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Pair of Rotarian standouts makes fellow club members proud

The Rotary Club of New Tampa President Frank Moore describes fellow club Rotarian Gary Gunter as a strong and inspiring leader.

Peter Gambacorta, the club’s outgoing president, portrays Gunter as a “tireless, enthusiastic supporter of Rotary.”

Gunter was recently named 2014-2015 Rotary District 6890 Governor, a position in which he is charged with overseeing the workings of 45 clubs in Hillsborough, Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties.

Gunter’s district is one of eight in the state of Florida and is comprised of approximately 1,800 of the state’s 16,000 Rotary Club members.

His primary responsibility is to strengthen the district’s clubs through his leadership and what he calls “cheerleading.”

Gunter’s main focus during his term will be in the areas of literacy and youth.

“To help tell our Rotary story we will produce the World’s Largest Children’s Book and invite the families of our district to join us for a Rotary Day, in which celebrities will come and read the book to the children and we will give away 10,000 books to promote literacy and summer reading programs,” he said.

The event will take place May 16, 2015, at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

Gunter, who with his wife Joyce owns Gunter and Gunter Allstate Insurance Agency in Wesley Chapel, said the Rotarians’ efforts coincide with the organization’s new theme: Light Up Rotary. Devised by Rotary International President Gary CK Huang of Taipei, Taiwan, it is based on the words of Confucius — “It is better to light a single candle than to sit and curse the darkness.”

In Gunter’s view, being a Rotarian carries with it the responsibility of helping others in need, both close to home and abroad.

During the New Tampa club’s 2013-2014 year, Gunter assisted in several meal-packing events that he said fed hundreds of thousands of poverty- stricken people throughout the Tampa Bay area.

According to Gambacorta, Gunter also organized and oversaw a New Tampa Rotary Club mission project to Costa Rica in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Alajuela. There, they converted a construction waste site into a children’s recreation area, complete with playground equipment.

“I am just so proud to be a part of this fine group of people who do so much for so many,” Gunter said.

Rotarian Tom Wagner, a member of the nearby Temple Terrace Rotary Club, is Governor Elect of District 6890 and will assume the role of District Governor in June 2015.

Moreover, his steadfast devotion to Rotary and his renown at the district level recently earned Wagner the district’s most prestigious individual honor: the 2013-2014 District 6890 Rotarian of the Year Award.

In 2008-2009, Wagner shared the same award with Rotarian Bob Arnold.

In addition, the Temple Terrace club, of which Wagner has twice served as president, honored him with its 2013-2014 Mr. Rotary Award.

“Rotary is one of the best decisions I ever made,” said Wagner, a 15-year Rotarian who, together with his wife, Vicki, owns Affinity Direct Cremation Service in Brandon.

“Being a Rotarian has made me a better person ... and besides that, you meet some wonderful people, people from all over the world.”

Temple Terrace 40-year Rotarian Perry Jacobsen considers Wagner one of the finest and most knowledgeable Rotarians he’s ever known.

“Tom has devoted untold hours to Rotary business as well as making significant contributions to many Rotary causes,” Jacobsen said. “He has singlehandedly educated the Temple Terrace Rotary Club on what Rotary is all about.”

Fellow Temple Terrace Rotarian Cheri Donohue concurred.

“They picked the perfect guy as the district’s Rotarian of the Year,” she said. “He passes Rotary’s four-way test (an ethical guide for Rotarians to use in their personal and professional relationships) with flying colors.”

Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]

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