A BIG congratulations and out heartfelt thank you to RICK OFFORD for his 46 years of membership in our Thornbury-Clarksburg Rotary club....Rick never does anything in half measures and his huge passion for all things Rotary has produced remarkable results!
Over the years, Rick has played key roles in many T-C Rotary endeavours, including the Rat Race, the Haiti Project, the Chili Cookoff, the BVCC build project, ShelterBox, the Tent Rental Program and the Ashanti Coffee sales, to name just a few. Also, Rick and his wife Roberta have hosted at least 16 inbound exchange youth from all over the world and Rick was the club Youth Officer for over 20 years.
His Rotary passions and the good works he has done for our community and well beyond our borders are numerous.... 
(Photo: Rick (l) with club President Lib Kennedy (m) and Heather (Offord) Walton (r, Rick's daughter and fellow club member)
The following is a recognition speech for Rick that was presented by Gerry McGregor (fellow club member) at our club meeting on April 13, 2023.
A Passion for Rotary……..
The Rotarian I am about to describe NEVER does anything in “half-measures” – if he is in, he is IN!  This is a man of  ROTARY PASSION.
And what a credit he and that passion have been to the Thornbury-Clarksburg Rotary Club ……for 46…….yes, you heard that right -- 46 years!!
Because, in March of 1977, a young man, not yet 30 years old, was inducted into this Rotary Club, sponsored for membership by Rotarian Ernie Mayer, I believe.
His name is Rick Offord.
It did not take young Mr. Offord long to get REALLY involved.  Again, it was before my time as a Rotarian, but I know from his stories that he was very involved in the Rat Races, starting in his youth as a participant, but then helping to manage the event as a Rotarian, eventually chairing the event in its last year – 1981!
I should point out that this was also the year (1980-81) that Rick served the club as Club President, in his 4th year as a Rotarian.
When the Haiti Project came along, Rick was IN.  When something needed to be done or picked up or delivered, he was there.  Then in 1984, when a delegation of T-C Rotarians went to Haiti to check on the progress of the many aspects of the project, Rick was one of the 3 or 4 Rotarians who made that journey.
The following year, when his friend had this crazy idea of starting a Chili Cookoff, of all things, Rick agreed to organize and oversee the official judging, which believe it or not was very strict and specific.  After all, this was a cookoff SANCTIONED by the Chili Appreciation Society International (or “CASI”, as the chiliheads referred to it at the time).  I often joked about a “life sentence” in the penal system being 25 years.  But as I served my “life sentence” in running the cookoff, right along side me was my friend, Rick Offord, Head Chili Judge.  What a relief that was to me for all those years to know that that important task was in such capable hands.  It was a ton of work, but it was also a ton of fun.
When the new Beaver Valley Community Centre was in the works in 1987, Rick Offord was a member of the important Steering Committee for the project – LOTS of hours and LOTS of effort, but I think you’ll agree that the results were outstanding!
If you’d like to see what real passion looks like, just ask Rick about Rotary Youth Exchange!  By our count, Rick and Roberta (and their family) have hosted at least 16 inbound exchange students, not including ski days billets and short stays of various kinds.
What’s more, a scan of our records indicates that Rick served the club and the kids from here and abroad as T-C Rotary’s Youth Exchange Officer for over 20 years!!  Imagine the number of young lives impacted by this Rotarian in that time!!  THAT is what Passion looks like.
I don’t remember the year, but when ShelterBox came to Canada and our club got wind of it, Rick knew right away that this was something he could sink his teeth into.  He went through the training and learned “all the things” and has promoted the program tirelessly ever since.  I have NO idea how many miles he has dragged that big green box around and how many times he has pitched and taken down that tent, but ShelterBox continues to be one of Rick’s passions.  Thankfully, Rotarian John Bailey was equally “bitten” by the ShelterBox bug, and having a second ShelterBox Ambassador in the club has made them even more effective and successful. 
We were talking the other day about the fact that the Canada-Scotland Curling Tour fellowship has been running as long as any of us have been in the club.  Rotarian George South was one of the founders of the program.  So…….basically every 4  years, Rick and Roberta have hosted a Scottish Rotarian curler during the tour’s stop in Thornbury-Clarksburg, enjoying the curling and the fellowship (and the odd “wee dram” to be sure!)  Finally, in 2014, Rick (and I) were selected to be members of the 2014 Canada to Scotland Rotary Curling team, and we spent the entire month of November 2014 curling our way around Scotland, being hosted by amazing Scottish Rotarian hosts and being treated like “Royalty”!  It truly was a “Trip of a Lifetime”.  It just shows that a lot of passion will get you a lot of places.
Most of you will know that our Rotary club got into the rental business somewhat accidentally.  As we ran the Chili Cookoff for a couple of decades, we needed tents and tables and chairs, and soon realized that it wasn’t practical to be always borrowing and scrounging them (the first tents we used at the cookoff were borrowed from the Army!!)  Once we had acquired all of this equipment to run our big event each July, we began to get requests about renting things from us.  Thus was born the T-C Rotary Rentals program.  Sometime when you want a trip down “Memory Lane”, we should share some of the funny and sometimes “hairy” stories about the rentals program as it morphed from one incarnation to another.  What we have now is very civilized.  It wasn’t always so.
But from the beginning, Rick was IN – he was there, sweating away putting up and taking down tents, schlepping tables and chairs around and helping with all of the maintenance required to keep the equipment and the program going.  And when someone needed to step up to be Rentals Chair, there was Rick.  I’m not actually sure how many years he carried this responsibility, but it was a long time.  Included in that job was dealing with the ridiculous BS that was forced on us by the town with its building permits and site plans.  And don’t get me started on the fire department!  Throughout it all, he just soldiered on.  Finally, I hate to think how many km Rick has towed those trailers……all with no compensation.
A few years ago, the member who had been looking after the Ashanti Coffee Sales program decided to step back, creating a bit of a vacuum of leadership for the program.  Guess who stepped up??  Yup……..Rick Offord, and with a lot of help from his next door neighbour and his daughter, he continues to lead that program.
Many of us have heard Rick rhapsodize about the benefits and beauties of attending Rotary International Conventions.  But he knows what he’s talking about – he and Roberta have attended RI Conventions in Rome, twice in Chicago, Montreal, Toronto…………AND………..in 2 weeks, they leave for their 6th Convention in Melbourne, Australia!!  I think you’ll agree…that is some passion.
And then……there was Covid.  When the vaccines were available, the system was desperate for volunteers to man the Covid Vaccine Information Hotline, and of course, Rick was one of the Rotarians who immediately put up his hand, serving his shifts with kindness and clarity.  And with some humour, I do believe….
Once Rick and Roberta secured their first 5th wheel……….he basically joined the “Trailer Trash Forever” Club.  Just ask him about RV life…(but make sure you’ve got LOTS OF TIME!)  As with so many personal hobbies, interests and passions, of course, Rotary provided an outlet for that RV passion – Rotarian Recreational Vehicle Fellowship (RVF).  In particular, each year there is an RV Rally organized around the RI Convention --wherever it is held in the world.  Rick and Roberta’s first RVF rally was associated with the RI Convention in Atlanta.  That was the “steep learning curve” for him, because the following year when the RI convention came to Toronto, Rick was “voluntold” into leading the RVF rolling rally which, naturally, stopped off in Meaford during their travels, allowing us to entertain the Rotarian RV-ers from all over the world! And now……true to form, their NEXT adventure will be 3 weeks driving a rented RV on the wrong side of the road through southeastern Australia, followed by 4 days at the RI convention in Melbourne.  They leave in 2 weeks.
Just because he started spending winters on the beach in Mexico didn’t mean that Rick would STOP being a passionate Rotarian.  Nope……..he just morphed into an Associate Member of the Rotary Club of Costalegra…..down the coast from their place at Boca Beach, where he got involved in the projects of THAT Rotary Club, including support for a seniors’ home as well as school improvements – kitchen, sun shade, and the current project building washrooms in a school whose washrooms were made unusable by a recent earthquake.
It should be noted that Rick has been the recipient of 5 Paul Harris Fellowships – as most of you know, that means that $5000US has been donated to the RI Foundation in Rick’s name – mostly by the club in recognition of Rick’s extraordinary efforts and a couple due to him being a Sustaining Member, meaning that, as many of us do, he donates $100 US to the foundation every year.
People often say, “It goes without saying….”   But that doesn’t apply in this case – it MUST be said that little of what Rick Offord has accomplished in Rotary would have been possible without the support, hard work, understanding and patience of Rotary Partner and Paul Harris Fellow, Roberta.  I know for certain that Rick would echo this sentiment.  The bottom line here is they make an awesome team!!
I think Rick Offord’s life as a T-C Rotarian is another shining example that when you put a lot IN, you’ll likely get a lot OUT.  A little bit of passion will produce good results, but a LOT of passion will produce remarkable results.
Fellow Rotarians……I give you Rotarian Rick Offord…..46 remarkable and passionate years….and counting!