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The Rotary Club of Lansing continues a very special 97-year-old tradition

Posted at 3:59 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 15:59:05-04

LANSING, Mich. — Lansing Evergreen Cemetery is one of several local cemeteries where a long-standing tradition comes to life every year thanks to the Rotary Club of Lansing and one special former Rotarian named Frank Loftus.

In 1924 Mr. Loftus started the tradition of bringing a fresh bouquet of flowers to a grave of a fellow Rotarian. Ninety-seven years later, members of the Rotary Club of Lansing still carry on that tradition.

Lansing Rotarians plant flowers at grave sites
Lansing Rotarians plant flowers at grave sites

Katie Krick is one of the Rotary Club of Lansing members that takes part in the club's annual Loftus Day tradition.

“It's hard to imagine that anything could be given back to you right from bringing flowers to a gravesite, and I think that sometimes when we are doing acts of good, It's such immediate gratification," Krick said. "Today we are bringing something to somebody who can’t say thank you. But it's quite selfless. We can honor them and their memories by coming and remembering how they've affected our community. So, it feels very unique and sacred."

Lansing Rotarian Frank Loftus started this revered tradition in the early 1920s when he brought a bouquet of fresh flowers to a regular club meeting. Afterward, he took the flowers to the grave of Charles Nichols, a past Rotarian president who had recently died.

Loftus, a longtime grocer, and life-long Lansing resident was known for his compassion, often extending credit at his store on Washington Avenue to families encountering difficult financial times.

Rotarian John Person says he feels proud honoring past Rotarians by leaving flowers on their grave.

“People leave a legacy, and we should not forget people who have made a contribution in the past," said Person. "And we also let some of the family members know that we've been here and visited their family grave. I asked somebody, ‘hey take a picture because I want to send it to a daughter to know that they're, you know, one of the past Rotarians is remember.”

Lansing Rotarians plant flowers at grave sites
Lansing Rotarians plant flowers at grave sites

Ninety-Seven years later – Loftus Day lives on.

Rotarian Chris Swope looks forward to Loftus day yearly.

“We have some great figures of history that have been part of this club; Presidents of Michigan State University as well as other people who have just contributed so much to the Greater Lansing area and to the world frankly through their participation with Rotary itself, said Swope. "It just feels really good to give back to honor their families and to honor their memories."

The Rotary Club of Lansing is part of Rotary International. Rotary is an international service organization who's purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world.

The Rotary Club of Lansing is the only known Rotary Club in the world that annually, as a group, honors deceased club members.

Rotarian Kelly Ellsworth Etchinson says she is also proud to be a Lansing Rotarian.

“To think that someone might honor me in this way 97 years from now is actually heartwarming," said Etchinson.

This week’s Good Neighbors are the more than two hundred members of the Rotary Club of Lansing for continuing a tradition that is nearly a century old and paying tribute to past members who made an impact on Lansing and the world.

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Bob Hoffman

Bob Hoffman

9:44 PM, Nov 26, 2018

Good Neighbors Host

Bob Hoffman