Club celebrates the Rev. Holness’ lifetime of service above self
The Morristown Rotary Noon Club recently gave the Rev. Dr. Donald C. Holness (center) a Paul Harris fellow pin. From left are club president Ben Simpson, Holness, club board member Don Baldus and Jim Egbert, district assistant governor.
The Rotary Club of Morristown honored one of its own with a special distinction.
The club presented honorary member the Rev. and Dr. Donald C. Holness Sr. with a Paul Harris Fellow Award in a recent meeting.
Holness, at age 93, has been an honorary member since 2011.
The award is given to Rotarians who contribute $1,000 to the Rotary Foundation. The award can also be given in honor of someone, as was the case.
Holness first joined the Rotary Club after being invited by a friend when he was a minister living in Tarrytown, N.Y. in 1956. He was elected club president in 1974 and had 18 years of perfect attendance with the club.
When the A.M.E. Zion Church moved Holiness to Syracuse, N.Y. he joined the local club from 1974-78, with four consecutive years of perfect attendance and also serving as president in ‘78.
He later moved to Albany, N.Y. joining the club there from 1978-82 and serving as president in 1981. His final club was in Yonkers, N.Y. from 1982-89 serving as president in 1989. In his last two clubs he had 11 years perfect attendance.
Holness gave up Rotary to focus more on his church after 33 years of perfect attendance, which included his stays in clubs in the U.S. and also visiting clubs while on several international trips.
Fellow Morristown Rotarian and former District Governor from the club, Don Baldus said he has sat beside Holness at Rotary Lunches for years and noticed one day he wasn’t wearing a Paul Harris Pin.
After Holness told Baldus he didn’t have a pin, Baldus took it upon himself and informed the Rotary board of directors. The decision was easy and quick as they rallied together and decided to surprise Holness with his own pin.
“Dr. Holness is a very special gentleman. It’s been an honor and privilege to have him in our club serving as honorary member,” Baldus said.
Another fellow table sharer, the Rev. S. Lee Campbell, said Holness is a well-respected member of the community and thought of highly by the club.
“I consider him a good friend. We sit together every week. He’s a top-notch guy and a great pastor. Everyone makes a point to speak to him and he is always friendly,” Campbell said.
Campbell went to hear Holness preach his final sermon in October as he made the decision to retire completely from the ministry.
While Holness said he’d rather not speak on himself, the pin came as a complete surprise to him.
“It’s a blessing and I’m grateful to God and those who helped to bless me,” Holness said.
Holness said rather than break his attendance record, he gracefully bowed out of Rotary years ago and was not expecting to be a part of another club.
After deciding to retire in Morristown, word spread that he was a former member. Soon after, Clarence Thompson invited him to attend a club meeting and he has stayed ever since as an honorary member.
-From Staff Reports