THE WHY OF PASSING ALONG THE RI PRESIDENT’S PIN
Traditions – the passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation – must occasionally be explained to those who may not have the necessary institutional memory. Such, it appears, is the case with the passing of the Richard L. Evans Rotary pin – the very pin he wore his entire year as Rotary International President – from one Utah Rotary District Governor to the next.
At the recent inauguration of Jose Velasco as Utah Rotary’s next District Governor (RY2022-23), current DG Judy Zone (RY2021-22) admitted she did not fully understand the “why” of this tradition, as she presented this highly regarded Rotary symbol to the incoming DG.
Richard Louis Evans (March 23, 1906 – November 1, 1971) – with his wonderfully deep “radio voice” – was a writer, producer, and announcer for KSL-TV’s Music and the Spoken Word for 42 years (1929–71). He was also a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1953 until his death in 1971 at the age of 65.
Likely of more interest to those in District 5420, a young Richard L. Evans’ first introduction to Rotary occurred in 1919 when, as a boy scout, he attended the RI Convention in Salt Lake City with his father. As a businessman, he joined the Salt Lake Rotary Club, served as club president and for RY1956-57, he was chosen to serve as Utah Rotary District Governor. But, around the Rotary world, he may best be known as Rotary International President Richard L. Evans serving in RY1966-67, the first – and to date – the only RI President from Utah.
The theme for his year as RIP was “A Better World through Rotary” but perhaps his most passionate message was reminding Rotarians to “strengthen your own family so you can help Rotary strengthen families around the world.”
At the 58th Annual RI Convention in Nice, France, President Evans reported 56 new Rotary clubs around the world … and the resolution of issues between the then-two Rotary organizations of Rotary International and Rotary International of Great Britain and Ireland, a divisive situation which seemingly had been festering for decades.
Sixty years later, at the 2006-07 RI Convention in Salt Lake City, Evans was honored and remembered once again, by 24,000+ Rotarians from 147 nations for “his dedication to family, church, country and Rotary.”
There doesn’t appear to be much historical detail about when the pin-passing tradition began, but it is possible Evans himself started it when his year as RI president concluded.
Not every tradition is worth continuing, but in honor of the RI President who helped create “A Better World Through Rotary,” this should be one to keep!