Region II, District 4, Division C, Area C-4, Club #1435


Chartered on February 1, 1980, SRI Organon Toastmasters is a local club of Toastmasters International. The goal of the club is to improve speaking and leadership skills of the members through practice and evaluation.
The following essays provide some insights into the history of the club.

In the Beginning: Reminiscences of our Charter President.

by Esmond Lyons – From the Organon, February 1990.

Like the little kid said to his mother, “Don’t blame me. Ma, it was her fault!” In the case of the SRI Organon Toastmasters Club, “her” happened to be Ellen Burgess. She made me do it. In late 1979, Ellen and I were both members of Early Risers Toastmasters Club. It met at 6:30 a.m. in the bar of the old Stickney’s Restaurant on El Camino Real in Palo Alto. Ellen suggested that SRI could use a Toastmasters club and that with my experience in forming new clubs and her experience as a journalist, we would have no trouble starting one.
My reaction was less than enthusiastic. First, I was relatively new at SRI, concentrating on keeping my sold time up (and my head down), which I was told was the secret to longevity at the Institute. I didn’t think I could spare the time that I knew it would take to get a new club started. Second, I knew there had been at least two earlier attempts to start a club at SRI, without success. I so who were we to think that we would be able to make it go? What bothered me most, was that I had always been rather negative about “company clubs.” It had been my experience that cooperate clubs frequently turn out to be cliquish and lack the diversity of membership that helps make clubs and their meetings interesting.
Following a good deal of prodding from Ellen, and her solemn vow that she would use her best efforts as editor of several SRI periodicals to publicize the forthcoming club, I succumbed to her arguments that a club at SRI would hardly lack diversity in its membership that helps make clubs and their meetings interesting.
The TGIF Management Club in Santa Clara agreed to supply the members necessary to conduct a “typical” Toastmasters meeting for us. What a great meeting it was! The publicity generated so much attention that we had nearly 50 potential members at that first meeting. By the next meeting, a week latter, 28 had signed applications for membership and had paid dues. With well over the 20-member minimum required, we immediately submitted our paperwork for the club charter. We were off and running.
The first few weeks of a club’s life after the initial euphoria subsides is critical. It can be tedious going through a schedule of 28 icebreaker speeches, with evaluators who are just beginning to develop their skills. SRI Organon survived that period very well. One important factor was the continuing support from the good folks ant TGIF and assistance from Guy Ferry and his friends at the Jet Stream Toastmasters Club. They were always willing (with just a little coercion) to supply experienced speakers and evaluators as role modes of the right way to perform major assignments.
Equally important were the four Toastmasters who became charter members: the always-ready-to-help Dean Babcock, the ever-present John Herndon, the effervescent Ruth Lizak, and the reliable Roy Sutton (who succeeded me as Club Precedent and did a great job). Roy always kept meetings interesting and rewarding for the new members.
The other important ingredient for the early success of the new club was the enthusiastic participation and support of the early members. There were so many! However, nonce can compare to the master herself, Susan Swope. Very few Toastmasters have made the contributions and sacrifices that Susan has, or have gone as high in the international organization. I commend and admire her as a Past District 4 Governor and deeply appreciate her contributions to the club.
I have been very pleased with the success of SRI Organon over the years. It is always exhilarating to see the improvement that neophyte Toastmasters make as they progress through the program—to watch them develop and demonstrate their new communication skills. Starting SRI Organon Toastmasters turned out to be a lot of work – much more than I anticipated. Still, I’m glad “she made me do it.” If I had another opportunity, and I could be assured that I would have the same quantity and quality of talented individual come forward and become members, I would do it all over again!

The Spirit of Karl Lind

By Doris Tse – From the Organon, May 1992.

Karl Edward Lind joined SRI Organon in April 1982. He served the club as President, Educational Vice President, and Sergeant-at-Arms for three consecutive terms. He was Assistant Area Governor for 1985 and Area Governor in 1986. Even when he was not an officer, he usually came early to help set up the room. He encouraged frequent use of audio and video recordings in the meetings. He was an exceptionally enthusiastic and active Toastmaster. He completed and won several Evaluation and Humorous speech contents, and helped start a new Toastmasters Club in Half Moon Bay. Because he did so much for the club, in 1983, the club created a “Best New Member Award” just for him. He completed his CTM is September that same year and his ATM in June of 1986. Karl had fulfilled all of the requirements for the Distinguished Toastmasters Award when he died in 1987. His award was presented posthumously to his mother in 1988 at the club’s 8th Anniversary luncheon.
Karl’s icebreaker was not impressive, he spoke too fast and he did not control his voice very well. But within a short time, both his speeches and his presentations were very much refined because he worked hard at it. Because he was interested in so many things, he mad much to speak about at any time. That made him an excellent last-minute substitute speaker.
Karl participated in many activities at the club, and division levels. He was always willing to help his fellow Toastmasters and his club to achieve success. He was inspirational and a positive role model for all Toastmasters.
Karl was born on December 12, 1941, in Detroit, Michigan. He was from a family of Swedish, Polish, and German decent and proud of it. He graduated from Wayne High School and he attended Michigan State University before he came to California in 1966.
His first job in California was as Manager at Playland Model Car Company. He worked there for five years. He then worked as a Field Service Engineer at Dictaphone Company for two years. He joined SRI in July 1973 as an Engineering Assistant in the Technical Services Department. According to his supervisor, he was an exceptionally good work. In 1984, he and his Department were proud that he was elected Chairman of the Institute Staff Advisory Group. Karl never stopped learning. While he was working at SRI, he took courses toward his college degree from San Francisco State University, Foothill College, and San Jose State University.
No one had a broader range of interests than Karl. He was a licensed HAM radio operator, he loved electronics and sciences, and he designed and built a computer-processing microwave astronomy telescope all by himself. According to Karl himself, that last project was “self funded.” He liked listening to extraterrestrial sounds and had a receiver dish setup on his trailer at SRI and another one permanently mounted on his house. Both were connected to computers which looked for sound wave patterns. He was a master at both chess and bridge. He played golf, table tennis, and volleyball. Karl also had a strong interest in broadcasting and video production. He was on over 20 national and local radio and TV programs.
Karl had a Type A personality. When he was set to do a certain thing, he would do it right. Once at a potluck Christmas party at Anne Peterson’s house he signed up to bring sandwiches but he brought all the ingredients to Anne’s house and made the individual sandwiches there because “that was the right way to make good sandwiches.”
Karl may be forever gone, but his winning attitude and Toastmaster spirit continue to live in the club.


By Judy Davis – From the first issue of the Organon, August 1981.

Those of us who were not charter members of SRI Organon Toastmasters have speculated about the meaning and origin of our club name. You may even have cleverly deduced (as I did) that it is a merger of the ever-present SRI “Org. No.” and “anonymous,” since we have no SRI org numbers. Wrong!
Webster defines “organon “ as an instrument for acquiring knowledge (from Gr. Organ, or tool). This unabridged dictionary elaborates: a body of methodological doctrine comprising principles for scientific or philosophic procedure or investigation. The parallels with goals of Toastmasters are obvious. We can thank former member Eileen Connolly for discovering this apt appellation.