(Left) Nils Rueckert presents Wally Bobkiewicz a Rotary Paul harris Fellowship award. Photo by Don Johnson

Bobkiewicz Rotary Centennial Paul Harris Fellowship recipient

March 09, 2005
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesA special night for Rotary International – the 100th anniversary of the founding of the service organization – featured a special honor for City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, who was surprised with a Paul Harris Fellowship award. The Paul Harris Fellowship – established in 1957 - is named after the founder of Rotary, a Chicago attorney.At the February 23 centennial celebration held at the Masonic Temple, Rotary Past President and Historian Nils Rueckert noted that “It is significant that we’re recognizing a new Paul Harris Fellow this evening.”The Paul Harris Fellowship was established to express appreciation for a contribution of $1,000 to the humanitarian and educational programs of Rotary around the world. A Santa Paula club member who “requested to remain anonymous” made the donation in Bobkiewicz’s name.Rueckert noted that Bobkiewicz, a native of Chicago who grew up in Camarillo, is a USC graduate who did postgraduate work at Syracuse University. Bobkiewicz had been the assistant city manager of Novato in Marin County before coming to Santa Paula as the leader of city government, and “their loss was our gain,” said Rueckert. “He brought a track record with him in economic development and downtown revitalization, just what we needed here.”Bobkiewicz, a former member of the Ignacio Rotary Club, became a member of the local club more than two years ago when he joined the city. During his employment, Bobkiewicz has “brought a renewed sense of pride and professionalism to the governance of this city. Many agree that Santa Paula has earned respect in the county with Wally as our city manager. He’s looked at the potential surrounding us, at what a jewel Santa Paula is, and has a real can-do attitude in getting the things done that need to be done.”
Rueckert noted that Bobkiewicz is “great at taking the initiative to get the right people together” as a consensus builder and to move the community in a “positive direction.” Bobkiewicz operates without fanfare as he tackles issues small and large, “perhaps popular, perhaps unpopular,” and can accomplish much with his quirky humor such as boycotting the Los Angeles Times for a day in a successful effort to return the city to the weather map. The boycott garnered a tremendous amount of publicity and resulted in the area weather also now being regularly featured on Los Angeles based television news broadcasts.Active with the Rotary Club, Bobkiewicz headed the successful Fall Fundraiser, the kickoff campaign for the Ebell Park restoration centennial project. He also has been “invaluable in getting the actual project off the ground by soothing the way for us through city channels,” said Rueckert.“We are honored tonight to recognize you for what you have done and hopefully will be doing for the future of Santa Paula, and for being a distinguished member of Santa Paula Rotary.” Rueckert presented Bobkiewicz with the Paul Harris Fellowship certificate, label pin and medallion.“There’s probably not a greater honor for a Rotarian than” receiving the Paul Harris Fellowship on the organization’s centennial, said Bobkiewicz. “I’m very honored.”

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