Those of us in the Bakersfield business community recognized early on the creativity and wit of Dr. Jack Hernandez — 46 years ago — as members of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield West.

A tradition in Rotary is not to install an incoming president but rather to demote — in good humor — each outgoing president to the office of vice president. Six months after my demotion, my successor, Peter Steiner — like Jack, a college administrator, accepted a position at a university in another state. Therefore, he had to resign in the middle of his term.

What to do?

A demotion doesn’t work. Pete won’t be around to serve in the lower office.

Jack had the answer. A trial! He drafted a list of “charges” that were a series of clever, creative, positive and humorous back-handed compliments.

As prosecutor, Jack conducted a trial at Noriega Hotel with all members and spouses present as jurors (and for dinner) to witness Jack’s incriminating and entertaining trial of Pete.

It was hilarious — as only Hernandez could create. He is missed.

— John Pryor, Bakersfield