The crowd of more than 150 guests cheered as father and son enjoyed a quick chat, but then it was back to the parade of praise, as family, friends, coworkers and colleagues took turns offering testimonials to Lemyre’s worthiness of the honor.
“If you want to know what it takes to be citizen of the year, you’ve gone way, way beyond that,” said friend and tribute host Mike Davies, whose video slideshow of Lemyre’s life proved the entertainment highlight of the evening.
Lemyre, managing editor of the Brentwood Press, is known throughout Brentwood and East County for his exemplary community service. His resumé includes involvement in the Brentwood Regional Community Chest, Brentwood Kiwanis, Brentwood Diversity Committee, East Contra Costa Historical Society, Relay For Life, and Antioch Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day celebrations – a narrow cross-section of his many contributions. Despite the long list of Lemyre’s community involvement, his wife Cyndy said she had to convince him that he was truly deserving of the Citizen of the Year honor.
“Rick and I, we’ve been talking about it a lot,” Cyndy said. “Rick kept asking, ‘Why am I getting this?’ and I’ve come to the conclusion that he is an example of what we all hope citizenry and being community minded is about, and I said, ‘That’s why you’re getting this award. And you’re going to get it and you’re going to take it and you’re going to say thank you.’”
And like a good husband of more than 30 years, that’s exactly what he did, humbly accepting the honor.
“I’m enormously proud to be named Citizen of the Year,” said Lemyre. “But there is something I’m even more proud about. Every person who has been given this honor before me has understood that the “people factor” is the most important factor. They teach people. They help organize people. They help carry things. It takes all kinds of different forms but it’s all basically the same thing. These people help.
“And every year Brentwood and the Chamber of Commerce singles somebody out – names them Citizen of the Year – because helping people is what is important to Brentwood, and that’s what I am proudest of: to be a part of a community that believes helping other people is a laudable virtue. That to me is really the American Dream. And the feeling that I get from being singled out as an example of that community virtue – it’s indescribable.”
Rick also received proclamations and certificates of appreciation from State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, County Supervisor Mary Piepho and Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor.
During the Chamber’s annual dinner, Jim and Ann Wangeman, owners of Harvest Park Bowl, accepted the honor of 2009 Business of the Year. Jim recalled the ribbon cutting for the bowling center in 1994, when Harvest Park’s current location was still nothing but a field. The Harvest Park dream has blossomed over the years and Jim told the crowd that Harvest Park is now one of the most successful bowling centers in the nation.
“I want to thank the Chamber for this recognition,” Jim said. “I will always support the Chamber and Brentwood.”
Visit the mulitmedia page to view video and more photos from this event.