Our Views: Highlighting the contributions of one very special person and Rotarian


There are few people who day after day, week after week, indeed, year after year, so completely embody the Rotary slogan — “Service above self.”

The Chronicle Editorial Board would like to highlight one such person. Anil Puri is a Twin Cities Rotarian here in our community who so perfectly exemplifies this slogan. Anil and his wife, Teresa, live in Centralia where they raised their family.

Anil has been an active Rotarian since 1987. In fact, he was one of the charter members of the Twin Cities Rotary Club. Anil holds both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. He had a long career at the large coal mine and steam plant in Centralia and retired after 40 years of service. During that time, he was a highly trusted and respected employee by both the staff at TransAlta and the many external vendors and suppliers he worked with to support such a huge operation.

Anil’s family has strong and extensive roots in India. A few years ago, the Twin Cities Rotary Club partnered with a club in Uttar Pradesh State to remodel and upgrade a school cafeteria that served many poor children. Then, two years ago, in another act of service, Anil returned to India and participated in a massive polio immunization day, administering polio vaccine drops to children in a slum.

On Jan. 13, 2023, the World Health Organization determined that India completed 12 polio-free years ­­­ — a remarkable achievement that was made as a result of consistent, determined efforts and genuine commitment at all levels. That’s thanks in part to Mr. Puri and others like him.

Currently, Anil is leading a joint effort of Twin Cities and Gosford Rotary in Australia to construct a new building at an existing school in a poor part of the Philippines. Students will be using this facility by year’s end to learn about information technology.

Perhaps most notably, when Russia recently attacked Ukraine, Anil heard that the people of Poland were making remarkable efforts to provide assistance. He looked at maps and identified a Polish city near the border and on a major highway from Ukraine. Anil then researched and located the name of the Rotary Club in Zamosc Ordynacki as well as the name of the club president.

He placed a phone call and connected with the president. What followed were a series of calls, with help from a translator in London, and the president of both the Zamosc Ordynacki Club and the president of the Kyiv, Ukraine, club. Those conversations resulted in well over $100,000 in support provided to the Poles, who then purchased selected goods and delivered them to Ukraine. In addition, they provided help to some of the thousands of refugees who had escaped to Poland. The small city of Zamosc, population 65,000, has helped over 200,000 refugees.

As a result of Anil’s incredible leadership, the Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island also joined the effort and is focused on winter clothing for children and adults helping them survive the typically harsh winter of the area.

On Jan. 19 of this year, Anil received a very special honor when the visiting Rotary District Governor read and presented Anil with recognition from the Kyiv, Ukraine, Rotary Club. This award thanked him for organizing the incredible support that helped so many people in desperate need, such as war can create. Notably, the Kyiv Club has awarded these only to those who have gone well above and beyond during the war to help them help so many others.

Anil’s efforts here in Southwest Washington also spread through our Rotary District, the largest in the Western hemisphere, as he has also served as the assistant district governor assisting seven clubs in Southwest Washington.

Twin Cities Rotary, Anil and a number of his family here in the U.S. have all made important financial contributions to a number of projects.

In addition, Anil is also a diligent ramp constructor as the Twin Cities Rotary Club has built or repaired over two dozen ramps for local citizens.

Anil is a great example of the difference one person can make. We thank him for his contributions here and abroad.