While 19 more calendar pages must still fall before the official beginning of summer, this past week was the unofficial start as Americans gathered for family barbecues and paused to remember the men and women who have given their lives in military service.
In Burbank, along with the observance of Memorial Day and the firing up of the grill, another sign that summer is just around the corner is the annual playing of the Magnolia Park Optimist Burbank Youth Golf Classic at DeBell Golf Course.
For the past 22 years, this event has raised funds for local organizations by coupling a day of golf with an evening banquet that honors individuals with the club's Community Service Award. A donation of $150 per participant gave Optimist Club members and supporters the opportunity to partake in this year's 23rd staging of the event that kicked off with a breakfast followed by a putting contest, the tournament, lunch and a sunset awards banquet at the Castaway Restaurant.
Co-chaired by the organization's president, Terry Scott, and longtime club member Jim Gascoigne, others who assisted in making this year's tournament a success were committee members Evie and Tony Magnante, Roland and Vonda Neundorf, Kent Warner, Ernine Larson, Jack Rickets, Jesse Fox, Jim Lloyd, Doreen Wydra, Bill Bertrand, George Nelson and Sue Kyle.
This year's recipient of the organization's Community Service Award was Burbank City Councilman Gary Bric, who recently completed his term as mayor. Elected to the City Council in 2007, Bric is a native Burbanker and local restaurateur who has been a supporter and member of numerous civic clubs and organizations over the years.
Along with honoring Bric, last week's event was presented in honor of Optimist member Connie Gonzalez who died in 2009 at age 95. Lauded posthumously for being a driving force in the creation of the tournament, President Scott told the assemblage that no one in the Magnolia Park Optimist Club was more revered and respected than Gonzalez.
"His effort to live up to our club motto — Friend of Youth — was enviable and unequaled," Scott said. "The Youth Golf Classic was his baby, and [its] success was largely due to the efforts of Connie and his son, Chuck Gonzalez."
Along with the Optimists, this year's event was well-represented by city officials, local business leaders and special guests. Among those in attendance were the honoree's wife, Shelly Bric, City Treasurer Donna Anderson, City Manager Mike Flad, Deputy City Managers Joy Forbes and Justin Hess, City Atty. Dennis Barlow, Fire Chief Ray Krakowski, Burbank Water and Power General Manager Ron Davis and Airport Commissioner Don Brown.
Others who enjoyed the tournament and dinner included former Mayor Mary Lou Howard, former Fire Chief Mike Davis and his wife, Joann; Dick and Josephine Kowatch, Cheryl Davis, Donna Liebernecht, Cheryl Harrison, Jackie Bodley, Bob and Sydney Heins, Pam Scott, Linda Oseransky, Michael Forbes, Annell Barlow, Richard Bertain and DeBell's head golf professional Scott Scozzola.
The funds raised at this year's tournament will help the Optimists assist the myriad organizations and activities they support including the Childhood Cancer Campaign, Optimist Youth Homes, Burbank Temporary Aid Center, the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Drive and numerous Burbank scholarships and programs.