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Rotarians celebrate group’s 100th anniversary

Bremerton native Bill Gates Sr. addressed the local Rotarians. - Jesse Beals
Bremerton native Bill Gates Sr. addressed the local Rotarians.
— image credit: Jesse Beals

As co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates Sr. has overseen nearly $7.5 billion in charitable grants since 2000.

But the work of Rotarians around the world, he commented Wednesday night, really inspires him.

“You’ve set a whole new standard for what people think a volunteer organization can accomplish,” Gates told Kitsap-area Rotarians this week. “The idea used to be that volunteer organizations were there to solve a problem down the street — not across the world.”

Bremerton native and Seattle Rotarian Gates was keynote speaker at a countywide event Feb. 23 marking the 100th anniversary of Rotary International. The Bremerton conference center’s banquet hall was packed with hundreds of Kitsap County Rotarians and distinguished guests from the larger District 5020, which stretches from Vancouver Island through Pierce County and the Kitsap Peninsula. Through a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday To You” and a toast to their parent organization, Rotarians marveled at the milestone.

“I’ve never celebrated an occasion like this before,” said Brian Beagle,

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