Mary Stitt, Sunrise Rotary Club of Arlington Heights

Mary Stitt’s dual passions are literacy and polio eradication. After retiring as an elementary school principal, she joined Rotary.

She’s gone on international immunization missions seven times, and counting.

Mary Stitt served as principal of an Arlington Heights grade school for 25 years. After she retired in 1992, Olive Mary Stitt Elementary School was renamed in honor of her outstanding leadership. But Stitt didn’t stop there. Always active in church and community service, she then joined Sunrise Rotary Club of Arlington Heights.

As a member, she has written numerous successful matching grant applications for projects such as a water pumping system in Chile, sanitation facilities in India, and wheelchairs for polio victims in Nigeria. She serves on the district literacy committee, and has hosted international exchange students in her home and collected books for South African schools.

Stitt also keeps her passport current. She’s been almost everywhere except Antarctica. Church volunteer work includes laying bricks at a school in Zimbabwe and cleaning monastery grounds in Moscow. Through Rotary, she has participated in seven medical missions to immunize children against polio in India, Niger and Nigeria. She pays her own expenses, although she sometimes bunks with native Rotarians.

“With Rotary, you work with Rotarians, and I like what they accomplish,” she says. “It’s service over self, rather than focusing on me.”

During her spare moments, you’ll often find Stitt on Facebook. “That’s how I keep up with all the children who went to Olive and now have families of their own,” she says.