The Joseph A. Caulder Collection
Past Rotary International Director 1928-29   -  Regina, Sask., Canada

"Eyewitness to Rotary International's First 50 Years"


JOSEPH A. CAULDER - An eyewitness to Rotary International's first 50 years.

Album 1 - Page 98:  Henry J. Brunnier

"and now a word about 'BRU'",  The Rotarian, July, 1952 and other stories

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And Now a Word About . . . ."BRU". . .


The Rotarian,

July, 1952.


Newspaper Editor, Rotarian,

San Francisco, Calif.

Builder extraordinary, not only of great structures, but of men and particularly Rotarians!

That is the way San Francisco looks upon its upright blond son Henry J. Brunnier, who, after years of furnishing Rotary with earnest, penetrating counsel and a high order of talent. now moves into its Number One spot of leadership.

There is a genial jibe that California is a State made up of transplanted Iowans. At bottom it is a deferential witticism, of course, but it was never more so than in the case of the newly elected President of Rotary International. The "Tall Corn" State of song and story never produced a better representative for transplantation here or anywhere.

The fact is widely evident. His native State still regards him so highly that his alma mater, Iowa State College, repeatedly has honored him, the last time only a few weeks ago when it invited him back for further recognition. California, and particularly San Francisco, has shown its regard even more tangibly in the long list of commissions for the tall structures that dot our skylines, and in the list of public positions of trust he has held.

And Rotary has recognized his very special qualities over and over again by summoning him to its Second Vice-Presidency (1917-1918) and to numerous positions on the Committees which serve it so well. All this service he has rendered gladly with the quiet but telling effect of man who has friendly ideas and real capacity.

If they have not already done so - and most of them have - Rotarians can drop the formality of his patronymic "Henry J." and just call him "Bru." In San Francisco he is just that, but with all the deeply rooted respect of the many citizens who know him and his accomplishments. The same goes for Rotarians who know him the world over.

There is another thing that his intimates drop too, or never consider: It is any thought that his birth date, November 26, 1882, connotes advanced years. Although "Bru" inevitably has mellowed and matured, the gray still touches only lightly on his head and years have failed to impair his energetic vitality. His spirit is still that of a young man with worlds to conquer.

For the purposes .of this portrait it can be recalled that "Bru" was born on the farm of his parents, Martin and Caroline (Meyers) Brunnier, near Manning, Iowa, a little more than 69 years ago. After a normal Iowa boyhood he early expressed his interest in engineering by moving from high school into the Iowa State College engineering school of Ames. There, working during his vacations, he both studied and played hard, with a special interest in baseball, and graduated with honors in 1904.

The great national game of America probably lost a coming pitcher when "Bru" went to the drafting table of the American Bridge Company in Pittsburgh, from which his talents and earnestness took him to New York as a structural designer for the Edison Company.

With his feet on the ground, he married his "Little Ann" in 1905 and it is her spirit and name that inspired the term "Rotary Ann" which is unofficially but widely used to describe the ladies of Rotarians. An item in The Rotarian for November, 1951, told that story.

The year that followed was a turning point in "Bruís" life for during it Ford, Bacon & Davis commissioned him to rush to San Francisco after its earthquake and great fire. The young engineer was to find out what such seismic disturbances and holocausts could teach structural engineering.

Arriving within two weeks of the disaster, while embers still glowed in the rubble and thousands of people lived in tents, "Bru" plunged into an experience that was to make him internationally known as a specialist in earthquake stability and difficult foundation problems. It led also to his subsequent opening of a private practice in San Francisco as a consulting engineer.

Even more important to this narrative was the fact that while "Bru" was getting a foothold in San Francisco, our late beloved Paul P. Harris and his associates in Chicago were wrapping the swaddling clothes about infant Rotary in Chicago. The first robust cries of that youngster, carrying across the land, penetrated to the ears of Homer Wood in San Francisco. The result was that Homer and a handful of men of like mind gathered at an organization banquet in 1908 and - you guessed it - "Bru" was one of them and so was counted among the founders of the San Francisco Club, Rotaryís Number Two.

From then on Rotary was on the march. And "Bru" was one of the captains. He became President of the young Club in 1913, where he now admits that he emerged from a cocoon of diffidence as a speaker and learned to get on his feet and "talk" from any platform.

As Rotary marched on, "Brutís" faith in the idea and his organizing genius began to be felt. Travelling among the Clubs of the U.S.A. and Canada, he foresaw what the scattered groups could do for one another and suggested the present plan of Rotary Districts, for better administration and closer co-operation. The idea was adopted and "Bru" became the first Governor of old District 13, which spread from Honolulu over California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Touring among those widely spaced early Clubs intensified his faith in Rotary - - and also taught him much about travel; which he looks upon not as a thing of worth in itself, but as an opportunity for the exchange of fellowship.

Today- "Bru" is the kind of man who is likely to be in Tokyo bound for South America or in Chicago bound for Europe. He has long since lost count of the hundreds of thousands of miles he has traversed for his business or Rotary.

But somehow he usually has managed to show up at Rotary meetings, and most frequently of a Tuesday when his own Club is meeting at home.

It was 40 years ago that "Bru" set up his efficient offices in the Sharon Building across from the Palace Hotel, old but rebuilt "Bonanza Inn" of the famous mining days, where his Club meets. A mecca for Rotarian visitors as well as influential clients, "Bruís" workshop is a place where the idea of "International Service" is more than a catch phrase. The walls are lined with framed photographs of towering structures which grew out of blueprints still in "Bru's" files. But the crowning structural achievement in which "Bru" had a front-seat part is the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge. "Bru" was one of the board of five eminent consulting engineers selected from the U.S. at large whose guiding hands brought into reality the 77 million dollar structure, illustrated on the cover of this issue.

During the First World War, "Bru" was called upon. One big job was to help in the management of the Concrete Ship Department of the Emergency Fleet Corporation of that day.

In World War II his services were innumerable. He was engineer for the Navy on air-base structures, submarine bases, and protection of the Panama Canal. For the Army he designed transport docks in the Canal Zone and there are all manner of military installations of great scope and importance on the Pacific slope which bear marks of his expert handiwork.

Vocational and public services of Rotary's new President run almost as long a gamut. He headed the California State Board of Registration for Civil Engineers. As chairman of a San Francisco Chamber of Commerce committee, he guided the drafting of a new charter for the city and county which the freeholders eventually used as a model. He has served on several important wage-adjustment boards, worked with improvement organizations as both officer and committeeman, and helped make municipal traffic surveys. As president of the California State Automobile Association he has travelled many of the world's leading highways, met with leaders in many lands, and generally promoted public welfare, never forgetting Rotary.

Out of this and his great engineering service came one of his most distinguished honors. In 1941 Iowa State College awarded him its Marston Medal, the highest "engineering honor the college can give any of its graduates.

Perhaps one key to all "Bru's" activities has been his training as an engineer in the best and largest sense of the word - a quality now smoothed and polished into an easy ability to go to the heart of all he approaches, to analyze and sort out what he deems to be best, and to put principles into a foundation on which can be erected things of beauty as well as utility. He never forgets that structures, whether of stone and steel or men and organization, are built to serve mankind.

Many Rotarians who attended three great international Conventions which San Francisco has entertained can remember the excellence of arrangements. Their new international President accounted for a good part of it all. He was Chairman of the Host Club Executive Committee both in 1915 and in 1938.

At home "Bru" and Ann look out of wide picture windows in a fine apartment atop one of San Francisco's lofty hills. Spread before them is a panorama of the bay and the great city which "Bru" has so deeply influenced. Ann's touch is to be found in all the comforts and niceties of hospitality that there awaits the guest.

Although "Bru" and Ann love their home, they still do not let it tie them too closely. Like her husband, Ann is an indefatigable traveller, always at her husband's side. With a fond smile, "Bru" will tell you if Timbuctoo should be his destination tomorrow, Ann will go too.

"Bru's" and Ann's tragedy is that they lost an idolized son at the age of 28, a void which they will never fill.

"Bru" is a golfer who raps out a sound drive. Ann plays too. Evidencing this interest, "Bru" was the organizing president of the Lake Merced Golf and Country Club in San Francisco.

When "Bru" was in college in Iowa, he was elected to the school's honor group, Cardinal Guild. Another group honored him during his recent visit there, "tapping" him with the Cardinal Key. He is also a member of the Tau Beta Pi, honor engineering fraternity. At the University of California, Chi Epsilon, honor civil-engineering fraternity, has made him a member. El Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile has honored him, as have the Civil Engineering Society and the Architectural Institute of Japan.

Of all the people who are proud of "Bru", none are more so than his San Francisco associates in the building industry, who conferred upon him the first Annual Achievement Award of the Building Industries Conference Board for his outstanding accomplishments in the industry and for his public service.

But no matter how many honors have been poured upon him, or how great his success in his chosen profession, or how assiduous his activities, you are going to find "Bru," above everything else, a realistic, enthusiastic Rotarian living by the principles Rotary anunciates and by vast loyalty to the friends it engenders.

(*) Stop-press note: "Deac" Hendee okayed page proofs of his story May 14. Five days later he was found dead in his home, from which his family had been absent.

From - The Rotarian, July, 1952. (Reprinted by Permission)

EVENTUALLY. . . . . . . . GRADUALLY. . . . . .

A message to all Rotarians from their new world leader.

by H. J. BRUNNIER - President

of Rotary International

From -

The Rotarian,

July, 1952.

The Things that are worth while take time, and it is not the I' s of the world but the We's who achieve them.

This is a simple thought, I grant you. It will never appear in any book of quotations. Yet, as I approach the high office with which my fellow Rotarians have honored me, and as I try to sift what I have learned to date of human ways, the thought keeps rising to the top of my mind: The Things that are worth while take time.

I am thinking, for example, of a professional organization in my own field. Not long ago it adopted a code of conduct which sets very high standards for its members and which reads, in fact, like a page from Rotary. How long did it take to write the code? Exactly 20 years! The truth is that the origins of that document and of the society itself are traceable way back to 1908 when several of us concluded that there is only one thing a structural engineer sells and it is service - - and that we had better work together to improve our brand of it. It all took time and patience but it will prove its worth again and again.

I am thinking, too, of a certain little town that was dying on the economic vine. Then its businessmen rallied and urged citizens to hang on. Striking out after new industry, they brought it back bit by bit - to make the community flourish today as it never had before. They did not accomplish this overnight; they did it year by year.

But especially I am thinking of our Rotary (which happened to be the prime mover in both those instances). What time, ideas, energies, love, prayer and patience have gone into it in its 47 years to bring it to the point where its 7,500 Clubs now thrive in 83 lands and through their 358,000 members work to improve crafts and communities and draw peoples closer together.

I have been greatly privileged in Rotary. Having been a member of my Club since the day it was formed in 1908, I have seen Rotary's motive force of fellowship convert its purpose from one of helpfulness to self to helpfulness to others. I have seen it grope for the vehicle that would take it out of its early confusion and begin to find it in 1911 in the Arthur Sheldon phrase, "He profits most who serves best.". Something that happened in 1915 convinced me that we were nearly over the philosophical hump. In that year we adopted a code of ethics and began printing it on pocket-sized cards. As men began to carry this code, they began to read it, and reading it they began to believe it. Thus a Rotary trend developed which, I think, played a major part in changing "Let the buyer beware" to "The customer is always right."

So - after many trials and errors there emerged the simple formula that distinguishes Rotary today - the four avenues of service. They are the only thing Rotary has to sell and they are simple as ABC. Let's look at them together.

CLUB SERVICE? It is simply all the activities within the Club that develop the individual - so that he may be better able to service in the other services. Do you remember your first Rotary Club talk? Were you nervous? I could tell you about a young Rotarian of long ago who was so plumb scared that he found "urgent business" in the next town on the day of his ordeal. Many Rotarians say that if our movement had done nothing more than turn out the thousands of competent speakers it has, it would have completely justified its existence. I believe it. Then, too, there were

my two friends who fought bitterly for years over a trifling gas bill. When Rotary came to their town, both were elected, slowly mellowed, and ended by building a mountain cabin together! Better speaking. closer acquaintance, friendlier fellowship - we need good Club Service the better to serve in the other services. We need to work it - and give it time.

VOCATIONAL SERVICE? Here is bed-rock Rotary - with one point to get clear. We are ambassadors from Rotary to our vocation - not the other way around, - and as such it is our job to promulgate the ideals of Rotary in our shops, offices, and plants, and among our employees, customers, competitors, and families. Service is my business is far more than the title of a book (though I can name for you a character to match every one cited in that valuable volume). Service is in fact our business.

The Four-Way Test is a valued help. Its author, Rotarian Herbert Taylor, told me not long ago that he had written the test into a union contract he had just negotiated. Though it had raised questions all the way up to the top echelon of the union, there it stays - a simple arbitrative yardstick if one should be needed. Men of decency speaking out for it in all their business and professional councils. That's Vocational Service. Let's work it.

COMMUNITY SERVICE? Because of its nature a Rotary Club anywhere is a cross section of the business community. It's a laboratory, by that token, for the testing of community ideas. If, say, 60 men weigh a project and agree it is good and practical and needed, it probably is. Then they can seek to sell it to an existing agency - or they can launch it themselves. They can also bolster good projects that are weakening. Two cities come to mind. In each the chamber of commerce, after years of good service, was failing. In each the local Rotary Club took note - and quietly urged its members to join and take a hand. Today? Two thriving, healthy chambers serving their towns excellently.

Corruption in government? Help end it in your town and you will perform a Community Service of great worth. On this subject I like to start off with an easy question, however; "How many in the crowd have ever fixed a traffic ticket?"

INTERNATIONAL SERVICE? It is our passport to world understanding. It's the opportunity to follow the roadsteads Rotary opens to us - and writing back and forth for years to a wonderful fellow like Charlie of Auckland, feeling that with every letter our two countries move closer and closer together. It's the matter of going slowly with a Japanese engineer on the word" cantilever" until his understanding of this word, which has no parallel in his tongue, sinks fully in - and worrying a little more about whether you understand the other fellow than whether he understands you. Our fourth avenue is broad and bright. Let us move on it.

I spoke of Time at the beginning. I believe in its uses. Some years ago I picked up a phrase that explains my view of it: "The eventuality of gradualness." By degrees that often seem pitifully slow we are moving upward, I am sure. And Rotary - as practical and purposeful as it is romantic - is helping. We want peace. Eventually, gradually, we shall get it. But we shall get it through independent thinking - not treaties. We shall get it through inspired leadership - not ignorant rabble rousing. It is up to us and people like us to do that thinking and to give that leadership. We can do it. Let's go!

From - The Rotarian,

July, 1952.

(Reprinted by permission)

Copyright© Daniel W. Mooers

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