Let’s do a little time-traveling back to the early years of the Roaring ’20s.
Calvin Coolidge was serving as the nation’s 30th president. Friend William Richardson was the governor of California and an Ohio-born newspaper reporter-turned-real estate practitioner named James Crawford was serving as the mayor of Burbank.
Along with being the man who occupied the mayoral office at City Hall, Crawford also held another title: He was first president of the Rotary Club of Burbank, which was officially chartered on Feb. 23, 1923.
Over the following century, 99 local Rotarians have followed in Crawford’s presidential footsteps; men and women from various walks of life and one dynasty, that of the Taylor family.
In 1984, Glenn Taylor took the presidential reins of the service club. Five years later, his son, Darrell Taylor, took on the same mantle, and then, before Glenn Taylor’s death in 2015, he saw his grandson Jonathan become president in 2011.
Sandwiched in between the second and third Taylor terms, 2006 saw the organization elevate local businessman and philanthropist Nat Rubinfeld to the top spot.
This past Saturday evening, close to 250 Rotarians, their family members, supporters and dignitaries braved the cold and rain to honor the Taylors and Rubinfeld, along with his wife Alma, as the Rotary Club of Burbank staged their centennial gala.
Attracting a broad cross-section of the community representing the numerous and diverse nonprofit organizations that have benefited and continue to receive both financial and in-kind help from the Rotarians, the event held at Lakeside Golf Club was chaired by Albert Hernandez with assistance from Jessa Freemyer-Markham and Brian Volpei.
Welcomed by the organization’s current president, Stephanie Bennett, the highlight of the evening for attendees was the presentation of the inaugural Peter McGrath Lifetime Achievement Award to the Rubinfelds and the Taylors.
The award, which will now be given to special individuals, families, companies or entities that prove their passion for community service and friendship, was created and adopted by the Rotary Club of Burbank’s board to honor McGrath.
Having been a member of the local Rotary Club for 50 of its 100 years, McGrath, who died in 2019, was a local businessman who served on the Burbank School Board, Police Commission, Senior Board and Housing Corporation. He exemplified community service and volunteerism with numerous nonprofit and governmental organizations including the Burbank Community YMCA, the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Los Angeles County Commission for Older Americans and the California Senior Legislature. McGrath also served as the president of the Rotary Club of Burbank, ironically, the year before Taylor.
Among the notables who attended last week’s gala were Arda Tchakian, who represented state Sen. Anthony Portantino, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, Mayor Konstantine Anthony, Vice Mayor Nick Schultz, Councilmembers Nikki Perez, Tamala Takahashi and Zizette Mullins, City Clerk Kimberley Clark, City Treasurer Krystle Ang Palmer, School Board member Armond Aghakhanian, City Manager Justin Hess, Assistant City Manager Judie Wilke, and 20 men and women who have served as the club’s president.
Others who came out to honor the organization were numerous representatives of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, who have received funding from the Rotarians for their new Emergency Department and Urgent Care facility. Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill also attended recognizing the club’s Teachers of Excellence and Student of the Months programs, as did Shanna Warren who serves as the CEO for the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley for whom the Rotarians helped with their building campaign.
For more information on the Rotary Club of Burbank, visit BurbankNoonRotary.org.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.
First published in the March 4 print issue of the Burbank Leader.