Fun Facts about Morning Star Rotary

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During Rotary year 1988-89, the Bethlehem Rotary Club undertook a feasibility study for a second club in Bethlehem, with recommendations for a breakfast meeting. Several Bethlehem Rotary Club members were “released” to start the new club – including 2 members who continue to be very active in Morning Star: Charlie Incalcaterra and John St. Clair!

On January 13, 1990 District Governor Ronald A. Williams officially presented the club charter to President Charlie Incalcaterra at the Holiday Inn East (now Best Western). At the time of Charter, Geoff Wright was President Elect, Dick Roberts was Secretary, John St. Clair was Treasurer, Don Smith was Assistant Sec'y/Treas., and Tony Ortwein was Sergeant-at-Arms. Gordon Sommers, Fran Chizeck and John Watts Barrett were club Directors.

This one is out of chronological order to make up for my oversight when introducing Past President Dick Roberts last Thursday. During Dick’s year we reached our 2-year $50,000 goal for St. Luke’s Union Station Dental Clinic!!! Together with Bethlehem Rotary’s contribution of the same amount, we provided $100,000 for significant equipment and fixtures to help the brand new clinic become functional.


After 23.5 years, 11 of Morning Star’s original charter Members are till active in the club! How many can you guess before peeking at this list? Dieter Bender, Charlotte & Tore Hartmann-Hansen, Charlie Incalcaterra, Mike Long, Butch Macri, Dick Roberts, Rick Santee, Barb Seifert-Sigmon, John St. Clair and Geoff Wright. (Plus Mary Meilinger and Don Smith are Honorary members.) Thanks to each of them for their dedication to Morning Star Rotary!


From its inception in 1990 (just a few years after Rotary went “co-ed”), Morning Star has been unselfconsciously and deliberately inclusive of women. In the early years we were about 25% female; that proportion has grown to 40-45% and has been equitably reflected in club leadership. Barb Seifert-Sigmon was our first female president in 1991-92, and the first one in the district! Since then, Claire Rij, Diane Donaher, Charlotte Hartmann-Hansen, Dee Elliott, Eileen Dunn and Susan Burnett have all served as Morning Star presidents.


In 1990 we started the “5K Run With Rotary” to benefit Bethlehem Special Olympics, a brainstorm of then member Bill McCoach who served as Race Director for many years. While this event has changed names, locations and even distance (adding the 10K option), it continues to help Special Olympics and other Morning Star beneficiaries every year. When Bill moved out of state, John Gisolfi chaired for two years, then Tom Kolepp stepped in, moving the venue and growing the number of participants. For the past several years, Jeff Kicska and the race committee have done a terrific job.


In 1991 we designed and constructed a float for the city of Bethlehem’s 250th Anniversary Parade!


1992 marked the inaugural singing of the Morning Star version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Written and periodically updated by Rick Santee, it has become an annual club holiday tradition!


Fun meetings and activities included fellowship, music, club talents, picnics, a “Fancy Tie Contest”, 5:44 Gatherings, the Hay ride that wasn’t, ditto for the Christmas Party, and the Valentine’s Party that almost wasn’t.

(1992-93, when Tore Hartmann-Hansen was club President)


Donations included child seats to Bethlehem police for emergency transport, a wheelchair for racing, blankets and coats/packets for Bosnia/Croatia. (1992-93)


This week it comes from 1994: The meeting between Christmas and New Year’s had no place to meet – the Holiday Inn didn’t expect us that week!


Another from 1994: Birthday recognitions started – including “Fossil & Fossilette of the Month”. (So popular it has been brought back by popular demand.) Thanks, Tom Mohr!


Our Theatre Night at Touchstone Theatre in southside Bethlehem. (1995)


Each year, raised and donated more funds than the prior year. (1994-95)


With a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant, we helped establish a Village Bank in Peru. This project involved micro-loans, enabling women to support their families with home-based businesses. (1994-95)


We celebrated the Fifth Anniversary of our Charter Night at the Hotel Bethlehem (1995)


For the president’s turnover, we held a Road Rally and picnic. (1995-96)


Initiated the now-annual joint Golf Tournament with Bethlehem Rotary. (1995-96)


Morning Star was district leader (among 50+ clubs) in contribution to Rotary Foundation. (1996-97)


Outgoing President Stan Vasiliadis almost literally “missed the boat” for his Kickout Party on the canal boat. (1996-97)


Morning Star was one of the youngest clubs to successfully nominate a member for District Governor - Tore Hartmann-Hansen. (1996-97)


We accumulated contributions for Rotary Foundation in  "Paul Harris buckets" and funded over 3 homes in Curitiba, Brazil (1997-98)


Our turnover breakfast featured mimosas - thanks, President Diane! (1997)


We held quarterly evening meetings to socialize and for committees to meet, plus we enjoyed two visits from Miss Pennsylvania. (1997-98)


Morning Star Rotarians helped students at Donegan Elementary School with a tutoring program. (1997-98)


Morning Star member Tore Hartmann-Hansen was District 7430 governor (1998-99)


Morning Star planned and ran the District Conference. Thanks to Bill John and Diane Donaher! (1998-99)


Met and interacted with Group Study Exchange Teams from other countries. (Many years)


We had a bowling tournament for kids with ALERT Partnership. (1998-99)


Members supported “Coats for Kids” through the purchase of Bethlehem Christmas CDs and direct donations.


Started the Morning Star Rotary Foundation temporary fund, to provide tax-deductibility for donations to MS Projects. (1999-2000)


Presented Bethlehem Area Vo-Tech with a plaque of the Annual Vocational Award winners to display at the school. (1999-2000)


We fulfilled our pledge of $5,000 to the City of Bethlehem Fire Department’s Bob Squad – receiving wonderful press coverage. (1999-2000)


Our 10th anniversary charter Night was a wonderful evening attended by more than 100 people including 6 past/current/future District Governors, 3 presidents from other clubs, and 4 exchange students! (1999-2000)


Set in motion several new policies – funding proposals and classification. (2000-01)


Changed the meeting location for the first time in club history, to Kirkland Village. (2000-01)


Morning Star charter member Gordon Sommers led the district’s Group Study Exchange team to India. (2000-01)


Provided increased recognition for our members who contribute “above and beyond the call of duty.” (2000-01)


Provided $25,000 plus dollars to organizations that match our Rotary goals. (2000-01)


Increased the amount of publicity provided to our club. (2000-01)


With the centennial of Rotary International, we linked up with Bethlehem Rotary for a Centennial Banquet at Moravian College, and completed the two-year $100,000 funding of the St. Luke’s Dental Clinic in the old Union Station Railroad Depot on the South Side of Bethlehem (2004-05)


We completely revised the Bylaws to reflect the Morning Star “of today” and the wishes of its members. A big job led by Don Scanlon.  (2008-09)


Celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Tore Hartmann-Hansen’s time as District Governor with a photo slide show, funny stories and fond memories of his success term.  (2008-09)


Supported the successful election of Bill Jahn as District Governor Nominee, leading to his term as District Governor in 2011-12.  (2008-09)

Enjoyed the news and pictures sent from South Africa by Carl Kolepp, our sponsored exchange student.  (2008-09)

Final “FUN FACT”

Don Scanlon suffered very serious health problems while servicing as president, and greatly appreciated the outpouring of Morning star support – especially by Jim Santanasto who stepped up to handle all the presidential responsibilities long before his term was scheduled to begin.  (2009-10)

We hope you have enjoyed these snippets of Morning Star history. All Fun Facts from the year may be seen at – click “Fun Facts” on the left side of our home page.