But before things got around to owners Bill Harris and Greg Karkas, and before the new members of the board were introduced, there was one other piece of business to take care of, and Clare heard himself announced as Brentwood’s 2009 Citizen of the Year.
“We were extremely surprised, very surprised,” Clare said. “There were probably a dozen people in that room that were more deserving than I am. I am humbled; honored.”
Genuine humility is one of the characteristics often found in citizens of the year, as is selfless dedication to charitable causes. In Clare’s case that would include Brentwood Rotary (he’s an eight-year member and past president), the Police Activities League (board member), the Brentwood Youth Commission (co-founder and current board member), and the annual Community Chest Christmas Basket program (chief potato bagger).
Previous honorees have also been big on education, and in Clare’s case (in addition to his current role) that means a decade as Liberty High School principal, helping to found and serve as a director for CLARO, a computer-learning charity, and providing support for A Place of Learning tutoring center.
And a few citizens of the year have been active in the public sector, which in Clare’s case means being instrumental in keeping the East Bay Works job center in Brentwood, serving on the board of Tri Delta Transit, and even running for City Council in 2006.
But while many of his activities mirror those of previous honorees, some of the things that qualified Clare for the honor do not. He’s provided inspiration for healthful living by recovering from a heart attack a decade ago, and then running in – and completing – the Boston Marathon in 2008.
He’s boosted the community culturally, taking the stage with the Brentwood Community Band to sing, performing the National Anthem at last year’s CornFest, and lending his voice to the Brentwood Community United Methodist Church Choir at the city’s Christmas Tree Lighting celebration.
He’s helped others literally via the sweat of his brow, going to Mexico to help build houses for the poor, slicing hundreds of pounds of meat each year at the annual East Contra Costa Historical Society dinner, and picking up trash in the annual Marsh Creek Cleanup.
“He has made many contributions to our community, working quietly behind the scenes,” said former Citizen of the Year Ike Montañez in his nomination. “He’s an all-around good citizen.”
Asked what he’s most proud of, Clare said it goes back to a lesson taught him by his grandfather. “He said if you want to lift yourself up, you have to lift others first,” Clare said. “I’m proud of helping to lift other people, help people have better lives, not by myself, but with others. I’m proud to be counted among the people who care.”
Still on the mend from his fall (he suffered eight broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a punctured lung when he fell 20 feet while hanging Christmas lights at home), Clare said he returned to work Jan. 20 and is putting in about three to four hours a day. He added that he was pleased to hear that the nominations for Citizen of the Year were submitted before his mishap. “I’m just glad it wasn’t because they felt sorry for me for being stupid enough to fall off my roof,” he joked.
A dinner in Clare’s honor will be held Saturday, March 28. For more information, call 925-634-3344.