(The following narrative is a continuation of a series of how a member was introduced to Rotary and subsequent memories. If you would like Rotary to be part of your life's story, please contact Alison Proctor at alisonproctor@gmail.com.) 


Larry Kavinoky

Joined F.C. Rotary April 6, 2005

September, 2022



As a Californian born and raised person, it was ironic my first major community service project was to supervise the remodeling of a German POW compound at Warren AFB in Cheyenne Wyoming. There, I was a Minute Man Missile officer and the base agreed to sponsor a preschool for children with disabilities. My daughter was one of those children. I was supervising a Sea Bee detachment headquartered in Cheyenne.

I worked construction jobs during summers my college years and have always been around construction and loved it. After I left the Air Force, I joined the Wyoming National Guard where they thought I was a carpenter. So when Patricia Player-Maxwell asked me if I wanted to join Rotary my first question was do they do anything besides write big checks. She said they cook and remove/install playgrounds and that was all I needed to hear. I was doing bookkeeping and taxes for a Redwood City attorney so I arranged to be there on Wednesdays so I could attend noon meetings in Foster City.

My first job in FC Rotary was to take charge of cleaning the westbound section of Hwy 92 from the bridge to 101. Since I had been cleaning highways in Wyoming for 20 years with fellow American Legion members, and families, it was a natural. I hung around the cooking crew and tried to help but since I was not much of a cook, there was not much I could do. My wife, Sue, was the chef and baker in the family so I became the Sou Chef. Speaking of Sue, that cooking crew agreed to cater our wedding in 2008. Sue insisted on wild salmon and Bill Chow said it was hard to find and expensive that year. I kept plopping down another C note, and every time Bill made an excuse there went another, until Bill said “Larry, for that I will fly to Alaska myself and pick it up if necessary”. So this club catered our wedding reception for 250 people at Tressider Student Union at Stanford. Let me tell you it was a wonderful sight seeing Paul Williams as wine steward. I whispered my mom liked champagne and 5 minutes later I saw her with her glass before anyone else. Every part of the reception was handled by our friends or family. It was wonderful to look at the buffet line and see Greg Kuhl serving us. Sue and I enjoyed it so much we helped put on at least 2 more weddings - Pescadero and Napa.

I had the proudest moment in my Rotary life when the cooking crew asked me if I would like to join and of course I said YES. It most likely was because I was always there doing dishes and loading trucks. I knew it was not my cooking skills, and Greg Kuhl was tired of doing dishes.

Then another comforting Rotary moment was when Sue died about 1:30 am on May 15, 2015 and I called Mike Hoffman and he immediately came down from his home in San Mateo to mine in Palo Alto and he sat with me until I was ready to call the mortuary to pick up Sue. We then went to Izzy Bagels and went on to the rest of our Friday. Mike was there again for Sue’s memorial service as a stand in for Sue’s Oregon girl scout friends because they could not make it down for the service.

In 2016 I picked up the job of treasurer and I knew from many years and many organizations treasurer and secretary are two jobs that are basically lifetime appointments. I plan to be around at least another 10 years as treasurer unless someone else steps forward and Debi Williams continues in her role with the club.

The picture with this article was taken in 2013 when I was able to bring Sue along on the annual Mazatlán trip because she had finally retired. A member of our FC Rotary club, Cyndy Simms was a retired school principal so she got all the retiring Spanish books from Los Altos, where Sue had taught for 45 years, so we could put them in our shipping container with the playground equipment. The books were distributed by the Rotary Club of Mazatlán along with some other books Sue had purchased from Bring Me a Book Foundation. She was reading the Cat in the Hat in Spanish while I wore the Cat in the Hat’s hat and turned the pages of another copy for the preschoolers there. Sue’s feet hurt, she was dying of cancer. The Mazatlán club provided a vehicle just for Sue in case she was a little slow or tired. We left the hat with the school. Sue had a small biological family, by blood, but a huge one by the heart. I see Rotary as a big family by the heart and which each of us has received and given amongst each other. Help received is never repaid. We just pay it forward. Thank you Rotary for the many ways we all pay it forward and in the process set an example of citizenship and community for the interactors and other generations coming after us - which is service above self.