Activity Chairmen Biographies


Don Atwater, Internet Games Chairman

Southern California native, graduate of Pepperdine University (before they moved to Malibu).   Married college sweetheart weekend after graduation and lived in 9 different locations for the first 3 years.  P&O Cruise Lines brought me to San Francisco to lead a new computer-based reservation system and Walnut Creek became home for the next 30 years where we raised 2 children and now enjoy 4 granddaughters.  Been employed with YMCA, Long Beach Schools, US Army, Funch Edye, Cunard Lines, P&O Cruise Lines & Standard Register.  

 I joined Branch 8 in 1996 when attending several luncheons was required before becoming a member.   Served the chairs of Little Sir, Big Sir & Director in 2000/1/2, and had a feeling that activities were important to the guys. So, the position of Activity Chairman was created (now the ACC) and started helping guys get involved in new activities.     I have participated in 32 different branch activities, and with the help of the members started many.   Now in 2023. You will find me in Bocce, Cribbage, Dine Out Single Men, Mexican Train along with Internet Games that I chair.  Also, contributing to the branch webpages, an activity I’ve enjoyed for many years.   For information about the DAI golf tournament, check the branch webpage under Nine Hole Golf.

David Bushnell, Chairman – Sirs at the Opera

I am a retired exploration geologist recently returned “home” to California from a career in Texas and overseas.  A native of the Oregon coast, educated at Oregon State and Northwestern universities.  My interest in operatic music began early, with a role in a high school production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, followed by several years earning easy A’s in the college chorus.  Ten years ago, I was tempted to attend the first Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast, and was so impressed I bought season tickets as we left the theater that day.  My wife and I have attended several of the HD broadcasts each year since and enjoyed them all .

Ron Cassano, Chairman of Lets Dine In #1 and Winefinders #2

Personal History – Born in Santa Rosa, Calif. Married Karen in 1964. We have three daughters and four grandchildren.    Lived in Walnut Creek since 1969.

Education – Graduated from UC Berkeley with a BS in Accounting.

Career – Obtained CPA license in 1967. Worked for small regional and national accounting firms until 1978 when I formed my own CPA Firm.  Retired from accounting in 2011.  Presently serving my fifth term as Walnut Creek City Treasurer.

Dan Crowley, Asst. Chairman Barbecue

     I grew up in Wichita, Kansas. I attended Kapaun Jesuit Prep named after Fr. Emile Kapaun S.J. Fr. Kapaun was a Kansas farm boy who became a chaplain in Korea winning the Medal of Honor and becoming the most decorated chaplain in history.

   I continued on to Regis University in Denver, Colorado: another Jesuit institution. I met my beautiful wife, Lynn, there and we’ve been together a half century. Our son, Ryan, and our three grandkids live in Alamo. Our daughter, Courtney, lives near us in Phoenix. We spend 6 months in Phoenix and 6 in Walnut Creek.

  After college I did a stint with the US Marine Corps before moving to Phoenix and getting in the apartment development business. I spent 15 years as a Boy Scout leader hiking every trail in the Grand Canyon and another 15 as a Sierra Club hike leader all over the world. I’ve also spent the last 20 years teaching English to immigrants from South America.

 In SIRs I’m involved in the barbecue, hiking, golf and wine finders.

Ray de Wit,  Chairman – Mixer

I was born and raised in San Jose and attended San Jose State, where I received my Bachelors in Biology in 1968.  I was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the Army upon graduation and started my two years active duty.  I was stationed in Kentucky and Missouri, before becoming an armored cavalry platoon leader in Viet Nam (1969-70).  Upon discharge from the Army, I returned to San Jose State where I completed a Masters in Marine Biology.

I married my high school sweetheart, Sue, in 1967 and we moved to southern California in 1973 where we lived in Gardena and Mission Viejo.  I worked for a large engineering and environmental consulting firm on offshore and coastal marine environmental projects throughout California, Alaska, the Caribbean, South America, Iran, Abu Dhabi, Thailand, Curacao, Russia, and Indonesia.  I completed over 1,800 SCUBA dives and had the opportunity to live underwater for seven days in the Hydrolab habitat in the Bahamas while studying the effects of oil on coral reefs.  In 1994 I was transferred back to the Bay Area and we settled in Concord.

I continued to work in the marine environmental field until my retirement in 2012.  Sue and I had two boys and we have two granddaughters.  Sue passed away in 2018 and I moved from Concord to Rossmoor in Walnut Creek.  I have been Chairman of the Couples (Pairs) Bridge, and co-Chairman of the Book Exchange.  I was part of the Activities Coordinating Committee for the last two years before accepting the nomination as Little Sir.  I enjoy golf, walking, dancing, cribbage, and bridge and look forward to continuing to assist in making Branch 8 the best branch in Sir.

Ron Draper, Chairman – Chairman – Poker

I’m a Bay Area native. I was born, raised, and married In San Francisco.

I graduated from Balboa High in 1956 and went to work for Pacific Bell Co.

In 1958 I enlisted into U.S Army six year active duty reserve program. The program included six months of active duty and 5-1/2 years of active reserve. Upon completing my active duty time three things happened:

I got married, went back to work for Pacific Bell, and joined the active reserve Bomb Disposal Squad at the Presidio in San Francisco to fulfill my active reserve time. In 1961 the Berlin Crisis came about and the Government activated many reservists to active duty. Our nine man squad was included. We were sent to the US Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal School in Indian Head, Maryland to be trained on Ground and Nuclear Weapons after receiving a Top Secret Clearance. Upon completion of the training our squad destination was Germany but the crisis subsided and we were eventually discharged back to the Presidio in San Francisco.

For the third time I went back to Pacific Bell in various management positions in San Francisco and Walnut Creek and retired in 1991 after 31 years of service. Then I decided to work as Project Engineer Contractor for nine years, officially retiring in 2001.

I moved my young family to Walnut Creek in 1965 and commuted to San Francisco via the Greyhound bus service before BART. “The good old days.”

On a personal note I’ve been married to my wife Irene for 58 years. I have two daughters, one granddaughter and one grandson. As a family we spend a lot time at Bodega Bay and Pinecrest Lake.

As far as activities I’m an avid runner. I still try to do 15 miles a week and walk 5 miles a week. In my early years of running I participated in serval Corporate runs as a member of the Pacific Bell Track team. I ran the San Francisco Marathon, Oakland Half Marathon and numerous 10k races around the Bay Area.

I enjoy reading, traveling, playing card games mostly Cribbage and Poker.

During tax season I’m in my 11th year of volunteering as an AARP Tax Aide doing taxes for seniors and others.

Pertaining to the two card activities I’m involved with you couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. IT’S FUN!

Michael Frey, Chairman 9 Hole Golf Group

I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA where I attended Grammar School, High School and College.

In 1966 while attending college I joined Crown Zellerbach Corporation on a part time basis working in their Mail Room. In 1968 I started working in their “data processing” department as a computer operator.  Within a couple of years, I was offered the opportunity to become a programmer.  I ended my 16 years career at CZ as a Programming Project Manager.  For the remainder of my career, I worked in a number of Information Technology positions including Application Development Manager for a Transportation Services Company and VP, Consultant Operations for an IT Consulting Services Company.

Lorraine and I were married in 1973 in San Francisco and in 1976 moved to Walnut Creek where we have raised a daughter and two sons.  We have been blessed with seven grandchildren.

I have been a member of SIR since 2012 and I am currently the chairman of the 9 Hold Golf Group, I attend the Computer and Technology Group meetings, I participate in various SIR golf outings and am a member of the Activity Coordinating Committee.


Bud Grisante, Chairman  – Duplicate Bridge #1

Born 11/8/1935 San Bernardiino, CA.  Married Donna Perry, 9/25/65.  2 sons, 4 grandchildren +2 bonus.  One family lives in Concord CA, the other in TPA FL.  We visit FL twice a year.

Education-  San Bernardino High School 1953, SB Valley College 1956, UCLA 1958

Work History- Food Bank Grocery Store-1951-57.  Bag boy, Rec. Clerk, stk clerk, Cashier.

Del Monte – August 1958- November 1990.

             1958- Entered 2 yr Accounting Training Program.

             1960-66 Credit Supv., Audit Section Mgr.

             1967- Transferred to Intl. Division- Mexico City Regional Office.  Reported to Fncl. Director Latin America.

             1975- GM of ALMX subsidiary Co. of Productos Del Monte.

             1977- Returned to SF as Sales admin. Mgr. of South America, Far East.

             1985- Trans. To Foodservice Div. as Natl. Sales Administration Mgr.

             1990- Accepted offer for early retirement- November!

SIRS- July 91. Attended meetings for 5 months before being invited 1/92.  I’ve enjoyed the comeraderie and activities offered by Sirs.  I’ve been active in Travel, Golf, Bridge, Poker, Cribbage. And we enjoy the Wine tastings.  What more can you do when you’re retired?

Martin Hawco,  Chairman – Open Bocce

I was born in Tucson Arizona. My dad was in the U.S. Air Force (and retired eventually from the Air Force).  We moved almost every couple of years around the United States.  I didn’t start and complete school until high school in San Diego. From high school I went into the U.S. Army for four years, yes I spent a year in Viet Nam. When I got out of the service I lived in New England for a few years and attended Northeastern U.  I got tired of the cold weather and ‘politics’ there and moved all my belongings into a VW van and moved back to California.  I worked a few jobs and finally got on with Chevron in their IT department where I retired 10 years ago.  I met my wife, now 40 years ago and have lived in Concord for all those years. I like to hike, travel, tent camp and am a member of the Concord Historical Society and the Concord  ‘Friends of the Library’. I enjoy spending lots of time with our grandkids who live locally.  SIRs open Bocce is a very fun activity and is a great  way to meet others in the fun competition.

STAN JOHNSON, Chairman – Pinochle

Stan Johnson was born in Illinois.  His father was a farmer and his mother a homemaker.  As with most farm boys, Stan did a great deal of farm work along with his father.

He started playing basketball in seventh grade.  He was the only seventh grader on the team that went to the state tournament (finishing in a tie for fifth).  This was when there were no school size divisions in Illinois.  Stan played varsity basketball for all four years in high school and lettered three years.  He was all conference, high scorer, and Most Valuable Player his senior year.  He also played football, cross country, and track and field.  Stan graduated with honors in the top 10 percent of his class, a member of the National Honor Society, and junior class president.

Deciding that farm work was not really for him, Stan attended Michigan Tech (Michigan Technological University) after high school, situated in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Stan majored in Engineering.  He graduated with honors in the top 1% of his graduating class and top in his department.  He was president of his junior class and vice president of the Student Body/Student Council his senior year.  He played four years of varsity basketball and earned three letters.

After graduation, Stan took a job in advanced materials research for Pratt and Whitney Aircraft.  They make jet engines, such as for the Boeing 747.  He was co-author of a research paper that was printed in an international scientific journal.  After two years, he was accepted to Stanford University to their doctorate program in Material Science Engineering.  After a year and a Masters degree, he decided that he wanted to get into business rather than do more research.  He joined Pacific Telephone (later Pacific Bell and then AT&T).  He took early retirement in 1996.  At that point he was Director of Engineering.

After taking a couple stretches of time off and taking on two temporary consulting jobs, Stan joined SIR is July 2004.  He accepted the job of 9 hole golf chairman after a year in the branch.  He held this position for six years and then became Little Sir (although he didn’t look the part) in 2012 and Big Sir for 2013.  He was a Director of the Branch Executive Committee in 2014.  He was chairman of the Member Relations Committee for 2014 and 2015.  He continues as a member of the MRC.

Stan tries to participate in as many activities as his time allows.  Currently, he takes part in 18 hole golf, 9 hole golf, walking, hiking, Cribbage, Basic Bridge, Dine Out 1, Explore & Eat, Sirs in the Kitchen, Astronomy, Bocce, and SUMS.  This makes him one of the more active members of our branch.

Rich Knowles,  Chairman – Podcasts

Born in 1948 in Los Angeles County and lived first ten years of life there.    Then lived in Los Alamitos, just over the county border in Orange County until after finished college.  Then went to Chicago, Washington, D.C. (technically Reston, VA), and then came back to California in 1982 and have lived in Contra Costa County ever since.

Got a B.S. from UC Davis and then M.S. and M.B.A. from University of Chicago.  Decided could not be a professional student at that point (1975).

Worked as a consultant with titles like statistician, economist, and just plain consultant for 14 years.  Only company still existing I worked at is SAIC (Science Applications Incorporated Company I guess – it was just SAI when I was there).

I then officially became a programmer (though I had been that too all along) and worked for 20 years at the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco as programmer and then manager of programmers.  I was really good at training computers – not so good but not bad at training people.  I ended up as a Vice President at the Bank.

Twice in this working period I was self-employed, and both times I decided to become an employee again after a while.  Though being a consultant is fairly close to being self-employed.

Once retired I became involved in several volunteer efforts – the civil grand jury of Contra Costa County and the California Grand Jury Association.  I also did programming for Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services in Walnut Creek.  I served on the board of Earthteam, and eventually became president.  I was co-chair Shipmates, a large singles social group (over 3,000 members and a group of 200 volunteers to manage over 200 events per month).  In 2016 I joined SIR (having been retired since 2009).

And now I mostly play golf.  Sometimes with SIR and sometimes with other friends I have made.  I also play bridge with SIR, belong to book clubs, and sponsor the SIR podcast and model train activities.  I have also joined Singles Dine Out.  I like to take vacations and make it a point to several times per year.  Sometimes overseas and sometimes not.  And lastly, I can’t leave out that I am on a number of SIR committees because I really like Zoom meetings.

Chick Lowry, Chairman – Car Enthusiasts;  Chairman – Bocce, League Play; Member – Activity Chairmen Committee 

Hi! I’m Chick Lowry, your Sir’s Branch 8 Car Enthusiasts Activity Chairman. I was California born and raised on the San Francisco Peninsula in Redwood City.

I married my wife, Elaine, 51 years ago and we are still talking to each other. We have 5 adult offspring, 4 boys and a girl, and 5 grandchildren, 4 girls and a boy.

We moved to Walnut Creek in 1979 when I was transferred to Chevron’s Oakland Operations offices after working many years for Standard Oil in San Francisco. The change in commute methods, from train to car, was just too time consuming. We have been a Bay Area family for a long time.

I went to work in a Standard Oil Service Station in Redwood City as a summer job following graduation from San Carlos High and somehow managed to stay employed for 47 years with Standard and then by Chevron, when the corporate name changed. I worked in 11 different operating companies of that period acquiring job experience in Marketing, Exploration, Service Station Construction and Maintenance, Computer Services Installation and Maintenance and Corporate Building Operations and Maintenance Management, ending my Chevron career at the Corporate Financial Center in Concord. Fortunately, I was able to work my entire career in the Bay Area. For a High School Grad it was certainly an “E Ticket” ride.

I have always had an interest in automotive related activities, thus, a Car Enthusiasts. I enjoy working on classic vehicles and the challenge of diagnostic problem resolutions. It is becoming more difficult to work on the computerized late model vehicles. I did some straight line racing (1/4 mile stuff) in my younger years. The Car Enthusiasts thing seemed to be a natural path for a Sir’s activity, so we started one. We currently have 26  Sir’s Car Enthusiasts in our activity.  One of these days I will find the project car that meets my dreams and I will get started on a restoration of my own. I also enjoy small project woodworking.

Other Sir’s activities I currently participate in or will attempt to add, include; Bocce Ball, Dominos, Model Trains, Photography (my skills are lacking for that one), Hiking and maybe Sir’s in the Kitchen as have a few dishes I can prepare well with a need to learn how to do more.

Larry McEwen, Chairman – Winefinders #3

Born (1938) and raised in New London, CT. Lived in NYC, New York; Alexandria, VA; San Francisco, CA and Walnut Creek (1989). Married to Kathleen McKeown since 1986.

US Naval Academy, 1961; Wharton School of Business, 1970.

US Navy 1962-1968 (destroyers, submarines). Ted Bates Advertising Agency 1971: (Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid: Madge the manicurist: “you’re soaking your hands in it!”, Stretch & Seal Food Wrap; US Environmental Protection Agency: managed national special waste recycling programs (waste oil, tires and steel) 1972-1978; Registered Investment Advisor/real estate investor 1979-1988; US Department of Energy, Oakland, CA: Managed radioactive and hazardous waste cleanup of Agency sites at Stanford University, UC Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, UC Davis Laboratory for Energy-Related Health Research. 1989-2005.

Enjoy art, tennis, birding, gardening, travel and reading. Active volunteer with neighborhood association, Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, Lindsay Wildlife Experience and local investment club.

Participate in Sirs in the Kitchen, Dine-in II, digital photography, Explore & Eat, and Winefinders III.

Ken Main, Chairman – Dine Out #1

My name is Ken Main (currently the Activity Chairman for the Dine Out 1 and a member of the ACC team). I also served as a SIR br8 Director for 2 years. I joined Branch 8 in 2007. I really enjoy the camaraderie, friendships and the many fun activities our branch offers. In addition to bridge and dining out, I sometimes participate in golf, poker and hiking. The SIR organization gave me a purpose and an opportunity to meet new people after retirement. A great outfit!

I was born in Framingham, Mass. I am from a military family (my father was an Air Defence Artillery Officer). We moved every 2-3 years (Seattle, WA, Ft Bliss, TX, Youngstown OH, Karlsruhe & Mannheim, Germany, Natick, MA & New York City). I learned to like traveling to different locations and making new friends. I went to several Elementary, middle and high Schools. I graduated High School @ Eastwood High School in El Paso.  I started and completed my formal education @ New Mexico State University in Las Crused, NM. Early on, I joined the Physical Science Laboratory “Co-Op” program and was trained to track satellites for the Navy. The program sent me to Anchorage, AK, Reykjavik, Iceland, Mashad, Iran and Karachi, West Pakistan. As a result of the Co-Op program, I was able to work my way through college earning a BS in Civil Engineering. I was also commissioned second Lieutenant with the US Army Corp of Engineers NMSU/ROTC program.  I served 6 months active duty and  7 years in the reserves.

 I joined Chevron USA in 1972 and worked for over 31 years in the Marketing Department with assignments in Denver, LA and SF. I started as a Project Engineer building service stations and ended up as a Safety Specialist focusing on the prevention of incidents. Chevron was a great Company to work for and I still stay in touch with many of my former colleagues. 

After retiring from CUSA, I taught high school math for 3 years at Mount Diablo High School in Concord, CA.  This provided me with insight into the many challenges a teacher faces every day (e.g. handling disruptive classroom situations & developing challenging lesson plans for all student levels). For example, I never had to break up a fight at Chevron! I now better understand and appreciate the systemic problems our school system faces. 

My wife, Maureen, and I celebrate 50 years of marriage on 12/29/2023. We have 3 sons, 2 daughters in law and 4 wonderful grandchildren (2 in Davis, CA and 2 in Pleasant Hill, CA). We are thankful the grandkids are close and currently watch our 1 1/2 yr old grandson, 2 days/week. I enjoy playing my guitar, traveling, almost any sport, reading and of course, spending time with family. Both our parents have passed, but we stay in touch with our siblings and many cousins throughout the USA. 

Nick Maufe, Chairman – Pickle Ball

I was born in London but spent most of my pre-teen years living in Scotland, where my father, a great outdoorsman, instilled in me a love of nature and the outdoor life. So it was that, many years later, at the end of an extended (15 month) trip that culminated in northern California, Shirley and I decided that this great place was the place that we wanted to put down roots and enjoy not only an outdoor lifestyle but a more enjoyable climate than that of the UK!

In between that early life and migrating to California, I earned a degree in Developmental Psychology from the University of Sussex, met Shirley, my wife to be, and started and ended my first attempt at a career – in social work. By 1982, within 3 years of our return to the UK from that trip to the Americas, we had married and had our first of 3 girls. At that point, I managed to land a job with Chevron in San Francisco in the relatively new business of computer programming. By 1985 we had moved to our current house in Walnut Creek and since then, we have brought up our 3 girls as true Californians, albeit with a little of the British mojo (an appreciation of football and Monty Python!).

I spent the next 30 years of my career with Chevron in a variety of positions related to IT, ending with 8 years as a Project Manager. That was enough! At 60 I retired (and joined SIRS).

Now in retirement, the 3 activities that consume most of my time are playing with my grandchildren, several outdoor activities and world travel:

  • Our 3 girls have stayed or moved back into the Bay Area and we now have 7 grandchildren, all under 5, with an 8th on the way!
  • I have been mountain biking since my 40s locally plus a couple of biking vacations a year (Oregon, Lake Tahoe, etc.), and the delight has not dimmed with the years. As well as biking, I do lots of local hiking and recently have returned to the enjoyment of backpacking both in California and much further afield with trips to Patagonia, Corsica and Mt. Rainier over the last 3 years.
  • As you might expect coming from abroad and with many trips into mainland Europe in my youth, a desire to explore other countries and cultures comes naturally. Since retiring we have taken 1 or 2 overseas trips a year, often including the UK to visit old friends and relatives.

So how could such an active SIR be chairman of the Book Group? I have to say that I have always loved to read and in recent years as part of a book club managed to read a book a month. Now in retirement I have stoked that fire a little and get a lot of enjoyment from this second Book Group with SIRS.

Carl Moyer, Chairman – Fishing and Jigsaw puzzle exchange.

Born in Williston, North Dakota in 1942. Moved to Saint Thomas Orphanage in Great Fall, Montana in 1947.

Worked full time for the Montana Air National Guard from 1960 to 1968 as the Munitions Supply Sergeant. Graduated College of Great Falls in 1968.

Came to San Francisco. California in 1970. Worked for Liquid Air Inc. and Western Temporary Services as Office Services Manager from 1970 to 1990.

Worked in Office Services for Robert Half to finish work in 2005.

Married to Marcia for the past 20 years. Have 3 children, 3 step children, 6 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren, and 2 boats.

In Sir I have been Chairman of Branch 8 fishing group for 15 years, author of the Area 2 monthly fishing report for 15 years, and lately the jigsaw puzzle exchange.  I have been a participant in: the poker group, SIR’s in the kitchen, pinochle group, bridge group, bocce, and Explore and Eat.

SIR has enriched my retirement unmeasurably.

BILL PHELON, Chairman – Digital Photography & Branch Photographer

Most of the exciting adventures of my life were shared with the “Writing your Life Stories” activity several years ago. Leaving something about yourself for your descendants (kids and grand kids) is a really great idea. I highly recommend the activity.

My knowledge of SIR goes back to the 1950’s when a family friend was part of a Palo Alto SIR based founding group. My Dad did not join since he did not play golf and that SIR group was primarily focused on golf in those days.

Fast forward to the 1990’s and I was reintroduced to SIR by Gene Roberts, a yachting friend, who spoke highly of some Travel activities being led by Bob Hagler of Branch 8. When I finally retired in 2004, Gene took me to a Branch 8 luncheon and introduced me to Bob. Bob was gracious enough to sponsor my membership in the branch and I’ve been here ever since.

Some demographic statistics: I was born in Burbank, CA, but we moved to Northern California in 1942 when Dad went to work for United Air Lines. At the end of the War, we moved to our San Mateo County “estate” near Redwood city, and after attending six elementary schools, I managed to spend four years at Sequoia High School (and graduate!).

Moving on to higher education, it was two years at the University of Oregon, three years in the Army, two years at (then) San Mateo JC, two years at San Francisco State and four years at UC Berkeley. I attempted to continue my vagabond education path, but Mary (spouse) put her foot down and said, “get a job, I’m pregnant!”

With a recommendation from my thesis advisor, I found myself employed in the Bureau of Economics at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington DC.   Six months of living “back east,” and I was looking for ways to get back to California! It took seven more years to find my way back, including several interviews with the California AG’s office. Then, in the early 1970’s, the FTC began moving economists into regional offices and I just happened to be willing and able to move to San Francisco! I remained in the San Francisco Regional Office from 1973 until I retired in January, 2004.

Counter to my past somewhat vagabondish history, I’ve lived at the same address in Orinda since we moved back from DC. This means that our daughter and son both graduated from Miramonte High School after being in the Orinda school system for nearly their whole of their primary and secondary educations.

Since joining SIR in 2004, I’ve enjoyed traveling with former member Bob Hagler, participating as attendance chair in the Area 2 Computers & Technology activity and being chair person (and Xmas party director) for the Digital Photo Group. I would have also been active in the Hiker’s group, but I managed to have a heart attack following my first hike with them! (The attack had more to do with COSTCO hot dogs and chocolate chip cookies, than any hiking activities.)

SIR may not be for everyone, but it has been a great source of activities and comradery for me!

David Platter, Chairman – 18 Hole Golf Chairman

Personal History: Locations lived. Denison-Fort Worth-Dallas-Abilene-Texas, New York City, Edina-Bloomington-Wadena-Minnesota, Hanna City-Illinois, Sioux City-Iowa, Buena Vista-Colorado, Lawrence-Kansas, Sewanee-Tennessee, Walnut Creek and Lafayette-California.

Schools—University of Kansas, Bradley Master Program, Merrill School of Economics. United States Air Force. Captain

Business: Aircraft Company, Food Brokerage Firm, Kaiser Aluminum, Merrill Lynch. Summer and School Jobs: Sold private postal labels, Warehouse Labor, Commercial Ovens Bakery, Milk Truck delivery, Gas Station, Professional Rodeo, Horse Trainer, Encyclopedia Salesman, Camp Counselor, Professional Baseball, Disc Jockey, News Reporter, Journalist.

Hobbies. Writing Books, Music Compositions, Local School Coaching. Old Hobbies. Mountain climbing USA and Europe. Skeet and Trap shooting, Tennis, Senior Baseball.
Married Barbara in 1958,  have four children, eight grandchildren
My first game of golf was when I joined SIR Branch 8  

Danny Rinaldi, –  Chairman – Dominoes & Chairman – Dominoes – Mexican Train 

Hi I’m Dan Rinaldi, I’m the activity chair for the Domino’s group, co-chair for Mexican Train Dominoes and co-chair for Bocce. I’ve been asked to share some background about myself. I was raised in Concord California.  I went to grade school, middle school, high school Pleasant Hill High and Diablo Valley College right here in Concord.    Met my wife and was married in Concord.  That’s a lot of staying in the area.  I joined the Air Force in 1966 thought I’d be seeing the world.  I spent my four years in Lancaster California.  In 1970 I started working for Xerox Corporation.  I started as a technician and worked my way up to management.  In 2010 I retired, still in Concord.  Joined Sirs shortly thereafter, became involved in Domino’s, the Car Club and Bocce.  I’ve met some great men in this organization and always hear stories about there past.  Enjoy the general meeting every month and the speakers that they provide. It truly is a group where you can get involved in things to do and make some great friends.

Ron Rizzo, Chairman – Book Group & Chairman – Recently Read Books & Chairman – Mahjong

I was born in Baltimore but raised from infancy in a suburb of Los Angeles. I graduated from UCLA with a BA in Political Science, after first spending two years at UC Riverside and one year as a UC exchange student to the Chinese University of Hong Kong. I then received an MA in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii on a grant from the U.S. State Department to live in an immersive cross-cultural setting at the on-campus East-West Center with students from all over Asia who were sponsored by their own governments.

I was drafted into the U.S. Army after my first semester at the University of Hawaii and served my entire tour of duty as a stenographer at the Civil Defense Unit in the Pentagon. I then returned to Hawaii to finish my MA, part of which involved going to Taiwan to enhance my Chinese skills—a feature of my East-West Center grant. While there, I went on a tour of Taipei where I met my wife of 50 years, Amy, who was the tour guide. We have no children.

When we returned to the U.S., I got a job with the Food and Nutrition Service Department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where I spent my entire career—first in Indio, California and then my last 32 years as a supervisor in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program in San Francisco where we covered the six westernmost contiguous States as well as Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The program provided healthy food, nutrition education, and tie-ins to health care to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and other postpartum women as well as their infants and children through age four.

At SIRs I am also part of the Book Exchange Group and participate in bridge groups, Wine Tasters, and SIRs at the Opera. Outside of SIRs I am a member of Mountain Shadow, a film society in Walnut Creek showing independent (mostly foreign) films as well as two mystery book groups. My wife and I also like to travel, both in the U.S. and abroad, and both belong to a local fitness center.

Steve Schramm, Chairman – SIRS AT THE GAMES 

Growing up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin was quite an experience. We claimed to be the Bratwurst Capital of the World. No offense to all of the towns in Germany that made the same claim. My early years were filled with organized sports, high school debate, and eating a variety of local sausages.

After degrees in Economics and Human Resources at the University of Wisconsin, I relocated to California with PG&E in 1983. I held Human Resources positions in Fresno, Moss Landing, and San Francisco during my six years with PG&E. My HR career continued in the Bay Area with high tech and biotech companies. Leadership roles at these companies enabled me to work globally with regular trips to Europe for business and pleasure. My working career concluded with several project consulting roles primarily with PG&E.

Since my retirement in 2014, I have become a Planning Commissioner for the city of Pleasant Hill. My familiarity with local zoning regulations, development plans, and property rights has increased exponentially. Joining SIR Branch 8 was a natural as I enjoy golf, reading, and many of the activities offered by our branch. 

My wife, Kay, and I have been married for 31 years. We enjoy Cassie, our Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and are both quite active in our community. In retirement, we look forward to travelling, reading, and lots of quality time at our home in Pleasant Hill. We are hopeful that SIR Branch 8 will be part of this picture for a long time to co

Ron Smith, ChairmanArts, Crafts & Hobbies & Chairman -Bargain Bites & Chairman – Wine Finders #1

I was born in Ft. Thomas, Ky., a small bedroom community that runs about 3 miles along a ridge above the Ohio River across from Cincinnati, Ohio. I graduated from Highlands High School and after six years at night, I earned my BSC Degree from Salmon P. Chase College in Cincinnati.

In 1956 I joined IBM in Cincinnati and a series of moves took me to Los Angeles, Kansas City and Houston. In 1970,  I  joined a group of former IBM Managers to develop a startup company in San Francisco called Decimus Corporation.  After opening branches in LA and NY, I moved to San Francisco in 1975, settling in Walnut Creek. In 2000, my wife Judy and I moved to Danville/San Ramon where we live to this day.

I retired in 1996 and joined SIR later that year. At that time you had to wait around for six months or more to become a member but you could attend meetings and participate in the Activities. I was inducted sometime in 1997.

My involvement started early when I folded and got the Hotline ready for mail. That led to 3 years as Hotline Editor. I served on the Branch Exec. Committee, Little SIR, Big SIR, Area Governor for 2 years, Co- Chair of Explore and Eat along with Dan Franklin for 7 years, and I’m currently Activity Chair of Bargain Bites(now 6 years), Wine Finders 1(now 5 years)  and Arts, Crafts and Hobbies.  Over the years I have participated in many Activities including Golf, Hiking, Writing Your Life Stories, Poker, Wine Finders, Dine In, Dine Out, Walking, Computer Users, Explore and Eat, Cellar Fillers, SIR at the Games, Bargain Bites, Travel, SIR in the Kitchen, BBQ, and more I can’t remember.

Judy and I have made countless friends that have helped fill and enrich our retired lives. I realize there are other groups, clubs, etc. but it is hard to imagine one that can fulfill a retired man’s life as much as SIR. Get involved and participate; you’ll feel better about yourself and enjoy SIR more.

Jim Sowell, Chairman Wine – Cellar Fillers

My roles in SIR have been Little Sir-2009, Big Sir – 2010, Chair of Cellar Fillers Wine Activity, Asst Chair of Sirs in the Kitchen, Member Relations Committee, and Ride Share coordinator.

My artistic wife, Sandra and I have two children, two grandchildren, one step grandchild, and one great-step-grandchild. .

I was born in Knoxville, TN and moved to rural Kentucky after WW II. I earned a BA in Math at the Univ of Kentucky, a MSc in Systems Management at the Univ of Southern California with a 4.0/4.0 GPA, and a two year Certificate in Hazardous Materials Management at the Univ of Cal Irvine, with a 4.0/4.0 GPA. I studied Latin, French, German, Dutch, Vietnamese, and Spanish.

I have lived in the Netherlands, Germany, and Vietnam and traveled to 22 other countries and all the states except Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

My military career began with the Army Reserves and ROTC where I was on the rifle team and took flight training. My first duty station was Ft Bliss, TX for Air Defense (AD) Artillery school. Next to the Boston region as a Nike AD Missile Battery officer during the Cold War. After AD I transferred to the Transportation Corps, attended Basic and Career Officer courses at Ft. Eustis, VA and served tours in Vietnam as a stevedore company commander and adviser to ARVN transportation units in Qui Nhon.

Other jobs were in port operations, motor pools, and logistics staff at the Benelux Terminal in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Ft. Bliss, TX, Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, Kaiserslautern, Germany and . Ft MacArthur, CA, rising to the rank of Major. Next was a 30 year career with the SoCal Rapid Transit District (SCRTD) and its successor agencies, the LA Co. Trans Commission, and the LA Co. Metro Trans Auth,

In 2004 I retired and followed our daughter and grandchildren to Walnut Creek where I joined SIR in 2006. I have participated in the SIR activities of astronomy, barbeque, bocce ball, book exchange, bridge, car enthusiasts, computers and technology, digital photography, explore and eat, hiking, Sirs at the Opera, Sirs In The Kitchen, SUMS in Retirement, walking, wine tasting, and yoga. Outside of SIR my interests have been skiing, hunting, fishing, competitive shooting, camping, acupressure and massage, woodworking, modifying and repairing pre-1990’s Volvos, and bird watching.

ROD SPICER, Chairman – Bridge, Rubber

I became a member of SIR in January, 1997 not realizing what a sharp group of men I had joined. The previous and present members have revealed such accomplishments that it is humbling to realize that an average person can make it to retirement also.

I was born in south central Indiana and started school in a small farm and light manufacturing town. After WWII my family moved to a small farm town in western Nebraska where I finished the ninth grade. I learned to accept responsibility in a small country school because there were only two boys in the class and somehow the teacher always knew who pulled the prank in class. We then moved on to Denver for my high school years. These years were filled with working at gas stations and restaurants while trying to complete the course requirements for engineering school entrance.

My college years were extended. Scholarships did not come through. Student loans were unheard of so my option was “Pay as you go.” I attended the University of Colorado, went to CU Extension School and took correspondence classes until my wife put me through Engineering School at Colorado State University.

My college years work experiences were extremely varied and included many part-time jobs such as house painter, oil field laborer, lab technician and suitcase assemblyman. The lab technician job had me testing items such as wool, auto seat belts, soil, dried milk and hydraulic fluids that were used for the Titan Missile Rocket System. The most interesting job was for Coors. No, I did not make the beer, I just drank it. My job was classified and we made nuclear fuel for a rocket system. Our team (with side arms) made midnight runs to a country airport to load DC-3s with our products.

At last! Graduation! Hurrah! Now the real work begins and I joined Standard Oil of California as a design and construction engineer. I traveled the country designing and building pipelines, crude oil marine terminals, chemical plants, refinery plants, lube oil plants and marketing facilities. I got my first clue that I would be retired in the not too distant future when I walked into the company museum and saw the model of one of my plants on display.

Goodbye, Chevron; Hello, SIR! Our branch activities are great. I am completing my eighteenth year as the Rubber Bridge Chairman and Co-Chairman because I enjoy playing bridge regardless of my skills. I also enjoy my participation in golf, cribbage, Explore and Eat, Dine-out and Travel   “Ain’t Retirement Grand?!”

Dave Sutton,  Co-chair – $UMs in Retirement (Area 2 activity) & Branch Auditor

I collect money and do name tags and other admin work; Tom Henry of Branch 174 gets the speakers and runs the meetings.

I was born in Milwaukee, WI 80 years ago and also lived in Lansing MI and South Bend IN when I was a kid. By time for high school, we returned to Milwaukee and I eventually graduated from the U of Wisconsin (Madison) with a BBA in Accounting.

The day after graduation in June 1960, I was on active duty in the Army at Ft Riley KS. After some training stints, my wife and I wound up in Heidelberg Germany where I spent 3 ½ years in the Signal Corps, then back to the US for eventual discharge as a captain. Next we moved to the Bay Area in 1964 where I have lived ever since, mostly in my home in Concord, and mostly without my now ex-wife. I have no kids. 

As a civilian, I started off working for Ernst & Ernst (Big 8 accounting firm) where I earned my CPA. After that a series of financial jobs (controller, treasurer, CFO) mostly at small local companies and one public one with branches in Europe. It was a very interesting and varied career in a variety of industries: audio visual sales, high tech scientific instruments, equipment leasing, and two bio type start-ups, one of which still exists as a division of a public company.

My hobbies include travel, photography, camping and singing. I’ve done a lot of overseas travel, most recently in Spain and Portugal. Last summer with my significant other, Andree Moran, we took a 9,200 mile, 62 day cross-country road trip to the East Coast and back. I go on several car camping trips a year and am part of the leadership of a Sierra Club camping group. I sing barbershop and choral music, and am currently active in two choruses in Danville: Chromatica (where I serve as treasurer) and Blackhawk.

I greatly enjoy my SIR activities which include Astronomy, Car Enthusiasts, Computers and Technology and of course $UMs, along with wine tastings, dine outs and travel. I just began a stint as an auditor of Branch 8 finances.  

John Sutton, Chairman – DanSIRs 

John was a Coast Guard brat until his Dad and Mom eventually settled in St. Petersburg, Florida when he was ten. He graduated from the University of Florida with a BSEE in ’66 and migrated to Chicago-Land. Working while attending Northwestern University, he graduated with his MSEE ’68.  Along the way, he snow skied in the Mid-West and sailed Hobie Cats and played tennis when he returned to live in Florida. He continued working as an engineering project manager in Florida and became the first engineer hired at a Nokia funded startup.

Ready for a change at age 40, John left the humidity and Florida culture to return to the SF Bay Area where his Dad had once been stationed. John joined another startup in Petaluma before joining Science Applications as a satellite communications engineer and land mobile radio (used by first responders) engineer. At the same time he became a member of the Social Committee for the Shipmates singles group based in Lafayette and developed friendships with other singles who shared similar interests. It was at a Shipmates party in 1993 that he first met his wife Terry and happily married 4 years later. The last five years of his career John travelled about working on homeland security projects with first responder agencies.

John’s current interests include public service, pickleball, and overseas travel. He is also President of his Home Owners Association. John’s immediate family is a son and grandson in San Diego and a sister back east. Among SIR activities John is chairman or the DanSIRs, and operates the Guest Welcoming table at the monthly luncheons.

Jim Warner, Chairman- Bargain Wines

I began my life in Pasadena, CA only to move to Berkeley, CA at 6 months of age. I attended all public schools graduating Berkeley High in the fall of 1957. At graduation I looked at colleges in CA asthe money was tight and decided upon San Jose State. I figured it was the right distance away from home and excellent for a Bus. major.

During my senior year, I met my future wife Sandy who was a few years my junior and we just celebrated our anniversary.

A month prior to graduation I received my draft notice and decided not to jeopardize the degree and joined the Army National Guard. After spending 6 months in Fort Ord, CA I was released into “real life” returning home to figure out how I was going to make a living. I did a number of interviews with large firms and found the jobs being offered were never in CA. I did not like the idea of working for a huge corporation anyway, so limited my pursuit to the Bay Area.  

A friend of the family had recommended Moore Business Forms as a good sales training option, so I opted to give it a try. In hindsight, the training was good and I lasted four years but realized it was too regimented for me so started looking again. I found my new venture with a company called Tab Products Co. in 1967 which was at the fore-front of the lateral filing & color coding industry.        

We started a family in 1969 with our first daughter and had two more daughters in short time. We now enjoy 5 grandkids and travel often to Colorado or Oregon to visit.                                         

While I enjoyed a fruitful and enjoyable time at TAB, wanted a future and at least a partial ownership which was not offered. I then became determined to start my own business specializing in most of the same products as well as business forms. JAK Enterprises began and still operates in a limited fashion. I took early retirement in 1994 and Sandy and I started to do some traveling. We tried various ocean & river cruises and enjoyed both. We also followed two of our daughters who were traveling in Europe with a group called Up With People.                                                                                                     I joined SIR in the fall of 2009 and got involved with the 18 hole golf group and two of the wine groups taking over as chairman of Bargain Wines and Assist Chair of Cellar Fillers.

Thom Watkins, Chairman – Woodpeckers

I started out as a child…in August of 1940.

I grew up in a household full of women: my mother and three older sisters; even the dog and cat were female. My poor dad was really overwhelmed.

Between my wife, Paula and I, we have seven children, one foster child, 8 grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

My hometown is Washington, D.C.; where I went to high school (McKinley Technical High School) and college (Catholic University of America – where, by the way, the Pope is the Chancellor). I started college at age 16 and graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

I ultimately joined the U.S Air Force to avoid being drafted by the Army. I received my commission through OCS, after finishing Electronics Officer Training, I was assigned to a Titan I missile wing at Lowry Air Force Base in Colorado. The Wing was deactivated, and I was assigned to the 303rd Bomb Wing in Tucson, Arizona where my new Commander recommended me for navigator training. I eventually ended up in the 416th Bomb Wing as a radar navigator on a B52H long-range bomber. I flew several missions over Viet Nam and served in Viet Nam on the ground operating an intelligence-gathering site close to the border. I also served a tour as a Titan II Missile Crew Commander in Little Rock, Arkansas. I retired from the Air Force at Travis Air Force Base after 20 years and 24 days (yes, I counted).

I went to graduate school at Golden Gate University in San Francisco earning a BA in Management and an MBA. I worked for Pac Bell (known at the time as Pacific Telephone and Telegraph) and later at AT&T as a Cost Engineer. After 18 years, I took a buyout. I taught classes in Engineering, Business, and Economics at Solano College in Fairfield. Also, during my last two years at Solano, I served as Dean of my Department. I retired, again, in December 2015.

Since 2019, I taught Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry at De La Salle High School in Concord, where my Stepson went, and our grandson just graduated. As of the end of the school year that ended June 2022, I will just be a “substitute on-call.” Back to retirement…again.

Ray de Wit was my sponsor into SIR in 2015. I have served the branch as a Director in our BEC and as Activity Coordinator in the ACC.  Woodworking is my hobby, and it led me to start a woodworking activity in the branch known as “Woodpeckers.” I am a member of the SIR Regional Fishing Group activity and a member of Sirs in the Kitchen.

Dan Weller, Chairman – Bowling & Chairman -Heads Up Walkers

I was born and raised in Spokane, Washington. I was 16 when my parents move to Lakewood, Calif. There was a major culture shock moving from a small isolated city to the smog-polluted Los Angeles basin.

I received a BS degree in Electrical Engineering after spending two years at Loyola University of LA and 2 ½ years at Long Beach State, aka Cal State Long Beach.

I could not find a job as an EE, so I accepted a programmer position at North American Aviation in Downey, CA. To my wonderment, NAA was the prime contractor for the Apollo Program. I spent 11 years working on programs and databases that supported the Apollo and Space Shuttle program. Very cool.

We moved to Walnut Creek in 1976 to work at Crocker Bank in SF. I was at Crocker for 10 years, then Fireman’s Fund for three years, and then with APL for 16 years. I spent most of my career on data-related topics, such as database design, data modeling and data architecture.

Carol and I got married in 1967 and we are looking forward to our 50th anniversary in a few years. We have two daughters and five grandchildren.

I have several interests and hobbies. The earliest one is bowling. I started in high school, bowled for the CSULB intercollegiate team, and a few work sponsored leagues. I was not able to bowl in the last 20 years of working. One of the reasons I joined SIR was their extensive bowling program.

My other interests are woodworking, woodturning, hiking, and computer system design and programming.

SIR has invigorated my pent up technical talents. I have been able to design, program, test, implement, and be a user of a web-based integrated database system that supports many Branch 8 functions.

In addition to my Activity Chair and AMS duties, I am the Hotline Coordinator / Editor, and I a member of the Activity Coordination Committee. I am also on the SIR State Infosys team and I’m the web master for the SIR State Bowling website.

I am very glad to have joined SIR. I have made many new friends both in Branch 8 and in several other branches. And, my various SIR positions have helped make my retirement very

Larry Yarberry, Chairman – Traveling Sirs

I was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to California when I was six years old.  When I started school I was put into a speech class to get rid of my Brooklyn accent.  My dad was in the Navy and I attended 11 different schools in my 12 years.  I graduated from San Francisco State University and have a BS degree with a major in Accounting.

We moved from San Francisco to Concord in 1967.  I went to work for Southern Pacific Railroad in 1964 as an auditor.  I worked for Southern Pacific for 33 years and retired as their Chief Finance Officer and a member of the Board of Directors.  After retiring I worked as a consultant for another Transportation Company.  I worked there for 10 years leaving as their Chief Finance Officer. I am married to my wife Holley for 53 years and we have 3 children and 7 grandchildren.

I enjoy Sirs and their activities, golf, wine tasting, couples activities.  I have been Asst. Treasurer, Treasurer and now Travel Chairman.  I have been a member for 5 years.

Updated on 5/17/23 by dda.