The Paul Harris Fellow recognition acknowledges individuals who have contributed or had contributions made in their name of $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation.   It is awarded in “appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.”

Lake Chelan Rotary Club has selected three community members to be recognized as honorary Paul Harris Fellows.  Viki Downey, Dr. Bob Jankelson, and Ray Eickmeyer have each given much to enrich the Lake Chelan Valley.  All three have moved beyond just doing their job into serving a passion for that job.

Viki Downey learned to swim at free swim lessons in Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho when she was a child.  Her love of swimming became a commitment to American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor qualification and to providing free lessons for anyone wherever she lived.   Moving from Coeur d’Alene to Wenatchee in 1961, she began visiting Lake Chelan and later began what has become a 25-year history with swimmers at Manson Bay.   In 2011, with help from Judy Phelps, co-owner of Hard Row To Hoe Winery, Viki realized her dream and has been offering free swimming lessons for anyone aged 4 or above through the Manson Parks organization.  The fun side of Viki’s passion is seen in her organization of 8k swims and The  Polar Bear Splash in the dead of winter.  The rumors are true.  She does swim in cold Lake Chelan every day of the year with exceedingly few exceptions.

Dr. Bob Jankelson thought he was a retired dentist, world authority and lecturer in neuromuscular dentistry when he moved to Chelan in 1994.  Retired from that portion of his life, maybe.  But a passion for Tuscany and wine and a drive to help out at a low point in the Valley apple industry led him to plant grapes and develop an award-winning winery Tsillan Cellars.  Making quality wine employing local people has proven to be a very worthwhile venture with the Winery being awarded 2020 Winery of the Year in competition with 1,000 other wineries. Bob shares credit with his two winemakers Nic Stevens and Garret Grubbs, along with many others.  The 911 Glass Rescue, Lake Chelan Fire Department Advisory Board, and Senior Housing Project are a few of the local projects and activities that have benefited from his quiet support and enthusiasm.

Ray Eickmeyer married (Christina Eickmeyer) into the Chelan valley from his home in Spokane.  His position as Director of Lake Chelan Health EMS services, Paratransit, Safety and Preparedness at Lake Chelan Hospital began with training as a volunteer firefighter.  The medical aspects intrigued him and led to certification as a paramedic.  Though he did not intend to stay long in this small town, he found opportunities here like no where else.  Ray led the way in covid pandemic interventions for the Chelan valley as well as Chelan, Okanogan, and Grant Counties.  He credits his team with setting the example for Washington State taking immunizations and testing not only to large inoculation centers like the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, but also to homes, packing sheds and even among the orchard trees.  Ray also recently received a two-thousand dollar grant to purchase and install handrails in peoples homes.  The handrails will be given to Lake Chelan Rotary who will coordinate the installation work.

Rotary’s motto and guiding principle for Rotarians across the world is “Service above Self.”  The concept isn’t limited to Rotarians.  We are proud to recognize the exceptional contributions these three individuals have made to the local community.  It is additionally noteworthy that each of them when being interviewed eagerly and easily shared credit for their accomplishments with others in the Lake Chelan Valley.  We agree this is a special place filled with special people.

-reported by Lake Chelan Rotary & Lake Chelan Health