February 12 awards: Santa Paula Citizen of the Year Fred Robinson
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: January 30, 2013
Fred Robinson admits his selection as the 2012 Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year came as a surprise.
“I was really shocked by that,” said Robinson, “I didn’t see that coming.” But it’s easy for others to see why Robinson, a city native who claims “Santa Paula is in my DNA,” will be honored February 12.
Also to be honored are Large Businesses of the Year Cal-Pipe and Vintage Production California LLC, and Small Businesses of the Year Tisa Grant’s Tisa’s Salon & Spa and Garden Market, owned by Maria and Victor Almazan. The 2012 Beautification Project Awards will honor America In Bloom and Santa Paula Chevrolet/John Macik.
Mayor Ralph Fernandez will also address the State of the City at the awards luncheon, which will be held at the Museum of Ventura County Agriculture Museum (The Mill) located on Railroad Avenue. Tickets for the event, which will be held from noon to 2 p.m., are only $35 each.
Although Robinson lost his bid for a second four-year term on the City Council he was recently appointed by the council to the Planning Commission. And although he recently retired after leading The Arc - which provides services for the developmentally and intellectually disabled - for 22 years, Robinson plans to remain active in the community in other ways.
The 2009 Ventura County Leadership Academy Alumnus of the Year and 2003 Ventura Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, Robinson will continue working with the county chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and as a Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Ventura County mentor. The former District Lt. Governor of Kiwanis International, Robinson will also remain active with his Ventura Kiwanis Club.
Robinson shares his January 26 birth date with Saint Paula, believed to be the inspiration for the naming of Santa Paula, whose birthday is celebrated with Saint Paula Day. Born in a then local maternity hospital, “I grew up on 4th Street and at Isbell School... it was an open campus in those days,” where Robinson said he would play “all the time.”
Although from a struggling family, Robinson “loved” growing up in Santa Paula and has many warm memories. And many memories are reserved for those teaches who inspired Robinson, who admitted he was at times a lackluster student.
“I had really good teachers; Mildred Flickinger - she was great! - Randall Bryden... he taught me how to type, I was the fastest in the class. And Robert Raitt... I remember he told me ‘you’ve got a pretty good mind. If you ever got serious about school you would do pretty good.’”
Challenged, Robinson said he told Raitt he would get an A grade on a test on the Constitution: “I studied, and I did, and he said I told you.... Mr. Jennings in history, he was a great basketball coach. I was a good player, a pretty good athlete,” but Robinson had to work to help support the family and forego team play. “When you look at my picture in the El Solano,” said Robinson, “there are no activities listed.”
Another birthday coincidence was General Douglas MacArthur, the subject of a paper Robinson wrote while in community college studying to become a certified auto mechanic. “I got an A on it and my professor came over and said with your writing skills I encourage you take more academic courses.” Robinson was encouraged, and he has a BA degree from Sacramento State University and a master’s degree in social work from San Diego State University.
Although he and his wife Sharon lived in Ventura for a while, they moved back to Santa Paula years ago. It’s the area Robinson remembers best: “I remember as a kid taking off with a canteen across the runway at the airport and climbing to the SP on South Mountain. That’s the Santa Paula I grew up in and I always thought of Santa Paula as my home. It’s in my DNA.”
Robinson said being selected Citizen of the Year “is an honor when you look at so many people here that do so much.”
Tickets for the February 12 awards luncheon are available at the Chamber at the historic Depot (intersection of 10th and East Santa Barbara streets). Call 525-5561 for more information or to reserve tickets.