Park City Rotary names new president
July 1, 2006
Like many Southern California newlyweds in 1975, Jim Lea and his new wife were carefree. He had just graduated from Loyola Marymount with a business degree, but ask Lea what he did for a job and "surf bum" is what he would say.
For their honeymoon, they decided against the typical weeklong trip to Mexico or Hawaii and choose to go camping for almost 60 days. They took off in Lea’s red and white 1968 Volkswagen bus and cruised Highway 101 along the coast northward to Canada.
When they came back to the States, they stopped in Montana, at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Steamboat, Colo., and then found themselves in Park City.
One look at the mountains and they fell in love. By the time they left Park City to head back to California, they had found a house. After Lea got a job working as a Park City bellboy, they left to get their things so they could be back for his first day of work two weeks later.
"We were looking for a resort to move to so we could get out of Southern California and get out of the traffic," Lea said. "At the time, there wasn’t even a traffic signal in Park City, so it was perfect."
Now, 31 years later, Lea is the president of the Park City Chapter of Rotary International a worldwide organization of business people in their local communities that network and serve.
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"Basically it’s a service organization that is geared toward the betterment of the community," he said. "The theory of Rotary itself, it that the members, be they male or female, all come from different parts of the community and network. In networking for business purposes, they do service projects to help others."
Lea, who has worked in real estate since the year after he first moved to Park City, will serve as the president for a one-year term. Sally Elliott served as president from July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006.
"I guess since it’s a volunteer organization we like to keep everyone involved and active, so it only being a one-year term is one of the main criteria," Lea said. "You get nominated by a number of past presidents, or you just happen to miss the meeting either way, it’ll be you next."
Lea is president over one of the 40 clubs in Utah, and one of two in Park City. With about 85 members, Lea said Park City is an unusually business-oriented community for its size. The Rotary is in 168 different countries and has 1.2 million members worldwide.
"It’s a national, but more importantly an international, organization," Lea said. "One year from now the International Rotary Convention will be in Salt Lake City. That’s a huge deal for us and for Salt Lake."
Lea estimates 20,000-plus will be attendees at the conference that was supposed to have been in New Orleans, but after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area, Salt Lake won the bid to host it instead.
Lea said his goal as president will be to encourage Rotary members in Park City to attend, but also to participate in other local projects.
"I guess my duties include overseeing our local projects, among which is one of our primary activities of producing the Miner’s Day Parade and events after that. We find out about projects by meeting weekly and having a weekly lunch. In that lunch someone in the community comes in and gives a presentation about s project that might be of interest."
The meetings, which usually attract about 60 of the 85 local members, help Lea choose what projects to do, but also give him a chance to meet and network with other business owners, many of which are new to the area.
"I look at my position as president as wanting to merge the tradition of the Park City Rotary Club with the old and new members," he said. "If there’s any unique factor with me it’s that I’ve been a member of the Rotary Club here for 20 years so I bring the experience and tradition of the club."
Lea is no stranger to leadership positions that require him to bring the young and old together. He has had the unique privilege to serve as the president of the Park City Board of Realtors twice.
"Having been a Realtor in Park City for 29 years, I think maybe only six people here have more tenure than I do," he said. "I was here before million dollar properties were even a glimmer in one’s eye, so obviously it’s been entertaining to watch the growth in the community, including my own son coming back from college in California to work in real estate right here beside me. I guess he’s just got the genes."