Carl Kruse begins busy year as Rotary district governor

Carl Kruse
Carl Kruse

By Elizabeth Marie Himchak

Carl Kruse has begun his year-long term as Rotary District 5340 governor after being trained for the office for more than two years.

On Monday, the Poway resident and Rancho Bernardo Sunrise Rotarian began what is sure to be a busy schedule of visiting the district’s 67 clubs throughout San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties. Those visits begin Tuesday when, per tradition, the governor speaks to his home club, Kruse said. This is the first time in RB Sunrise’s almost 25 years that a member has risen to the district governor’s post.

RB Sunrise Rotarians are among the district’s 34,000 members who will hear his speeches filled with imagery and inspired by the concepts of enlightenment, purity, competition and perfection that are associated with the Olympics and three Olympic torches he carried as part of the 1984, 1996 and 2002 games. Those souvenir torches, plus one his daughter, Tisha Voller, carried for the 2004 Olympics, will accompany Kruse during his visits.

“I would like each person to be a torch bearer for Rotary,” Kruse said, adding he is likely the first Rotarian to incorporate the Olympic torch and what it stands for in this way.

His goal is to visit all 67 clubs by Oct. 15 so he can promote a Rotary conference that is coming to San Diego in early November.

Kruse, a former Sunrise Rotary president and district assistant governor, chief of staff and membership chairman, has known since November 2010 that he would be the district’s 2013-14 governor. Since then he has attended three mandatory, week-long training sessions with fellow incoming West Coast governors in Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe and most recently San Diego, where all of Rotary International’s 535 district governors were in attendance.

The trainings improved their skills in leadership, public speaking and working with committees. “It was quite intense,” Kruse said. “I’ve known a lot of governors who have gone through it. It is a very good program.”

Kruse said the training is necessary so governors start on July 1 fully prepared for their duties and do not have to learn on the job. His goals are to increase and enhance each of his clubs’ memberships and charitable giving to the Rotary Foundation — which funds activities such as polio vaccinations, building water wells and providing educational scholarships, plus help clubs struggling with low membership or leadership issues.

“It is a very big job,” Kruse said, adding he does not know how fellow governors with full-time jobs complete the task that also includes attending many board and committee meetings. He is retired from an almost four-decade long banking career, was a Poway city councilman for a decade and Poway mayor. His political experience is also an asset for the upcoming year, he said.

Kruse became a Rotarian about 18 years ago because of the organization’s efforts to eradicate polio worldwide, a disease that devastated several of his friends’ families back in the 1950s. Several years ago he went to India to participate in a Rotary-organized polio vaccination clinic for children. “It was an eye-opening experience,” Kruse said.

Other goals are to stimulate the district’s clubs to do more public service, build its future leaders and promote Rotary’s international theme for the year, which is “Engage Rotarians to change lives,” he said. “It means each Rotarian and club must reach out more to the community and make the club more available for service, fellowship and friendship.”

Methods could include existing projects of providing dictionaries and thesauruses to elementary students, providing high school students with college scholarships and going to Mexico to build a house in one day for a family in need. “We can change people’s lives,” he said.

   
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