The Rotary Club of Monrovia will honor two of its longstanding members on Tuesday November 5, 2013 at Cafe Opera in Monrovia. Herb Hezlep and Detro Sells each have over 50 years of service to the Monrovia community as members of the Monrovia Rotary club. Below is a brief bio of each member being honored:
Herbert Hezlep has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley. In 1950, he joined his father’s small hardware manufacturing company, Acme General Corporation, which eventually was expanded from its base in Monrovia, California, to Canada and Europe. Herb served as executive vice president, president, and chairman of the board before retiring in 1988. Active in his community, he has served as president and board member of the YMCA of Monrovia and board member of Huntington Medical Research Institutes in Pasadena.
Herb followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the Rotary Club of Monrovia in 1958. He became club president in 1964-65, district Group Study Exchange chair in 1967-68, and district conference chair in 1973. Herb has been an active supporter of the Group Study Exchange program over the years and considers it his favorite Rotary Foundation program.
Herb and Elizabeth have been married for over 57 years. They have four children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandson. Liz is a retired society editor for the local newspaper and remains active with the Luminaires, a support group for the Doheny Eye Institute. Herb and Liz support The Rotary Foundation through the Herb Hezlep Endowed Fund.
Detro Sells was inducted into Rotary Club of Monrovia in 1962 and served as President in 1982-1983.
He graduated from Williamsport, Indiana high school and moved to Detroit looking for work. There he met Bliss, and they were married in 1941. When WW II came to the USA, Detro joined the Marines. An exceptional marksman, he was ultimately assigned to the defending headquarters unit for Admiral Nimitz of the United States Navy. His unit served in Hawaii and Guam and other locations. Bliss had returned to Indiana while Detro finished his tour of duty.
After the war, Detro and Bliss traded their home and furnishings in Williamsport for a 1947 Pontiac and trailer and headed west. They arrived in California in 1949, staying first with relatives in Temple City. Work after the war was very difficult to find but Detro had some skill working on radio cabinets.
During a job search he heard about California Furniture in Monrovia. He and Bliss visited the town and found ‘an open city with people out and about.’ Detro met the owner of California Furniture, a Rotarian named Neil Hunter. Neil offered Detro a job paying $55 a week; a few years (and hopefully a few raises) later, Detro became a partner in the firm. After Hunter’s retirement, Detro and Bliss opened Sells Furniture at 627 S. Myrtle in 1960, and in 1962 Detro joined The Rotary Club of Monrovia sponsored by Neil Hunter. Sells Furniture prospered until Detro’s own retirement at age 75, in 1997.
In addition to his term as President of the Rotary Club of Monrovia, Detro was President of the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce in 1976 and also served as Chairman of the Monrovia Merchants Association.
Bliss was ‘a jewel’ among the Rotary Anns, organizing blood drives for the Red Cross as well as bake sales and numerous club events. Detro’s favorite quote at his demotion was from Past District Governor and fellow Monrovia Rotarian George Carlson: “Detro, I don’t know whether to give this award [The George Carlson Award] to you or to Bliss.”
Detro and Bliss, married since 1941, have been a team of professional success for years. Detro and Bliss were blessed with four daughters: Georgia Jean; twins Sandra Leigh and Susan Marie; and Lana Gail. They have grandchildren and great grandchildren that can’t be counted on fingers and toes.