Posted by Peter Lagarias on Nov 24, 2021
Editor's Note:  Clifford Dochterman, Rotary International President 1992-1993, passed away on November 23, 2021. Below is a story shared by Peter Lagarias, President of the Rotary Club of San Francisco in 1992-1993. Peter went on to become District Governor in Rotary District 5150 in 2001-2002.
Cliff Dochterman was, and remains, a brilliant beacon of light about service and Rotary. I first met Cliff in 1985, when our Club’s then executive director, Bill Ecker, recruited me for PETS (President-Elect Training Seminar). I was not a President-Elect at the time; rather I was sent as a Sergeant-at-Arms. Cliff was one of the speakers, and his talk was “If I Could be President Again.” Over the years I heard him deliver these remarks at least ten times (including when I became President-Elect and then District Governor and beyond). His message was about service and what was available and possible through Rotary. During his talk he mentioned his years as an Administrator at the University of California and joked about Berkeley and also about a Rotary project by some Rotarians in Oklahoma where “they were trying to smuggle books into Texas.” 
I enthusiastically talked to Cliff that day in 1985, and we forever thereafter talked about Cal and Rotary. Many years later, as President-Elect of our Club, I sought guidance from Cliff about doing an international service project to operate on children with cleft lips and palates. We had the dedicated Dr. Angelo Capozzi in our Club who was anxious to do this work as a Rotary project. Cliff enthusiastically encouraged our proposed international service project of the Rotary Club of San Francisco with multiple Rotary clubs in Chile. The project eventually became Rotaplast International.

Meanwhile, Cliff was elected President of Rotary International, and I was elected President of the Rotary Club of San Francisco. I asked Cliff if he would speak at the Rotary Club of San Francisco during our mutual year of service in 1992-1993. Cliff replied, "How about the start of the Rotary year?" And so, in July 1992, he was our luncheon speaker, and we invited all the other Rotarians in San Francisco. Cliff’s theme was “Real Happiness is Helping Others.” His close second, he often said, was “Honk, If You Love Paul Harris.” 

Cliff inspired me in all I have done over the years in Rotary. And he inspired so many more. Cliff was involved in the many great Rotary initiatives including Polio Plus and the Rotary Peace Scholars program, and for that we owe him so much. But there is one more legacy: Cliff inspired Rotarians everywhere when he went across the country and around the world. And their inspired deeds continue to be of benefit to all concerned. And over twenty thousand children have received cleft and burn surgery bringing joy to their families and real happiness to the thousands of Rotarians and volunteer doctors and nurses on these missions.

May his memory be eternal.