Island Probus Club offers a glimpse into adventure | Club for retired Islanders celebrates its 20th year

By Anne Whitehead
Special to the Reporter

Once a month, Islanders have the opportunity to meet with friends and neighbors to visit, have some lunch and hear from a former governor about China or take a tour through Antarctica. On the first Wednesday of each month, the Mercer Island Probus Club meets at the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church at 10:30 a.m. for coffee and conversation, and convenes at 11:30 a.m. to hear a guest speaker talk. An optional $5 lunch is available after the talk. Occasional trips to places of interest are scheduled for those members who wish to go, and twice-yearly luncheons offer opportunities for more enjoyment. It is a way to keep informed and stay connected.

“We heard good reports about Probus speakers from Ralph Blohm and felt that joining the club would help us get to know Islanders,” said Dick and Betsy Russell, new Probus members and new residents of Mercer Island.

Burry Pelzel, who also recently joined with his wife, Betsy, said, “The Peak Oil speaker was unbelievably knowledgeable and factual, and I see many friends at each meeting and find it a wonderful way to meet new people.”

“I like the variety of programs and the fellowship at Probus,” said Mary Lu Kirchner. Sue Davidson added, “After retirement, I wanted to stay current with what’s happening, and I joined Probus.”

Some recent speakers were Kathy Troost from the University of Washington Department of Geological Sciences, who told about Mercer Island geology and fault lines; Kemper Freeman; Cecilia Mortenson, who described her work at McMurdo Sound in Antarctica; Washington’s Attorney General Rob McKenna; Mercer Island Councilman El Jahnke, who described his work as a Navy Seal at the Apollo 12 and 13 capsule landings; Jim Hansen, who told about Peak Oil and the enormous problems facing us all concerning energy; and former Gov. Gary Locke, who described life in China today with emphasis on doing business with China.

The Mercer Island Probus Club was founded on June 8, 1988, with 50 charter members, was the second U.S. Probus Club and remains one of the largest today, with over 200 members. Dick Chappelle, elected first president and still a member, had a Board including Roger Trachy, Leo Anderson, Chet Ferguson, Walt Rodgers, Ed Morgan, Ken Porter, Lou Mancini, Bruce Heywood and John Nelson. Jim Horn, Mercer Island mayor in 1988, is the current president of the club.

Jack Lanford, a former club president, voiced the opinions of many members when he said, “Probus offers lots to retired people, and there’s something for everyone, men and women. There are interesting speakers, meetings that start and end on time, and an opportunity to exchange ideas with friends at a community-oriented place and at a meeting time easy for attendees.”

People interested in current affairs and the world around us are invited to come join with members and hear what is always a very informative presentation.

Please contact Chuck Reiling if you have questions at or (206) 850-3507.

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