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Bruce Gwynn is 2012 Citizen of the Year
• Myra Garlit, executive director of the Crossroads Mission
• Matt Molenar, community volunteer and fundraiser
• Dr. Carl and Jean Myers, health advocates
• Ralph Ogden, retired longtime sheriff
• Victor Smith, community benefactor
• Doug Terhark, youth advocate
• Constance G. Uribe, retired physician
• Sherry Whitworth, Hands Extended volunteer
He was a rodeo clown for many years at the Hospice of Yuma Roping Roundup.
He teaches a weekly class at the state prison.
School board president. Businessman. History preservationist.
The Yuma County Citizen of the Year for 2012 is an advocate of many of the things that make Yuma Yuma: history, agricultural, youth and philanthropy.
He is Bruce Gwynn.
“It is almost exhausting to keep up with Bruce and his endeavors. It is nearly impossible to list his involvement, partially because he just does it, he doesn't seek the spotlight,” noted Phillip D. Townsend, a fellow member on the Yuma Union High School District Governing Board.
Gwynn was chosen for the honor by eight past Citizens of the Year: Fred and Carolyn Hoffmeyer (2011), Jon and Caroline Jessen (2010), Frank and Pat Cooper (2008), Bob McLendon (2004), Gary Pasquinelli (2003), Thad Jennings (1997), Mike Foree (1996) and Mary Cordery (1990), as well as members of the Yuma Sun editorial board.
They noted that choosing the honoree, with a strong field of nominees this year, was the most difficult they could remember in a long time.
Townsend and businessmen Pat Hodges and William J. Moody nominated Gwynn for the honor.
It's an honor that has become a family tradition. He is the son of the late Howard and Rosemarie Sanguinetti Gwynn, who was the daughter of Yuma pioneer E.F. Sanguinetti and Yuma County Citizen of the Year in 1965. His brother Howard R. Gwynn III was named Yuma County Citizen of the Year in 1994.
“Bruce is a lifelong resident who contributes to the quality of our community, as did his father and grandfather before him,” said Hodges and Moody in a joint nomination letter.
“Bruce's quiet, effective and visionary leadership has made many groups, organizations and community events prosper and excel. He not only provides outstanding leadership, but rolls up his sleeves and does the hard work to make them a success,” Townsend explained.
As a board member, Townsend noted, Gwynn took the initiative to “infuse new energy” into the Yuma County Historical Society and to bring diverse interest groups together to forge one common vision for the Arizona Historical Society in Yuma.
Gwynn also led the fundraising effort with the establishment of Redondo Days.
“Without Bruce's efforts, there would not have been progress on this project. He has rallied the community and drawn logistical and financial support from a wide variety of partners,” Townsend added.
“We can expect to see great things happening in the next few years on this site — due in most part through Bruce's efforts. His mother would be proud.”
But, as Townsend pointed out, Gwynn's involvement goes way beyond Yuma's historical efforts.
He served as co-founder and co-chair of the Yuma Ag Summit. “Bruce's vision of highlighting and promoting the Yuma agricultural community was instrumental in creating and making the Yuma Ag Summit the largest and most successful event of its kind in the region,” Townsend said.
Hodges and Moody highlighted Gwynn's dedication to youth. “Bruce's goal and dream to educate out young people today in the agricultural industry is nothing short of amazing.”
Seeing a need for young people to enter the agricultural job market, Gwynn was one of the founding members of the Yuma County Ag Producers Scholarship Program.
“It has provided thousands of dollars for young men and women seeking an agriculture degree,” Hodges and Moody said.
Gwynn was recently re-elected to a second four-year term on the Yuma Union High School District Governing Board. He is currently president.
In addition, Gwynn, and his wife, Debra, operate The Garden Cafe, located in downtown Yuma, next to Sanguinetti House Museum, once home to the pioneering Sanguinetti family, including Gwynn's mother.
Some of the groups and projects Bruce Gwynn serves on:
• Board of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area
• Yuma County Cooperative Extension Advisory Board
• University of Arizona Ag 100 Board
• Redondo Days co-chair
• Board of Yuma Friends of UA Health Services
• Past president Arizona Crop Protection Association
• Past member of Arizona Department of Agriculture Advisory Board
• Past board member for Habitat for Humanity
• UA College of Agricultural Alumni Board member
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.