Michael Davidson of Wheeling named Rotary Club’s new district governor

INSTALLATION — Ernie Montagne, right, pinned 2018-19 District Governor Mike Davidson at the installation dinner held June 13 at Wheeling Park’s White Palace. Montagne sponsored Davidson into the Sierra Vista Rotary Club 20 years ago. -- Contributed

WHEELING — The Rotary Club of Wheeling is home to the club’s district governor for the first time in more than 50 years.

Michael A. Davidson of Wheeling was named the 2018-19 Rotary International District 7530 Governor during an installation ceremony held June 13. It is the first time a Wheeling Rotarian has served in this leadership role in more than a half century, Davidson said.

“I have been full circle,” said Davidson. “I attended my first Rotary meeting in Wheeling and I am now the district governor (representing Wheeling).”

Davidson grew up in the Ohio Valley and attended Wheeling Jesuit, which was when he attended his first Rotary meeting in Wheeling in 1970. Davidson didn’t join Rotary then, however, because he enlisted in the Navy, he said.

“West Virginia had the highest number of deaths in the Vietnam War than any other state,” said Davidson. “And since my number was 150, I had a good chance of being drafted, so I enlisted in the United States Navy to fly planes.”

He jokingly said his most challenging Navy assignment was when he was assigned in Honolulu.

“Tough duty, but someone had to do it,” Davidson said.

After serving his country for 26 years, Davidson did defense contract work for the U.S. government for seven years. But it wasn’t until Davidson retired that he joined Arizona’s Sierra Vista Rotary Club in 1998.

In Davidson’s 20 years of Rotary service, he has served many roles, including being the president of two Rotary clubs, he said.

“Mike has been involved in conferences in several districts and he will bring great ideas to the table for District 7530,” said Sharon Welsch, district conference chairwoman. “His love for Rotary and what Rotarians can accomplish is evident.”

Davidson said that as district governor, he serves in an advisory role of 1,100 members in the 29 clubs in the northern half of West Virginia.

“My purpose is to help others as they go down their own paths,” he said.

Davidson said his main goals for the coming year are to strengthen club membership, make it easier for clubs to do their jobs through providing opportunities for training and to make Rotary more family-friendly.

“My job is to inspire others to contribute their time and money and have fundraisers to collect other people’s money, for the Rotary Foundation,” he said.

Davidson said he has eight assistant governors to help him and gives credit to the clubs.

“I have my recognition from military and other places,” he said. “It is time to give other people recognition and make their hard work easier to do, for the real work is done at the club level. I just try to get whatever they need, when a club asks.”

The Rotary Club of Wheeling supports youth programs in local agencies such as the King’s Daughters Child Care Center, House of the Carpenter, Laughlin Memorial Chapel and the Augusta Levy Learning Center.

“As local leaders and volunteers, Rotarians can help find community solutions to local needs,” Davidson said.

Rotary also has an international campaign to rid the world of Polio, and they are very close with active cases down to three countries, Davidson said.

“When I die, I want to say that I helped eradicate that disease,” he said.

Davidson said Welsch and he already are planning the district conference at Oglebay Park on May 3-9.

“We are building a conference committee and planning an event that will train and inspire people, as well as one that will be fun,” said Welsch. “We don’t have many conferences in the Northern Panhandle, so we are hoping that Rotarians from around the district will bring their families and enjoy the Wheeling area.”