P.O. Box 1712
White Plains NY 10602
Josephine invited other women to join RCWP and initially they formed a group unto themselves, known as "RCU" and "Cornucopia." It wasn’t long, however, before Jo became the first female president of the club and called herself the "Queen."
Andrew M. Morzello on 3/7/2017
3/7/2017 - Josephine Falcone, first woman in RCWP and first woman ever inducted by a President of Rotary International (1987)
In Memoriam: M.A.T. Caparas 1923-2020
President Rotary International 1986-87
Memories from a friend by Andrew L. MorzelloRegretfully on July 15, 2020, Past Rotary International President M.A.T. Caparas, my very good friend for 57 years, passed away at the age of 97 after 61 years of exceptionally dedicated Rotary service.
I first came to know MAT and Nita, his lovely and caring wife, when I was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar studying and teaching at the University of The Philippines in 1963-1964. MAT and Nita became more than just mentors to me. He was a caring and fabulous friend then and now, even though in 1963 he was a very busy and active District Governor-Elect who keenly watched out for me and helped me enjoy my days in the Philippines.
I was welcome in his home anytime, especially during the holidays sharing his family life with Nita and their great kids, Jorge, Matt and Pilar. When I didn’t feel well, he made sure that I received excellent health care. On occasion when I needed transportation from the University to the Northern provinces of Luzon where I volunteered in-service training to Filipino teachers, MAT always provided it. He actively supported me within Filipino Rotary so much so that I was honored to be the principal speaker at the annual gathering of all Filipino Rotary Districts.
As the years passed, our friendship grew. Neither of us would have predicted that one day he would the first-ever and only Filipino President of RI and I would be White Plains Rotary President serving simultaneously in the 1986-1987 year. We were all very inspired to fulfill his Rotary vision and theme - Rotary Brings Hope. He also was ever present in assisting me during my own year as our District’s Governor in 1994-1995.
As RI President, MAT undertook three very momentous and historic achievements.
• First, he introduced The Rotary Community Corps, patterned after the US Peace Corps, to provide for Rotary volunteers to serve in their communities. The RI Board of Directors adopted the program in 1988.
• Second, during his Presidency, Rotary started the campaign to be known as Polio Plus which raised $120 million to eradicate polio by 2005. The campaign generated more than $240 million in two years. The National Immunization Days, where Rotarians would volunteer to give the Polio oral vaccination to children, was started not only in the Philippines but also in Turkey, Peru and India during his term. With a Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation grant of $200 million, the polio virus is practically eradicated worldwide.
• Third, a most significant and very impactful change for Rotary was introduced during his Presidency: the admission of women into Rotary. In June of 1987, MAT and the RI Board of Directors proposed a resolution to the Rotary Convention in Munich for the admission of women into Rotary.
Upon the conclusion of the RI Munich Convention, MAT and Nita headed for White Plains for some needed rest (which they really didn’t get). They were guests in my home but were very politely asked by our District Governor Glen Nygreen and Past District Governor Jack Ruger if MAT would speak to our Rotary Clubs. Knowing that they wanted rest and relaxation, I was able to convince our Governors that the Rotarians of the District be invited to our club meeting in White Plains. MAT agreed and also consented to my request to induct our new women candidates into the White Plains Rotary Club.
So, MAT gladly inducted Josephine Falcone, Norma Mack and Myrna Popper as the first women Rotarians in the Rotary Club of White Plains. This was a truly historic event—the very first time a Rotary International President inducted women into Rotary. It all happened here in White Plains. We are very thankful and honored that MAT helped us be a significant part of admitting women into Rotary.
Another accomplishment that should be mentioned. For many years, there was an on-going disagreement between RI and the Rotary Club of New York City. For many years, no RI President had spoken at the NY Rotary Club. MAT and I chatted about it. He wanted to know if I could convince the NY Club to receive him. I did so, and NY Rotary accepted. MAT delivered a very moving address to the NY Rotary Club. The dispute ended.
MAT made a significant positive impact upon Rotary and my life. His life has been a service-giving one. We in Rotary have been privileged to have had him as our President. I have been blessed by his friendship.
Until we meet again, MAT!
Andrew L. Morzello
The Rotary Club of White Plains is Club 5043, District 7230, Zone 32, Region USCB,
Federal tax ID 13-6111471. The "Foundation of the Rotary Club of White Plains" is tax exempt,
New York State #219346, tax ID 13-6165380.
The Rotary Club of White Plains was chartered October 1, 1919, charter number 540. Mailing address: P.O. Box 1712, White Plains NY 10602. Website created August 2001.
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