EAST Presidential Gavel Box

In 2006, Michael F. Rotondo MD FACS, the 18th President of the Association commissioned Paul Gianino, a master cabinet maker from Greenville, North Carolina to create a box for the presidential gavel of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma. To this point, the gavel had been housed in a forest green fleece drawstring bag. At the writing of this, there was no institutional memory regarding the origin of the fleece bag. Upon receiving the gavel at the start of his presidency in 2005, Rotondo found this curious and decided to commission the design and construction of a more permanent home for the gavel.

Gianino, originally from Boston, Massachusetts, is a modern master taught exclusively by his father. He is nationally recognized as one of America’s most talented cabinet makers. He has extensive experience building such boxes for judges, heads of council and other leaders across the country. Under Rotondo’s guidance, he designed the box to hallmark both the organization as well as the time in which the box was constructed.

The box is made from 19th century Honduran mahogany with over 100 separate hand made parts. The top features the rising sun of EAST inlaid with burled elm on a background of Cuban mahogany framed in a rectangular band of holly. The sides of the box feature hand crafted raised panels. The cover of the box is attached with geometric gold plated stop hinges from the 1860’s. So that the gavel may be displayed with the cover open, an engraved sterling silver plate with the EAST insignia and the words, “The Presidential Gavel”, was applied to the inside cover and an internal glass dust cover was hinged into the box in a hand-crafted frame. Even the inside cover of the frame for the glass has original detailed beveled molding to hold it in place. The gavel and sound block sit in felt covered custom cradles. No traditional stains were used in the development of the piece but rather a series of acid washes applied in such a fashion that the darkness and richness of the wood is maximized. The finish is in simple shellac.

In an effort to hallmark the piece to the time and to EAST’s commitment to the care of our wounded warriors, Rotondo asked Colonel Donald H. Jenkins, United States Air Force and Joint Theater Trauma System Chief in the Iraq War at the time, to supply some remembrance of the conflict to incorporate into the design of the gavel box. Colonel Jenkins was serving on the EAST Board of Directors as Chairman of the Ad Hoc Military Committee. After a 210 day deployment throughout most of 2006, Jenkins returned with an SOF Technical Tourniquet used on a 22 year old United States Marine whose life was saved as a result of application of the device and subsequent operation by Commander Tracy R. Bilski, United States Navy and a member of EAST. In fact, a number of EAST members deployed at the time cared for this young marine throughout the echelons of care. The tourniquet was incorporated into the box by utilizing the aluminum rotation bar (twister) as a cover handle secured in place with a hand turned mahogany knob. If you examine the handle carefully, you can still see evidence of the marine’s dried blood encrusted in the grooves of the twister.  A piece of the tourniquet’s nylon strap was used to secure the gavel in its cradle and the tourniquet label was preserved to authenticate the piece.

The box was presented as a gift to the organization by Dr. Rotondo to Dr. Michael Pasquale, the 19th President of the association on the occasion of the gavel exchange to Dr. Kimberly Nagy, the 20th and first woman President of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma at the Scientific Assembly in 2007.