Posted by Frederick Collignon
At our club meeting on May 31, District Governor Fred Collignon presented Pate Thomson, accompanied by his wife Judy (his partner in all things), a plaque commemorating RI's highest award -- the Service Above Self award. Members of the club who went to the District Conference in May were aware of the award, because it was announced in the plenary session before some 500+ Rotarians, with Pate called to the stage. But the RI plaque had yet to be received, and would normally be presented at the July 8 Awards Banquet, for which Pate will be out of town. We wanted to give the full club a chance to share in Pate's recognition.
Pate won the award in international competition for his leadership in four different projects of major impact.  First, he led the Heart to Heart project, which brought modern heart surgery training and equipmento to Russia, initially to St. Petersburg and then speading across the then USSR. Second, he helped organize the club's efforts in rebuilding Warren Easton High School in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, in partnership with the New Orleans Rotary club, which was honored by President Obama in a White House ceremony. Warren Easton is the principal school sending African Americans in New Orleans to college with a 100% graduation rate. Third, he discovered a critical need in Chacala, Mexico and helped organize our initial (and later) club projects, which have resulted in rebuilding schools and community facilities across the region. Fourth, he was the catalyst in founding Richmond Rotacare, serving the non-insured with free medical care.
In his talk at the conference and at the club meeting, Pate acknowledged he couldn't have done it without the major leadership of other Rotarians and the financial support and participation of our Berkeley Rotary club. He cited, among others, Grier Graff, John Ferguson, and Mary Alice Rathbun as his key helpers in launching these projects.
A Youtube video about Warren Easton HS can be view here: