Jon Haapajoki

In Memory of Jon Haapajoki

Brian Skogen gave a wonderful eulogy in honor of our “Hop” and we are including the text for those who did not have the privilege of being there and hearing it.  Brian managed to capture the spirit of “Hop” and the spirit of Sertoma together as one.  May that spirit live forever in this Club.

Milo Johnson

My message this afternoon is at the request of Roz and her family — and on behalf of Sertoma — Roz called me Friday afternoon to ask if I would be willing to say a few words about Jon and his involvement with Sertoma.  My question to her was where to begin!!!!

I know one way to begin is to explain what Sertoma is NOT – in fact one of Jon’s greatest pleasures was correcting people who somehow found an extra “a” in the acronym and pronounced his service club SARATOMA.  It is Sertoma.  Sertoma stands for Service to Mankind.  It is an international service organization, with over 900 clubs throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico.  Sertoma’s sponsorship activities benefit local, and I stress LOCAL, individuals with speech and hearing impairments.

Where to begin — it would be too easy to only recite the offices Jon held with Sertoma regionally and internationally…  For our Brainerd Noon Club, Jon volunteered for many committees.  He began his course up the ranks of vice presidents.  Before he was to become our club president, volunteered to chair a regional convention to be held at Madden’s in 1988.

He was our District Governor, and our Regional Director (in Sertoma language that’s called an International Director).  Jon was then elected as an International Vice President three times before being elected International President.  At that time Sertoma had over 900 clubs and 28,000 members.

As Roz and I were talking, the most succinct way to describe Sertoma is actually to use Jon’s own well worn phrase..” We work hard, but we play harder!”  In 1988 when I joined the Club, I frankly had a hard time distinguishing between the two!!!  Working hard and playing harder…..

Jon simplified his philosophy in 1997 and 1998 for it was during that year that he served his term internationally — and in its simplification, Jon’s description of Sertoma became even more powerful — a man of many words, a many of many activities and involvement, a man who thought the bigger the better, the more the merrier, boiled it down to two words — SERTOMA WORKS.

Sertoma Works — through physical activity, a common goal, working together you can make a difference.  Too busy?  Stuck in your office?  Don’t know your neighbor?  Didn’t matter to Hop — you need to get yourself involved with Sertoma — meet 150+ people for lunch on Wednesday, sign up to clean the ditch up by BIR, cut wood for Camp Confidence, volunteer to perform hearing screenings at the Middle School, volunteer to prepare food for the Camp Confidence Mariucci Fiesta. Do you have a little musical talent?  Volunteer to travel a couple of hours for a performance.  It takes a couple of hours to set up your equipment and a couple of hours to perform.  It takes a couple of hours more to take down your equipment and a couple of hours to come home.  Then give the couple of thousand dollars away when you get back home because it was for fun!  The Swingin’ Sertomans do that a dozen or more times a year.

Jon simplified his slogan — but in doing so emphasized the point that because of our labor and work, others are benefiting, it works, our community is stronger, our network in the community is healthy, a fellow Sertoman is a friend, our youth have more of an opportunity to excel.  SERTOMA WORKS!!

On a local level, Jon challenged us to be better, bigger, stronger.  He wanted us to buck the trend of service clubs’ diminishing memberships and losing their focus.  I was the Club President during Jon’s tenure as International President.  It seemed that almost monthly I could count on some encouragement or a challenge if you will, that his Brainerd Noon Club could be larger than it was and rank higher than just fourth in size of all clubs in Sertoma.  As of this summer, Jon was happy to know that his Brainerd Noon Club had grown to 165 members and ranked third internationally!!!

Bigger was better for Jon — we also used to tease him that it must have been his experience with the Chamber that caused his eyesight change, his perception to magnify — where we say 500, Jon saw 1000.  “It could happen,” “We can do this,” were trademarks of Hopper’s encouraging remarks.

As mentioned in many of the articles and memories of Hop in the Dispatch this last week, the word vision was printed. Jon used his vision to mold Sertoma International.

Jon’s legacy as International President was to ensure that Sertoma International would continue to grow, in order to grow and stay vital it meant developing what is called the non-traditional club. Instead of a club like our Noon Club that meets weekly, a non-traditional club could meet once or twice a year, or quarterly, depending upon what their mission is.  Locally there are two such non-traditional clubs.  Most recently Camp Sertoma was formed in affiliation with CampConfidence.  Camp Sertoma’s focus is to help the speech and hearing-impaired youth.

The second mark that Jon left on the international scene is a product of Jon’s roots in education.  He felt it crucial that a formal training program be in place for incoming club officers to understand what is expected of them, and to hear how other clubs perform their duties, and most importantly, get goals for themselves as they become involved in Sertoma.

It is called Project LEAD for Leadership Education And Development.  Each new club officer in Sertoma is expected to attend a regional Project LEAD seminar before their term begins.  Project LEAD continues today and many people here with us are graduates.

Jon began to wind down his international involvement with Sertoma just over a year ago, and in fact, he and Bob Ehrich were looking forward to being able to go to a convention and have nothing to be responsible for!  Knowing Jon, you will agree with me — that would never have happened.

In closing, my intention was to give you some perspective into the depth of this man, how he affected our community, and our service club internationally.  I hope I have done that.  There is one other strength that we need to take note of this afternoon.  That is the insight he had to recognize strengths in others as well as what motivated others, making those around him, others feel important and close to him.  We all could take a lesson from that — there is no I in TEAM, everyone on the team is important!

With that strength Jon was able to mobilize forces, get the job done, and above all, have a good time doing it!  We will miss you Hop, but in your own way you will always be with us.

At Jon’s International President inaugural kickoff party in July of 1997, I was asked to say a few words on behalf of our club, I chose this blessing then, and it seemed fitting to me to include it as part of the service this afternoon.  Please bow your heads…….