Camrose for his retirement years in the original Ronning home near CLC (Augustana).


Rotary Cares Raffle Winner - Ray Lestus sold by Tony Hladun
Lou adjourned the meeting 1:15 pm.
Next meeting - Evening Meeting, November 13, 2017, 
Speaker - District Governor, Frank Reitz 
Camrose Resort and Casino