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King: We must not fail mankind
Former Rotary International President Richard King addressed Manteca Rotarians on Thursday. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Richard King traveled more than half-a-million miles to 79 different countries during his one-year stint as the president of Rotary International.

And his love for the service organization – of which he has been a member for more than 40 years – is still as strong as ever.

On Thursday, King was the guest speaker at a luncheon presented by both the Manteca Rotary and the Manteca Morning Rotary at Chez Shari. His longtime friend Les Webb introduced him to the nearly 100 people that packed the upstairs restaurant at the Manteca Golf Course to hear the renowned speaker talk about his experiences and his love for Rotary International.

“There are thousands and thousands of individuals all over this globe living a better life because of him,” Webb said before turning over the lectern to his old friend.

King, who adopted the Charles Dickens line “Mankind is our Business” when he assumed his role as President of the international organization, opened with a theme song that he crafted when his tenure at the helm began. It instantly broke the ice with the audience and opened the door to a man that has glad-handed heads of state and participated in front-line actions while involved with Rotary.

He first presented the Manteca Morning Rotary president with a silk woven Rotary necktie that he had made while in Italy. It is the same design he gave to the 43 heads of state he met while on his travels as president – including Pope John Paul II even though he “wasn’t sure he ever wore it” – as well as the District Governor that was in attendance.

After that, it was all about his personal story, the story of the organization itself, and how it has helped so many people in every corner of the globe regardless of race, religion or creed.

King talked about Rotary International’s pledge to eradicate polio off of the face of the earth. It is a war that has cornered the disease to roughly four countries with a massive push to finish it off for good. He talked about the $200 million the organization is raising to put up to qualify for a $350-plus million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help the polio fight.

He talked about how just last week he got the chance to see his first grandchild at a hospital in Orange County after being told by hospital staff that there was an overwhelming chance that the child wouldn’t survive. Interestingly enough, he said, the machine that was keeping the infant alive had the Rotary wheel in the corner – a reminder of the gift of a local club that had donated the $1-million apparatus when the hospital was in need.

And he talked about how regardless of one’s personal successes, nothing in the end matters if we can’t help people while we’re here.

“I am convinced that no matter what we do in our own lives – no matter how many cars we have in our driveway, no matter how many degrees we have hanging on the walls in our offices, no matter how many accolades we receive for the things that we do – no business success will ever register if we fail mankind.

“It’s the only business we’re going to take when we leave this world.”