Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

July 22, 2012

Couple heads up separate Rotary clubs

TRAVERSE CITY — The family that leads together recites creeds together.

For Ken "Oz" and Becky Osborne, the first husband-and-wife presidents of two separate Traverse City Rotary clubs, that creed is "Service Above Self."

"Every club has its own practices and policies but the basic theme of Rotary is the same," said Becky, the new president of the Traverse Bay Twilight Club, the youngest and smallest — with 25 members — of three local Rotary clubs.

A vice-president and trust officer for Fifth Third Private Bank, Becky said she agreed to lead the club when she learned that Ken was elected president of its sister Traverse City Rotary Club, sometimes called the "TC Noon Club." That club is the oldest and largest of the local Rotary clubs, with nearly 270 members and a long history of community service.

"I thought it would be fun," she said. "I think everyone felt it was going to be a good, fun year."

The pair began their one-year terms July 1 but spent a year serving as presidents-elect, attending training in Kalamazoo and the Rotary International Convention in Thailand.

"We got a lot of positive comments," said Ken, 58, an owner and vice-president of manufacturing for Boride Engineered Abrasives.

"It's pretty unusual throughout Rotary International to have husband-and-wife serve as presidents at the same time," Becky, 55, said. "We had people scratching their heads."

While the three local clubs work together on several projects — Ken's is best-known for its annual Rotary Show — each is distinctly different. Becky's evening club is more informal and caters to younger members who want to serve but can't attend noon meetings. Projects are fewer (four or five, compared to the noon club's dozens), budgets are smaller (under $30,000, compared to more than $100,000), and paid staff are nonexistent (compared to a handful).

"You don't get lost in my club. It's just a different flavor," said Becky, whose Twilight club was chartered in 2004. "I could have joined his, but my style is a smaller club. We have Happy Bucks, where people pay a buck to say what they're happy about. He couldn't do that — it'd take forever.

"I enjoy getting something started and getting in on the ground floor. And professionally I wanted to enjoy Rotary independent of him."

Still, the couple say they mirror each other in a lot of their efforts and make good sounding boards for one another. They also support each other by attending both clubs' events.

"Our personal goals as presidents are for all the Rotary clubs to do more things together," from joint assemblies to project collaborations to fellowship, Becky said.

Togetherness comes easily to the couple, who met as young people at a Detroit-area bar that sponsored Becky's bowling team, and married in 1980. They have two grown sons together and share an interest in golf, travel, boating, cross-country skiing and hockey.

"When he asked me for my phone number I wrote it down on a Red Wings season schedule," Becky said. "I didn't know that he was a Red Wings fan, too, and that sealed the deal for me."

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