Story by Peggy Kreimer Hodgson Rotary PR Specialist
When you are honoring a leader who is involved in everything, who volunteers and pitches in wherever needed, how do you keep him from finding out he is the honoree?
The Rotary Club of Cincinnati did it by playing on the honoree’s weakness – he can’t say “no” if anyone needs help.
That’s how Rotary Club Past President Carl Kappes III of Wyoming became the most surprised person in the room as he received the 2023 Walter Emmerling Award, the Rotary Club’s highest honor, recognizing someone who exemplifies Rotary values of service above self, high professional and personal ethics, leadership and promotion of goodwill.
The award committee told Kappes another Rotarian had won the award and asked Kappes to entertain the winner’s family and friends in another room so the winner wouldn’t realize something was up.
In true Kappes style, he regaled the family with stories of the winner’s exceptional merits and value to the community. As Kappes led the family into the main hall to hear the Emmerling Awardee’s name announced, the spotlight turned on Kappes, who was stunned by a standing ovation.
A “This is Your Life”-style program shared Kappes’s history of generous leadership and service in the workplace, demonstrating strong values as he rose to executive vice president of Hummel Restoration construction company, and in the in the family, where his wife, Marne, described him as “kid-centric,” building lasting bonds with their children and opening their home and hearts to a foster child who they adopted, expanding the Kappes clan.
As president of the Rotary Club of Cincinnati, Kappes created the Believe 2 Achieve fund raiser as the Rotary’s signature event. Over its 10-year run, the event raised more than $1 million for local charities. As president of the Rotary Club’s Foundation, Kappes played a key role in doubling the size of the Rotary’s Camp Allyn campus providing recreation programs for children and adults with disabilities. Kappes combines planning and leadership with hands-on action.
“No matter what needs to be done, Carl is there, whether it is lifting a shovel, walking in a parade, or using his construction experience to help accomplish the Camp Allyn expansion,” said former Rotary Club Executive Director Linda Muth.
As Kappes accepted his award, he turned the spotlight back on the crowd. “I didn’t do this alone,” he said. “There were lots and lots of people who made all these things happen.”
And what about the Hux Miller, the man Kappes thought was going to get the award? “Sorry Hux,” Kappes said. “I was so happy you were going to win.”