Honoree Pat Fuller achieved a trifecta, a triple play and a hat trick when she not only earned the 2011-12 Rotarian of the Year honor, but also her first Paul Harris Fellow, as well as being inducted as the 2012-13 president of the Bradley Sunrise Rotary club. As a Paul Harris Fellow, $1,000 will be donated to the national Rotary organization from the Bradley club in Fuller’s name.
Fuller received a plaque and a certificate to commemorate her achievements, along with the congratulations and well-wishes of all in the organization, including Don Ritzhaupt, Tennessee Rotary assistant governor, who also attended the event.
The other new officers for the coming year include Keith Munford, vice president; Adam Lewis, sergeant-of-arms; Sally Poston, secretary; Elisa Porter, treasurer; and Andy Anderson, president-elect. Cheryl Dunson will head the communication and Rotary International Foundation; Jerry Shannon will lead the public relations office; and Jim Davis will coordinate the Bradley Sunrise Foundation. Mark Rodgers is now the immediate past president.
“Thank you. You were wonderful,” said Rodgers in a seemingly sad farewell as he stepped down from being the past year’s present of the group. “I love you all.”
Rodgers welcomed the new president with a profile tribute penned by Dunson on Fuller’s life, along with assembled accompanying photographs, about her contributions to Sunrise Rotary.
The winner had been a secret — at least from the honoree — up until this point as it was slowly revealed as the winner’s background was presented.
This presentation to the 2011-12 Bradley Sunrise Rotarian of the Year began without naming the winner. Instead, it began by listing the winner’s interests, qualifications, background and accomplishments, as the group, including the winner, slowly realized who had won.
This year’s Rotarian of the Year has a vast array of interests, an abundance of energy and enthusiasm, a great love for children, and a passion for people in need, the presentation started. This year’s winner enjoys gardening, cooking, canoeing, boating, traveling, tailgating and snow skiing. This person also loves to throw a great party and, somehow, always find herself in the thick of things.
By this time, the crowd knew it was Fuller, owner of the Orange Blossom women’s clothing boutique and a member of the Sunrise Rotary for four years, who had earned this year’s prestigious award.
A look of surprise brought unexpected tears to Fuller’s eyes and an almost embarrassed look on her reddening face.
Her first reaction when realizing she was being given the Rotarian of the Year award was, “This isn’t right ... I’m very unworthy ... but very honored,” she said, “(but) I have no clue why I was honored.”
The Rotarian of the Year is a native daughter, hailing from Crossville. The youngest of six children, she spent her formative years on the family’s small farm. And, according to her father, was always eager to rise in the morning and discover what the new day had to offer.
The family first moved to Westmoreland and then to Kentucky where, soon after her high school graduation, this year’s winner entered the banking business.
She moved to Cleveland in 1974 and became one of the first employees at First Citizens Bank. During the same year, she became engaged and married on Dec. 21. At First Citizens Bank until 1977, she then took her first sales position in the auto industry with Calloway Chrysler/Dodge.
Following a short and unhappy two-year relocation to Texas, the young couple returned “home” to Cleveland where she accepted a position with Red Mullinax at Superior Olds Cadillac GMC. She quickly became one of the dealership’s top sales agents.
In 1981, Fuller was named Career Woman of the Year by the Cleveland Business & Professional Women’s Club. She started working in the real estate industry with Phillips Real Estate where she became the agency’s top realtor. In the early 1980s, and Pat accepted a part-time sales and recruiting position with Aloette Cosmetics, which was moving into the Southeast United States.
After achieving success in sales, Fuller and her husband, Gary, were offered the sales and distribution rights for one-third of the state of Tennessee, and Aloette Cosmetics of East Tennessee was born.
For the next 23 years, Pat flourished as president of Aloette of East Tennessee, where she recruited, trained, directed and motivated her sales force. The couple ultimately created the largest licensee of Aloette in the country, annexing territories in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and Middle Tennessee.
During this time of phenomenal growth, Fuller traveled extensively, training, motivating and directing eight different sales consultants and was a well-sought speaker and trainer throughout the company.
Feeling the strain and exhaustion of constant travel, Pat decided to open the Orange Blossom Boutique, which carries upscale women’s attire, shoes, bags and accessories, in 2006.
Fuller joined Rotary on Feb. 7, 2008, and jumped in with both feet.
During her second week as a Rotarian, Fuller eagerly attended her first vocational visit at the Caldwell Dockins Printing Company. She also organized a team and plays in the club’s golf tournament, the Goff Hall Hope Builders Classic, two years in a row.
Ever the gracious hosts, the Fullers often have opened the doors of their beautiful home to Sunrise Rotarians.
Fuller also knows how to get down to business and get the job done. She was a driving force in the success of the club’s inaugural gala in 2010, and led the charge the following year. Under her direction, the club membership has doubled in size during the past two years, thanks to her willingness to lead membership drives. In addition to encouraging members to prospect and recruit new members, Fuller has single-handedly brought more than 15 new members into the club. To put it into perspective and quantifiable terms, that’s a quarter of the entire membership.
And, she doesn’t stop there. She and her husband hosted Idun Eiken, a Rotary International Exchange Student from Norway. Despite her busy work schedule, she took time away from her shop to ring the bell for the Salvation Army at Christmastime. She has accompanied Past Club President Bob Anderson on his Angel Flight missions; coordinated and sponsored many interesting programs; packed the park for polio; and entertained with an effervescent personality and infectious enthusiasm and energy.
She has sponsored Cleveland’s first community-wide Easter egg hunt at Bradley Central High School; volunteered or served in various positions at Bradley Memorial Hospital, now known as SkyRidge; and has worked with the Hiwassee Region of the American Red Cross, Make-a-Wish Foundation of East Tennessee, the Bradley Initiative for Church and Community, the Tennessee Distinguished Young Women’s Program, the Board of Directors of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, and Broad Street United Methodist Church where the couple attends. She has been actively involved with the Ca-Ira Children’s Home in Leogane, Haiti since 1996 and has worked on medical and mission trips in Guatemala and Honduras.
“I encourage you to participate this year,” Fuller said as she took the podium after she was announced as the winner, accepted her award presentation and addressed the crowd.
“I’m excited ... I look forward to this new year ... ,” Fuller told the crowd of fellow Rotarians. She plans to starting off the year running, working on several projects that need work immediately, such as with the first event, called Christmas in July. “It’s going to be a great year ... as president, I hope to create involvement with membership and not just the leadership ... (I’d like the club) to make a presence in our community with service projects this year.”
In fact, she is inviting anyone interested to visit the Sunrise Rotary, especially if they would like to get involved in service projects.
To sum it up, Fuller has hopeful plans for the club this year to make it a fun, fulfilling and fruitful year.
In other business:
— More auction items are needed for the upcoming Aug. 25 Bradley Sunrise Rotary Gala. To donate items or find out about the gala, contact Andy Anderson, gala chairman, at 478-3633 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.