The Phoenix-Camelback Rotary Club is holding its annual Boots-N-Saddles event on April 7. In its 22nd year, it features dinner, live and silent auctions, as well as great company from some amazing people. The funds raised at this event go to support their main beneficiary, Feed Our Babies, USA, and their secondary recipient, the Cuernavaca, Mexico, Clean Drinking Water Rainwater Capture Project.   
This year, the Boots-N-Saddles event is extra special, as they honor their founder, Dr. Dave Utzinger, who passed away suddenly in January. Everyone who knew him, no matter how long, wanted to be like Dave.
Dave Utzinger was originally a member of the Scottsdale Club, but left it in 1974 to start the Phoenix-Camelback club from scratch. Dave was a true Rotarian. He loved Rotary and talked to everyone about it. He treated the club like it was his baby and quickly grew it to 48 members. It was a vibrant Rotary club, even to the point of being considered raucous on some occasions. Dave and the members of Phoenix-Camelback Rotary enjoyed visiting other clubs, going on skiing and fishing trips and just having fun together. One particularly memorable trip spoken of by Bernie Pollack was a week-long trip to visit a Rotary Club in Reno, Nevada. Another time, Dave found out that Bernie didn’t like mariachi music, so he purposely hired a mariachi band for Bernie’s birthday.   Hanging out with Dave Utzinger was always an experience to remember.
Dave Utzinger had a vivacious and infectious laugh.bHe was a very genuine person, and always had a good time. With Dave, the glass was always half-full, and no matter what he did or where he went, it was always the best experience he ever had. He was full of adventure and said yes to everything, from a railroad trip across Russia, to heli skiing. He would search out interesting and exciting things to do. Kathy Calhoun, of our Club, spoke of a trip to Australia and New Zealand she and her husband John had been on with Dave when they had been on a bus ride. They found out that they could take a small plane back, and she remembers Dave said to John, “Hey, let’s do that!”
Dave Utzinger was an amazing example of living life to the fullest. He loved going fishing in Alaska. And skiing. Dave loved skiing so much he even had an app on his phone that tracked his speed, distance and height.  
Not only was Dave active in Rotary, but he was very active within the dental community. He volunteered for Mission of Mercy, which last year provided $2,000,000 worth of dental care for some 1,800 patients. He served on the dental board and was past president of the Arizona State Dental Association. He hired the first state dental director several years ago, and was devoted to mentoring and imparting his high standards to everyone he worked with. Dave was also a member of the International College of Dentistry and the American College of Dentistry, which are organizations honoring approximately 2 percent of dentists nationwide.    
As a dentist, Dr. Dave had a large and thriving dental practice. His patients trusted him and stayed with him for many years. One of his patients, Tina Stefek, was so impacted by Dr. Dave that she came to work for him in his practice in 2001. It was then that Dr. Dave taught her to ski. Dave loved skiing so much that he scheduled dental conventions around skiing trips. Even though she had never been skiing before, she trusted him enough to let him teach her to ski on a Black Diamond run. Besides teaching her how to ski, Dave taught her much about embracing life.   
And embrace life is what Dave Utzinger did, right up until his very last day. He was sincerely interested in learning about the families and careers of the people he knew.  He truly cared about people, and never had an unkind word to say. He was very involved in community service projects and organizations. In addition to Rotary, Dave went down to Rocky Point, Mexico, many times to build homes with Homes for Hope, and even at 75 was climbing up and down ladders and up onto roofs.
Dave Utzinger embodied Rotary values, and he put his beliefs into action. Phoenix-Camelback Rotary Club is built around Dave Utzinger’s compassion for people. Their beneficiaries reflect that compassion. Feed Our Babies USA helps feed thousands of families in need throughout the year. Their mission is to bring community resources together to develop and implement a sustainable, nutritious food source for hungry families, one school district at a time. Through the Food Pantry space graciously provided by Monte Vista Church of the Nazarene, Feed Our Babies has provided up to two week’s worth of emergency food boxes to over 350 families. Feed Our Babies also provides a Weekend Lunch program to school children in the serviced school districts and an end of school market to assist food insecure families in their transition into the summer months when school is not in session and school lunches are not available. A Spring Farmers Market and Produce on Wheels events enable the local community to access up to 50 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for only $10. Feed Our Babies also serves food boxes to seniors, and Thanksgiving boxes filled with a frozen turkey and enough food and traditional fixings for a family of four. In 2017, partnered with local businesses and community leaders, Feed Our Babies provided Thanksgiving meals to over 1,000 families. 
This past year, the club partnered with the Cuernavaca/Juarez Rotary Club of Mexico to build a rainwater capture system that will provide clean drinking water to school children and their families in the town of Texcal, Mexico. Texcal has many challenges with providing clean water to its citizens from the nearby reservoir. By working with a local pre-school and grade school and its administration, Rotary has been able to develop a rainwater harvesting system to help offset those challenges. The rainwater capture system has been developed from a partly cookie-cutter and partly custom design, similar to systems utilized in Oaxaca and other towns in Mexico. In addition to having access to clean drinking water while at school, this program enables the students to bring a jug to school so that they may take the water home to their families. When completed, the Texcal Rainwater Harvesting Project will serve approximately 400 school children and their families. Phoenix-Camelback Rotary and Eric Friend of the Cuernavaca Rotary have worked hard to bring this project from conception, through planning, and moving toward execution. Our Rotary Club has contributed to the funding of this project, as well as worked with Eric Friend to acquire matching grants from the Rotary Foundation. The club is excited to watch it come to life in 2018.  
Dr. Dave Utzinger was an active member of Rotary right up until his death in January.  He truly was a great example to all who knew him, and the club will not be the same without him. It is with great respect and love that members says “I want to be like Dave.”  The Phoenix-Camelback Rotary club will continue Dave Utzinger’s legacy, with as much passion and zest for life as he did.   
Jenn Vetri – Phoenix-Camelback Rotary Club