Member Spotlight
Welcome
Member Spotlights
Member Spotlight
 
Welcome to our Member Spotlight Page where you
can get to know some of our many members
from clubs all over District 5910. 
 
Leon Willhite
The Palestine Rotary Club
 
Leon was made aware of Rotary by his Father-In-Law, Bennie Liles, who was a long time member of the Palestine Rotary Club.  Bennie set a high bar with over 43 years of perfect attendance and a reputation of postponing medical operations to be able to attend his Rotary meetings. Leon felt that Bennie Liles was a person with unquestioned integrity and that membership in Rotary reinforced those values.
 
Leon was first asked to be a Rotarian when he was 46 years old.  He had recently become the Executive Director of a Regional Planning and Economic Development Organization. Realizing that many of the key business and government leaders in the Waco area were active Rotarians, he quickly agreed to join. Although he joined Rotary in 1992 to strengthen access to other leaders, he quickly learned that joining forces with other Rotarians provided opportunities to be of service to his community and around the world.
 
Leon has been an active Rotarian.  Between 1992 -2003, he chaired the vocational service Avenue of Service and let singing at the Waco Rotary Club.  In 2005, Leon participated in a three day ropes course training event to help prepare for leading the ropes course at RYLA. He has served as an adult volunteer each year. For five years, he served as Leader of the RYLA Ropes Course. The leadership training received by these young people and the transformation that occurs in that short weekend is he basis for his continued participation.  Now a member of the Palestine Club, he has been:  President 2009-2010 & 2019-2020; Director of Service, Community Service, Membership & Administration; Host Family for a Youth Exchange Student; Rotary Song Leader; Host for a Group Study Exchange from New Zealand; and Assistant District Governor during 2012-2014 & 2020-2022. Leon has also accepted the responsibility and honor of being District 5910’s District Governor in 2024. 
 
Leon feels that being a part of an international organization has made a lasting impact on him and marvels at the collective work of Rotary to eliminate polio and hunger; he feels that being a Rotarian has provided an opportunity to build personal relationships with many incredible leaders in Waco, Palestine and clubs throughout District 5910.  He applauds Rotary for offering leadership training and demonstrating how effective people can be when they are willing to work together as a team.  He has participated in international conventions in both Canada and England, and looks forward to the 2002 International Convention in Houston. 
 
He takes Rotary’s Motto of “Service Above Self” very seriously.  His wife, Lynn, and he were able to join other Rotarians in responding after Hurricane Harvey. They traveled to the Port Neches area and helped those who had their homes flooded. Some people had up to seven feet of water in their homes and it was not uncommon to find refrigerators floating up to the ceiling. “The mucking process was dirty and dangerous work but our coastal neighbors will never forget us or Rotary.”
 
In January 2019, Lynn and Leon were able to join a group of Rotarians on an international trip to India. Eighty Rotarians from the United States and Canada met in New Delhi to participate in a National Immunization Day. They joined   Rotarians in India and provided Polio immunizations to new born babies throughout the country. The experience of providing two drops in the babies’ mouths and realizing what positive impact it would have on the child was overpowering.
 
The 4-way test has provided a special reminder for Leon as he has worked with others in his professional career.  He finds comfort when working with Rotarians in business because they are following the 4-way test to the best of their ability. Leon has continued to find the 4-way test useful in his daily life even in retirement and believes that “…in today’s environment, it is more important than ever to encourage and emphasize the 4-way test.”
 
In closing, Leon extends appreciation, respect and admiration for the District Governors and Assistant Governors with whom he has collaborated over the years. He says, “I continue to be impressed with the sincere interest and dedication of our leadership to support our local clubs, especially through the dreaded COVID Pandemic. Thanks for the support and excellent leadership during this time!!!”