3 tabbed for Sequim Citizen honor

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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RESERVATIONS ARE DUE Friday for the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year luncheon, scheduled at noon Tuesday.

Tickets to the luncheon at the SunLand Golf & Country Club, 109 Hilltop Drive, are $20.

For more details, or to RSVP, call the chamber, 360-683-6197, or email info@sequimchamber.com.
SEQUIM –– A dedicated school volunteer, the founder of the city’s annual logging show and a Saint Nick impersonator are up for the honor of being named 2012 Citizen of the Year by the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Sequim’s past Citizens of the Year will select the recipient of the 2012 honor from three finalists chosen this week from a pool of nominees.

Their selection will be announced at a noon luncheon Tuesday at SunLand Golf & Country Club, 109 Hilltop Drive, said Executive Director Shelli Robb Kahler.

Reservations are due Friday. Tickets are $20.

The finalists are Al Freiss, a volunteer at Sequim’s schools and Olympic Theatre Arts; Kevin Kennedy, a member of the Lions Club and founder of the Irrigation Festival’s logging show; Larry Klinefelter, vice president of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and longtime Santa Claus.

The selection committee’s pick for 2012 will be honored with a plaque and the title, which was first awarded in 1967.

Last year’s honor went to Dick Hughes, president of the Sequim Education Foundation.

Freiss, 79, has augmented the education of the city’s elementary school children, said Patsene Dashiell, volunteer coordinator for the Sequim School District, who nominated Freiss.

“He just bowls me over with all the ideas and projects he gets involved with,” Dashiell said. “He’s just a great, great guy.”

A commissioner for the SunLand Water District, he volunteers to help third graders with reading difficulties improve their reading skills, serves as the scholarship chair for the Sequim Education Foundation, and is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club and a volunteer with Olympic Theater Arts.

“I think one of the most rewarding things to do in a community is to work with school children,” Freiss said. “That’s my future, that’s your future. that’s our whole community’s future.”

Kennedy, 57, was nominated by the Sequim Valley Lions Club for his work in developing the city’s irrigation festival.

“I guess it’s a sign I’m old enough to get nominated for stuff like this,” Kennedy said.

An almost-lifelong resident of Sequim, Kennedy ran the demolition derby for the Irrigation Festival in the 1970s.

When it was canceled, he and friend Dave Bekkevar came up with the logging show.

“And it has completely taken off in the last 20 years,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy also helps organize a mission trip to Mexico through Sequim Community Church, cuts firewood for charity auctions and helps organize the annual Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival.

If chosen as Citizen of the Year, Kennedy said he would request a special vehicle for parade duty.

“Kennedys don’t do well riding in cars in parades,” he said.

Klinefelter, 70, a veteran of the Marine Corps, dedicates much of his time improving the lives of fellow veterans, but he may be best known for his Santa duty.

“I’ve just always loved making children smile,” said Klinefelter, who put in 28 hours in a red suit last Christmas season.

His wife, Linda, nominated Klinefelter for the honor.

“I know most spouses think their spouses are wonderful,” Linda said. “But Larry really understands what community is about.

“If you have the time, you give it. If there’s something you can do it, you do it”

Klinefelter tends to the plaques at the veteran’s memorial near Sequim High School and takes wounded veterans fishing through Project Healing Waters.

“Larry just, he has this compassion, and he cares,” Linda said. “And he never asks for any credit.”

For more details, or to RSVP, call the chamber, 360-683-6197, or email info@sequimchamber.com.

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 19. 2013 6:26PM
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