Burlingame Rotary Club
Founded in 1925

High Gear Bulletin


Zoom Meeting - Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

High Gear Editor: Paul Watermulder


Exactly when can you recall 76 people on a weekly zoom for our Rotary Club?  You are right—it has never happened, until last week’s meeting.  What a pinnacle of Rotary quality and character we witnessed in our hour of remembering – honoring – appreciating Duffy Offield:  his life and his witness.
Our doubled size includes so many wonderful faces “from the past;” and was one of the many displays of a good Rotary Club’s quality and character.  Here are the names we could identify from the zoom; there may be a few who flew under our radar (please pardon any omissions or misspellings!)…
Former Rotarians: Dick Gregory, Scott Hartley, Frank Hunt, Phillip Larson, Doug McGeorge, Stan Moore, Jim Nantell, Jordana Peil, Dave Gallegos, Ted & Alexia Kruttschnitt.
Friends and Family: Kevin Delaney, DabneyW, Bartgaul, Eugene Townsend, Linda Townsend, Patricia Stauber, Matthew Stauber, Michael Stauber, Daniel Shea,  Jillian Shea, Patrick Shea, Michael Shea, Rick Escobar, Richard Calcagno, Ray Calcagno, Melanie Cirigliano, Jillian Cirigliano, Ralf Nielsen, Ben Nielsen, SherrieTerry Naylor, Ryan Offield, Erin Offield, Joni Offield Stonberg, mrench@, Courtney Camero, Paulmartyzarco, Garrett Lucchesi.
Visiting Rotarian:  Matteo Rizzo, Rotary Assistant District 5150 Governor
Pledge: . Mark Lucchesi (noting of himself that “the prodigal has returned!)
Invocation:  John Delaney (reading us a poem, “Miss me, but let me go.”)
Program:  “Remembering, Honoring, Appreciating Duffy Offield.” The Three Amigos (Father Michael, Rabbi Jay and Pastor Paul) had been asked to assemble a club memorial for Duffy which would lift up the character and quality of Rotary and its people.
Our time for a good and worthwhile experience begins with a video and a prayer:  A 4 minute video compiled by Nancy Bush on the life of Duffy.  https://youtu.be/lGeqtmGdH5I 
A mutual prayer for us all at this intersection between life-death-and the eternal:  “O God, our help, in ages past, our hope for years to come:  Be Thou our strength while life shall last, and our eternal home.”
Mark Johnson was the first of three who had been asked to prepare comments.  He noted that Duffy was a man of few words but when he spoke he had good words, a  great smile and was consistently very kind.  He remembered Duffy for having an excellent and very, very best dry sense of humor also!  He was always at our meetings each week, where he was always seen but wanted no notoriety.  Frequently he sat at the front check-in desk taking meal tickets or handling the bag of marbles for a drawing (back in “the good old days”).  Usually his seat was at the back table where he loved being a disrupter .  But Mark commented that this was only to make the meetings FUN; he knew having fun was the key to good times and he cared so much for the Club he wanted to keep it fun.  At Christmas/Holiday lunch, for example, he and Ernie Scheppler always served egg nog, and Duffy had regular and spiked versions.  Way back when, Duffy played on the Rotary softball team, helped organize Rotary "Night at the Races" at Bay Meadows; at the Rotary Stag/Club BBQ he played volleyball, he brought gaming chips and played poker, and could be counted on to help throw the Club President into the pool (as was the annual tradition).  We miss Duffy already

Mark then introduced Ralf Nielson, co-owner of Copenhagen Bakery, located in the Offield Building, and remembering so many good times with his landlord Duffy, often doing more relationship building than formal work.
Mike Kimball was the second person who was asked to give us some thoughts.  He also was a tenant of Duffy’s for many decades.  He noted that Suzie at the bakery counter told him that everybody there was so sad, and that Duffy was “everybody’s Teddy Bear.”  Mike remembered
Mark Lucchesi was the main speaker of the meeting, as he and Duffy had been friends from grade school, he is the godfather to Duffy’s children (and vice versa), their children were in each other’s weddings, and the two families pretty much were more familiar with and trusting of each other than many people are with their own siblings.  Mark began by noting that Duffy had once (or many times) noted to him that he [Duffy] and Jesus were both Capricorns. 

Mark claims that Duffy got his nickname from the radio comedy (of a by-gone era) titled Duffy’s Tavern, staring the bartender Archie.  He and his family lived on Ralston and then Chapin roads, were members of St. Catherine’s Church, and he went to Burlingame schools all the way through. After working several years in “the outside world,” Duffy joined his family’s insurance firm where he loved the work and the relationships throughout our town.  Mark humorously gave a parody of Duffy’s work schedule as being revolving around long breaks to visit with friends, saying he didn’t go to work, he went to the office. 

Duffy was also known for a number of athletics he loved including being a good enough skier that when Mark was having trouble getting the basics down on the slopes, Duffy would ski backwards next to him talking him through everything he needed to learn.  Famously he once claimed to know scuba [which he actually did], but when challenged, quietly left the pool area of the party, and came back dressed in full scuba gear with flippers, facemask and breathing through the mouthpiece.  He reminded everyone of the then popular movie “The Graduate” in which Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin was dressed similarly and then walked straight into the pool and sat on the bottom, which Duffy did in a hilarious scene never forgotten.

Mark spoke of Duffy’s love of cars, especially his 1967 green Mustang fastback reminding everyone of Steve McQueen in the iconic chase scenes of Bullitt.  Then came a Chevy Nova, followed by a 1973 Oldsmobile diesel, reputed for using fuel so much cheaper (then) than gas.  The problem was that in those days diesels clanked and knocked so they could be heard blocks away.  Finally this car section of the remembrances ended with his buying of a Smart Car, known for being quite small, which made for a wonderfully interesting setting for the not-so-small-at-all Duffy.

Mark took us through Duffy’s hobbies in addition to sports, namely Cribbage, backgammon, and ping pong, as well as following the stock market and doing some serious dabbling.  Then we got to the “Food and Beverage” memories of Duffy, where thick slices of salami and Budweiser seemed to dominate (except for notable Tanqueray and tonic cocktails).  Apparently Duffy and Mark made a pact to never drink alone, so when Covid came, they invented Telephone Cocktail Time to help survive the pandemic.
The presentation turned to matters of the heart as Mark led us through some of Duffy’s family tree, both those older and of the same generation, as well as those to whom he and De were parents, aunts and uncles, and even grandparents.  Clearly this was the high point of life to Duffy, along with his commitment to friendships that lasted for a lifetime.
Perhaps it was Duffy’s aforementioned determination to have Budweiser rather than any of the many craft brews of recent years caused Mark to end his warm and wonderful memories of Duffy by taking a bottle previously off camera of Budweiser beer into hand and lifting it with the salutation, “Duffy, this Bud’s for you!”
And as we cleared our eyes of tears and calmed our swelling hearts, even behind the 75 muted zooming screens, we applauded and said our thanks for a life well lived for others, and with both quality and character.
Rabbi Jay Miller was the penultimate highlight of our day, as he had been asked to give some comments that helped to frame what we all had been experiencing.  Jay did not disappoint:  He first noted that every Thanksgiving (when the Three Amigos have been giving the Rotary program, back to somewhere around 1621), we clergy each experience members asking versions of the question we all face at one time or another:  “How do I manage the empty chair at the table?”  Jay allowed as how each weekly meeting of Rotary is really a mini-Thanksgiving, when we meet and give thanks (both silently as well as verbally) for each other.  Not just for the Rotary Club as a whole, but also for the individuals we get to know, trust and appreciate in that setting.  We go to Rotary in part because we want to give thanks for each other and the for the wonder of people filled with good spirit and the determination to put service before self.  Which is exactly what we have done at this meeting.
Father Michael Mahoney was our final speaker.  Michael noted that Duffy was one of the St. Catherine men, born and bred, and that he lived a life of faith.  So Father Michael gave us an old Irish blessing:   
“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
And we ended by hearing the timeless words of Psalm 23 from scripture, which includes the words:  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou are with me.”  And we were blessed.
Emily ended our meeting with kind and gentle words at our meeting to remember, honor and appreciate Duffy Offield.



Our time for a good and worthwhile experience begins with a video and a prayer:  A 4 minute video compiled by Nancy Bush on the life of Duffy.  https://youtu.be/lGeqtmGdH5I 



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May 26, 2021 12:15 PM
Remembrance of Duffy Offield
Remembrance of Duffy Offield

Our Rotary lunch meeting on Wednesday, May 26th, will be led by our Three Amigos (Father Michael Mahoney, Rabbi Jay Miller, and Pastor Paul Watermulder) along with special friends Mark Lucchesi and Michael Kimball.


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