One year ago I published my first book, Strong Words and Simple Truths: The Courage to Communicate.
Now more than ever, the topics covered in this edition are critically important and relevant in our polarized world. Pervasive virtual communication has left many people feeling isolated, lonely and struggling to communicate effectively.
Areas of focus include: Communication, Toastmasters, Veterans, Agile, Health and Science.
What impressed me most about Dave Von Tersch was his dedication and loyalty to fellow veterans, friends, and the members of the community. Dave’s commitment to and passion for the Ahwatukee American Legion Post 64, where he was an active member since 2013, was evident in the long list of volunteer roles and leadership positions he held.
Dave helped to organize and support so many important events including ceremonies for Flag Day, 4th of July, Memorial and Veterans Day, the spring Easter Parade, Evolution of the Flag, the annual Winterfest and Color Guard and Honor Guard for countless school, community and funeral events. He also assisted in the installation and dedication of the new flagpole and flags at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center (ARC).
Dave was a true servant leader who could be counted on to lend a helping hand and served as the Post 64 Sergeant at Arms for many years.
I first met Dave when he was the Color Guard Commander in 2018 and greatly appreciated how he enthusiastically led us with strong and confident “forward, march” “column left, march”, “right face”, “present arms” commands. He was serious and earnest when it came to proper flag protocol and etiquette and took to heart the solemn and crucial obligation to honor and respect our fallen comrades.
Another vivid memory I have of Dave Von Tersch is from Flag Day 2019 when he bravely and tirelessly endured extreme heat and large flames to ensure the proper disposal of unserviceable US flags. This was the first time I had ever witnessed such a ceremony and I was in awe of Dave’s strength, commitment, and respect for our nation’s banner.
On a personal level, Dave was born in Sioux City, Iowa and was one of eight kids. He had a twin sister and his childhood nickname was Dutch. Dave married the love of his life, Jean (Jeannie) and they spent 22 wonderful years together before she passed from Alzheimer’s. He is survived by his two daughters, Lara Clagett and Stephanie Jones, step children Shirley Archuletta, Darci Strang and Toby Ellis, his sister Jeanette (Nettie) Graham, and three brothers, Sid, Tim and James Von Tersch.
Dave loved to dance, play cards, and tell silly jokes. He could often be found dancing up a storm at the many Winterfest and Oktoberfest events at the ARC!
From May 1970 to May 1976 Dave served on Active Duty in the US Navy and achieved the rank of Petty Officer Second Class (E-5) Machinist Mate. He received the Silver Dolphins badge and served on the USS Sunfish SSN-649, a Sturgeon-Class Nuclear Attack Submarine.
After his six years in the Navy, Dave worked thirty years in technical positions such as Test Engineer supporting Agilent 3070 In-Circuit and Takaya 94xx Flying Probe test systems.
Dave was a proud military Veteran and enjoyed serving his community.
In April 2022, Dave attended his last Spring Easter Parade and proudly marched alongside the Post 64 Color Guard for a good portion of the route. Dave was a strong man who took his responsibilities and obligations seriously. He kept active for as long as he was able and he never quit. His fortitude was unfaltering.
Dave Von Tersch embodied the mission and values of the American Legion by continually advocating patriotism, honor, and duty to his fellow veterans. He was committed to selfless service to his friends, family, and community and will always be deeply respected by those who had the privilege of knowing him.
The US Navy motto is Not Self but Country (Non sibi sed patriae) and Dave certainly lived by these words.
Toastmasters International is losing more than clubs and members- it is losing its magic! The nonprofit organization has 1,400 fewer clubs than it did in 2019. As a result, there are 82,000 fewer people receiving the benefits of the educational programs.
The mindset of virus avoidance and remote meetings is taking its toll. In person meetings, training and contests are the exception while virtual events are the rule in 2022.
Many members are dissatisfied with the distant and disconnected experience of Zoom meetings and especially virtual contests at the area, division, and district levels.
Delivering a humorous speech without a live audience is no laughing matter. The lack of body language cues, emotion and feedback makes it hard for the speaker to connect and adjust to the audience’s reactions. The lack of energy can add an extra burden to the speaker.
A long-time Distinguished Toastmaster in Arizona recently shared this in an email, “Live entertainment in the Toastmaster world seems to be coming to an end. The winter contests have been eliminated and now the Spring contests in 2023 are virtual.” This dedicated mentor and coach joins hundreds of people in expressing their frustration with the lack of live audience speaking opportunities at Toastmasters.
Nature abhors a vacuum and the live-speaking gap will be filled by other groups. The desire and demand for direct, in-person events is raising in 2022 and a growing number of clubs and people in Arizona are organizing to meet the challenge. Innovative and creative ideas are being implemented to provide large-scale speaking experiences and competitions. Once such event will be held on Oct.11, 2022 at the Tempe Improv where 8 finalists will perform in a humorous speech competition. The laughter, fun and festivities are free and open to the public and is not an official Toastmaster contest. Click here for tickets to the event.
I have attended this high energy and boisterous competition for three years and am happy that the tradition continues.
Twenty-eight years ago, I joined Toastmasters for the communication and leadership training but I stayed for the friends and the connections.
I love the positive energy, support, and camaraderie of the clubs and had no idea that the program and the people would have such a profound impact on course of my life. The last two decades have been an amazing experience of growth, experimentation and achievement.
Some of my best friends were met at Toastmaster meetings in Arizona, Colorado, Texas and California. These close bonds would never have been made had I only attended meetings through a zoom portal.
I am still active in three clubs in the Phoenix area but worry that some of the great power and magic of Toastmasters is being lost as fewer and fewer in-person training sessions, leadership conferences and contests are being held.
The value of live language connections should not be underestimated and Toastmasters Districts across the country should strive to meet the needs of all of its members.
I strongly believe that the benefits are of the strong educational programs are not fully realized when a speaker and an evaluator never get to meet and talk in person before or after the meeting.
Virtual Toastmasters is falling flat and can be energized by creative and innovative leaders who think out the box to find in-person and hybrid event options.
Laughter is the best medicine and can be the prescription for what ails lagging club and membership numbers.
Energy, excitement, engagement and enthusiasm can all be recaptured.
Commitment, connection, confidence and coaching can be reinvigorated.