Fred Robinson: Award coveted, but Chamber Citizen of the Year not expected
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: February 27, 2013
Fred Robinson is the first to admit he always wanted a Chamber of Commerce recognition, but not Citizen of the Year, although he gladly accepted the honor at the February 12 awards’ luncheon.
Robinson’s award was presented at the Ventura County Agriculture Museum (The Mill), where Large Businesses of the Year Vintage Production and Calpipe, Small Businesses of the Year Tisa’s Salon and Garden Market as well as Beautification Projects of the Year Santa Paula Chevrolet/John Macik and America in Bloom were lauded.
The theme for the 2012 awards program was “California Dreamin’” and featured the State of the City address by Mayor Ralph Fernandez. City Councilmen Rick Cook and Martin Hernandez and City Manager Jaime Fontes, as well as Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long attended the awards luncheon.
Chamber Board President John Chamberlain offered the welcome and introduced Chamber Board Director Maria Bombara. She presented the award to Robinson, a former Santa Paula City Councilman, Mayor and the recently retired CEO of The Arc, a countywide nonprofit serving the developmentally and intellectually disabled that he led for 22 years.
Bombara said it was an “honor” to be asked to present the award to Robinson, although “Walking over here I realized I am a Rotarian presenting this honor to a Kiwanian. This is going to cost me money... but Fred, you are worth it.”
Robinson, a Santa Paula native, graduated from SPHS in 1963. Bombara said he serves as a SPUHS Alumni Association board director and “very much enjoys honoring past teachers” and awarding scholarships to graduating students.
A mentor with Big Brothers & Big Sisters organization, Robinson has also worked with the Alliance for the Mentally Ill, was former District Lt. Governor for Kiwanis International, and in 2003 was named Ventura Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.
A City Councilman for four years, Robinson served as mayor for one-year and was highly respected for his high-profile dedication to office. He recently was appointed to the city’s Planning Commission, where, said Bombara, “Fred’s commitment to and expertise in our city will certainly benefit us all.”
Robinson said the honor was especially meaningful because it was from “my hometown,” a place he grew up in, lived apart from, and where he plans to stay. “When I look at the roster of those who won the award it’s very impressive,” and he thanked the Chamber for such recognitions. Robinson also thanked his wife Sharon, “who for 46 years still keeps my life in focus.”
His relationship with the Chamber was one of hopefulness: Robinson said he spent much effort on landscaping his hillside home, placing “tons of plants” and having concrete poured that was artfully stamped, all the while coveting the Chamber award for residential beautification. When Barbara Kroon, the Chamber Membership Services director, called Robinson to tell him he won an award he was excited that his landscape efforts had paid off with the recognition he had so long coveted.
“I always wanted Yard of the Month,” but instead Robinson was told he had been selected Citizen of the Year. And all in all, Robinson noted, “It’s still pretty darn good.”