Roland ‘Coach Roe’ Williams named Optimist governor for 2014 term

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By Randy Patrick

Bardstown City Councilman Roland Williams, a former president of the Bardstown Optimist Club, has been elected the Optimist International governor for Kentucky and West Virginia.

Williams was sworn in as governor-designate on Aug. 23 in Charleston, W. Va., and will officially begin his one-year term Oct. 1.

“I’m very excited about assuming the position of governor for our district,” Williams said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for our team to give back to our respective communities and to the Optimist organization.”

He said his goals for his term are to increase membership in the district, promote Optimist International and local programs and activities, “re-energize the membership base to serve more children,” develop future leaders and “create a strong sense of pride in being an Optimist.”

He defined the club’s vision as “providing hope and positive visions for kids.”

As president, he will work with the lieutenant governors of seven zones to oversee the day-to-day operations of the district, he said.

Susan Runan of Louisville was named lieutenant governor of the zone that includes Bardstown and four other clubs.

Williams is the third governor of the district from Bardstown. The others were Clifford Pash, who served from 1961 to 1962, and John Burris, who served from 1958 to 1959.

The Bardstown Optimist Club began in 1955.

Ken Distler, a member of the Bardstown club for about 20 years, was named the district secretary-treasurer for the 2014-2015 term.

He said Williams will be a good president.

“He’s a very organized, meticulous person,” Distler said. “He won’t express his opinion until he reaches a decision. He wants to hear from everybody.”

Williams has been a member of the Bardstown club since 2009 and served as its president in the 2010-2011 term.

The Optimist International mission is to “provide hope and vision” needed to “bring out the best in kids.”

The club sponsors children’s activities including essay and oratory contests, fishing derbies, Tri-Star basketball and golf programs, toy drives and classes on Internet safety.