George Ziebold’s 44 years of service with Rotary International reached something of a culmination recently.
Ziebold was recently inducted into the Arch Klumph Society, which recognizes Rotarians who have donated more than $250,000 to the organization over their lifetime.
Ziebold said he gave so much to the organization because of the work it does.
“I gave because I saw what Rotary was doing in the world,” the 92-year-old Waterloo resident said. “I liked what the Waterloo club does with their Tree of Lights. They’ve been collecting about $40,000 a year.”
Named after Rotary International’s sixth president, the Arch Klumph Society honors the nonprofit’s highest tier of donors. It was created in 2004.
Member benefits include receiving a pin and pendant recognizing members’ contribution to Rotary International and having one’s name and portrait added to the society’s Kiosk at Rotary International World Headquarters.
Rotarians can be inducted by donating money or other items like property. Ziebold took the former route.
“I didn’t pick anything specific,” he said. “I just let them spend it the way they wanted.”
The induction ceremony, which took place in Mount Vernon on Nov. 3 and included a speech from a former Rotary International president, was just another memorable chapter in Ziebold’s life.
Ziebold was born July 3, 1926 in St. Louis. He has lived in Waterloo most of his life, save for a brief stint in California.
He graduated from Waterloo High School in 1944, then attended Saint Louis University for two years before enlisting in the Merchant Marines during World War II.
After the war, Ziebold eventually returned home and owned an appliance store in downtown Waterloo called Ziebold Home Utilities.
“It wasn’t fun,” Ziebold said with a chuckle when recalling the business.
It was through that business, though, that he met his wife, Noreen. They married in 1972.
When asked what the highlights of his life have been, Ziebold smiled, pointed at Noreen and said “when I married her.”
Ziebold also made a name for himself as sponsor and coach of a local basketball team called the Waterloo Hi-Fi’s.
The high-flying team would routinely score 100 points in a game, making it incredibly entertaining to watch for fans of the independent basketball league the team played in.
“That was a fun time,” Ziebold remembered. “That was from 1957-1963. I had mostly ex-college players.”
Ziebold became involved in Rotary International shortly after the Hi-Fi’s became defunct.
“My father joined the Rotary in 1935,” Ziebold explained. “That was when the Waterloo club was chartered. I kind of followed in his footsteps.”
Ziebold went on to hold leadership positions in the local club and become regional governor from 1979-1980.
“That was a fun one,” he said.
His favorite part of being involved in the organization is going to the international conferences.
He has attended nine, which allowed him to visit such places as the United Kingdom and Canada.
Thanks in large part to experiences like that, Ziebold offered high praise for the organization.
“Rotary was one of the best experiences I ever had because of the enjoyment I’ve had belonging (to the club) and the things I’ve done to help,” he said.