Good Deeds: Longtime Rotarian keeps quiet about active volunteer life

07/27/2014 1:28 PM

08/06/2014 1:09 PM

When Dave Marteney reads to children in the classroom, he makes it more of a stage production.

“When I read, I give them sound effects,” Marteney, 86, said, “and do it with my voice. If it’s got a little suspense, I build a little suspense as we go along.”

Marteney, a 50-year member of the Rotary of Wichita downtown chapter, was instrumental in getting the club involved in the national nonprofit Reading Is Fundamental, which aims to motivate young people to read by distributing books to students across the country.

Three times a year, the downtown Rotary – a service organization made up of nearly 400 Wichita professionals – distributes books to kindergarten through fifth-graders, and members read to classrooms in an effort to get students excited about reading. The mission is in the name, said Marteney, president of Kansas Wholesale Lumber in Wichita.

“In many of the cases, almost all of them, it’s the only book in the house,” he said. “If you don’t read, you might as well not know how. If you do read, the whole world opens up for you. The more you read the more smart you get.”

Kurt Harper, a Wichita attorney and past club president, described Marteney as “unassuming” and “dedicated” to his volunteer endeavors.

“He does a lot and then you find out later all that he did,” Harper said. Marteney is “actively involved, but somehow quietly enough that he lets everyone else do their part.”

During the holidays, Marteney rings bells in front of grocery stores for the Salvation Army, taking the last of the shifts. “It’s pretty cold,” he said.

He’s taken in foreign exchange visitors including a woman from South Africa. Marteney was instrumental, Harper said, in getting the local Rotary involved in Rotary International’s Polio Plus to eliminate polio worldwide. He’s been on every committee in the Rotary Club but one, he said, because he hasn’t “embarrassed too many people.”

Marteney’s “quick wit” makes him a delight to work with, Harper said.

With 50 years of service to the club, Marteney said he has seen the city and the Rotary grow. Marteney and 20-year Rotarian Sheryl Wohlford recently received the Service Above Self award for 2014. It’s the people, Marteney said, that keep him coming back.

“I enjoy the activities that they have and I enjoy the people that are there,” he said. “I enjoy their company.”

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