XENIA — Rotary International preaches “service above self.” For the Stephan Family, that’s become a family tradition.
When Brian Stephan took over as president of Xenia Rotary earlier this month he became what is believed to be the only third-generation president in the club’s long history.
Stephan’s father, Pete Stephan, was president in 1985 and his grandfather, Col. S.L. (Pete) Stephan, was president in 1967.
“It was kind of funny,” Brian Stephan, a certified financial planner, said. “I didn’t even recognize it until (fellow Rotarian) Diane (Dixon) brought it up. It’s one of those things you knew happened, but I really didn’t, until now, didn’t think about it. It’s just a very neat thing.”
It’s no surprise that Brian Stephan is carrying on the service-first mantra established decades ago.
“With my father and grandfather, service in the community is always very important,” he said. “It’s a really neat opportunity to give back to the community that I grew up in.”
That modus operandi began with S.L. Stephan, who was superintendent of the OSS&O Home in Xenia.
“(Community service) was always important to him,” Pete Stephan said. “So it was always important to me and I think it was passed down to Brian. From a family stand-point we feel privileged that the Xenia Rotary club would feel that confident in three generations in our family to lead that organization.”
Becoming Rotary president is a lengthy process. A board member spends several years leading committees and running programs and progresses to vice-president and then president after six years.
“I was thrilled when Brian was selected to be the president,” Pete Stephan said.
So what advice did the elder Stephan offer?
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Brian Stephan said with a laugh.
Joking aside, Pete Stephan, a local attorney, had some sage advice for his son.
“My key thing is to be organized and be transparent in what happens within the club and good things will come as a result of that.”
Good things like three generations of presidents.
But it may not stop with Brian Stephan. Sons Gunnar, 9 and Gage, 5 could make it a fourth generation.
“And then I’m going to say ‘what are you thinking?” Brian Stephan said.