We are all just walking each other home. - Ram Dass
We are all just walking each other home. - Ram Dass
The Paul Harris Fellow is named for Paul Harris, who founded Rotary in Chicago in 1905. The Fellowship was established in Harris’ honor in 1957 to express appreciation for a contribution of $1,000 to the humanitarian and educational programs of The Rotary Foundation. Those programs include an array of projects that save and invigorate the lives of people around the world and enhance international friendship and understanding. The largest of these programs is the Polio Plus Immunization Program which is Rotary’s effort to eradicate Polio.
Rotary Clubs and Rotarians designate a Paul Harris Fellow as a tribute to a person whose life demonstrates a shared purpose with the objectives of the Rotary Foundation. On June 23rd, the Presque Isle Rotary Club recognized four such individuals Clinton Deschene, Jan Lucas, Michael MacPherson, and Scott Violette.
The presentation of Paul Harris Fellow recognition is The Rotary Foundation’s way of expressing its appreciation for a substantial contribution to its humanitarian and educational programs. It is named for Rotary’s founder, a Chicago lawyer, who started our organization with three business associates in 1905.
A world of peace and goodwill comes closer to reality today as Mike MacPherson is recognized again as a Paul Harris Fellow. His contributions to The Rotary Foundation’s educational and humanitarian programs are a commitment to peace and to a better life for people of the world and for whom the membership of this Club will likely never meet.
It is because of gifts such as this that The Rotary Foundation can carry out an array of programs that achieve beneficial changes in our world: Improved living conditions, increased food production, better education, wider availability of treatment and rehabilitation for the sick and disabled, new channels for the flow of international understanding, and brighter hopes for peace.
Speech given by Ray Hews:
We are honoring Mike this evening after more than 41 years of service to this club. He has served our club as a past Director, Past President, and Past District Governor of District 7810, which covers New Brunswick, parts of Maine and parts of Quebec.
There is much I could tell you about Mike’s very distinguished career. I could tell you about the many successful businesses he has developed, his involvement in the healthcare industry, various boards and committees for the City of Presque Isle, the Mark and Emily Turner Foundation, many Maine State boards and commissions, not to mention his involvement over the years with his church, Grant Memorial United Methodist Church. Mike has been an influential business owner and community leader throughout his career and is a distinguished U.S. Army veteran.
But tonight, I would like to focus on two organizations that Mike has made significant contributions to over the more recent years.
First is MMG Insurance Company. Mike served as a director of MMG for 24 years from 1997 to his retirement from the Board in 2021. He served as MMG’s Vice Chairman from 2011 to 2017 and as Board Chairman from 2017 to 2021.
During Mike’s tenure on MMG’s Board, the MMG grew from $50 million in annual premium in 1997 to $230 million in 2021. The Board also oversaw significant changes through that time period with expansion to new States, new products, technology advancements, and significant growth of the Presque Isle Home Office staff. Throughout, Mike was a highly respected, active, and engaged Board member. In addition to serving as Chair, Mike was also part of several Board Committees including the IT Committee which oversaw many multi-million-dollar investments in technology that will launch MMG to the forefront of their industry and insure future growth.
Matt McHatten, EVP, and Chief Operating Officer of MMG had this to say about Mike.
“Personally, Mike has always been very supportive. Our relationship dates back over 30 years. My initial introduction to Mike was through Rotary. Between Mike and Owen Smith, they were great mentors and got me involved quickly. I always remembered how much I appreciated that individuals of their stature gave me the time of day back then.”
“One of my most distinct early memories was sitting in his dining room establishing the committee assignment for the Rotary auction. He had a system that I still can’t figure out today! Mike has a mathematical and engineering mind that is incredible.”
Matt concludes by saying, “Mike has led a life of “Service Above Self”. Though the list is long, as you know, it doesn’t capture nearly all of what he was involved in behind the scenes. Much of what’s happened in our community over the last 40 years included Mike (and Carol!). They define what it means to be a “solid citizen” and we should all be thankful for their efforts.”
The second organization I will focus on is the Aroostook Hospice Foundation, owner of the Aroostook House of Comfort.
The dream for a hospice house in Aroostook County had its start in the spring of 2009 (13 years ago). An in-patient hospice house was a very lofty dream and one that would require special people with special talents, perseverance to stick with the journey through all the obstacles while keeping true to the vision and most importantly a compassionate and humble heart for others. Mike did not hesitate when Rick and Nancy Duncan asked if he and Carol would like to help make this possible for families. They had traveled the hospice road with a loved one at the Androscoggin Hospice House, the closest hospice facility, at that time, for families in the County. They understood why an in-patient hospice care facility would be so beneficial to Aroostook County families.
From the beginning Mike was a significant and key member of the board. Mike’s methodical brain, wisdom, discerning intellect, business experience, planning abilities, dedication, and the ability to focus on, or to do what was needed, were invaluable attributes that kept the dream alive (there are pictures of Mike balancing on the top of a streetlamp pole attaching security cameras in below freezing temperatures). Mike’s negotiating skills were instrumental in helping to bring the Aroostook House of Comfort to fruition. He was instrumental in helping to secure USDA financing, the building purchase after many failed attempts at trying to secure land, helping to secure the Aroostook Federal Savings & Loan interim financing, the Machias Bank construction interim financing, negotiations with VNA, now Northern Light Home Care & Hospice, to lease not only office space, but to provide Medicare reimbursed hospice care for loved ones and their families at the Aroostook House of Comfort. Without Mike’s expertise, this project may not have come to fruition.
Whenever a door closed on some aspect of the project, Mike remained optimistic, encouraging, always providing a helping hand when needed. Mike methodically found a different alternative, never losing his enthusiasm for the dream. Mike’s fingerprints can be found on every detail of the project, from the initial business plan to the construction of the hospice house and to this very day making sure the facility provides the best care available for families in Central Aroostook, the County and in fact the State of Maine who are traveling their end-of-life journey.
Rick Duncan says of Mike, “he gives freely of his time and talents, never asking for any type of recognition. His thoughtful, humble, and willing heart has always been an amazing testimony to who he is. Mike exemplifies the true definition of a Rotarian. I would be remiss if we didn’t mention Carol. They are a team and an important part of the Aroostook House of Comfort family.”
Tonight, I have the privilege of recognizing Mike MacPherson, a member of the Presque Isle Rotary Club, for his continuing support of The Rotary Foundation and his contributions to our community.
Mike, your contributions to The Foundation of Rotary International are alleviating suffering, improving living conditions, and providing educational opportunities for young people somewhere in the world. Your gifts are truly selfless and demonstrate your commitment to our common goals of world understanding and peace. Your contributions to our community have benefited us all.
Therefore, on behalf of Rotary International and the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation, it gives me great pleasure to present to you a multiple Paul Harris Fellow lapel pin containing 5 sapphires in appreciation of your generous contributions to the Rotary Foundation and, on its behalf, I extent to you a sincere word of thanks.
Paul Harris said:
“He who tries to find the good in others will be rewarded, for others will surely find the good in him. Of all the earth’s sad and lonesome creatures, the most helpless is he who loves not his fellowmen.”
Please rise and join me in recognizing Mike MacPherson.
Paul Harris Pin Photo Credit:
Image #4: Mike and Ray Photo Credit: