Posted by Gene Johnston on Feb 02, 2022
We lost a good Rotarian recently with the passing of Bill Rider of rural Mount Vernon. Bill had been a member of the MVL Rotary Club for a number of years, starting in the 1990s. 
Bill was a servant throughout his life, and when he joined Rotary he brought that characteristic with him. In fact, he leaves a lesson for all of us: Take the things you are passionate about and bring them into Rotary. You can harness the resources of Rotary (other like-minded people and capital resources) to expand your own passion. Here are a couple of ways that Bill did that.
Internationally: Through contacts in his church, Bill had gotten involved in a program in Nairobi, Kenya, called Made In The Streets. Nairobi has literally thousands of young kids, mostly orphaned and living on their own. They roam the back streets eating garbage and sniffing glue (yes, that's a cheap drug that numbs their pain). MITS finds kids they can rescue from that life, gets them into a residential program, feeds them, puts them in school, and teaches them a trade (culinary and woodworking/carpentry are two popular programs). 
Bill served on the board of MITS and went there many times himself, teaching woodworking and agriculture. When he joined Rotary, he started telling his club and others about it. They collected money and applied for Rotary grants to help meet some of the needs of MITS. I don't know how much was raised, but it was a lot. When MITS administrators and staff would come to eastern Iowa, they often went to Rotary clubs to thank them for their involvement and solicit more help. And that all started because Bill Rider shared his passion with his Rotary friends.
Our own John Schultz even made a trip to Kenya and MITS as a result of this. John took a few violins and exposed the kids to a form of music that they had never experienced before.
Locally: Bill spent a career as an engineer at Rockwell Collins, earning several patents for them and himself in space guidance systems. He also got involved with some co-workers and retired Collins workers in a volunteer program of building porch ramps for disabled and elderly people who had trouble navigating stairs. Well, when Bill joined Rotary, guess what? Yep, he brought that activity with him. Several club members remember going out with Bill on Saturdays to build ramps. Bill would do the design work himself, taking measurements at the construction site and then building the ramp in pieces in his own woodshop. On installation day, he'd take Rotarians to the site and supervise them in putting it all together. He was so good at designing and building that it would fit together "like a glove", one helper remembers. Other clubs joined in this ramp-building effort, too, in their own communities. 
Telling stories: In retirement, Bill and Nell loved to travel the world. About once a year, they'd go someplace new for a couple of weeks. China, Spain, Egypt, and Myanmar were on the list. Bill would come back and do Rotary meeting slide shows about the trip, sharing a world view most of us won't experience in person. At one such meeting a few years ago, after he had been to Myanmar, Bill invited me (Gene) to come to a Rotary meeting and hear about it. I think my first response was, "Sure I'll come, but what's Rotary?" I really didn't know. I went and learned and met some nice people in my new hometown. I joined a couple months later. I'll always be grateful to Bill for my Rotary introduction.
He was a special guy. Rich Kohl of our club has a prized piece of furniture that Bill made for him - Bill was a master in his woodworking shop. Cot Graber of our club says, "Bill was my hero in Rotary. He showed us how to serve."