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Rotarian recognized for perfect attendance

September 13, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Edward L. "Bud" Carr of Hagerstown had many good excuses to miss Hagerstown Rotary Club meetings - running his own business, helping his wife raise seven children, two heart bypass surgeries - but he never used them.

Even when he was on a hunting trip in a remote area of Canada years ago, Carr drove 27 miles one way on dirt roads to get to a meeting.

His dedication was rewarded on Wednesday, Aug. 30, when the Hagerstown Rotary Club presented its Perfect Attendance Awards at its weekly luncheon meeting at the Four Points Sheraton.

Carr, 85, was joined by his wife, three of his children and an almost 1-year-old grandson as he received a certificate marking 60 years of perfect attendance.

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The certificate was presented by Jerry Friedman, district governor for Rotary International.

"I find it amazing," said son Denny Carr, who was a Hagerstown Rotary Club member for 14 years. He said of those years, he probably only had two years of perfect attendance. "It's a good club with great contacts. With him, at some point it became a personal thing."

Daughter Shellie Ralston, who describes her father as "an incredible man," said he was always there for his children. She said that despite all his health problems, he wouldn't miss a meeting, no matter what.

"He's just such a trouper. It's like he has to. It's an unbelievable club," Ralston said.

Perfect attendance doesn't mean that Carr made it to every weekly Hagerstown Rotary Club meeting. The organization's attendance policy allows members to make up meetings they couldn't attend at their own club by going to another club's meeting within a certain period.

Over time, the policy has been relaxed to accommodate busy schedules by allowing members to count Rotary bowling or golf as a makeup meeting, but only one a month, said Alan Levin, Hagerstown Rotary Club member and presenter of the Perfect Attendance awards. He said that members who are on committees can also count committee meetings toward their meeting attendance.

Carr has only made up meetings by attending meetings, his family said. An attendance record of 60 percent is required to remain an active Rotarian, according to the club's Web site, and 60 percent of meetings must be attended with the local club.

His wife, Helen, recalls when one of Carr's bypass surgeries at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore was postponed. Carr left the hospital and had his family take him to a Rotary Club meeting in Baltimore.

"All the people in Rotary as far as I'm concerned are the nicest people in the world," said Carr, who lives in the Fountain Head area. "It's really been a great experience all my life."

Carr, who owned Hagers- town Lumber Co. for more than 50 years, is quick to admit a supportive wife and family have been key. Since Carr no longer drives, he relies on his wife and children to get him to the weekly meetings.

Carr's not sure how much longer the streak will continue.

"I feel 60 years is plenty," he said of his perfect attendance. Carr joined the Hagerstown Rotary in 1946 and was president 47 years ago.

He added that when he joined the club, Rotary International had a membership policy called a classification system that allowed only one businessman in a certain profession to be a member of a particular Rotary club. Once he became a member, Carr said he never wanted to risk losing his membership.

Carr said he valued the Rotary Club whose purpose was to get business people together to work for the community. He has attended meetings in Miami, Chicago, New York, Boston and Canada for makeups.

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