Islanders invited to listen, learn with Mercer Island’s Probus Club

By Ron Kaufman

Special to the Reporter

Members of Rotary International started the Probus movement in the United Kingdom. The first Probus Club meeting was held in 1966.  The name Probus comes from the first three letters of “PROfessional” and “BUSiness” because the first members were retirees who had professional and business backgrounds.  By coincidence, Probus is also a Latin word meaning “honest.”

In 1974, Probus expanded to New Zealand and in 1976, to Australia.  Norris Bevan of Bellevue discovered Probus while at a Rotary International convention in Australia in 1987 and brought the idea to the United States.

The Mercer Island Probus Club, second Probus Club in the U.S., held its first meeting on June 8, 1988, with 50 charter members.  Jim Horn, then mayor of Mercer Island, read an official City proclamation welcoming Probus to Mercer Island. Dick Chappelle was the Club’s first president.  Today the club has about 160 members from Mercer Island, Seattle, Bellevue and other Eastside communities.  It remains one of the largest Probus clubs in the U.S.

The Club is seeking to expand its membership.  So, if you are retired or nearing retirement age, come to a meeting as a guest or call to learn more about Probus.

On the first Wednesday of each month, Mercer Island Probus Club members and guests meet for a social get-together and an opportunity to expand their horizons.  Probus is a club well-suited to newly retired men and women who want to stay connected and continue to learn.  Everybody is welcome to join.  The Club meets at the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church starting at 10:30 a.m.  The morning begins with friends and neighbors enjoying coffee and doughnuts.

At 11 a.m. members  convene to hear a guest speaker.  In the past year,  speakers have given presentations on a wide variety of topics.  Dr. Al Skinner traced the history of maritime exploration of the West Coast from 1519 to 1846.  Robert Kierstead of the U.S. Secret Service explained that agency’s mission in fighting counterfeiting, financial fraud, and cybercrime.

Members heard about “Big Bertha’” from David Sowers, the Deputy Administrator of Operations for the Washington State Department of Transportation, who spoke about the Alaskan Way viaduct replacement and SR-99 tunnel.

Dr. James AuBuchon, president and CEO of the Puget Sound Blood Center, described the full scope of the blood donor program and also discussed the Center’s extensive role in studying transfusion medicine and conducting related research, including work to improve cures for cancer and many blood-related diseases

There are also field trips to places of interest.  During the past year, members visited several sites on the Mountains to Sound Greenway (Snoqualmie Point Park, Cedar River Watershed, and Tolt-MacDonald Park).  They also toured the Puget Sound Blood Center’s Donor Testing and Virology Laboratory in Renton.

In December each year, the Club has a well-attended holiday luncheon.

For information, please contact Dr. Chuck Wischman, Club President, at or 919-8003 or contact Ron Kaufman, Membership Chairman, at or 232-8200.


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 19
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates