June 5th, 2012 will be the last Rosenberg Fund for Children (RFC) Board of Director’s meeting chaired by my dear friend Bob Winston. At the end of the meeting he will be stepping down as Board Chair and leaving the group after many years of valuable service to the RFC.
Bob has engaged in progressive activism in the Northampton-Amherst area of western Massachusetts since the 1970’s. I first met Bob while I was working to reopen my parents’ case during that decade. He was locally renowned for hosting a May Day “left wing chicken barbeque” at his house that attracted hundreds from the progressive community. He claimed to cook only “Rhode Island Reds with no right wings or red necks.”
Bob was one of the four original members of the RFC’s Board of Directors. The number of members of the Board grew quickly and we soon outgrew our decision to have a rotating chair. At our third annual meeting in September 1993, I nominated Bob to become our first Chairperson, and he was elected unanimously.
So Bob began his leadership role. He never imagined how long he would occupy that position. He chaired approximately 140 meetings over the next 19 years and 9 months. Bob and I also had a morning “pre-meeting” over coffee before each of those gatherings. He served on RFC committees and participated in all of our major public programs, whether they took place locally, or in Boston, New York City or Berkeley, California. Bob also attended other receptions, and with his wife, Jan, hosted the Board’s annual picnic (at which he barbequed more left-wing chicken) and participated in countless consultations with me and other Board and staff members.
After several two-year terms, Bob mentioned that it might be best for the organization for someone else to become chair. I said yes, that might be so in theory, but in our circumstance with Bob as chair, I didn’t think so. As a decade stretched into 12 and 14 years he became a bit more insistent, but I wouldn’t let him go. Finally we have agreed, after almost 20 full years, that it was time for Bob to relinquish the helm.
Now the Bob Winston era at the RFC is ending. He has certainly devoted many hundreds and possibly over a thousand hours to RFC projects. And all of those hours were served on a voluntary basis.
Bob Winston has been a core member of the RFC project for every day of our existence. His contribution has been invaluable to me and our entire community. We’ll all miss him and wish him the best in whatever he does next. Thank you, Bob.
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