Metcalfes record is one to aspire for

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

The number 49 is a rather lowly number by most accounts. Think about it. No one cares too much when you turn 49 years old. In that case another 12 months is enough to get all kinds of shenanigans pulled on you.

But at 49, you&8217;re not quite there. Since 48 isn&8217;t easily divided by anything except 7, its square root, the number isn&8217;t all that useful for doing math in your head, either. Anything that&8217;s actually around 49 can easily be rounded up to 50 or down to 48.

One may be the loneliest number, as the rock group Three Dog Night sang, but 49 has to be a distant second.

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In percentages, 49 percent isn&8217;t even halfway home. Were it a pie chart, it would be less than half a circle.

But in terms of any kind of a streak, 49 is pretty amazing.

Hit 49 basketball free throws in a row and most folks are impressed.

Even by today&8217;s chemically altered baseball star standards, 49 home runs in a season is pretty dog gone good.

Try this, however. What about 49 years of perfect attendance?

It&8217;s almost unfathomable to me.

But that&8217;s exactly what Natchez&8217;s Albert Metcalfe celebrated last week in the Natchez Rotary Club.

That&8217;s correct. Metcalfe has had 49 years of perfect attendance at the club.

For the math challenged among you, that&8217;s since 1957.

Despite the amazing feat, Metcalfe doesn&8217;t see what&8217;s so special about it.

&8220;I don&8217;t think this is particularly newsworthy,&8221; he said. &8220;Lots of people have good attendance.&8221;

But not that many people have made it a point to keep their attendance perfect.

Was it difficult for Metcalfe to be so vigilant about attendance through all those years?

&8220;No. I&8217;ve not had any sickness or anything that has precluded me from attending or anything,&8221; he said.

For those unfamiliar with Rotary, the civic club meets once a week. If a member is unable to attend that week&8217;s meeting, they have a short time period in which they can &8220;make up&8221; a meeting by attending another nearby club&8217;s meeting.

Metcalfe said that making up missed meetings was half the fun.

&8220;It&8217;s one of the richest experiences you&8217;ll have in Rotary,&8221; he said. &8220;In 1958, the year after I became a Rotarian, I had a 10-week trip to Europe and I made up Rotary and met people that I otherwise would have never met.&8221;

While Metcalfe is hesitant to take any credit for quickly approaching 50 years of perfect attendance, he is quick to talk about his passion with the Rotary Club: the Rotary Foundation.

The Foundation is a non-profit corporation that supports the work of Rotary International, of which the Rotary Club of Natchez is a member.

Last year the Foundation contributed approximately $100 million for all kinds of programs and projects throughout the world. One of the aims of all the projects is to promote better understanding and peace among people of different nations.

The Rotary Foundation through such things as scholarships it provides to the Group Study Exchange program, Metcalfe said, has touched many people in our community.

And he should know, he&8217;s been actively working with the Foundation for several decades.

&8220;My biggest pleasure has been working with these young people and learning what bright and attractive young people we have in this area,&8221; he said. &8220;We of course have three or four people in the club whose lives have been touched by the Group Study Exchange.&8221;

In a couple of months, Metcalfe and other Rotarians will be seeking out locals to participate in the Group Study Exchange.

&8220;We normally try to find young candidates about the end of the year,&8221; he said. &8220;For juniors in college, (the travel) sort of dovetails after their graduation.&8221;

If you want to know more about the Foundation or contribute to it, contact Metcalfe. Just don&8217;t call at noon on Wednesday. Most likely he&8217;ll be at the Rotary Club meeting working on the big 5-0.

Kevin Cooper

is associate publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or