Citizen of the Year Biographies
1971 – Lee Wise
Honoring Novato’s Citizen of the Year has been a feature of the community’s annual birthday party since 1972. The tradition was inaugurated during the city’s 12th birthday. The first recipient was the late Lee Wise in 1971. Wise, due to retire that year as local manager of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., was called the “sixth councilman” because of his regular attendance at City Council meetings. He had also been active on the Underground Utilities Committee and the Planning Commission.
1972 – Leroy Gerner
The council chose a committee to select the Citizen of the Year from a field of five nominees the following year. At the 1972 awards ceremony, the late Leroy Gerner was called the man who “almost singlehandedly created a model park for the city.” Gerner was the force behind the Novato Creek Demonstration Project, beautifying the area behind Sambos (now Star restaurant) and the library that is now called Gerner Park. He would go onto be the chairman of the County Parks and Cultural Commission and the chairman of the past Citizens of the Year charged with choosing the next Citizen of the Year award.
1973 – John Stuber
John Stuber, then manager of the Murray-McCormick Environmental Group, was nominated by the Novato Rotary Club as “the kind of person who does so much for others but remains in the background so that most people aren’t aware of his contributions.” He helped raise $300,000 for a building fund drive for the Novato Boys Club (now the Novato Youth Center), was active in the Jaycees and Rotary, contributed to the development of Miwok Park and developed statistics used to draft Novato’s General Plan.
1974 – Reuben Kaehler
The late Reuben Kaehler, who passed away in 1987, a Novato housing developer, was chosen in 1974 for his work on behalf of the Novato Rotary Club, Little League, the Airport Commission and Marin County Redevelopment Agency. Kaehler donated the profits from the construction of “dream houses” to the Boy Scouts and the Novato Boys Club.
1975 – Paul Scheller
Another Novato builder who donated countless hours and materials to local projects was honored in 1975. Paul Scheller of Scheller Construction was called “an energetic person who doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘no.” He served as foreman on the Nova-Ro senior housing project sponsored by the Rotary Club.
1976 – Joe Gargiulo
In 1976 a committee of past Citizens of the Year plus four members of the community struggled to decide which of the nine qualified nominees should receive the award. The winner was Joe Gargiulo, former Novato mayor and principal of the Novato High and Adult Education School, who passed away in 2012. He worked with shut-ins at local convalescent hospitals and with disadvantaged children as well as being active in Lions Club, Boys Club, Marin County Red Cross and the Novato High track team.
1977 – Bill Eckhoff
The contributions of the late Bill Eckhoff, an accountant and former Kiwanis president, were “too numerous to mention” when Mayor Dave Milano named Ekhoff Citizen of the Year in 1977. Eckhoff had been active with youth groups, was a school board president and PTA member, and served on committees to organize Novato Community Hospital and advised on the establishment of Indian Valley Colleges.
1978 – Mae Wygant
Gargiuolo expressed surprise in 1975 that a woman hadn’t yet been chosen Citizen of the Year, but it finally happened in 1978. Mae Wygant, an artist and founder of LITA (Love is the Answer), a non-profit group visiting people in convalescent hospitals, received the honor for her volunteer efforts. An elder of the United Presbyterian Church, she contributed her artwork to benefit the church, the San Marin Improvement Club, the Boys Club, Marin League of Woman Voters, and the Miwok Museum. She now lives in Jacksonville, Oregon.
1979 – Dave Milano
In 1979, former Mayor Dave Milano, who passed away in 2011, found himself on the receiving end of the cherished plaque. He was the owner of Aero Sheet Metal and a Novato resident since 1947, he was largely responsible for saving the Community House from destruction when he was affiliated with the Presbyterian Youth Group. He had also been active in the Novato Rotary Club, Boys Club, 4-H club and Little League, and had long called the square dancing for the Novato Stump Jumpers.
1980 – Faith Eckhoff, Wayne Womack
There were two Citizens of the Year in 1980, Faith Eckhoff and Wayne Womack. Mrs. Eckhoff had died that fall and her husband Bill (1977 winner) accepted the award for her numerous volunteer activities and her caring professional work as a nurse practitioner.
Wayne Womack was a realtor who served as the first mayor of Novato and had long been active in the committees to choose past Citizens of the Year. He was also a former president of the Chamber of Commerce.
1981 – Sergio “Skip” Scarpa
Sergio “Skip” Scarpa, who pasted away in 1992, was nominated by three separate organizations in 1981 and logged an impressive list of accomplishments. He was the chief founder of the Novato Boys Club and had been active in the March of Dimes, the Sierra Club, YMCA, Novato Senior Citizens Club, Special Olympics, Little League, Novato Human Needs Center, Big Brothers of Marin, Commission on Novato Parks and Recreation, and the county Grand Jury among others.
1982 – Lora Lou Smith
Chosen in 1982, Lora Lou Smith, who passed away in 2009, was founder of the Sounding Board, a public affairs program on EV program, and had been active in the Novato Improvement Club, Novato Guild of Sunny Hills, Novato Community Ambassadors and Novato Hospital volunteers. She was an elder and deacon of the Novato Presbyterian Church.
1983 – Annette Conklin
Annette Conklin was Citizen of the Year in 1983, nominated by Novato Human Needs Director Ron Mogul. Director of Public Information and Research for the Novato Unified School District, Conklin had served on the board of the Human Needs Center and as a volunteer for United Way. Annette was a 30-year resident of Marin County before moving to Sacramento in 2000. Annette died May 15, 2003, at Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento after a sudden illness.
1984 – William Smith, Ben Young
William Smith & Ben Young were named Citizens of Year when Novato celebrated its 25th anniversary of incorporation with a party. The party held on a Saturday night at The Novato Community House was highlighted by the naming of William J.J. Smith, the city’s first superintendent of schools, and Ben Young, the retired owner of Pini Hardware, as duel 1984 Citizens of the Year. “It was extremely difficult to choose between the two top nominees,” explained Lee Gerner, the 1972 Citizen of the Year who served on the selection committee.
Ben Young was a 25 year resident of Novato, and the member of civic organizations, including the Rotary Club and Novato Youth Center. “It’s been a great place to work and live,” Young said.
Smith said the city brings out the best in people. His wife, Lora Lou, was Citizen of the Year in 1982. “Now it’s two Citizens of the Year in one family. I’ve got to live up to this.” Smith came to Novato in 1948 as the community’s first Superintendent of Schools. During his tenure, he tackled the rapid growth of population and the schools. His volunteer service included work with the Boy Scout Council, Camp Fire Council and high school exchange programs. He was a founder of the Novato Human Needs Center.
1985 – Al Mendoza
Police officer Al Mendoza, noted for working with young people and the handicapped, was Novato’s 1985 Citizen of the Year. Mendoza, at the time a Novato policeman for 21 years and a crime prevention officer, was chosen by a committee of former Citizens of the Year, chaired by Lee Gerner. Mendoza had been a long-time advisor to Novato Police Explorer Post. He also coached a girl’s Bobbysox team and was active in the California Alpine Club and a member of Marin Covenant Church.
1986 – Robert L. Fisher
Robert L. Fisher, whose volunteer efforts had touched both young and old in the community for more than two decades, was Novato’s 1986 “Citizen of the Year. Fisher said the award came as a complete surprise. “I never even thought about it,” he said. “I’ve nominated a couple of people in years past, but I never even considered being nominated myself. “I’m very flattered.” In fact, this was the first city birthday party he had attended, since the date usually conflicted with the Kiwanis Club’s annual mid-winter dinner. “My wife got me to go this year,” he explained. “She said she was playing the organ for dinner music. I noticed she wasn’t working as hard on putting a program together as she normally does, but I didn’t think too much about it.” He was involved in Boy Scouts, Marin Museum of American Indian, helped renovate the museum building in Miwok Park, chairman of the Marin County Properties Committee, was president of Kiwanis Club of Novato, worked on Special Olympic, and also found time to be in the Toastmaster program at San Quentin Prison and on the Marin First Foundation.
1987 – Rev. Pete Croughan
Novato celebrated its 28th birthday at a big bash at Fireman’s Fund. Most of the initial excitement was the buzzing about who would be named “Citizen of the Year.” A collective appreciative gasp quickly turned to applause when Rev. Pete Croughan was honored for caring about the people of Novato. Most people knew Pete Croughan agreed. The pastor emeritus of the Presbyterian Church of Novato, he led the congregation that built the impressive church on Wilson Avenue. He was also a trustee of the Redwoods Presbytery. He was a LITA board chairman and helped expand the program into Petaluma. He served as a commissioner on the Marin County Commission on Aging. He volunteered as a fundraiser for the Novato Human Needs Center and the American Heart Association. He also served as chairman of the board of the Marin Suicide Prevention Service.
1988 – Chuck O’Connor, Gordon Lee
Two of Marin County’s most accomplished men were honored Citizens of the Year for 1988. Chuck O’Connor and Gordon Lee were both surrounded by family members from all over the United States as they were applauded and hailed by their neighbors at the event.
Chuck O’Connor was president of the Novato Chamber of Commerce and its Ambassadors. He had been on the Board of Directors for the Novato Human Needs Center and Novato Ecumenical Housing. He was a partner in the Worth-Fenner Insurance Agency. Chuck was nominated for the award by the Kiwanis Club of Novato.
1989 – Pauline Stuber
At Novato’s 30th Birthday Party, Pauline Stuber was named 1989 Citizen of the Year. Stuber gave much of the credit for the award to her husband, John, the 1973 winner, “He cared for other people and I guess it rubbed off,” she said. Stuber was nominated by Soroptimist International, which she helped found in 1974. She was a member of the Ignacio Rotary Club and many other local organizations have benefitted from her boundless energy, including: the Novato Unified School District’s Affirmative Action Committee, the North Bay Children’s Center, the American Association of University Women, Young Republicans, the Society of Women Engineers, the Marin Blue Ribbon Homeless Task Force, the Novato Human Needs Center, the Marin County Committee of the Status of Women and the Marin Adult Day Health Service’s Steering Committee.
1990 – Tom Winner
The 1990 winner of the Citizen of the Year was Tom Winner, a Novato veterinarian. He was involved in the building of the Novato Youth Center, Cub and Boy Scouts, the Nova-Ro Senior Citizen housing, the Marin County Veterinary Association, and the Animal Advisory Commission for the Buck Center. Tom also coached youth soccer and was president of the Rolling Hills Swim team. He was very active in the Novato High Boosters Club. Tom Winner Jr. passed away in September 2005.
1991 – Diane Ryken
“If you want something done, give it to the busiest person in town – and that’s Diane,” explained Novato Mayor Ernie Gray as he introduced Novato’s 1991 Citizen of the Year Diane Ryken. Her list of community and professional contributions and accomplishments was long and extremely impressive and included a founders and charter board member for the Novato Human Needs Center, an organization she served for nine years, co-chair of the A-plus Campaign for kids, director of Soroptimists, which had nominated her, president of numerous school groups, Campfire Girl leader and Camp Director, CSD instructor at Our Lady of Loretto Church, Cub Scout Den Mother, Program Director for Whistlestop Senior Center.
1992 – Dietrich Stroeh
“J. Dietrich Stroeh, who had lived in Novato nearly all of his 56 years, was the City’s 1992 “Citizen of the Year.” He received the surprise honor at the city’s birthday party at the Margaret Todd center.
“It absolutely blew me away,” Stroeh said. The honor recognized Stroeh, a civil engineer, for his years of community service to Novato and the county.
He had been president of the Novato Chamber of Commerce and a director of the Novato Human Needs center, and he served on the Novato Fire Commission. He also served on a variety of city and community committees.
He was nominated by his sister, Martha Wells of Novato, who said he “learned well the lessons our parents taught us about ‘giving.’ I have never known him to turn any individual away.”
Stroeh was 3 years old when his family moved to Novato in 1940, when the town then had a population of 2,500.
“The Old Town was the town,” he said. He saw it grow to a community approaching 50,000.
Stroeh is a partner in the Novato-based engineering firm of Stuber-Stroeh & Associates.
He is a San Rafael High School graduate. Before starting his own business, he served as general manager of the Marin Municipal Water District.
1993 – Alfred “Al” Angulo
Novatans gathered to celebrate the 34th anniversary of Novato’s incorporation as a city at the Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church’s spectacular new Fellowship Nativity Center. The highlight of the celebration was the honoring of Columbian-born Alfredo “Al” Angulo as the city’s 1993 “Citizen of the Year. He was nominated for the award by the Rotary Club of Novato, an organization he had served on as president the previous year. He helped found “Project Amigo,” which is a cooperative Rotary project that aids children in an orphanage. He is also a major asset to the Novato Human Needs Center. He was one of the organizers of the Club Association of Novato (CAN) and served as ticket chairman for the first Novato Day at the Park, helping lead a successful fund-raising effort to support Stafford Lake Park. Al said, “ when I retired (from Novato Community Hospital after 20 years running the hospital lab), I wanted to give something to the community.” He has kept giving until now, there are times Eleanor his wife, has to tell him – “Al say, No.”
1994 – Kay Jones
After all Patricia Kay Jones gave Novato, Novato has given something back to her when
Jones, a tireless community volunteer, was named the 1994 Novato Citizen of the Year at a reception at the Margaret Todd Senior Center.
The Novato branch of the American Association of University Woman nominated Jones, who was a charter member of the group in 1969 and its second president.
A panel of former recipients of the Novato Citizen of the Year award chose Jones for the honor. Last year’s winner, Al Angulo, presented her with a tiara and a bouquet of roses.
Governmental agencies from the city of Novato up to the U.S. Congress recognized Jones with resolutions and plaques.
A pioneering community activist, Jones organized the first Safe Grad Night at San Marin High School.
In 1967, after a child of hers died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Jones started the Marin County Grief Counseling Program for families who lost an infant to SIDS.
She served as a counselor to such families for 15 years.
In 1993, she pulled together Novato residents to help people affected by the Midwest flood disaster.
She has also volunteered for Novato Sunrise Rotary Club, American Cancer Society, San Marin Booster Club, Novato Youth Soccer Association and other groups.”
1995 – Nancy Sangster
“I’ve never even been to this (the awards dinner) before,” she said shortly after receiving the honor. “It was certainly a shock.”
Sangster had been involved in many Novato community activities, her untiring efforts on the part of Novato’s seniors a priority. Her involvement with senior issues began when she was confronted with suddenly having to care of her own mother in 1979. Then came Measure G, the city bond issue that, among other things, provided funds for a new senior center and Sangster stepped to the front to help make the senior center dream a reality.
She was vice president of Love Is The Answer (LITA), Chair of the Marin Commission on Aging, Chair of the Housing Committee of Marin Commission on Aging, a member of the Community Education/Public Relations Committee of the Marin Commission on Aging, Chair of the Marin Senior Fair, a member of the Village Marin Master’s Association, community representative for marketing for the Drake Terrace Retirement Center, a member of the Novato Parks and Recreation Commission and a member of the Hamilton reuse Committee.
She was a volunteer for Guide Dogs for the Blind and also devoted many hours to the Buck Center for Research in Aging. Buck’s Center’s vision to solve the problems of aging and its mission drew her in.
1996 – Bill Kelly
Novato’s 1996 Citizen of the Year touched the lives of Novatans young and old for more than three decades, but said the community’s best days are still ahead.
“We’re going to build a town here, you’re going to be part of it, and it’s going to be great,” Bill Kelly told family and friends packed into the Novato Community House to honor him.
Kelly, an architect who had a hand in the design of many of the community’s most prominent facilities, and a vision for many others, was the most surprised man in his community when he finally realized his close friend and former Citizen of the Year David Milano was talking about him when naming 1996’s honored Novato Citizen of the Year.
Kelly had been prominent for his active roles in the restoration of the Novato Theatre and preliminary design work on the youth facility being planned for the former Goodman’s hardware building, but it was for his accumulative contributions to the Novato community stretching over three decades that he was honored.
Bill was heavily involved in a long list of youth activities, lending his talents and enthusiasm to Little League, Flag Football and Pop Warner Football as coach and league official.
Kelly also was very active with the Novato Aquatics (later to become the Indian Valley Aquatics) youth swim team, a key member and president of the Novato High School Booster Club, and has been on City of Novato’s Design Review Committee for 18 years, he was instrumental in building the Rotary Club of Ignacio into one of the most active and successful service clubs in the North Bay.
Perhaps Kelly’s most outstanding contribution to the community was his vision. He had a vision of the way things could be and was willing to share his dreams with others.
1997 – Bill McDill
Bill McDill, a physical therapist whose good humor and willingness to help others, had touched so many people, was Novato’s 1997 Citizen of the Year. “Last year we had Bronco Billy and this year we have Billy McDilly,” grinned M.C. David Price Jones, referring to last year’s honored citizen, architect Bill Kelly. McDill was a volunteer trainer for San Marin High School football teams, and was a board member for Senior Access. He had also been a board member for Novato Chamber of Commerce, member of North Marin Breakfast Club and Native Sons of the Golden West.
But, it is not so much McDill’s accomplishments that earned him the city’s top honor, but the enthusiasm and good humor brought to every organization and project, whether it was the serious business of raising money for Senior Access, or the clowning he does as “Popper Scooper” during the fourth of July Parade.
1998 – Jeff McAlpin
Jeff McAlpin sat in the hot seat as President of the Novato Community Hospital Board of Trustees during the controversial planning of a new hospital, and also helped guide the Novato Unified School District through both triumph and trouble, was the surprised recipient of this year’s prestigious award.
“I just came to support Mike (Hamilton School Principal Mike Ingerson, who was honored as Educator of the Year),” McAlpin said. “There was such a great group of people (who received awards at the community event) that it was a real honor for me to be Included.”
While he devoting time to his family, McAlpin also devoted time to his community. He served as a coach for the Novato Youth Soccer Association for 12 years, served in the Marin Community Health Board of Directors, was past president and founder of Novato Le Tip, served for 10 years on the North Bay Ecumenical Homes Board of Directors and was a Novato Presbyterian Church elder.
1999 – Hugh Turner
At the Buck Center, Hugh Turner, 83, was chosen as Citizen of the Year for 1999, for his service, work and commitment to Novato community over a period of five decades. David Price Jones presented the award, first hinting at the identity of the honoree. “He is a gentleman with a kind disposition who is courteous to everyone. He has two expressions: ‘Make it simple’ and “The best is yet to come.’” Mr. Turner was credited with beginning the first Boy Scout troop in Novato in 1948. He was active in the 4-H, Rotary Club and other organizations, including the San Rafael and Novato chambers of commerce. He served three terms on the Novato City Council. From 1948 to 1972, Mr. Turner was the president and general manager of KTIM, the San Rafael radio station owned by the Independent Journal. He also worked at several other radio stations in the Pacific Northwest and Bay Area. Mr. Turner died at his home in Paradise in January 2008.
2000 – Ed Lathrop
Ed Lathrop was named the Novato 2000 Citizen of the Year at the Buck Center. Lathrop, 74, was recognized for his 43 years of service to Novato’s youth and later the elderly. He was active in the local Boy Scout’s since he moved to Novato in 1967. He was one of the original backers of the Novato Youth Center in 1972 and also donated his time – and effort – to numerous other causes. Lathrop also volunteered for the Salvation Army and the Marin County Food Bank and was active in the Kiwanis Club and the Miwok Branch of the SIR’s organization. He came to Novato in 1967 as an employee of PG&E.
2002 – Chuck Bennett
Chuck Bennett, who grew up on Hamilton Air Force Base where his father served as provost marshal, wiped tears from his eyes when he said, “It just doesn’t get any better than this. This community has been good to me and my family.”
Bennett had been active as a Board member in the Novato Chamber of Commerce for 12 years. His involvement, Bennett said, had taught him that, “It’s not what you get out of it, it’s what you put into it.
Bennett also served on the Governmental Affairs Committee of the Marin Association of Realtors, was a Director of Northbay Family Homes, Suburban Alternatives Land Trust (SALT), a member of Leadership Novato Scholarship Fund and an advisory Board Member of Golden Gate Framers Market Association. His company, California Land Title of Marin supported many organizations over the years, Special Olympics, Hospice of Marin, Youth in Arts, Marin Community Food Band and many more.
2003 – Jim Spilman
He was the quintessential Unsung Hero, a man who pitched in to help more good causes than anybody in town can count. But count they did when Novato named Jim Spilman Citizen of the Year for 2003, at the annual city birthday party, held at Stonetree Gold Club. Jim was nominated by the Novato Rotary Club. He served as president of the Gary Gates Memorial Foundation since its creation in 1990, working to see the creation of the lighted ball field at San Marin High. He created the SCIP –Student Community Involvement Program. In 1987, Spilman created a database of more than 5,000 names for the Tree of Lights program at Novato Community Hospital. He helped build the covered bus stop for Nova Ro II. He helped design and build a ball wall at Olive School, planned and worked on the interior painting of the Novato Youth Center’s gym, and worked on the new trellis arbor for teachers at Pleasant Valley School. He was a member of the Novato Rotary since 1992 and was president of the Novato Endowment Board from 1998 to 1999. He worked for Pacific Telephone, first as an “installation guy,” then as a computer system district manager. He retired from the phone company in 1987 to open his own computer consulting business – DES System in 1988.
2004 – Dr Lois Merriweather Moore
Dr. Lois Merriweather Moore was a highly respected and exemplary educator for nearly thirty years in the areas of Spanish and English as a Second Language for the Novato Unified School District, and gave over twenty eight years of outstanding volunteer service to the Novato community in the areas of youth and volunteer organizations.
Dr. Moore’s leadership roles in the community have ranged from serving on the selection committees for the City of Novato Assistant City Manager and for the nominees for the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame, to starting the California Scholarship Federation at Sinaloa Middle School and San Marin High School.
She was widely admired for her work to better the world around her, Dr. Moore was a powerful example of putting good intention into action through selfless public service; she firmly believed that a community is only as strong as its underrepresented or struggling populations, and public and private institutions must make outreach and service to these groups a top priority.
Dr. Moore’s work was primarily in Novato, though the ripple effect of her compassion and commitment to volunteerism was far-reaching, she received regional recognition that included being honored by the Marin Community Foundation, The United Way, Channel Four News through their “Those Who Care Award”, and by the City of Novato through proclaiming June 8, 1996 as “Lois M. Moore Day”.
Dr. Moore was appointed by the Marin County Board of Supervisors in 2002 to serve as board member of the Marin Community Foundation and was a passionate advocate for the poor and needy.
2005 – Jim Henderson
For 2005, Jim Henderson was selected Citizen of the Year. At the time, Jim was a fifty-three year resident of Novato and leads a life of service, selflessness and commitment.
Mr. Henderson was a tenacious and effective public servant, role model and leader who served a four-year term on the Novato City Council, including one year as Mayor.
Mr. Henderson was one of Novato’s quiet but tireless community volunteers; many local organizations and the communities they serve have benefited from his dedication, commitment and service including Novato Rotary, Novato Senior Citizens Club, Our Lady of Loretto Church, Audubon Society, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Knights of Columbus, Novato Multicultural Commission, Novato Garden Club, Novato Human Needs Center, Novato Chamber of Commerce, Novato Business and Education Roundtable, among many others.
He also spent countless hours sharing his time as a judge for speech and debate events, as a hands-on helper at Homeward Bound, parking cars for both the Senior Health Fair and Novato Art and Wine Festival, manning booths, serving, cleaning and flipping pancakes; and
Mr. Henderson was a proud servant to his country and a decorated WWII veteran; he received a Silver Star for Gallantry in Action and was recognized with the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Good Conduct Medal; he served in leadership roles for the Timberwolves, a group of veterans from his U.S. Army Infantry Division who have remained friends over fifty years after serving together. Above all, Mr. Henderson was a true gentleman, always treating people with respect and dignity. A person of unbending integrity, a devoted family man and an inspiration to those he comes in contact with.
2006 – Vicki McDill
Vicki McDill served as a member of the Novato Boys Club Women’s Auxiliary from 1971 to 1980; and her fundraising efforts helped to raise money for the original building of the Club, and continued this after it was built.
From 1980 to 1983 Vicki was one of the first, if not THE first woman member of what had previously been the “Men’s Board” of the Novato Boys Club Board. She served as secretary and worked the Bingo night fundraisers for years. Vicki was involved in the Marin Athletic Foundation Board, the Foundation Golf Tournament, the Student Athlete Dinner, the Marin County High School Hall of Fame Committee, the Golf Tournament Committee, the Novato Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, the Downtown Novato Business Association, the Fourth of July Parade Committee, the Rotary Club of Novato, and the Golf Tournament.
As a result of her tireless hard work and unwavering commitment, Vicki succeeded in compiling an impressive record of civic achievements, a record that earned for her the admiration and thanks of those persons who have had the privilege of association with her.
2007 – A. Gerald (Jerry) Peters
The 2007 Citizen of the Year, Jerry Peters, was nominated by the Novato 4th of July Parade Committee to receive the award. He was a founding member of the committee and was instrumental in bringing back the parade after a long hiatus.
“He has willingly lent his expertise in a myriad of ways over many, many years to make Novato a better community,” said Kathy Nickel, parade chair. “He is not afraid to get his hands dirty, and he has a wonderful sense of humor.”
Peters, a Novato resident for 30 years, was a long-time Novato Chamber of Commerce member and strongly supported the business community. He served as President of the Novato Chamber in 2004-2005 and on several of its committees. He was a graduate of the 1997 Leadership Novato class and was as a volunteer for the Festival of Art, Wine and Music for 17 years in a row. Peters also served on the Novato Planning Commission and Historical Society Commission.
2008 – Patsy White
Patsy White was once asked by her family how many boards of directors she sat on. She didn’t know. She’d lost count. For her volunteer efforts around Novato, Patsy was chosen as the 2008 Citizen of the Year. She was honored one night after her 80th birthday party thrown by her family.
Dietrich Stroeh, chairman of the Citizen of the Year selection committee, said one can learn a lot about White’s drive by knowing that she lost count of all her nonprofit board posts.
“That’s the attitude of this woman,” he said. “She gets involved and quietly takes care of stuff and becomes an advocate.” White was nominated by the Novato Housing Coalition, for which she is a founding member and vice chairwoman. She has served on boards of many other housing and civic groups including the Marin Economic Commission, Marin League of Women Voters, the Marin YMCA and the St. Vincent’s/Silveira Task Force.
2009 – Elizabeth Sleath
Elizabeth Sleath, president of School Fuel, the Novato Foundation for Public Education, became Novato’s 2009 “Citizen of the Year” when she was honored at Paint the Town Red (PTTR), the City of Novato’s annual birthday party.
A native of England, Sleath was a member of the Novato Planning Commission and was a dean at the Branson School in Ross. Her list of volunteer activities includes co-chairing a successful parcel tax campaign for public schools in 2005, serving as an organizer for the Emergency Education Fund in 2003, and Novato Unified School District volunteer of the year for 2003-04. She has been PTA president at three different schools and president of the North Marin Council of PTAs.
2010 – Mike Read
The “quiet hero” from Randall Brothers Automotive worked in the background of major community events and was a generous volunteer for several nonprofits, earning him the title of 2010 Novato Citizen of the Year.
In addition to volunteering on nearly every major civic event, he was known for carrying his camera and photo-documenting the city’s history, including the annual Novato birthday bash at which his own selection was announced.
Read, a Vallejo native who moved to Novato about 10 years ago, had a long track record of helping of organizations such as the Novato Historical Guild, the Novato Financing Authority, the Fourth of July Parade Committee, the Novato Chamber of Commerce (ambassador), the Novato 2010 celebration committee, Save the Novato Train Depot, Paint the Town Red, Downtown Novato Business Association and the Novato Druids.
Randall Brothers was Novato Business of the Year in 2006 and an annual sponsor of countless community events and nonprofits.
2011 – Dennis Hagerty
Insurance agent, Rotarian, festival music coordinator, musician, volunteer for countless projects and programs — the list goes on. Dennis Hagerty, a humble servant, was picked as the 2011 Novato Citizen of the Year.
Hagerty, a State Farm insurance agent and a Novato resident since 1981, was an announcer at the annual Novato Fourth of July Parade and San Marin Improvement Association holiday events, the music director for the Novato Festival of Art, Wine & Music and held a number of positions with the Rotary Club of Novato, for which he is a past president and executive board member.
The programs for which he volunteered is a long list, including Project Amigo, Rotary Group Study Exchange, Toys for Tots, Boy Scouts (including as a Cubmaster and Scoutmaster), Rock’n Blues by the Lake and the Novato Theater renovation project. He has played in several local bands as a guitar player and drummer.
2012 – Patty Bennett
A Novato resident since 1974, Patty Bennett was named 2012 Citizen of the Year for her long tenure as a local community activist committed to the growth and care of the Novato community.
Bennett has served on the board of the Novato Youth Center (NYC) & has been vice-president and secretary. For three years she co-chaired the Center’s Development Committee raising tens of thousands of dollars to support youth programming. Patty was on the NYC’s Executive Director transition team and played a critical role in transitioning its leadership. She was awarded the “2009 Look Who’s Getting it Done” award from the Marin County Board of Supervisors for her work for the NYC.
She spent years on the Paint the Town Red event committee and served as treasurer for “Novato 2010 – Celebrating 50 years” Birthday Celebration Steering Committee. She co-founded and ran a successful business with her late husband and volunteered thousands of hours for schools, her church and other community events.
2013 – Susan Stompe
For 43 years, Susan Stompe has poured her soul into Novato, driven by her hearty Midwest work ethic to make this a better place to live. Based on her staggeringly thorough resume of public service and her unwavering determination to preserve both homegrown democracy and our gorgeous environment, Susan was chosen as the 2013 Novato Citizen of the Year.
With staunch support from myriad friends from all her civic organizations, she was elected in 1980 and served through 1987, twice wielding the gavel as mayor. But her devotion didn’t stop there. She played key roles for: The Hamilton Advisory Committee, the San Marin Improvement Association, the Novato Human Needs Center, the Marin County Joint Committee on the Countywide Plan, the Novato 50th Birthday Steering Committee, Novato Clean and Green Day, the Olompali People & Olompali State Historic Park, several city committees, local and national organizations associated with conservation and voting.
Susan and her husband owned Western Packaging and Display until retirement.
2014 – Kathy Nickel
In the 37 years since she moved to Novato, Kathy Nickel built her reputation as an inspirational community leader. Based on her efforts to preserve Novato’s heritage by serving as chair of the popular Fourth of July Parade and her many other contributions, Nickel was chosen as the 2014 Novato Citizen of the Year.
Bernie Nickel said his wife of 47 years is known best for recruiting volunteers and rallying them for important causes. “With Kathy, if a real need exists, she is going to take up the challenge and inspire others to do the same,” he said.
Nickel started working on the parade committee in 2003 and nursed it through a time of transition. She also volunteered at her kids’ schools and various youth groups. She was one of the initial instigators in the movement to renovate and reopen the long-shuttered Novato Theater in the 1990s and played several key roles for the Novato Chamber of Commerce and city committees.
2015 – Alan Dunham
Alan Dunham spent his professional life as an architect and in his spare time became one of the city’s most prominent architects of change. He was crowned the 2015 Novato Citizen of the Year for contributing to various local causes for more than 40 years.
Dunham played key roles for the Novato Rotary Club, the Novato Youth Center, the Novato Sons in Retirement branch, the Presbyterian Church of Novato, Lynwood Elementary School, the Hamilton History Museum, the Gary Gates Foundation, Novato Ecumenical Housing, the City of Novato Design Review Board, and the Marin County Fair.
He first came to work in Novato in 1970 and moved his family to the city in 1973. He helped design the Novato Police Department headquarters on Machin Avenue, the pedestrian-friendly stretch of Redwood Boulevard between DeLong Avenue and Olive Street, and all three Nova-Ro senior housing complexes, including community rooms and gardens.