The Theosophical Society in America

President's Diary

January - February 2007

Betty Bland

Just as we were congratulating ourselves on one of the mildest winters on record, an icy mid-January wind stormed into the area, throwing us into a month or more of snows and frigid temperatures. And since the famous groundhog Puxatawney Phil saw his shadow, the signs do not even give us hope for an early spring. Such is life in the north land.

The first staff event of the year was an Elvis Party on the King’s birthday, January 8. Mark Roemmich, an Elvis aficionado and our Maintenance Manager, shared his extensive Elvis album collection, and for a while that week, the dining hall was converted to Café Olcott, with a “theater” presenting Elvis movies. This kind of lunch hour socializing makes a big difference for the camaraderie of the staff and inspired Emily Mullen to volunteer to coordinate our subsequent Valentine’s Day 50’s style Sock Hop, complete with poodle skirt costumes and enthusiastic dancing.

I sadly report that Diane Smith (Membership) decided to leave in January to tend to elderly parents. Although she had been on staff for only a few years, Diane had become an important part of the Olcott family. But as we told her, once a part of our family, always a part of it. This is a fact to which Elizabeth Trumpler, who was back recently to volunteer in the library, can attest.

In early February, the Theosophical Order of Service had its first dedicated weekend-long Board meeting, which resulted in new Board officers and many exciting new ideas for developing and encouraging service projects. While honoring Jean Gullo as Honorary President for Life in recognition of her fifty years of service to TOS, the Board elected Tim Boyd as their new president.

The national Board members arrived the next weekend for our winter deliberations and budgeting session for the fiscal year 2007-2008. Although it is a difficult task, the Board confirmed the necessity of an extended capital funds campaign. The warmth of camaraderie in the Board contrasted with the snow and ice outside—a novelty for our directors from warmer parts of the country.

The last day of Board meetings happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day so that those members still at Olcott were able to participate in the fun and festivities, well-planned by Emily and friends. Many were enticed out onto the dance floor and Quest staff, Paula Finnegan, demonstrated that she had not lost her skill for which she had been named Hula Hoop Queen, just a few years ago of course.

Immediately following the Sock Hop, I left for Buffalo to give a public presentation on the near-death experience. After long hours of delays with the Jet Blue melt down, I finally made it to New York City in order to participate in the New York Theosophical Society Lodge’s Colonel Olcott Centenary celebration on February 17. Also in attendance were International Vice-President John Algeo, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the U. S. Bernard Goonetilleke, and the Chief Incumbent of the New York Buddhist Vihara, Venerable Piyatissa. On the same weekend the Northeast Federation held a special event in Hartford, Connecticut, and a celebration was hosted by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington, DC, to which representatives of the Theosophical Society were invited.

All in all, the Colonel’s centennial year began with a great bang. Theosophists all over the world are paying special tribute to this important man who was one of our founders. If you participate in any of the commemorative activities during the upcoming year, please send in your account so that we can give a full description of all that has been done in this country. At the end of the year we will have a full international compilation of activities which honored Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, a true Renaissance man.

Sock hop 02/14/07

Sock hop 02/14/07

Ahhh! The fun of a February Board meeting in Wheaton! —Nelda Samarel

Betty and David before the sock hop. 2/14/07

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photo's by Laly Diaz

photo's by David Bland