It was a day of music permeating Alamo Plaza and mingling with friends over wine and fabulous food, but the highlight of the annual Alamo Music Festival was the announcement of the Citizen of the Year.
Congratulations to this year's winner, Dick Olsen, who was given the prize Sept. 7. Despite countless projects Dick has worked on for the community over the years, most recently he was in charge of the Stone Valley/Interstate 680 interchange project. Rotarian Don Morton spoke highly of Olsen, on whom the Rotary of Alamo bestowed the honor.
"Dick Olsen is one of those very special people who gives so much to Alamo but very often keeps a very low profile to the community," said Don, who told me Dick was humbled to receive this award and put the spotlight on other Rotary members.
"Dick accepted the award on behalf of all the Rotarians who invested many hours of hard work in the landscaping project, underplaying the fact that none of it would have happened without his vision and leadership," added Don.
When I spoke with Dick, he was indeed humble.
"As I was receiving the award, I couldn't help but think that this honor really belonged to all of the members of the Rotary Club of Alamo. They worked very hard to make this project a success. I was the catalyst, but they made it happen," said Dick.
However, Don shared that Dick did in fact put in countless hours calling, emailing, attending meetings and getting Caltrans to approve the project.
"Dick conceived the project and helped recruit and worked closely with the landscape architect. He raised funds to pay for the plants and gardeners and spent hundreds of hours working and leading the effort, installing the irrigation system, spreading the tanbark, killing the weeds and fertilizing the plantings," said Don.
Dick and his wife, Maureen, have lived in Alamo for 37 years and raised two daughters, Sara Farmer, who is married to Philippe Farmer; and Hillary Olsen. They have two grandsons, Alexandre and Niklas Farmer. Having retired from Morgan-Stanley in 2010 as senior vice president, Dick was also in the Navy and an officer in Vietnam, where he was in charge of a swift boat.
After returning safely in 1967, he married Maureen the next year. Dick joined the Rotary Club of Alamo in 1985 and has enjoyed serving in various positions, including director of community service for a number of years. Don told me that Dick also helped maintain the bus bench project, managed the annual Easter egg hunt, and supervised the beverages for Alamo's annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. He is also active with Meals on Wheels. Congratulations once again, Dick.
Don said it best when he told me, "We all are indebted to Dick's dedication, many skills, gentle guidance and unselfish devotion to the improvement of the I-680 interchange, which we will be enjoying and will benefit all who live in Alamo long into the future," he said.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: Speaking of Alamo citizens of the year, I heard from the 2010 recipient, Vicki Koc, who is also past co-president of Alamo Women's Club.
She has a couple dates in September, which she'd like to get the word out about. On Sunday, the Women's Club is sponsoring a free Emergency Preparedness Fair from 1 to 4 p.m. at their clubhouse, 1401 Danville Blvd. in Alamo.
"After the gas leak in downtown Alamo this summer -- with door-to-door evacuation notification and residents leaving on foot so as not to create sparks -- this timely information, including some from PG&E, will provide demonstrations and ideas for individual, family and community preparedness," said Vicki.
Mark your calendars, too, for Wednesday for the club's luncheon and speaker featuring Sally Socolich, who wrote guide books and appeared on TV with her "Bargain Hunting in the Bay Area" show.
Tickets for lunch and to hear Sally speak are $25. RSVP by calling 925-820-8236.
Contact Caterina Mellinger at around- firstname.lastname@example.org.