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Bud Switzer Honored as Citizen of the Year for 2006, Chamber Board Installed, van Dongens Recognized
Friday, Jan. 26, 2007
By Bill Coburn
The Chandelier Room at the Santa Anita Turf Club provided an elegant backdrop on Friday as nearly 125 people turned out to honor Bud Switzer as Citizen of the Year. Also on the agenda was the induction of the new members of the Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. And in a move that surprised the honorees, the Chamber also honored Frank and Ilona van Dongen of Harlequin Gallery for their 40+ years of business ownership in Sierra Madre. Entertainment for the evening was provided by the Southern California Lyric Theater Troubadours.
After a delicious dinner of grilled salmon, sautéed mushrooms, mashed potatoes and bok choy, the evening’s program began. Mayor John Buchanan was the evening’s emcee. He introduced the Troubadours, who performed several oldies and doo wop favorites, including a moving rendition of Georgia on My Mind.
Next, Karma Bell announced that the Chamber wanted to honor some local business owners, and the obviously surprised (and moved) van Dongens were brought up on stage and recognized for their 40+ years of Sierra Madre business ownership, beginning with a fish house, and ending with their current Harlequin Art Gallery and School.
Next up, Mayor Pro Tem Enid Joffe led the induction of the new members of the Chamber. Noting that she had been asked not to repeat last year’s induction which featured “When the Saints Come Marching In” performed on kazoos, she then led the new Board members in an audience participation cheer complete with pompoms, and each Board member got to express their allegiance to their home town team by picking their blue and gold or cardinal and gold pompoms.
Karma Bell was honored as outgoing president of the Chamber and received several commendations from the offices of State and Federal politicos.
Then former Mayor Rob Stockly spoke about Bud Switzer, the 2006 Citizen of the Year. He narrated a slide show that highlighted Switzer’s work through the years as chairman of hiking and camping with two boy scout troops, his work with several other volunteers at restoring the Mt. Wilson and Bailey Canyon trails, his work with John Grijalva at making the Veterans Memorial Photo Wall a reality, and his work/play for more than 30 years decorating his Alegria home with jack o’lanterns.
Switzer was then honored by the same politicos that had honored Bell, representatives from the offices of Bob Margett and Anthony Adams (Corey Calaycay and Steve Johnson, respectively) and Rep. David Dreier (Mark Harmsen). Pete Siberell of the Turf Club spoke about Bud and his work on the Trails, (Siberell is chairman of the Mt. Wilson Trail Race Committee), and John Grijalva spoke about his friend and his work on the Photo Wall. Bud’s son Kevin, who surprised his dad by traveling from Alabama for the event, also spoke about his Dad, and how much he respected him and loved him. Switzer then got up and spoke briefly, noting that he didn’t really think about what he did as volunteer work, and that he never expected the honor, but was very grateful to have received it. He also spoke about his wife of 56 years, Donna Mae, and noted that if not for her, none of what he has done could have gotten done.
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