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Columbus Rotarian keeps rolling with perfect attendance

August 10, 2018

Columbus native Don Schupbach has been going to weekly Rotary meetings for so long that the last time he didn’t Lyndon B. Johnson was president and Bob Devaney was head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team.

“It’s a little give and take with family, work and play,” said Schupbach, a father of three daughters. “There are not many Rotarians that do that.”

Schupbach, a member of the Noon Rotary Club of Columbus, was recently recognized for 50 of years of perfect attendance -- a feat he said he strived for after witnessing the late Donald Clabaugh do the same several years ago.

“He’s a go-getter,” said Neal Valorz, president of Noon Rotary Club of Columbus, which is one of many Rotary International chapters worldwide.

Rotary International is an international service organization whose purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a non-political and non-sectarian organization open to all people regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender or political preference.

Schupbach used the organization’s worldwide status to his advantage, as he attended different chapters’ meetings depending on where he was on vacation or visiting family at the time.

“You can make up Rotary attendance one week before or after (the meeting) at another club,” Schupbach said.

Although he admitted he was at first just trying to maintain unblemished attendance, Schupbach said he ended up meeting a ton of new people, as well as gained new information and perspective, by going to meetings across the world. He said he’s gone to meetings in communities nearby, such as Schuyler and David City, as well as in Hawaii, Alaska, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Mexico.

“It was interesting. At some, I needed to have interpreters,” Schupbach said. “You meet a lot of nice people in Rotary.”

The diversity of meetings also led Schupbach to one of the most inspiring projects. During one of his visits to a Rotary meeting in Mexico, he said the members were working on gathering funds to build a school for handicapped students. Schupbach said he wanted to help out and held numerous fundraisers in the community to help their cause.

“I think we all have the same goals of helping each other,” he said.

Schupbach, who was working in banking, first joined the organization while living in Greeley, Colorado, on Aug. 7, 1969, and eventually became its president. Schupbach said back then he remembers the chapter being exclusively for men and members having to be invited to join or to fill in available spots. Each chapter was limited to 50 members.

Schupbach decided to move back to the area in the late 1970s to spend more time with his parents and found his way to the Noon Rotary Club of Columbus. He was president of the local chapter from 1984 to 1985, on top of working at First National Bank administering loans.

“I’ve held probably every position in the Rotary Club, like committee member and so on,” Schupbach said.

After spending so many years with the Rotary Club, Schupbach said he was able to witness firsthand how the organization affected different communities worldwide. He said He said one of the biggest achievements of the organization is its efforts to eradicate polio by helping to raise funds for research.

Schupbach said the number of polio cases worldwide has decreased tremendously throughout the years (the eradication of polio is one of the international organization’s longest standing and most significant efforts).

“It has truly been a great project,” he said. “Local residents benefit from what Rotary does.”

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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