On Friday, the community came together at the sixth annual Daily Pilot Community & Clubs Hall of Fame luncheon, where 11 citizens were honored for the time, talent and treasure they have given freely in service to the youths and families of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and far beyond.
Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach served as the master of ceremonies, Newport-Mesa-Irvine Interfaith Council Vice President Lane Calvert provided the invocation, Costa Mesa Fire Explorers led the Pledge of Allegiance, American Legion member John Stansbury led the national anthem, and Al Rasch welcomed all the American Legion Newport Harbor Post 291, the host of the luncheon.
The American Legion Auxiliary nominated Mary Carolyn, a 26-year member of the auxiliary, who served as president in 1998 and again in 2006. Her leadership and involvement includes serving as vice chair for Girls State, volunteering at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Long Beach and helping the Sail for the Visually Impaired program.
The Costa Mesa Kiwanis Club nominated Harlan Andersen, a 12-year member who will serve as club president in 2015. His project leadership is with the Kiwanis golf tournament, while his community involvement includes AYSO pancake breakfasts, Costa Mesa Community Run and Kelly's Closet.
The Newport-Irvine Rotary Club nominated Jerry Rekers, a 21-year member who served as president in 2008-09. His Rotary leadership includes chairing the annual charity golf tournament for the past eight years, raising $80,000 for local charities, and chairing the Woodbridge High School cross-country event for the past 12 years, raising $150,000 for local charities.
The Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa nominated Diane Daruty, a four-year member. Under Diane's leadership, Spirit Run has donated more than $400,000 to local schools and provided more than 500 scholarships for entry fees. Diane worked with Newport Beach's Recreation & Senior Services department to expand the Newport Beach Track Meet sponsored by the Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa. In 2012, Recreation & Senior Services recognized her as volunteer of the year.
The Newport Harbor Exchange Club nominated William H. Bechtel, a member for 11 years who served as club president in 2006-07 and again in 2013-14. Bill is probably best known for being Santa Claus — and flying in the police helicopter for over 35 years, landing in the playgrounds of many schools in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, and bringing smiles and candy canes to the boys and girls.
The Kiwanis Club of Newport Beach/Corona del Mar nominated Eileen Wright, an honorary member for 10 years. Eileen has continually provided the club with weekly music support on the piano and regular programs by professional singers and musicians.
The American Legion Newport Harbor Post 291 nominated Stansbury, a member for 22 years. As you can tell by his voice, John is the Post 291 music and song leader. His responsibilities include musical leadership at all post events and veteran-related activities. His recent activities include the Balboa Island Parade, Memorial Day at Pacific View, Field of Honor at Castaways Park with the Exchange Club of Newport Harbor, the dedication of the new Newport Beach City Hall and the dedication of the Ronald Reagan memorial statue.
The Harbor Mesa Lions Club nominated Gina Stansbury, a member for more than 18 years. She has held the offices of director, treasurer, first vice president and president multiple times. Gina has also served on our Lions District 4-L4 Cabinet and co-chaired the biggest fundraiser, the Casino Night, more than once. Gina and her husband, John, both belong to Post 291 and participate in and support many of the activities.
Soroptimist International of Newport Harbor Area nominated Dawn Marie Lemonds, a member for 29 years. She is the current club treasurer and past president. She has served as Soroptimist International's program director and Quadrennial Project liaison and been the keynote speaker at the Rocky Mountain Region Conference and co-chair for Southwest Conference Against Trafficking.
The Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club nominated Steve Bender, who serves on the board of directors and is president-elect. He was founder of the Rotary Interact Club at Western High School in Anaheim as well as the Rotary Rotaract Club with USC dental students.
The Sons of the American Legion, Post 291, nominated John Kraft. It should be noted that son Justin is in the United States Naval Academy class of 2015, while son Andrew, a senior at Newport Harbor High School, will be in the class of 2018 and Christian is in the seventh grade. John is a hard worker from his involvement with his church to Hoag Hospital Presbyterian, from the Navy League Newport Beach to the Sons of the American Legion. John is a family man, and the community is his family.
The members were inducted by John Canalis, editor of the Daily Pilot, and yours truly. Each honoree received a gift bag from the Daily Pilot and recognition from the mayors of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach as well as the California State Assembly. Congratulations to the Hall of Fame Class of 2014!
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