Friday, April 20th, 2018

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In her classification talk today, Joanna Penfold told us about her very interesting life. Although she is still fairly new to our club, having moved to Guelph last year with her husband Bob, Joanna brings years of valuable experience from her previous Rotary Club. What a bonus for us!

Joanna Penfold,

Classification Talk

Joanna was introduced by Terrie Jarvis, who said it was fortunate for us that Joanna, as an experienced Rotarian, had picked our club to join after relocating to Guelph last year. Many of our members have already noticed how interesting and interested Joanna is in making a positive difference, and we were highly  anticipating her introductory talk.

Joanna was extremely well prepared and thoughtful in her presentation, saying it was hard to be brief when you have lived so many years and have had so many wonderful experiences.  She called upon Bob, her husband (and a former Rotarian) to stand by her side and change her slides for her, and their warm teamwork was clear to see.

Speaker Joanna Penfold gives classification talk assisted by husband Robert Penfold

A common thread throughout Joanna’s summation of her life experience was how she always focuses on the POSITIVE and manages to find the good in everything. Her humble gratitude for all the good things in her life is uplifting.

She was the first born in her family, in the Netherlands, at the end of WWII. Her vivid memories are not of devastation but of happy times with her parents, grandparents and homemade gifts.

In 1953, her family came to Canada along with 3 million other immigrants, and settled in Slave Lake, near Fort William in northern Ontario, where they were welcomed into the Dutch farming community. Joanna was later followed by 8 more siblings. Despite many hardships, and thinking back that they must have been a rag-tag, rough bunch of children, she has many happy memories – from shared chores, to being the big sister helping to care for younger siblings. She credits her wonderful school teachers with being even more influential in her life than her family, and setting her on a path for higher education and to later become a teacher herself.

Receiving a Lion’s four-year bursary enabled her to earn a BA in literature and philosophy from Lakehead University. She married Tom MacLeod, her grade 10 sweetheart. She soon felt set for life as a happy young mother with a teaching job, an 8 month old son, expecting another baby, and a husband finishing an Honours History degree. Sadly, Tom unexpectedly died from a brain aneurysm. Joanna said, “Being busier than stink leaves little time for being overwhelmed and soon, friends, courses, two young children became the new routine. You can see what kept me going! Precious gifts!”

She met her second husband, Robert Penfold, while she was working in the Dean’s Office at the university after her second child was born. Bob was completing his Masters in English, and they have now been married for 47 years.  Joanna added, “When I use the word I in this presentation, it mostly means we.”

In 1973, Bob accepted a teaching position in Haliburton County. They moved to Minden and remained there for the next 43 years, with Joanna also teaching there.

Joanna speaks in glowing terms about the special benefits of living in a smaller community, where her sons could be in every sports team or other activity they wished to join, because the student numbers were small. It was a very caring community.

In the mid-1970s, a neighbour proposed Bob for Rotary membership and he joined. It was tough because at that time Rotary still demanded 100% attendance, and they had busy lives, but a benefit was that Rotary introduced them to a community beyond their school circles. Joanna of course became a Rotary Ann, as women were not admitted to Rotary in those days.

Rotary and their school lives soon intertwined, though, and they supported several international student exchanges, and later started an Interact Club at the high school (it’s still going).  

Their two sons grew up, went to university, followed successful career paths, found life partners, and now have children of their own, giving Joanna and Bob the happiness of four wonderful grandchildren. The youngest is in Grade 9 and the eldest is entering law school.

Bob retired from teaching in 1999, and Joanna retired in 2000, but sitting around at home is not what they had in mind. They decided to fulfill their global dream of teaching abroad. They accepted teaching posts at a private school in Tarsus, Turkey, where they taught for 3 years. They were struck by how similar children were everywhere, and yet had to learn and adjust to many interesting cultural differences.  

They have also volunteered as guest English teachers at five different schools in Thailand, participated in a Rotary National Immunization Day project in India, and helped with a three year tube-well CIDA project in West Bengal, visiting over 30 villages to observe and report on the water project.

Other adventures since 2013 included a three month English teaching position in China, and winter holidays in Mexico. She and Bob feel strongly that wherever you may be living, there is a responsibility to connect with that community in whatever way seems most reasonable. Joanna is hoping that there might be potential for our club to get involved with a project in Mexico!

Their relocation to Guelph in mid-2017 was prompted by wanting to live closer to family. One son lives Delhi, Ontario (Norfolk County) and the other son lives in Okotoks, Alberta, but it is easier to fly to Calgary from this area than from Minden.

Both Joanna and Bob feel welcome and settled in Guelph, and look forward to many happy memories here. They are living at the Village by the Arboretum, and enjoying the wonderful community there.

Sue Ricketts (L) thanks speaker

Sue Ricketts thanked Joanna for her wonderful presentation, and reiterated our delight that Joanna is in our club (with the added benefit of Bob being around).  



Greeter Mahmud Hassain introduced and welcomed:

Frank McCowan – Rotary Club of Guelph Wellington

Bob Penfold – husband of Joanna Penfold

Hal Bond – guest of Michael von Keitz (chessmate!)

Joanna Bond – wife of Hal Bond

Head Table:

Sue Ricketts

Anne Pennock

Paul Dredge

Marty Fairbairn

Joanna Penfold

Terrie Jarvis


  • Marty Fairbairn had two sad announcements about recent deaths.
  • Russ Willoughby, past president of our Rotary Club in 1995-96, and an extraordinary community leader in so many other ways as well, passed away on April 17, 2018. A memorial service will be held at 1:00pm on Friday, May 11, 2018 at Harcourt Memorial United Church.
  • Margaret Jadeski, wife of our member Carl Jadeski, passed away on April 18, 2018 after a long illness. Cremation has taken place and a celebration of her life will be arranged at a later date.
  • Bob Ireland paid a warm tribute to his friendship with both Carl and Margaret, born from the common interest in classic cars shared by Bob and Carl, and gently tolerated by Margaret over many years.
  • Dave Latreille reminded everyone about the next day’s Rotary Forest tree planting day, with updates about the good weather forecast, and confirmation of special guests Mayor Cam Guthrie, Elizabeth May and David Suzuki
  • Marty Fairbairn announced that Tracy McGrath has been appointed as our Second Vice President, which means she will be our club president in 2020-2021.


Happy Bucks

  •  Helmuth Slisarenko, sporting an eye-catching cap with many pins collected from different curling events, paid his happy bucks for the chance to provide the club with several updates on (no surprise) curling. Five weeks ago, Helmuth participated in “Curl for a Cause” in Fergus. Thanks to his supporters, he personally raised $750 for KidsAbility out of the record $55,000 sum raised by that event which supported five causes in Guelph and Wellington County. More recently, Helmuth, Jim McKenzie, Carl Webster and Murray Pearson from Cambridge competed in the International Fellowship of Curling Rotarians World Championships in Hamilton, Scotland, coming up one win short of defending their previous championship title – but the fellowship was great. Helmuth presented two banners to our club, from the Rotary Clubs of East Kilbride and Lanarkshire. Helmuth said he had proudly handed out Charlie Whittaker Guelph Rotary Poppy Pins during this Rotary excursion, and he thanked Michele Richardson for donating these.

 Helmuth Slisarenko reports on Rotary bonspiel in Scotland

  • Tracy McGrath asked Ruth Thatcher to stand and take a bow for being recognized in the media for more than 50 years of volunteering at the Guelph General Hospital. She also commended Ruth for being a constant warm presence and smiling face at our Rotary meetings, with many members having said that Ruth’s special welcome was what made them come back after their initial visit.
  • Rosemary Clark also praised Ruth for her volunteering and many other fine services in our club and the community.
  • Brian Martin was happy to report that it is 15 years since he started training in martial arts, having started because of his daughter’s interest. (He is now a second degree black belt, and Larissa is a Black Belt.) Their dojo is celebrating its 30 year anniversary with a celebratory trip to Japan at the end of April during cherry blossom time. Happily, Larissa’s final exam dates have worked out perfectly so that they can both depart on this wonderful trip leaving April 30th.


50/50 Winner

The 50/50 draw this week was won by Ron Hearnden

Rotary Anniversaries

Gunter Thase – 7 years at our club, plus 25 years elsewhere = 32 years

Bill Winegard = 24 years

For a total of 56 years of fine service to Rotary, for just two Rotarians!

Rotary Birthdays

Marva Wisdom – April 15


Editor: Terrie Jarvis

Photographer: Jan Jofriet

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